I’m no casting agent, but I have pegged Michael Shannon for a super-villain role for years. Still, I never thought Shannon — who has never really appeared in any blockbuster — would ever be tapped to star in such a role. However, people all over the world who have never seen the Oscar-nominated actor act will see Shannon star as General Zod in Man of Steel, and he spoke to The Los Angeles Times about the role and if he ever lightens up.
Though General Zod is clearly the supervillain of Man of Steel, Shannon insists that he doesn’t see his character as evil. He explains, “I don’t consider him a bad guy. He’s a general just trying to do his job. Ask any general what their purpose in life is and it’s to defend whatever people they happened to be aligned with. He’s aligned with Krypton. It’s his mission, plain and simple.”
While Man of Steel was likely the largest paycheck Shannon has received for a film and will bring him huge recognition, he says he was mainly drawn to the project to work with the director, saying, “It’s always nice to be paid, but it wasn’t the paycheck at all. I had been a fan of [director] Zack [Snyder]‘s for a long time, particularly the Watchmen movie. I thought that was probably the best movie, other than maybe the Dark Knight series, that I had seen in the genre of comic book films. I’ve just been intrigued with his visual sensibility, and I was excited to be a piece of his canvas.”
Shannon is best known for his stern roles, like as a fierce Prohibition agent in Boardwalk Empire. However, Shannon has done comedic roles (like in Mud) and is open to doing more of those in the future. He says, “I’ve done comedy in the past. I’ve done a lot of improv in Chicago. I’d be totally game for doing a comedy if someone cares to give me one. I’d have to think it’s funny. I can’t say that there’s a lot that I see nowadays that I think is terribly funny. I don’t think it’s one of the golden ages for comedy.”