The movie scene

A new road for ‘Man of Steel’s Michael Shannon


This weekend’s big summer superhero blockbuster movie finds Lexington native Michael Shannon in an unusual place: the middle of a big summer superhero blockbuster movie.

Shannon, who first cut his acting teeth at Actors Guild of Lexington and other Central Kentucky stages before heading to Chicago and the silver screen, usually shows up in such smaller independent films as Mud and The Iceman. But in Man of Steel” he plays Superman’s chief nemesis, General Zod, in a film that aims to launch the iconic superhero back to cinematic prominence next to Batman and The Avengers.

Shannon, 38, is characteristically cool talking about it.

“I don’t know,” he said, “in terms of the hoopla around it, I keep my head down; try not to pay too much attention to it. I’m honestly so busy with other things, working on Boardwalk (the HBO series Boardwalk Empire), I’ve got a play this summer, I’ve got a family, I just don’t have time to sit around and get too excited about any of it. I’ve got to keep working.”

And work Shannon has, with a number of films hitting the theaters lately. He still has time for stage work with a production of Sam Shepard’s drama Simpatico at Shannon’s A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago in July and August.

Shannon says one of the reasons he wanted to do the movie was to work with director Zack Snyder, known for his work on Watchmen, 300 and Sucker Punch.

“He’s got a phenomenal visual sensibility that I really appreciate,” Shannon says. Before seeing the Man of Steel finished product, Shannon said, “I think the movie’s going to look incredible, at the very least. And I think the rest of it will be pretty strong too.”

The superhero franchise film is unfamiliar territory, but Shannon is in a familiar role: the bad guy. In fact, an article in the current issue of Rolling Stone calls Shannon “Hollywood’s go-to villain,” citing his recent performances as a contract killer in The Iceman and a disgraced government agent in Boardwalk Empire. He earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in 2009 for playing a troubled man in Revolutionary Road with searing insights in the lives of the lead couple, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

In Zod, Man of Steel has Shannon playing one of Superman’s fellow Kryptonians, a man who believes they should unite in an invasion of Earth.

Shannon said making the movie was fun, but “it’s still a lot of hard work, training and staging fights and whatnot. So it’s serious fun.”

Rich Copley

Lexington Herald-Leader

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