Man of Steel - Russell Crowe
Man of Steel - Jor-El (Russell Crowe) ©2013 Warner Bros
Man of Steel - Michael Shannon and Russell Crowe
Man of Steel – General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) ©2013 Warner Bros

In Zack Snyder’s updated take on the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, Russell Crowe portrays Jor-El, father of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill). Michael Shannon plays General Zod who, at the beginning of the film, faces off with Jor-El on Krypton, as the planet is imploding.

Both actors spoke of their approach to their iconic roles at the press day for the movie.

Can you tell us a little about your take on General Zod?

Man of Steel - Michael Shannon
General Zod (Michael Shannon) ©2013 Warner Bros

Michael: On Krypton, Zod does not have any super powers, he’s just a general. He’s been training for a long time, whooping butt there on Krypton.

Then he comes to Earth and goes through a similar thing that Kal-El goes through when he comes to Earth. It’s basically a acclimatizing to the environment.

I think anyone who spends their life as a warrior, who metes out orders, grows accustomed to a certain structure. Once that structure is taken away from them, they still have that impulse.

Once one has power, one enjoys exercising it. But it is interesting to watch Zod try to stay pure to his intentions.

Jor-El is pretty involved in this movie compared to the film with Marlon Brando. Did you see that version?

Man of Steel - Russell Crowe
Jor-El (Russell Crowe) ©2013 Warner Bros

Russell: I have a confession, might as well just get it out, I’ve never seen any other Superman movie. The only Superman reference I have is the black and white Superman TV show that was on TV after school when I was a kid.

I really had nothing to draw on. The simple thing for me is I read the script and thought it was a complex and really cool story in and of itself.

I thought the problems that Jor-El faced in terms as his decisions as a father was a very interesting thing to do and got involved.

How do you see the conflict between Jor-El and Zod?

Man of Steel - Russell Crowe and Henry Cavill
Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) ©2013 Warner Bros

Russell: If you come at the story from the perspective that Jor-El is simply a good guy, I think that is underselling the argument that exists, at least in my mind, that there’s a touch of madness in him, a touch of massive desperation in what he’s doing.

As far as he’s concerned, it’s the last roll of the dice for keeping Krypton alive.

Man of Steel - Michael Shannon
General Zod (Michael Shannon) ©2013 Warner Bros

Michael: There’s a comparison to be made, and it is certainly worth wondering about that, were Earth in as dire straits as Krypton is at the beginning of the film, what would we do?

Certainly there would be more than one solution, more than one valid argument. What side would you take? Wouldn’t you try to stop it from happening?

Zod, in his way, was taking a side, perhaps no more forcefully than Jor-El was. It was just a different side.

Who packs a better choreographed punch, you or Henry.

Michael: In terms of choreographed punches, it’s no secret that I’m much stronger than Henry is. There were a lot of ice packs back at the hotel for Henry!

What about you and Russell?

Michael: Russell really kicks my butt in this movie. I mean he’s the Gladiator so what are you going to do?

Michael was asked how he so successfully channels evil in his movies? Click here to listen to his amusing answer

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Man of Steel - Michael Shannon
General Zod (Michael Shannon) ©2013 Warner Bros

Russell was asked what it was like for him to portray a father in Man of Steel. Click here to hear his even more amusing answer!

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Man of Steel - Russell Crowe and Avelet Zurer
Jor-El (Russell Crowe), a baby Clark Kent and Lara Lor-Van (Avelet Zurer) ©2013 Warner Bros

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.