Practically Smallville Growing up in rural Norwalk, Iowa, Routh, the son of Katie, a teacher, and Ron, a carpenter, was fascinated by the Man of Steel. Around age 5, he donned Superman pajamas and a cape to watch the first Superman on TV. "I was so excited that I gave myself a migraine," Routh tells PEOPLE. After recovering, "I was always throwing things up in the air and seeing how they would fly," he says. "My parents were like, 'This kid is crazy.'"
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a thespian In high school, Routh fell in love with acting, so much so that he and pals performed in theater extravaganzas wearing tutus and Chippendales outfits. For a South Pacific revue, he and a friend wore grass skirts and painted ships on their stomachs. "When they flexed their abs," says music teacher Kim Ward, "boats and waves went rolling."
Mild-mannered bartender Moving to L.A., Routh landed guest shots on Will & Grace and Cold Case – and made ends meet tending bar at Lucky Strike Lanes, a bowling alley. "He was very Clark Kent behind the bar," says coworker Kathleen Kaplan, who covered for Routh during his Superman audition. "He asked me once, 'What's a fuzzy navel?'" During an '03 work Halloween party, he won $100 by dressing as Kent.
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