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Michael Shannon talks Man of Steel story, suit and Snyder

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The Michael Caine of the “Man of Steel” cast (web mongers will know what I mean by that designation), Michael Shannon, is out talking about his role as the computer-generated Kryptonian ‘Zod’ in the Superman reboot. Though Shannon’s far more tight-lipped than Caine is when it comes to ‘Batman’ spoilers, the Oscar Nominated actor will still gladly wax lyrical with anyone bearing a press badge about the impending blockbuster. Nothing wrong with that, just interesting that it’s seemingly always Shannon who is talking the movie up.

In a new interview with The Province, the “Take Shelter” star mentioned where this new ‘Superman’ film fits on the timeline.

Can you tell me anything about the movie you’re making now?

Man of Steel? It’s about Superman, I can tell you that. It’s pretty hush-hush, it’s a reboot going back to the origins of Superman.

And you’ve been in it throughout, from the beginning?

We started doing preparations in the spring, learning stunts and stuff, and we started shooting towards the end of July. We were in Illinois for a couple of months then we wound up here in Vancouver.

I was at Zack Snyder’s Watchmen set, and I was out to Sucker Punch. It’s like his brain explodes on soundstages, huge design-heavy sets. He must be an interesting guy to work with from an actor’s perspective.

Oh, he’s a prince, one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in this business. Very warm-hearted individual and very creative.

Always wearing shorts and a T-shirt, I notice.

Yeah, he doesn’t wear a suit to work, which is nice. He blends in, he likes to feel, to be one of the guys, one of the crew, but he’s able to do that without losing his authority. He doesn’t really crack the whip, he’s friendly and because he’s friendly people want to make him happy.

I’ll attest to that, Snyder is a wonderful guy. One of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys I’ve ever spoken to wearing this hat. Also, he is smart, and intelligent and imaginative.. and all these things. “Watchmen” is verification enough of that.

Shannon, of course, takes on the role made famous by “Superman II” star Terence Stamp. He said his job is probably much easier than what Stamp had back in the early ’80s.

I met one of your predecessors as General Zod, Terence Stamp, and he said the one thing he remembered about that Superman was the wire work. He was taking pilates decades later for back problems after he’d been haning in a harness for hours on that movie.

Unfortunately for Mr. Stamp, they didn’t have CGI back then. I’m being spared a lot of drudgery that he had to endure. From time to time I’m in a harness, but I don’t think anywhere near as much as he was. It’s no secret that a lot of the film is going to be assisted by computer designed animation.

Compare that kind of work to something like Take Shelter or Revolutionary Road – acting on a green screen, with the knowledge that your performance is going to be augmented by CG, as opposed acting in a room with a couple of lights and a couple of actors.

I guess it can be frustrating not having those tactile elements around you, being surrounded by the green, but you’re always trying to tell a story and be honest and you use your imagination regardless of whether there’s a set or not. In a way it’s even more childlike (with CG) because you’re really relying solely on your imagination, like a little kid in the yard who doesn’t have any props, just inventing something out of thin air. That’s the original impulse for it all to begin with, I think.

Shannon says he will be filming “The Iceman” with Chris Evans between “Boardwalk Empire” and “Man of Steel”.

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