Interview: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, and Michael Shannon Talk About Clark, Lois, and Zod in ‘Man of Steel’

By June 3, 2013
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[Editor’s note: Last Friday, I visited the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank to attend the press junket for their upcoming Superman film Man of Steel. (We’re not allowed to talk about the movie until June 10th, so expect my full review on GeekNation then.) The press conference ran for just under an hour, and because there was so much said about the movie, I’ve decided to break up our coverage into four or five separate posts over the next couple of days.]

When an actor plays Superman in a major motion picture, he instantly becomes one of the most famous people on the planet. Despite the prevalence of Batman on film over the past decade, Superman still has icon status as the original superhero and the 75 year history of the character was not lost on star Henry Cavill as he donned that famous suit.

“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. That especially applied when I was working out in the gym, when you feel like you can’t push any harder or you can’t lift anymore weight. You think, ‘Well, hold it a second. There’s a whole bunch of people out there who are relying on me to be that superhero.’ It really helped to push those extra few reps and become that character.”

While I can’t say what I thought about the film as a whole yet, I will say that Cavill absolutely knocks it out of the park as Clark Kent/Kal-El. He’s tremendous in the role, and he’s absolutely worthy of the star status he himself is about to achieve. The actor also spoke about how he pulled from his own life experiences to portray Clark’s journey instead of turning to any source material:

“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. You meet new people, you make temporary family, you love them, and then you never see them again potentially, apart from the odd press conference. You apply that to the character and that’s exactly what he experiences: new groups of people constantly, and then having to introduce himself to these other people and prove to them that he’s a nice guy and tries to do the right stuff, and all of a sudden he disappears again. So it’s just that lonely aspect that I applied to it as opposed to any classic Superman material.”

One of the most important elements of this movie is that it approaches the story with a completely genuine outlook. There’s no cynicism involved, no post-modern winking at the camera, no detached sense of irony. The theme of hope is one that arises often, and Cavill spoke about how that transcends the movie and is something that everyone can relate to:

“That ideal speaks to everyone. We all need hope, no matter what century we’re in, whatever state of life we’re in, whether we’re going through tragedy or not. It’s just hope that everything will be OK. And if it is tragedy and there’s disaster happening, hope that we can overcome it. I don’t think it’s solely for those who are outsiders and those who are alone – it’s for everyone.”

When Amy Adams was cast as Lois Lane, I was thrilled. Adams is a terrific actress who captured the essence of the role far better than the abysmal Kate Bosworth in Bryan Singer’s 2006 effort Superman Returns. (Sorry for being harsh – she was just the worst Lois I’ve ever seen.) At the press conference, Adams spoke a bit about her love for this particular version of the famous reporter:

“I grew up watching Superman and loving the characters. I think I’ve let it be known that I’ve auditioned several times. This was my third try, so thank you, Zack, for letting me play Lois. When I talked to Zack about this incarnation of Lois, what I loved was 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 was going to have more of an inner track on Clark and sort of be on the inside as opposed to being on the outside, and I really liked that and thought that was a very unique idea. I really loved that Zack wanted it to be this big, amazing film, but it was also very important to him to focus on the characters and the truth and grounding the characters in reality as much as possible in this amazing world that he created.”

One of the things I wanted from Man of Steel was for Superman to face off against a worthy adversary. Michael Shannon is a force of nature as Zod in this movie, and director Zack Snyder offered his explanation of why he wanted to tell a Superman story with Zod as the dominant villain:

“The cool thing about Zod is that he offers a real threat to Superman. A physical and emotional threat that is much stronger than any Earth-bound threat. He’s able to not only match him physically, but he represents his people. He’s a hard opponent that way…Michael and I talked about it right at the beginning, that we wanted his point of view to be pretty clear…if this was happening to your planet, and you were trying to save the people you loved, what lengths would you go to?”

And hilariously, when Shannon was asked how he plays “evil” characters so well, the actor kept a straight face and went off on a minute-long tangent about how he deals with the devil himself in order to get to those dark places on screen:

“Satan. That’s where I go. I get my bucket and I go down to the well, and say, ‘Satan? Are you down there? I’ve gotta be evil today.’ And I lower the bucket down in the well, and lava comes back up, and I drink it, and it hurts, but then I take some Alka-Selzer and Pepto Bismol…no, I don’t know. He couldn’t be any 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 think of it as evil.”

He has a point, and once you all see Man of Steel, you’ll get a better sense of Zod’s motivations. The film opens on June 14th, 2013, and I’d recommend seeing it in IMAX (but probably not 3D) so you can experience it in the most immersive way possible. For more Man of Steel coverage here at GeekNation, check out Kevin McCarthy’s video interview with Snyder and the cast.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.