Acting veteran Jon Voight turned down the chance to play Superman on the big screen fearing he was too "skinny" for the role, despite his pal Arnold Schwarzenegger offering to bulk him up in the gym.

The Hollywood actor was approached to take the lead in the 1978 superhero blockbuster but he snubbed the offer and the part eventually went to Christopher Reeve.

Voight was adamant he wasn't the right man for the job due to his lanky frame, but director Richard Donner insisted the Superman costume would give him the appearance of a muscular physique.

He tells Britain's Seven magazine, "He (Donner) said, 'Jon, just try on the suit. It does the whole thing for you...' This was not one of the times when I was overly picky; I was being completely miscast. I'm thin, I have a broken nose, I am not classically good-looking. I mean, if you put me next to this new Superman, this Henry Cavill, you would laugh, and ask, 'What's that skinny guy doing next to Superman?'"

Donner then put Voight in touch with Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor Schwarzenegger, who promised to help him get fit in time for the shoot.

Recalling his phone conversation with the Terminator star, Voight adds, "(Arnold said,) 'This job is a great opportunity, you must do this... Jon, take the job! In two months, I will make you big as a house!' I turned it down - with some regret. Who wouldn't love to be Superman?"