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Man of Steel and the Steel City

on Wed, 07/10/2013 - 00:00

When it comes to science fiction and superheroes, Pittsburgh has left an indelible mark on the genres. The third installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy—The Dark Knight Rises—for instance, was partially filmed in the Steel City over the summer of 2011. Mount Lebanon native Shane Black, meanwhile, both scripted and directed Iron Man 3, while Zachary Quinto, raised in Green Tree, portrays the Vulcan science officer Spock in the J.J. Abrams series of Star Trek films. Add veteran actor Frank Gorshin, who played The Riddler in the classic 1960s Batman television show, the fact that Johnstown native Steve Ditko co-created Spider-Man, and a 2013 Marvel Comics miniseries featuring a Pittsburgh-based superhero named Alpha, and it becomes even more apparent that the Steel City’s influence on contemporary pop culture is indeed substantial.

Another comic book character was added to the list in 2013 as the summer blockbuster Man of Steel likewise featured an actor from the region, Christina Wren. According to her website, director Zach Snyder noticed Wren in a Kraft television commercial and immediately asked her to audition via videotape for a role in the Superman film. After considering her for various characters, Snyder eventually cast the North Side native as Carrie Farris, an Air Force captain attached to the United States Northern Command that has been charged with tracking down Superman. She also has a brief run in with the alien Kal-El—as Superman was known on the planet Krypton—near the end of Man of Steel and makes a humorous remark about his physical appearance.

“She’s very intrigued by him and very interested,” Wren told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review in regards to her character. “Captain Ferris is someone that actually has faith that Superman was good, that there was something about him that was to be trusted.”

Christina Wren graduated from Perry High School in 2002 and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama and pan-African studies from New York University. She decided to stay in the Big Apple afterwards, appearing onstage in such iconic Shakespearean roles as Desdemona and Cressida in addition to a small handful of independent films. Wren is also a producer of the animated children’s show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a cartoon spinoff of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood that airs on PBS KIDS. Christina Wren and her husband Demetrius Wren, meanwhile, run their own production company in Manhattan—Two Kids with a Camera—and the actress has her own line of handmade jewelry as well.

Despite such a full array of activities on her plate, Christina Wren regularly returns to the Steel City to visit the numerous members of her family that still reside in the region. She has likewise met many other Pittsburgh natives within the New York arts community and feels a close affinity with them. “I think the work ethic is huge,” she explained to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “Folks from Pittsburgh don’t tend to have inflated egos or over-confidence. It’s actually often a little under-confidence because folks aren’t assuming that they are the best of the best. We’re just people who are trying hard.”

Although now a resident of New York City, Christina Wren continues to consider herself a Pittsburgher at heart. “I just think Pittsburgh is an awesome place,” she said. “So many great people come from Pittsburgh and have Pittsburgh pride everywhere they go.”

Thanks to Christina Wren, Air Force Captain Carrie Farris can now be considered one of them as well.

Anthony Letizia

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