When I found out I was covering the Get Smart press day and that Terence Stamp would be there…I’ll admit to only thinking one thing…I would see and hear General Zod!
While I’ve been very fortunate with who I’ve met and spoken with while working on Collider, every once in awhile someone will make my inner geek extremely happy – and Terence Stamp definitely qualifies. As General Zod in Superman II, Terence made a huge impression and his performance is still great after all these years. And even though Terence has made many other movies and played tons of other roles, for many people, he’ll always be the General.
Anyway, towards the end of the Get Smart press conference, Terence talked about his work in the upcoming Bryan Singer movie Valkyrie and he reminisced about Superman II and how the part has carried with him all these years. If you’re a fan of Terence and his work…you’ll definitely like the stories.
In the coming week look for many more interviews for Get Smart…but until then, enjoy the selected quotes:
Q: Terence, you did a wonderful job in this. Could you talk a little bit about the fun that you had and what attracted you to the role?
Terence Stamp: Me? I’m always rather flattered when I get approached about doing funny stuff. I guess it’s just unusual for somebody as devastatingly good looking and possessing wisdom and sexy that I guess people think I can do comedy so I’m always very flattered. I didn’t know about Get Smart. I guess, I don’t know, I didn’t see it. So when I went in to meet the production team and Pete (Segal), it was just kind of like a chat. You know what I mean? I hadn’t really seen the script. I didn’t know anything about it. And then when it got serious, I did a bit of research into it and I just thought it was one of those characters that I could kind of do something with. You know, somebody who is rather pretentious and looks down his nose at absolutely everybody. I thought I could get fun out of that. And in truth it was just such a great troupe really. It was such a great team of people. So I did have a lot of fun doing it even though I have to make a fool of myself which I don’t like. [laughs]
Q: Can you talk about your upcoming projects and what you have coming out?
Terence Stamp: Tom Cruise and I were trying to blow up Hitler in Berlin for a long time and then I’ve just finished something called “Yes Man” with the wonderful Jim Carrey. And although I’m like ‘no smoking in the auditorium,’ it was like a real wonderful week to work with him. He’s on fire all the time.
Q: So Valkyrie is finished?
[Terence Stamp makes a funny expression suggesting otherwise; laughter]
Q: Are you finished?
Terence Stamp: I’m really finished, but the opening has been postponed. Maybe I’d better not say any more. [laughter] Do you know what a rave is? Well I’ve been invited to a Cruise party but it’s like a rave. I don’t know the address until the last minute. So I’ll probably know more by next week.
Q: Can you take a friend?
Terence Stamp: I don’t know. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even like to ask. If we meet next week, I may know more about Valkyrie.
Q: Terence, all of us fan boys are really happy to hear our Zod reference today. How big of a deal is that for you still?
Terence Stamp: There are certain films that change your life. I hadn’t worked for about 10 years when I got the Superman offer and I was very nervous because it was apparent that they just wanted like an ugly and I had the feeling that they were going to just like me ugly and dress me ugly and give me ugly stuff to say. And I had a friend at the time, he was a Baron, a Dutch Baron, he was called Frederick von Pallandt and he was a very wise guy. He was a bit older than me. And I said, “I’m having doubts about this.” And he said, “You shouldn’t really have doubts about it because for loads of kids, Superman movies will be the first movie they ever go to see. And by the time they grow up, there’ll be more people who want to be like Zod than Superman. So you really shouldn’t worry about it. You should just be as ugly and as horrible as you can be.” And it kind of came to pass, you know.
I’m just thinking of a funny example. We didn’t have a bathroom when I was a boy so I became a clean freak very early and if I can get into a steam bath, I do, and especially after a jet flight. So I was taken to a steam bath in New York and I walked in and I undressed. And it was just all guys, you know. And I said to somebody, “Where are the loin clothes?” They said, “Oh, they’re at the front.” So I walked to the front. Very little loin cloth, like a little towel. And I’m not…a lot of guys in the steam bath, they go there to be nude, you know. [laughter] I’m walking back towards the steam and I see in front of me three enormous guys, two of which are black, and they’re just kind of staring at me and I revert to my East End spiv mode. So I just walked straight towards them and as I got close, one of the black guys said, “Are you that Zod guy?” And I said, “Smile when you say that!” [laughter] And there were these three big grins. So whenever I see big, fierce guys staring at me, I know they recognize the General.
Q: I heard a story about you in Montreal in the middle of the night. What was that about?
Terence Stamp: Exactly. I was billeted in a hotel. I live in hotels so I’m very class seasoned about hotels. When I walked in, I just didn’t like it. So I left the hotel. It was about midnight. There wasn’t a sparrow on the street and the guy who’d helped me with my luggage was gone so I just had this great big suitcase. There wasn’t anything. And then suddenly a big, black SUV comes barreling down the road and sort of screeches to a halt and a guy looks out the window at me and he said, “You’re General Zod” and I said, “I am.” [laughter] He said, “What are you doing here?” I said, “I’m looking for a taxi.” “Where do you want to go?” I said, “I want to go to the Vogue Hotel.” “Get in! Get in!” He gets out. He puts my suitcase up. We drive. He says, “Can I have a photo with you?” I said, “Anything.” [laughter]