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EXCLUSIVE: Dean Cain Shares His Journey From Superman To Unabashed Patriot
Executive producer Dean Cain attends the premiere of 'Architects Of Denial' at Taglyan Complex on October 3, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)
Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

The future Man of Steel wouldn’t let a knee injury break his stride.

Dean Cain’s NFL dreams died the moment an injury interrupted his stint with the Buffalo Bills back in the late 1980s. He was just 21 at the time, and he figured knee surgery would delay, not end, his gridiron plans.

Cain didn’t mope when his body refused to bounce back. He got busy, turning to screenwriting and later a gig as TV’s most romantic Superman.

The conservative’s unplanned shift from the NFL to Hollywood epitomizes his athletic mindset.

Grind it out. Do the work. No excuses.

“I’m the eternal optimist. I always think everything’s gonna be fine,” Cain says, even if his identity as a younger man was “wrapped up” in sports and scholastics. The knee injury, which he says wiped out his lateral meniscus cartilage, would give him more time to “get stronger, faster and learn the defenses,” he says.

He couldn’t know how much “time” he’d end up having.

Cain’s signature optimism lasted deep into his role in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” He still imagined making an NFL comeback while starring in one of TV’s hottest shows.

“I’m glad I didn’t,” he says looking back.

Cain quickly shifted to writing when his sports career ended, landing a steady stream of commercial gigs to pay the bills.

“You and six other guys walk into a room … everyone takes their shirts off and pretends they’re at a party dancing and eating Doritos,” he recalls. “I made a living doing commercials for four years.”

The spots gave him some acting experience, but he already picked up pointers growing up on movie sets alongside his father, director Christopher Cain (“The Principal,” “Young Guns”).

He squeezed in acting classes to help with Career 2.0 but bristled at some classroom tactics.

“It felt like psychology sessions,” says Cain, who grew up around future actors like Sean Penn, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. He saw the craft on a more instinctual level. “It’s just a commitment to character, being completely real in imaginary situations, not this psychobabble I was getting.”

His movie star looks didn’t hurt his quick ascent.

“I started getting booked a lot more,” he says of early appearances on “Life Goes On” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

His father tried to apply the brakes on his career, albeit gently. He wanted his son to focus more on writing, not standing in front of the camera.

“He gave me very clear, concise advice. ‘Don’t do it. You’re gonna be judged on everything you do,’” the son says. “’They will build you up so they can tear you down.’ He didn’t want that for his kid, to be under that magnifying glass. I did it anyway.”

Ironically, Cain is under the microscope more than ever as an openly conservative star.

His initiation into superhero lore began with “Lois & Clark,” a four-season smash for ABC.

A buddy cautioned him about the magnitude of both the gig and the iconic blue tights he was about to don. They went on a skiing trip and during one lift ride, when all was peaceful around them, the friend gave Cain a peek into his future.

“Dude, for the rest of your life people are gonna call you ‘Superman,’” the friend said. And he was right.

The experience taught Cain the power of broadcast TV.

“I never realized the machinery of a network show. It’s crazy huge,” Cain says. It’s also something that can warp young minds if they’re not careful.

“I have empathy for the young people who became famous early … it’s overwhelming,” says Cain, who calls the level of network fame “claustrophobic.”

Leonard Nimoy famously dubbed his 1975 memoir “I Am Not Spock” and, years later, had to be cajoled into portraying the Vulcan character in early “Star Trek” features.

Cain hasn’t regretted his iconic role for a moment. He doesn’t even mind if a fan addresses him by the character’s name in public.

“There’s no frustration whatsoever,” he says. “We all do that. Chris Hemsworth is Thor. I’m OK with it … I love the character. I embrace having played the character.”

He still felt “free” once the show’s broadcast run wrapped.

“The show was a grind. All day, every day … I lived on set and had no life outside of that,” he says.

Since “Lois & Clark” Cain has done a little bit of, well, everything. He starred and produced “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” series, highlighted 2018’s excellent indie “Gosnell” and rang up a long list of both TV and film credits. In recent years he expanded his credits to include faith-based smashes like “God’s Not Dead.”

Cain cemented his Comic Con bona fides with recurring roles on both “Smallville” and “Supergirl.”

Last year he starred in “FBI Lovebirds: Undercover,” the withering, fact-based play based on the texts of disgraced FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

That versatility reflects both his early days as a multi-sport star and his film-friendly childhood.

“I had to do every job, from gopher to driving people around and getting coffee. I held the boom [mic],” he says of his formative years. “When you make a film it’s a team effort, like playing football.”

Cain had worked steadily for more than two decades, but he wasn’t always an outspoken conservative.

“I always knew what my core beliefs were, freedom, liberty. As you get older … all of sudden you have children, you start to become more aware of politics and how it affects you,” says Cain, a former history major. “You start to see the rise and fall of civilizations. You forget the dates that things happen, but you see the cause and effect.”

“As a father, I couldn’t help but realize what policy affected me or the future of my child,” he adds.

Cain stays busy these days, but he says his political beliefs cost him “plenty of work.”

“Nothing happens overtly,” Cain says, but he doesn’t let politics guide his TV and film choices.

“I don’t have to like your political views to think you’re a good artist. I’m still appalled at [Robert] De Niro for saying, ‘F*** Trump’ at the Tonys,” he says. “I would work with him. He’s a phenomenal actor. I don’t think it works the same way in reverse for a lot of folks.” (NSFW video below.)

He’s hardly sour on the industry as a whole, though.

“I’ve seen some of the most giving, wonderful people [in Hollywood] give their time and effort toward a lot of charities,” he says, name checking “Forrest Gump” star Gary Sinise as one shining example of Hollywood altruism. “He doesn’t care if you’re left or right … you’re good with him.”

He’s much less fond of Hollywood’s increasingly woke tendencies.

“Artists and filmmakers are supposed to make you uncomfortable,” he says, and his fellow actors should be able to play a wide range of roles without worrying about a social justice mob’s complaints.

“Allow actors to act. That’s what our job is, to be other people,” he says.

Cain’s “Gosnell” feature, an indie success story, couldn’t have been made years ago. The producers leveraged a crowdfunding campaign to fund the project, and it reached audiences despite modest press attention and Hollywood indifference.

The film’s existence, and the erosion of technological barriers it represents, mean more unique voices can now be heard.

“You can make a film on your iPhone … you can’t stop people from telling stories,” he says. “That will counter this woke culture.”

More exclusive content from The Daily Wire: Greg Gutfeld Gets Candid About His Rise To FOX Fame, Countering Cancel Culture

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  EXCLUSIVE: Dean Cain Shares His Journey From Superman To Unabashed Patriot