Perhaps best known as playing Superman in the Superman franchise of the late ’70s and 80s, Christopher Reeve was an acclaimed actor that brought his dashing looks, charm, charisma, and acting prowess to each part he played. Despite enduring a life-changing horseriding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, Reeve continued to act in prestigious projects.
One look at Reeve’s filmography and it is easy to see how versatile he was as an actor. Likewise, Reeve was never bound by the format of projects as he openly accepted jobs in movies, television shows, and even music videos like Bobby Brown’s 1988 song “On Our Own”. A one of a kind talent with resilience and tenacity unlike any other, Reeve left a legacy of fantastic works.
Superman (1978) – 7.3
Before superhero movies were all the rage, there was Richard Donner’s Superman. A more campy and colorful take on the superhero genre than the modern Marvel and DC movies of today, Superman looked like it came straight out of a comic book.
It could be argued that Christopher Reeve was the best Superman with his striking looks, charm, and Julliard trained talent. Opposite him was the gifted Margot Kidder as his Lois Lane and screen icon Marlon Brando as villain Jor-El.
Smallville (2001 – 2011) – 7.5
Smallville tells the story of a young Clark Kent coming to grips with his superpowers. Also shown in the series is the beginning of Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor and his future love Lois Lane. The cult-favorite series serves as a sort of prequel to the Superman stories, revealing the backstories to multiple familiar characters.
Smallville ran for a whopping ten seasons, an impressive accomplishment in television. Reeve played the recurring character Dr. Virgil Swann, a scientist with a desire to communicate with other planets and the creator of the Veritas society. The recurring appearance by Reeve was an interesting call back to Reeve’s tenure as the man of steel.
Noises Off… (1992) – 7.5
Noises Off… looks at the drama and behind-the-scenes action that threatens the performances of a traveling theater group. Reeves plays one of the actors in the troupe. Insecure and struggling with his matinee hearthrob status, the character of Frederick Dallas is portrayed expertly by Reeves.
Helmed by the revered director Peter Bogdonavich, the film features an all-star cast in addition to Reeve. The likes of Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, John Ritter, and many others feature in this early ’90s hidden gem.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980) – 7.6
In the sequel to 1978’s Superman, Reeve returns as the titular superhero. Superman II follows Superman after he destroys a terrorist attempt at nuclear annihilation by throwing a nuclear bomb into outer space. However, the bomb releases the imprisoned General Zod who poses a threat to Earth just as Superman attempts to renounce his powers in order to live a normal life.
While Superman II is actually directed by Richard Lester, the Richard Donner cut of the film is one of Christopher Reeve’s highest-rated films. Donner’s cut is a more serious and contemplative film more in line with the cerebral superhero movies of today like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
The Practice (1997 – 2004) – 7.7
The Practice is a look at a Boston law firm, run by the high-powered defense attorney Bobby Donnelly. This critically acclaimed legal drama series featured a winning ensemble cast filled with talented actors. Reeve guest-starred in a 2003 episode called “Burnout” that revolved around a woman accused of killing her son as a result of temporary insanity due to caregiver burnout of her husband, Kevin, played by Reeve.
In an interview with Ability Magazine to discuss the episode, Reeve revealed that he actually wrote the treatment for the episode and submitted the idea to the show’s creator who accepted. The episode features many issues and topics that affect people with disabilities, a subject and community that Reeve was passionate about and an advocate for. Reeve used the episode as an opportunity to communicate many important issues faced by those with disabilities to the general public.
HBO Storybook Musicals (1987) – 7.7
HBO Storybook Musicals was a collection of television specials that would show an animated version of classic children’s books. The animation style of each episode would differ based on the illustrations from the original stories.
Reeve provided his voice to the episode that covered the story It Zwibble, voicing the eponymous character. In addition to the story and illustrations, there were musical numbers provided. All the artistic elements of music, animation, and storytelling culminated in an adorable show that could appeal to viewers of all ages.
The Remains Of The Day ( 1993) – 7.8
A Merchant Ivory period piece, The Remains of the Day is about a butler’s regret at the many dedicated years of service he lent to his fascist supporting employer, the Earl of Darlington, in the 30s. In a cast composed mainly of British actors, Reeve stands out as one of the film’s few Americans.
In the movie, Reeve plays a congressman named Jack Lewis who becomes the owner of the manor when the Earl of Darlington passes away. A thought-provoking and compelling film, The Remains of the Day does a fantastic job of immersing the viewer in the time periods in which the film takes place.
Tales from the Crypt (1989 – 1996) – 8.0
The long-running horror anthology series Tales From the Crypt featured a variety of celebrity guest stars in each episode. Some of the more unique guest stars on Tales From the Crypt have included performers like Adam Ant and a very young Brad Pitt.
Reeve was a guest star in the season 4 episode “What’s Cookin’?” which also featured ’80s heartthrob Judd Nelson. The episode follows a married couple Fred – played by Reeve – and Emma and their faltering restaurant. Desperate to turn things around, Fred and Emma receive help from a mysterious stranger with a killer recipe for steak.
Frasier (1993 – 2004) – 8.1
Frasier follows grumpy radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane and his comedic struggles with his salt of the Earth father Martin, his pretentious brother Niles, and his coworkers. Reeves guest-starred in the season 1 episode “Space Quest” on the critically acclaimed and highly rewatchable sitcom as a caller to Frasier’s radio talk.
Reeve plays Leonard, a man struggling with agoraphobia who calls Frasier for advice on his condition to get help. The guest spot is a voice-over role but fans of Reeve will instantly recognize him.
Faerie Tale Theatre (1982 – 1987) – 8.4
Faerie Tale Theatre was a premium cable anthology series where each episode would tell a classic fairy tale with the parts enacted by Hollywood stars. Mick Jagger even starred in an episode that told The Nightingale story. Some of the vaulted fairy tales covered by the series included The Little Mermaid, Rumpelstiltskinson, and Little Red Riding Hood among many others.
Reeve starred as Prince Charming in the episode that relayed the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale acting opposite Bernadette Peters as Sleeping Beauty.
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