Exclusive: Michael Shannon Talks MAN OF STEEL; Reveals How Director Zack Snyder Offered Him the Role of General Zod

     September 10, 2011


Michael Shannon is a very good actor.  He’s been knocking small supporting character roles out of the park for years, and recently he’s been given the chance to shine in much larger roles.  He is decidedly creepy on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and he’ll soon be gracing the screen in Marc Forster’s true-life drama Machine Gun Preacher.  Steve got the chance to sit down with Shannon this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival to talk about Machine Gun Preacher, but as one would expect the conversation also included a little-known film called Man of Steel.

We’ll have the full interview with Shannon up soon, but we wanted to share what he said about Zack Snyder’s Superman flick today.  While he’s barred from getting too specific, Shannon spoke about the how he nabbed the role of villain Genreal Zod, what it was like to screen test with Henry Cavill, and he also commented on all those set photos that seem to be leaking daily.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

Michael-Shannon-imageSteve:  I, of course, have to ask you about certain other high profile project.  I know you can’t talk about the story and I am not even going to ask.

Shannon:  The Smurfs movie?

The Smurfs sequel actually.

Shannon:  Yeah.  I can’t talk about it.

But could you talk a little bit about how Zack (Snyder) offered you the role of General Zod in Man of Steel?

Shannon:  He reached out to me and he asked me to come out to Pasadena.  I went and met him at his house.  He lives in Pasadena in the hills and the view from his house is stunningly beautiful.  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.

superman-man-of-steel-movie-image-henry-cavill-01Are you a little bit surprised by the extreme level of interest in the property and this project?

Shannon:  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.

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