One of the most highly anticipated summer blockbusters is Man of Steel, which takes the Superman story back to its origins, in a fresh and more grounded way. When the young Kal-El/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth, he struggles with becoming the hero that he’s destined to be. From director Zack Snyder, screenwriter David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan, the film also stars Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne.
During a press conference at the film’s junket, co-stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon and Russell Crowe talked about making Lois Lane more active, what it took to get the flying right, the fight sequences, the sense of responsibility that comes with playing Superman, channeling evil, and playing a parent. Henry Cavill also talked about whether or not he’d like to be involved with a Justice League movie, at some point. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
AMY ADAMS: I grew up watching Superman and loving the characters. I auditioned [for the role] several times. This was my third try, so thank you to Zack [Snyder] for letting me play Lois. When I talked to Zack about this incarnation of Lois, what I loved was that she was definitely still the intrepid reporter, but she was somebody who was going to be a part of the solution, not just part of the problem. She has more of an inner track on Clark. She’s on the inside, as opposed to being on the outside, and I really like that. I thought it was a very unique idea. And I really loved that Zack wanted it to be this big amazing film, but that it also was very important to him to focus on the characters and the truth, and on grounding the characters in reality, as much as possible, in this amazing world that he created. He wanted all of the characters to have a really true heartbeat, and we spent a lot of time talking about that. That impressed me about Zack.
Henry, there was a lot of CGI and you have superpowers, so you’re not fighting in a typical way. How was the flying thing to get right?
HENRY CAVILL: Well, there was a lot of rehearsal involved. When it came to actual super-speed flight, it was mostly belly pan work. Belly pan is the mold of the front of a person’s body. You line it, and there’s a special gimbal created. There’s a guy in a green suit and a green screen moving it, depending on Zack’s direction, and I just had to imagine what it was like to fly. We had lots of help, from Zack’s imagery, attached to it, and his direction. There was also a lot of wire work, which we did during the whole stunt process. That was incredibly complex, and the guys tested it amazingly. That was probably the funnest part for me, as far as flying, because I got to be 40 feet up in the air and completely out of my own control. I was in somebody else’s control, thank goodness.
Michael, what sort of martial arts did you learn for this?
MICHAEL SHANNON: It was mostly Krav Maga. No. The important thing to remember is that, on Krypton, Zod does not have any superpowers. He’s just a general. He’s been training for a long time, and whipping butt for a long time, there in Krypton. And then, he comes to Earth, and he goes through similar thing that Kal-El goes through, when he comes through, which is basically just the acclimatizing to the environment. But, Zod has probably been doing those moves since he was a little boy.
CAVILL: Firstly, I don’t think it was about finding my way into an icon. Playing an icon, you don’t try to be an icon because that defeats the purpose. The responsibility attached is enormous, and the realization that it actually really, really matters meant that I wanted to put the most amount of work into representing the character properly. And that especially applied when I was working out in the gym. When you feel that you can’t push any harder or lift any more weight, you think, “Well, hold on a second, I’ve got to look like Superman. There’s a whole bunch of people out there who are relying on me to be that superhero.” And so, that really helped to push those extra few reps and just become that character.
Clark Kent spends his whole life not being able to fight, and then, all of a sudden, he’s in a situation where he has no choice. What do you think was going on with him, mentally, at that point?
CAVILL: Well, he broke through it in the period where he gets the sage advice from Jor-El, and it’s then that he gets to really test himself. When it comes to fighting aspect, it’s not really a matter of choice. When it comes to characters like that, it’s not “Okay, now I’ve got to change my thinking.” You just respond accordingly, and the fighting was required. It was instinctual.
Amy, even though your daughter is only three years old, what’s bigger to her, Superman or The Muppets?
ADAMS: I don’t know. She really liked Henry in the suit, I have to say. She did try to give him a little cheeky grab, which was very funny.
CAVILL: She did!
ADAMS: She wanted to touch the suit, and she just happened to be at rear-end height. She’s going to kill me when she’s older! She reached out and gave it a little touch. But, she’s really into Miss Piggy right now. She just saw Me Party, for the first time, and she asked me if I was going to work with Miss Piggy. So, I would say The Muppets, but she’s probably on the fence.
