Russell CroweWith production to begin in less than a month, and only a couple of key roles still to fill, it appears Russell Crowe is near signing on the dotted line for the role of Jor-El in Zack Snyder's reboot of the Superman franchise, Superman: Man of Steel.

Following the lead of Richard Donner, producer Christopher Nolan has been insistent on getting a big name to portray Superman's biological father as it is a great way bring a certain amount of respected drama to a fictional superhero movie. Most know of Marlon Brando's cash-grabbing (a then-record $3.7 million for 13 days work) portrayal of the Kryptonian scientist in Donner's 1978 Superman, now it's Crowe's turn, Variety is reporting. No word on how much the Gladiator star is asking nor whether he'll will wear his Rolex beneath his costume.

Henry Cavill is set to play the man of steel with Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, and Michael Shannon already under contract. Jo-El is one of the few remaining roles with Supes' biological mother, Lara, still to be filled.

Superman: Man of Steel is scheduled for a Chrsitmastime 2012 release.