Dean Cain’s character, Rick, broke up one of the key romances on “Beverly Hills 90210.” And he’s put in other stints as a guest star on “Life Goes On” and “A Different World.”

But there’s little doubt that snaring the lead as the “Man of Steel” in ABC’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” is Cain’s biggest career leap yet.

Cain admits he wasn’t a comic book fan as a lad growing up in Malibu, the son of feature film director Christopher Cain. Instead, he preferred TV superhero cartoons over printed tales of Metropolis.

He’s trying to present a new take on Clark Kent/Superman. In contrast to Christopher Reeves’ nerdy, but loveable depiction of the mild-mannered reporter, Cain’s Kent is honest and straightforward, but also witty and smart. Cain sees this “Lois & Clark” as a new “Moonlighting,” with himself in the Bruce Willis role.

Cain may play a man of steel, but he shows he’s not one himself, as he yawns in a break in his 12-to-14-hour daily production schedule. These days, the 27 -year-old Cain rises at 5:30 a.m. And since he and co-star Teri Hatcher are in nearly every scene, the pressure is relentless.

Cain is apparently taking it all in stride. If the show doesn’t take, he has alternatives. The former Princeton University history major and professional athlete has a writing contract with Hollywood Pictures. Cain plans to continue to crank out scripts. He also has a TV project, tentatively titled, “Naked TV,” in development for HBO.

“I’m doing what I said I wanted to do a year ago,” says Cain. “I’m starring in a series and I’m writing scripts.”

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