The Superman star made the candid remark whilst being interviewed on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1998.
Reeve said that he had been making visits to a rehabilitation center for disabled people to learn how to ‘simulate’ being paraplegic in preparation for his role in Above Suspicion, in which the actor played a paralyzed cop who plots to murder his wife.
WATCH CLIP OF THE INTERVIEW BELOW:
Just a week after the TV movie aired in May 1995, Reeve would be paralyzed from the neck down after a horse-riding accident.
Reflecting on his experience working at the rehab centre, Reeve told Winfrey: “Every day I’d get in my car and drive away and go ‘Thank God that’s not me’, I have to admit that.
“And then seven months later, I was in this condition.”
“And in a way, I remember the smugness of that.”
“As if I was privileged in some way, but the point is we’re all one great big family and anyone of us could get hurt at any moment.”
“That taught me a really big lesson.”
Reeve’s accident took place on May 27, 1995, when he was riding his horse at an equestrian event in Culpepper, Virginia.
When approaching the third jump, the horse hesitated and Reeve fell off, landing headfirst on the rail and damaged the bones in his neck.
As a result of the accident, Reeve was left paralyzed and had to undergo months of physical therapy.
The actor reflected on what he’d learnt from his experience, telling Winfrey: “We should never walk by somebody who’s in a wheelchair and be afraid of them or think of them as a stranger.”
After his accident, Reeve dedicated much of his time to activism on behalf of the disabled community.
In a 1998 interview with Ability Magazine, he said: “Who knows why an accident happens? The key is what do you do afterwards.
“There is a period of shock and then grieving with confusion and loss. After that, you have two choices. One is to stare out the window and gradually disintegrate.”
“And the other is to mobilize and use all your resources, whatever they may be, to do something positive. That is the road I have taken.”
For the final years of his life, he was also a staunch advocate for stem cell research as he believed it would provide a cure for paralysis and other conditions – such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease.
Reeve died at the age of 52 on October 10, 2004, after going into cardiac arrest due to complications from an infection.