Lex Luthor has been portrayed by the likes of Gene Hackman (1978’s Superman), Michael Rosenbaum (the WB/CW series Smallville), and Kevin Spacey (2006’s Superman Returns). Now with Jesse Eisenberg in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the actor says his take is more of a modern interpretation on the supervillain.
“The character is in line with what audiences want to see now, which is a more modern, psychologically realistic concept of Lex Luthor,” he explained to Playboy. “His motivations are multifaceted; he has a way of using language that’s specific to the way his mind works; he struggles with interesting philosophical dilemmas like that of the individual having too much power, even if that individual is using that power for good.”
Eisenberg likened Luthor to a character from ancient Greek theater, one who “speaks in broad themes” but in a way that’s in line with his interests.
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“The previous movies are interesting to watch, but they feel unrelated,” he continued. “This incarnation of the character is drawn so differently. I’d read the comic books, but I figured out pretty quickly there’s not much there that relates to an acting role; it’s just a different format. You know the old joke about actors — if you’re playing the messenger, you think it’s a play about the messenger — but the main characters are wonderful as well.”
Eisenberg recently appeared as Luthor in a Super Bowl promo for Turkish Airlines. The spot was a fake travel destination ad for Metropolis, while another featured Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne to promote Gotham City.
The two will return for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice alongside Henry Cavill (Superman) and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) in a story that pits the Dark Knight against the Man of Steel. The film, which hits theaters on March 25, will also introduce Doomsday and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.