CAVILL: As far as the conflict that he went through or the journey, it wasn’t about classic Superman material. When you see Clark traveling through the world, trying to work out what and who and why he is, I didn’t go to source material for that. I applied my own life to it. As actors, it’s quite a lonely existence, unless you have someone traveling with you, the entire time. You spend a lot of time by yourself, and you meet new people. You make a temporary family. You love them, and then you never see them again, apart from the odd press conference. And you just apply that to the character. That’s exactly what he experiences – new groups of people constantly, and then disappearing and having to introduce himself to these other people, and prove to them that he’s a nice guy and that he tries to do all the right stuff. And then, all of a sudden, he disappears again. So, it was just that lonely aspect that I applied to it, as opposed to any classic Superman material.
Did you take anything from other actors who have played this character before?
CAVILL: I did not take anything from the other actors who have played it before. As an actor, the way I do it and the way I viewed it, with all the actors that have come before, is that it’s their interpretation of the source material, with the source material being the comic books. I wanted to have my interpretation, not out of a sense of ego, but a sense of the fact that it might be a disjointed performance, if I have someone else’s personality and their influence affecting the interpretation of the character. So, I just went straight to comic books. Yes, I have watched the older movies, but I did not apply those performances to mine.
Michael, you have the ability to play evil people, like no other. Where do you go to channel that evilness?
SHANNON: Satan. I get my bucket, and I go down to the well and say, “Satan, are you down there? I’ve got to be evil today.” And I lower the bucket down the well, the lava comes back up, and I drink it. It hurts, but then I take some Alka-Seltzer and some Pepto Bismol. No. I don’t know. I really don’t know. It couldn’t be anything further from who I actually am. I’m just a tall, lanky, goofy person, and then I do these other things. I don’t even necessarily ever think of it as evil. I keep wracking my brain and thinking, “Was my guy in 8 Mile evil? Why are people saying I’m evil? I don’t get it.” People are like, “Van Alden is so evil,” and I’m like, “Look at all the other men on Boardwalk Empire. Let’s line them up. Now, you’re telling me that Van Alden is the most evil person on that television program?” I don’t really know.
RUSSELL CROWE: I have a confession. I might as well just get it out, right now. I’ve never seen any other Superman movie. I haven’t seen any of [them]. I haven’t any references, in terms of cinematic experience. The only Superman reference I have is the 1950’s, black and white TV show that was on TV after school, when I was a kid, so I really didn’t have anything to draw on. The simple thing, for me, was to read the script. I thought it was a complex and really cool story, in and of itself. I thought the problems that Jor-El faced, in terms of his decisions, as a father, were very interesting. That’s why I got involved.
You play such a convincing parent in this. Did you go to your own parental skills and your own feelings about your children, to get to that point?
CROWE: I had a very interesting experience, being a father on this movie. I think Zack employed four babies, as the recently born Kal-El. In my own experience, as a father of two, I’ve managed to dodge all the piss and the poo, even though I’m pretty slick with a nappy. But, on this movie, I got farted on first. That was okay. I got pissed on, which was a little inconvenient. Then, the topper happened. Under those hot lights, after lunch, I got a handful of the essential Kryptonian material. So, I learned a lot. I had new experiences, as a parent on this movie, that I hadn’t previously had.
Henry, can you settle the internet debate about how Superman shaves?
CAVILL: I think some things better remain a mystery. What would people do, apart from talk about it?
CAVILL: I don’t think it necessarily speaks to the outsider alone. He speaks to everyone, or that ideal speaks to everyone. We all need hope, no matter what century we’re in and whatever state of life we’re in, whether we’re going through tragedy or not. It’s hope that everything will be okay. And if there’s a disaster happening, we hope that we can overcome it. I don’t think it’s solely for those who are outsiders or those who are alone. It’s for everyone.
CAVILL: Of course, I would do it! I’m very much open to it. But, I have no idea what the plans are for that. I’m not privy to that kind of information. I think it would be a lot of fun to explore the character further and in a continuing journey, but I know nothing about those plans, so far.
Did you start to hear about some of that, as the positive buzz for this film started coming in?
CAVILL: You know what, there’s so much talk about it, constantly. Everyone’s talking about if Justice League will happen. None of it has ever been official speak. It’s always been, “What if?,” and, “If we were to do, how would we do it?” It’s always just been brainstorming and fun ideas, as opposed to genuine thoughts. Certainly, if there is genuine thought about it, it’s probably behind very locked doors.
Man of Steel opens in theaters on June 14th. Click here for all our coverage.