Michael Shannon Discusses Role as General Zod in Superman Reboot “Man Of Steel”



Actor Michael Shannon will play General Zod in Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel, out the summer of 2013


 by Rock ‘n Roll Ghost


That date has been changed to summer of 2013


The newest Superman film, titled Man Of Steel, is Warner Bros.‘ attempt to make the film franchise a viable project with sequels and merchandising and all the rest of the hoopla that comes with a project this size.  The studio didn’t feel that Bryan Singer‘s Superman Returns fit the bill enough to go ahead with a sequel with him at the helm, instead summoning nearly everyone and anyone to pitch their idea on what direction to take the Kryptonian into next.  Turns out, they weren’t even looking in the right place.

David S. Goyer, who has worked on all of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman films, threw out some ideas to the writer/director one day and Nolan was impressed with them enough to take them to Warners (the same studio producing those very same Batman films).  The studio liked what they heard, commissioned a script from Goyer, Nolan was to produce and a search for a director was on (Nolan was committed to filming The Dark Knight Rises at the same time frame and could not take it on).

Eventually this led to the hiring of Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) who has shown an ability to present bold images onscreen and has familiarity both with Warner Bros. and with the comic book genre.  Next up was the cast, which is impressive.  Save for Henry Cavill (relatively unknown) as the aforementioned Man of Steel, the rest of the cast are known actors with a rich history of work.  Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Kevin Costner as Pa Kent, Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El (Superman‘s father) and Michael Shannon as General Zod.

Shannon, Oscar-nominated for his brilliant turn in Sam MendesRevolutionary Road opposite Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, is known for playing “edgy” characters.  Characters that are not necessarily evil, but who definitely walk a thin moral line.  From his role as the abusive boyfriend to Kim Basinger in 8 Mile, to the “out there” music impressario Kim Fowley in The Runaways to his spellbinding work in Revolutionary Road, HBO‘s series Boardwalk Empire and in Bug, the film adaptation of the role he performed on the stage about two-hundred or so times, Shannon attracts viewers through his unique interpretations of the characters he plays.  Shannon’s deep connection to these characters, an ability to see the humanity and see things from the characters’ perspectives, is ultimately what makes him stand out.

Man of Steel director Snyder states, “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael (Shannon) is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.”

Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, a role he received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor

I had the opportunity to speak to Shannon recently and we had a lengthy conversation about his work on Boardwalk Empire, his role in Jeff Nichols‘ upcoming film Take Shelter, as well as the as-of-yet-unreleased 13 (from director Gela Babluani, who remade his own 13 Tzameti) he did with Mickey Rourke.  That full interview will be published in September to coincide with the season 2 premiere of Boardwalk Empire and the fall release of Take Shelter.  For now, read below the full exchange Shannon and I had about his portrayal of General Zod in Zack Snyder‘s Superman “reboot” Man of Steel.

Rock ‘n Roll Ghost: What are you looking forward to about the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel?  What attracted you to the role of General Zod and what can fans expect of your performance in the film?  What are you thinking about doing with the character at this point?

Michael Shannon: I was kind of shell shocked when I was told initially that they were interested in doing the picture.  It’s a huge movie and it’s a huge responsibility and I was very flattered that they would even consider me for it.  When they made me the offer I didn’t think twice.  It’s a huge challenge because it requires so much imagination.  Probably more than any other character I’ve ever played.  All of the circumstances are completely foreign to me.  Being from another planet.  Being a general.  All of these things are so out of my wheelhouse that it’s a very stimulating challenge to have to try and get there.  We’re taking it very seriously in terms of, he’s not a bad person, he’s not just some villain.  He’s a general and he had a planet that disappeared and he’s trying to fix a problem.  He has a problem and he’s trying to fix it.  I’m not going to be twirling my mustache a lot or anything.  It’s a very matter of fact version of it, I think.

In terms of what should people expect, it’s hard to say.  I haven’t even started shooting yet.  A lot of it so far, the preparation, has been some physical training to get the right kind of physical being of a man of that stature, but that’s about it.  I just don’t know what to expect myself until I get to the set and start shooting.

Have you seen the original incarnation of General Zod by Terence Stamp in Superman II?

Michael Shannon: Oh yeah, yeah.  Terence Stamp‘s amazing.  I actually saw a little bit of it recently.  He just nails it.  I (had to) turn it off because it was intimidating me.  I’ll do something different. I’ll figure something out.  It’s going to be a long process.  We’re going to be shooting for about seven months or something.  It’s going to be a long journey.

Michael Shannon on IMDB


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