''Superman'' sweepstakes down to two. Paul Walker drops out of consideration, leaving Brendan Fraser and that soap guy

By Gary Susman
Updated March 14, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Another actor has dropped out of the ”Superman” casting consideration, leaving only two contenders to play Clark Kent in Warner Bros.’ long-gestating effort to revive the film franchise. Variety reports that ”The Fast and the Furious” star Paul Walker walked on Thursday, citing qualms with the lengthy commitment (seven to 10 years for three films) and his attachments to movies already in the can (”The Fast and the Furious 2,” for which he’s committed to a monthlong promotional campaign, and ”Timeline”) or about to shoot (June’s ”Heart of a Soldier”). He’s the latest contender, after Josh Hartnett and Ashton Kutcher, to turn down the chance to play the Man of Steel.

That leaves Brendan Fraser and Matthew Bomer. ”The Mummy” star Fraser certainly has the edge in name recognition over ”Guiding Light” actor Bomer. On the other hand, he’s 34 years old, about 9 years older than Christopher Reeve was when he started playing Superman. Soap star Bomer is largely unknown, but that would help keep his salary low on a movie whose budget is reportedly around $200 million, and he’s only 24 years old.

Talking to Entertainment Weekly this week, director Brett Ratner defended the lengthy casting process, saying, ”We are still in the process of evaluating the best candidate for the part, and we want to take the time to make sure that we get it right.” Executive producer Andrew Davis says the project is still on track to begin shooting in August for a summer 2004 release.