Michael Shannon talks about finding something sympathetic in General Zod for ‘Man of Steel’

06.12.13 5 years ago 14 Comments

I’m not sure what I expected from Michael Shannon’s take on General Zod, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what I got.

That should not come as a shock, though. Michael Shannon has been slowly but surely cementing his reputation as an actor capable of surprising in any role, and the more work of his I see, the more convinced I am that he’s one of the great character guys in film at the moment. Anyone who can play the tortured father from “Take Shelter,” the shithouse-crazy ex-solder in “Bug,” the hilariously irritated cop in “Premium Rush,” and General Freakin’ Zod, and do so without covering the same emotional ground twice, is a guy worth playing close attention to, whatever he’s doing.

The great “Man Of Steel” debate appears to have kicked in, and I’m dumbfounded by some of the reviews I’m reading. I’m on the record as being a pretty passionate fan of the movie now, and I saw it again last night right around the time that review went live, and still feel just as strongly. I disagree with a lot of what I’ve read, and it’s not even about the “like or dislike” of it, but more with the interpretation of what happens in the movie.

There are people who seem to feel the entire second half of the film is just empty noise, and I couldn’t be less in agreement with them. I think Snyder uses the action to define the characters, and I think Zod could have easily just been a snarling bad guy. Instead, though, Goyer’s script is very careful to point out that Zod, like every Kryptonian, has a part that he was born to play, a role in society that he is driven to fulfill, and every action we see in this film is part of this genetic mandate that Zod feels.

Talking to him about the making of the film, I didn’t really want to talk about wire work and green screens. I was more interested in hearing Shannon talk about his experience as an actor working with Snyder and with the rest of the cast. Shannon’s developing a reputation as an actor that other actors want to work with, and in this case, he got to play scenes with Russell Crowe that really set the tone for who his character is and how he fits into Kryptonian society as a whole. I think he also really guides a lot of the major sequences between Zod and Superman, and I would imagine Cavill felt the need to bring his A-game if he is going to make this iconic hero register as strongly in those scenes as Shannon does as his character.

You’ll be able to judge for yourself this Friday, and in the meantime, enjoy this conversation with the always-interesting Shannon.

“Man Of Steel” arrives in two more days.

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