Why Man Of Steel's Michael Shannon Doesn't See General Zod As A Villain

By Eric Eisenberg 2013-06-13 18:20:42discussion comments

I also do want to talk about your working with Zack Snyder, because the thing is, he is primarily known as a visual director. Heís known for his style, but what is he like to work with as an actor, kind of collaborating with him and getting into the character and going scene by scene?

Well, he gets right in there with you. I mean, he doesnít ask you to think about anything that he hasnít already thought of himself. The characters are a mystery that youíre trying to solve together, and heís a real collaborator. I mean, heís very inquisitive and he wants to know, you know, he wants to know your approach and why you think whatever is happening in any particular scene is happening and why you think... Heís just constantly asking you interesting questions.

Like what?

Well, you know, itís hard to say. In a scene, like in the beginning, when Iím on Krypton and Iím talking to the council, you know, it wasnít about, ďOh just come in and be a badass.Ē It was about the history of the struggle and my history with these people and having a specific relationship with each one of them, a history with each one of them and then the relationship between Zod and Jor-El, which is a very fascinating relationship, I mean, if you think about it, these two are friends and the evolution of that relationship, but it wasnít like, Zack didnít direct with a stylistic approach, like, ďOh, I want this scene to sound like this or look like that. I want you to act like this or act like that.Ē It was a very grounded approach about, these are real people and we want to see whatís happening to them.

And you mentioned that it was a collaborative process. What kind of stuff did you personally inject into the Zod character?

Itís hard to put a name on it. I mean I, itís hard to put a name on that, itís kind of nameless. Itís not like, I mean, the character came from my imagination, from my subconscious, you know. I mean, I guess, more than anything, I just brought my concentration to it. I thought about it a lot and I took it seriously. I took it as seriously as I would take any other acting job Iíve done, even though itís ostensibly a comic book movie, I never approached it like it was a comic book movie. I approached it as seriously as I would approach a movie with Jeff Nichols or any other project I work on.

I think thatís incredibly interesting point, because the superhero genre is growing at a fast rate, more and more talented actors like yourself are becoming a part of it. How do you perceive that tide as changing?

Well, I donít think it behooves anybody to look down on it. I mean, these are the most popular films being made right now and theyíre not going anywhere, you know? So, rather than turn your back on them, why not try and make them even stronger or incorporate real thought-provoking, resonant content into them, which I feel like Man of Steel can provide a variety of different experiences. If you just want to have a thrill ride, itís in there. If you want to be more contemplative and kind of ruminate about certain things going on in the universe, you can do that too.
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