From “Bug” to “The Runaways” to “Premium Rush,” Michael Shannon has made a successful career for himself playing larger-than-life characters. But in taking on his biggest role to date, the villainous General Zod in “Man of Steel,” Shannon said that he always felt like he was working seriously and quietly on a very real and believable character.
“It never really felt like a comic-book movie to me,” Shannon told MTV News. “Because of the approach, it was so serious. And I don’t mean that to make it sound like it’s not [fun]; I mean, at the end of the day, it’s meant to be an entertaining movie and I think it is. But from the beginning where they’re on Krypton, there’s some real serious issues being discussed, and real dire circumstances. And just the scope of it kind of took me by surprise — I think it’s unusual.”
In “Man of Steel,” Zod is a complexly rendered adversary for Superman and the hero’s last vestige of contact with his home world. He’s an opponent who wants to rebuild Krypton at the expense of humankind, which Superman has sworn to protect. Shannon said that he enjoyed the opportunity to play a role where the character’s motivations were well-established and even sympathetic.
“Even though people think I’m really good at being evil or something, if the job was just to show up and be mean to people, I would get confused, I think,” he said. “It was nice to have a very clear objective.”
Shannon is also well-known for his portrayals of bad guys, be they full-fledged villains or just less scrupulous counterparts of the film’s protagonist. But he explained that he’s less strategic about what kind of roles he plays than his co-stars, as in both “Man of Steel” and last year’s “Premium Rush.”
“It’s a case by case thing,” he admitted. “Something like ‘Premium Rush,’ I thought it was funny — it was like, this guy’s so funny. And I liked David [Koepp], the director and the writer. He made a good impression. That’s a huge part of it and that’s something that the general public really never sees, but sitting down with someone like david or like Zack, you’re like, these guys are really nice and they’re really smart, and it seems like it would be a lot of fun to work with them. Even if I’m playing the psycho or whatever, it would just be fun to spend some time with them.”
“Man of Steel” opens in theaters nationwide June 14.