There is a proud tradition surrounding high profile blockbuster movies that involves fabricated casting rumors. After the release of The Dark Knight in 2008, word spread that Christopher Nolan was casting Johnny Depp as The Riddler and Robin Williams as Hugo Strange for the final installment of his Batman trilogy. Obviously, these turned out to be completely made up.

At the moment, all eyes are trained on DC and Warner Bros. as a result of the bombshell announcement that Ben Affleck will play the new Batman in Batman vs. Superman. The casting has only fueled fan speculation as to who will play the villain in the Man of Steel sequel, which many believe will be Lex Luthor. (Check out our own Ben Kendrick’s choices here.)

In fact, almost immediately after director Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot was released, the popular choice for the role has been Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston.

As mild-mannered science teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White, Cranston certainly possesses the ruthlessness, dark charm, and sinister hairlessness widely associated with the classic Superman villain. In fact, this casting notion has taken hold in the fan consciousness so much so that it has inspired a pretty cool fan-made trailer for Batman vs. Superman featuring Cranston as the villain.

While many people seem to think the idea is a good one, the one small point often ignored is whether or not it’s actually true.

Cranston is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, preparing for his role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the play All the Way, which premieres at the American Repertory Theater on September 13th. When asked by the Boston Globe about the rumors flying around that he’ll be playing Luthor, Cranston responded:

“I’ve heard that, too.”

And what of the news that he’ll be in at least six movies (with some reports suggesting the number could be ten)? Cranston went on:

“Six? This is all news to me. I think that maybe my name is bandied about because I’m known to be bald. ‘What bald guy can we get?’ The reality is they can take any actor and shave his head or put a bald cap on him.” 

Should he hypothetically end up in the role, would Cranston ever seek out the advice of previous actors who have portrayed the Superman nemesis, such as Gene Hackman, who was the first to play Lex Luthor on the big screen? Cranston had a glib reply:

“I can just see how that phone call would go, ‘Gene? Hi, this is Bryan Cranston.’ ‘Who? Bryan Cranston? What do you want? How did you get this number?’ ”

The article describes Cranston as smiling and laughing as he responds to all of this, and when it comes to the period following his commitment to the stage (beyond directing an episode of ABC’s Modern Family), he said:

“I think I’ll relax the rest of the year. There’s some irons in the fire, things that people are talking about, but nothing is set.”

The answer is appropriately and understandably vague. Cranston has long since wrapped his duties on Breaking Bad, which is ending its successful run and in theory leaves Cranston in a position to take his career wherever he wants it to go. It has certainly earned him time off – if that’s what he’s really saying.

On the off-chance that Cranston has been offered the role of Lex Luthor, he’s probably in no position to discuss the project. That said, his abject vagueness is interesting. The casting of Ben Affleck as the next Batman was kept a secret from almost everyone, and the casting of Lex Luthor is likely to follow the same pattern, but Warners has a knack for misdirection. When Marion Cotillard was cast in The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan and company were adamant in their denials that Cotillard was playing Talia Al Ghul – which, of course, turned out to be a red herring.

We’re not saying that Bryan Cranston is intentionally misleading us, but smiling denials would be the way such a thing might go (and it fits Lex Luthor’s character, as well).

What do you think, Screen Ranters? Is Bryan Cranston pulling our leg?

Batman vs. Superman will premiere on July 17, 2015.

Source: The Boston Globe [via Boston.com]