Michael Shannon on going from the small scale 'Take Shelter' to the blockbuster 'Man of Steel'

Posted by · 1:42 pm · September 26th, 2011

Actor Michael Shannon was hit up left and right while he was at the Toronto Film Festival promoting his latest film “Take Shelter” (opening Friday) by eager beavers looking for scoops on Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” in which he plays the villainous General Zod to Henry Cavill’s Superman. Naturally. It was ever thus.

Of course, the film at hand, Jeff Nichols’ meditative portrait, is infinitely more interesting to me than the blockbuster fodder coming down the pike. But Shannon is a really nice guy and is happy there is so much excitement around the production, not unlike Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who is fielding similar obsessive queries about “The Dark Knight Rises” while trying to promote “50/50”).

I had no real interest in the specifics of “Man of Steel” when I spoke to Shannon yesterday. But for a guy like him, who started in the theater and, save for a stint on a Michael Bay movie you probably forgot he was a part of, and last year’s summer flop “Jonah Hex,” always keeps to more intimate projects, I was curious about how much of a cold bucket of water to the face something like “Man of Steel” might be.

It’s also an interesting point of consideration that “Take Shelter” implements visual effects in very creative and unique ways. The specialists at Hydraulx Entertainment (which were also responsible for the effects of “Skyline” and “Battle: Los Angeles”) did a great job on a few key sequences in the film.

But Shannon is nevertheless in another world when he’s on that “Man of Steel” set. So, since everyone has responded well to the Albert Brooks nuggets, I figured I’d toss this into the mill as well:

“You see some crazy stuff, you know? Every time you shoot something, there’s a whole series of shots that accompanies every shot. So we’ll shoot my big showdown with you, like here at the table. Then they have to shoot a clean plate. So me and you get up and leave and they shoot an empty room. Then they have to shoot the balls. They have a shiny ball and a dull ball. And they shoot those like where your head is and where my head is. And then they have this cube, that’s like made up of orange straws. And they shoot the cube.

“I don’t know what they’re doing. I honestly don’t know what they’re doing, but like, for every shot that you do, there’s like six more shots afterwards that’s just completely about the computer side. I like the visual effects coordinator, DJ, he’s a really nice guy. He’s on set all the time. I jokingly told him, he came up and said, ‘You’re doing a great job,’ and I said, ‘It’s very nice of you to give me some credit for what this film’s going to be. Because I’m sure ultimately you’re going to be running the show.'”

I should actually put up the audio, because the way he told this story just cracked me up.

Anyway, check back for my full interview with Shannon tomorrow.

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