Man of Steel "Spy" Photos, Michael Shannon Discusses General Zod
09.12.11 by Ryan
For the first time on the big screen since 1980's Superman II, General Zod will try to force Superman to "kneel before Zod" and actor Michael Shannon is nervous about it. Shannon has previously admitted that he did not feel "worthy" to take over the role, originally played by Terence Stamp, and says his version of the character that appears in Man of Steel will be a "reinvention."
In a recent interview with Complex, Shannon admitted that playing Zod comes with a lot of pressure.
Terence Stamp set a very high standard. Before we started filming, my girlfriend actually had Superman 2 on and I saw him — I hadn't seen it in years — and, yeah, it was pretty intimidating. But I think you kind of have to approach it like starting from scratch and it will be different. It's a different take on it; it's not anything I can really talk about in too much detail without getting in trouble. I can say that he's not just a cold blooded villain, you know? In his own way, he's a person just like anybody else and he's fighting for something that he believes in.
To prepare for the role, Shannon said that Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, recommended some comic books, but admitted that there's "not a lot of hands-on research you can do."
When you're playing somebody like Zod, it's not a lot of hands-on research you can do. It's not like I can go prowling around in a cop car or you know go work at a bar or something and see what it's like. There's nothing to equate [being General Zod] to; it's really in your imagination. I mean, I thought the fact that he's a general is something that I could explore, a way into it looking at other real-life generals, 'cause they all have a pretty intense bearing and a very particular way of being so I looked at generals in the Army nowadays, General Petraeus, people like that, watching interviews with them trying to get to capture that "steely" nature.
Shannon won the role of Zod in April, just months after receiving his first Academy Award nomination for Revolutionary Road. While talking with Collider, Shannon revealed that Snyder "reached out" to him about the role in what was an unusual casting process.
He basically sat there and he ran through the whole…it was almost like he was pitching it to me, which I found to be a little bizarre. I felt like the tables should be turned and I should be on my hands and knees trying to get the part. But he was like, "Yeah, doesn’t it sound great? Then this is going to happen! And then this is going to happen!" I said, "Yeah. That all sounds wonderful." Then we stood up and shook hands. He took me down and showed me some artwork, storyboards, and stuff. I just remember that the whole time he was pitching the movie there were these hummingbirds behind him in the window flying around. It was one of the most surreal mornings. It was in the morning too right at the beginning of the day. I had just flown in the night before and I was little jetlagged. So it was just very…but then I went back when it was going to go further. I did a test with Henry [Cavill] and we did a scene together. That was intense and my palms started sweating a little bit. After the test, a couple of weeks went by and I was at the grocery store with my family when my phone rang. It was a private number and I didn’t even know who it was. I answered it and he says, "Hey, this is Zack. Want to be General Zod?" I was like, "Yeah. Let me just get these cookies over here. Who is this again?" The whole thing was a real trip.
Now in production, set photos have revealed Shannon in a motion-capture suit, meaning that Zod's costume will be added in post-production. One of many comic book adaptations that have had "spy" photos serve as spoilers, Shannon said he's not sure why people are so intent on ruining Man of Steel before there's even a trailer.
It is surprising that people are snapping photos and stuff and then putting them on the internet. For me, it is like, "Why would you want to do that?" It would be like knowing what your Christmas presents were before Christmas morning. It is taking all of the fun out of it. I know it is a long wait. The film isn’t coming out till 2013. I just keep promising everybody that I will talk about this film a lot after this film has come out. I will give you my number and you can call me up. We’ll have a long conversation about it, but for right now I have to zip the lips.