LSU grad lands role in blockbuster Man of Steel

Warner Bros. photo by CLAY ENOS -- Laurence Fishburne, left, plays Perry White and Rebecca Buller is Jenny in Man of Steel.
Warner Bros. photo by CLAY ENOS -- Laurence Fishburne, left, plays Perry White and Rebecca Buller is Jenny in Man of Steel.

Rebecca Buller, an LSU theater department grad who grew up in Baton Rouge, has a supporting role in the new Superman movie, Man of Steel.

The film earned $113.1 million in its opening weekend. It stars Henry Cavill as Superman, aka Clark Kent, and an Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated cast including Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne.

“I’m one of the few people in the film who isn’t somebody in the business already,” Buller said from New York. “It’s been incredibly exciting. I feel really fortunate to be a part of it. It’s such a fun, awesome summer blockbuster.”

Buller plays Jenny, an intern at The Daily Planet who works with Adams’ Lois Lane, an investigative reporter, and Fishburne’s Perry White, the newspaper’s no-nonsense editor.

Despite widespread cyberspace speculation that Buller’s character is Jenny Olsen, sister of Jimmy Olsen, the cub photographer at The Daily Planet, no last name for the Jenny character is spoken in the film or listed in the credits.

Buller has no information about whether or not her Jenny will appear in possible future Superman movies. Her audition process for Man of Steel, in fact, was highly secretive, including the decoy script pages she was given to read.

Buller attended Man of Steel’s premiere at Lincoln Center in New York City, walking the red carpet, smiling and posing for photos along with the film’s stars. “It was so exciting and glamorous,” she said.

Buller filmed her Daily Planet office scenes in Chicago at the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. She shot green-screen scenes for the movie’s climactic battle scenes between Superman and General Zod (Michael Shannon) in Vancouver. Buller worked the most with Fishburne, whose previous credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Mission: Impossible III and, of course, Morpheus in The Matrix movies.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better scene partner,” she said. “I was a bit nervous, especially my first couple of days. It was intimidating, being on this particular set. Laurence zeroed in on that and just put me at ease. He was very complimentary and really helpful. He gave me a lot of advice and he’s so great, so brilliant.”

As for Cavell, the new Superman, the actress said, “He’s so professional and a really nice, charismatic person. And he’s really stunning in person. He looks like he was sculpted out of marble.”

Buller’s ascent to a big-screen role in Man of Steel began with her stage debut in 1996 as Helen Keller in a Baton Rouge Little Theater production of The Miracle Worker.

“It was so formative for me,” she said. “I was always a performer of sorts, but that’s what really started it for me. It helped me develop quickly into a hardworking actor, as opposed to a childish actor, just someone who liked to sing, dance and smile and laugh and tell jokes and stories.”

Buller participated in the drama program at the Runnels School. She majored in theater at LSU and, following her December 2008 graduation, moved to Chicago on the recommendation of one of her professors, Jane Drake Brody.

Brody has since joined the faculty of DePaul University in Chicago.

“Besides Rebecca’s amazing beauty,” Brody said this week, “her wit, self-confidence and grace set her apart from all the other amazing beauties in the theatrical world. And she has a depth of insight into what it is to be human that is rare in young people. It is this compassionate insightfulness coupled with her intellect that will, I hope, grant her a long-lasting career based in talent and not in beauty.”

“I was in a big hurry to start my life,” Buller said of her early graduation from LSU. “I moved to Chicago right away.”

The actress got cast in Man of Steel from Chicago. She won the role of Jenny following an audition video made at her agent’s office and two meetings with director Zack Snyder. Although she’d done much theater work in Chicago, her only film or TV credit before Man of Steel is the 2011 TV series The Playboy Club. The series was cancelled before episodes featuring Buller aired.

Following her appearance in the blockbuster hit Man of Steel, Buller and her Burbank, Calif.-based agent, Jason Kendziera, are searching ferociously for her next gig, the actress said.

Buller’s summer plans also include a July wedding in New Orleans. She’s marrying Madison Dirks, another former Baton Rougean and LSU theater graduate who made his way to Chicago. The couple has been living in New York since Dirks made his Broadway debut last fall in the Tony-winning revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

“I got some lucky breaks thus far,” Buller said. “And I’m really inspired right now. I’m making grand commitments in my personal and professional lives.”