For decades, Superman Man of Steel has stood head-and-shoulders above the squadron of supernatural heroic figures from the Marvel Comics canon. Now, a new iteration keeps the fantasy alive in the hearts and minds of all generations.
Today’s version presents the legendary story of a young boy who learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
Filmmakers made a concerted effort to punctuate and illuminate the core of Superman’s strength, his formation in steel, taking the concept to the farthest reaches of one’s imagination.
The film also stars four-time Oscar® nominee Amy Adams (“The Master”), Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”),
Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”), Oscar® nominee Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”), Oscar® nominee Laurence Fishburne (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”), Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”) and Harry J. Lennix (Ray, Matrix, Get On the Bus, The Five Heartbeats).
During press interviews at the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, CA, cast members shared their experiences of making MAN OF STEEL.
On your portrayal of the classic superhero
Henry Cavill: As far as the conflicts that he went through or his personal journey, it wasn’t about classic Superman material; there are many layers to this story. When you see Clark traveling through the world trying to work out ‘what,’ ‘who’ and ‘why’ he is the way is, source material was not used to prepare that back story. I applied his story to my own life. 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. Apart from the press activities to promote the film, apply that example to the character and that’s exactly what he experiences: new groups of people, constantly, then disappearing and having to introduce himself to other people and prove to them that he’s a nice guy that he tries to do the right stuff and all of a sudden disappears again. So it is that lonely aspect which I applied to the character opposed to any classic Superman material.
On your portrayal as Lois Lane, Clark Kent’s colleague and Superman’s love interest
Amy Adams: I grew up watching Superman and loving all the characters. This is not my first try at Lois Lane. In times past, I auditioned several times, this is my third shot, so thanks you Zach. When I talked to Zach about this incarnation of Lois Lane, what I loved was she was definitely still the intrepid reporter but she was also somebody who was going to be part of the solution and not just part of the problem. She was going to have more of an inner track on Clark and be on the inside instead of the outside. I really liked that; I thought that perspective was a very unique idea. I really loved this big amazing film but it was also very important to focus on characters in their truth; to ground the characters in reality as much as possible.
Zach wanted all the characters to have a true heartbeat and we spent a lot of time talking about that nuance of the portrayal; it is what impressed me about Zach’s vision for the film.
I caught up with MAN OF STEEL’s Harry J. Lennix by phone, cast as Army General Swanwick, also a defender of justice and world peace—
Lennix: I think people will love this version of Superman and I think it will re-establish the brand as innovative and trend setting as well as traditional: it is the best of both worlds. It’s the oldest super hero known to us but the technology used to tell his story is cutting edge. Audiences will definitely find it entertaining and worth their time.
You have built a notable career as a character actor for a number of years–
Lennix: I think that it’s been very long so far, relatively speaking. I’ve been making a living at this now for nearly 30 years, if not in movies, onstage in theatres. I was a theatre actor first. I’ve had some very magical moments creating a make believe world and I’ve done some good movies. I’ve also done some stinkers (laughter). This business is somewhat like sports–you have some good games, you have some bad games. I think if you look at this as a career then it’s a successful career just because I’ve been able to maintain a living and work on more good projects than stinkers. I think I’ve had a winning record.
What is the typical reaction that a person has when they encounter you?
Lennix: It varies. I don’t know if there is a typical one. If you mean when somebody places me as being an actor that they may be familiar with, the typical response is, ‘How did you get into it?’ They want to know what it’s like to be an actor in a movie. In reality, I couldn’t possibly know what it’s not like because I’ve been doing them for so long. That question is like somebody asking me what its like to be a Chicagoan if I still live in Chicago. I don’t know because I don’t know anything else.
I’ve been an actor longer than I have not been an actor so that’s the typical kind of response. The reactions and responses are interesting and run the gamut. Some people want to get to know you more; they want to engage you in some way. Some people resent it and they’re very hostile even if it’s sort of passive aggressive. They assume that I am arrogant. Or, that I think I’m a movie star or something and they may not be giving me a chance in that way, and that’s OK, that’s fine. Sometimes one person may recognize me and another does not and I get to witness their exchange, particularly when I get asked, ‘So, who are you?’
Does it make you laugh?
Lennix: It does. It also makes me slightly irritated, but it makes me laugh.