Michael Shannon is known for playing intense characters, including a dogged but unstable federal agent on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and a mentally ill mathematician in the 2008 film “Revolutionary Road.” But those could pale in comparison to his upcoming role as General Zod in the Zack Snyder-directed Superman adventure “Man of Steel.” During a recent interview with Hero Complex contributor Oliver Gettell to promote his new film “Take Shelter,” opening Friday, the actor hinted that “Man of Steel” will be a truly cosmic adventure.
OG: What can you tell us about the scale of “Man of Steel”?
MS: It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. It’s massive sets. It’s literally another world. It’s the first time I’ve acted on another planet.
OG: What is it like acting on a set like that?
MS: As much green screen as there is and I’m sure will be, they’re actually building a lot of the sets as well. I had thought it was just going to be green screens everywhere and we would just be pretending everything. There’s quite a bit of detail they’re building and putting into it. It’s very helpful. The less green screen, the better — I don’t think you’d be able to find an actor on Earth who wouldn’t have that sentiment.
OG: What drew you to the film?
MS: This is one of the biggest stories of all time: the Superman story. Its prevalence is enormous. And I remember watching the original films — the [Richard] Donner films, and Terence Stamp in the role [of Zod], and the three Kryptonians — it scared the crap out of me. It really left an impression on me. Someone asking me to follow in those footsteps seemed like the highest kind of challenge you could have as an actor. And I always like to be challenged.
OG: What can you say about the character of General Zod?
MS: He’s not one of these archetypal villains with horns coming out of his head and breathing fire or something. He’s a man, a Kryptonian man. He’s a general, that’s his main attribute. That’s the way I approach it: playing a general. I’ve done military parts before, but I’ve only been up to sergeant, so this is a big promotion.
— Oliver Gettell
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