By EW Staff
Updated August 10, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Hollywoodland: Sidney Baldwin

If the idea of another Superman movie makes you want to leap from a tall building, this may be the film for you. Nobody was more afflicted by superhero burnout than George Reeves, the actor who played the Man of Steel on the original ’50s TV show and the central figure (played by Ben Affleck) in this mystery exploring the ambiguities surrounding his apparent suicide in 1959. Adrien Brody plays the morally bankrupt detective who grows a conscience while investigating the death of the actor whose career was stymied by his outsize onscreen persona and his ongoing affair with a studio chief’s wife (Diane Lane). ”It’s about someone who’s got his nose pressed against the window while he stands in the cold,” says director Allen Coulter, who insists the story hews closely to the facts of Reeves’ life. ”His career was dead as a result of Superman.”

Affleck, who sought the role, knew something about how notoriety could damage a career. ”It would be naive to say that Ben or I were unaware of his being pigeonholed and perhaps not garnering the respect he had earlier in his career,” says Coulter, best known for directing episodes of HBO hits Sex and the City and The Sopranos. ”This was an opportunity for him to release himself from that trap. He seemed to understand the character.”

But it’s Brody’s portrayal of the shady private investigator that seems most cribbed from today’s headlines — though the actor insists any similarities to Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood PI under investigation for illegal wiretapping, are purely coincidental. ”[Pellicano] didn’t come up until later,” says Brody, who was drawn in by the project’s clear-eyed look at showbiz’s seedy side. ”It touches on a misconception that everything in Hollywood is glamorous.”