Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey is confident he can match Gene Hackman's performance as megalomaniac LEX LUTHOR when he takes up the comic book role in next year's (06) SUPERMAN RETURNS movie.

Hackman played the legendary villain in the previous Superman movies, alongside the late Christopher Reeve.

The AMERICAN BEAUTY star admits his predecessor will be difficult to follow, but hopes to approach Superman's nemesis from a new angle.

He says, "This is a very different Lex Luthor in the sense that it's not the same kind of character. This is a more bitter Lex; this is a Lex out for revenge.

"It's funny but it's a little darker."