Man of Steel Cast Talks Family, Flying and More!
By: Lynn Barker
The new Superman film Man of Steel has a lot to say to kids and teens. Young Clark Kent has to hide his powers and take bullying. When he’s older, he is still searching for who he really is and what he wants to do with his life…like all of us. And of course the film is packed with cool stunts and effects but it’s Superman as a symbol of hope and the real heart that the film carries that is most memorable.
Kidzworld went to Warner Brothers Studio lot in L.A. to talk to the cast and see some cool costumes and props from the movie. We got answers from: Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Russell Crowe (Jor-El, Superman’s birth dad), Diane Lane (Martha Kent, Superman’s Earth mom) and Michael Shannon (baddie Zod).
Kidzworld: Amy, your Lois Lane was different than the Lois we’d seen in the other films. She’s not a victim. Can you talk about playing her?
- Amy: I grew up watching Superman and loving the characters. I auditioned (for the part) several times. When I talked to (director) Zack (Snyder) about this incarnation of Lois, what I loved was that she was still this intrepid reporter, that she was somebody that 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 I thought that was a very unique idea. I really loved that Zack wanted it to be this really big, amazing film but it was also very important to him to focus on the characters and the truth, grounding the characters in reality as much as possible in this amazing world that he created. He wanted all of the characters to have a really true heartbeat and we spent a lot of time talking about that.
Kidzworld: Henry did you feel some sort of responsibility playing Superman and how did you find your way into this iconic character?
- Henry: First I don't think it's about finding my way into an icon. 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 specially applied when I was working out in the gym. When you feel you can't push any harder and you can't lift any more weight, you think “Hold on a second. I’ve got to look like Superman. There's a whole lot of people out there who are relying on me to be that Super hero”. So it really helped to push out those extra few reps and just become that character.
Kidzworld: Clark spent his childhood being bullied and told he couldn't fight but is then placed in a situation where he has no choice. How does he break through that?
- Henry: He broke through it in the period where he gets the sage advice from (his father) Jor-El and it's then when he gets to really test himself. When it comes to the fighting aspect, it's not really a matter of choice. You have to. It's not “Okay, now I’ve got to sort of change my thinking”, you just respond accordingly and that required fighting.
Kidzworld: Amy, I know your daughter is only three but what's a bigger deal to her? Superman or The Muppets (Amy was in the latest Muppet movie)?
- Amy: She really liked Henry in the suit I have to say. She did try to give him a little cheeky grab which was really funny.
- Henry: Yeah, she did!
- Amy: She wanted to touch the suit and she just happened to be at rear end height and she's going to kill me when she's older (for telling this). So she reached out and gave it a little touch. She's really into Ms. Piggy right now. She just saw “Me Party” for the first time and today she asked me if I was going to work with Ms. Piggy. I would say Muppets but she's probably on the fence.
Kidzworld: Russell, was playing Jor-El, Superman’s father, at all a big challenge for you?
- Russell: I have a confession, might as well get it out. I've never seen any other Superman movie. I didn't have any references in terms of cinematic experiences. 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. So 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. And I thought the problems that Jor-El faced in terms as his decisions as a father was a very interesting thing to do and that’s why I got involved.
Kidzworld: Henry, how was it doing your flying scenes?
- Henry: There was a lot of rehearsal involved. When it came to actual super-speed flight, it was mostly belly pan work. A belly pan is the mold of the front of a person’s body and you lie in it and there's a guy in a green suit and a green screen moving it and I just have to imagine what it's like to fly. We had lots of help from Zack's imagery attached to it and his direction.
- There was also a lot of wire work that we did during the whole stunt process, that was incredibly complex and the guys tested it amazingly. A guy called Jim Churchman just did a fantastic job on the wires. That was probably the funnest part for me in regards to flying because I got to be 40 feet up in the air and sort of just completely out of control, well in someone else's control thank goodness. That was the stuff that made you feel like flight and like Superman.
Kidzworld: Cool! Michael, you play bad guy Zod. He gets way powerful on Earth. He’s a general so he’s a tough guy but he has to learn how to deal with superpowers, right?
- Michael: I think the important thing to remember was that on Krypton Zod does not have any super powers, he's just a general. He's been training for a long time, whipping butt for a long time 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 acclimating to the environment. But yeah Zod has probably been doing those moves since he was a little boy.
Kidzworld: I don't think we have ever seen Kal-El or Clark this conflicted about who he is. Were there any classic Superman materials helpful in exploring that?
- Henry: As far as the conflicts that he went through or the journey, it wasn't about classic Superman material. When you see Clark traveling through the world and trying to work out what and who and why he is, I didn't go to source material (the comics) for that, I just applied my own life to that. 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 and you meet new people and you make temporary family and you love them and then you never see them again potentially apart from the press conference. (Everybody kind of goes “awwwww”).
- You just apply that to the character and that's exactly what he experiences; new groups of people constantly and then disappearing again and having to introduce himself to these other people and prove to them he's a nice guy and tries to do all the right stuff and all of a sudden he disappears again. So it's just that lonely aspect that I apply to it opposed to any classic Superman material.
Kidzworld: Diane, Jonathan Kent felt young Clark had to keep his powers secret. Did you feel that your character Martha, his Earth mom, felt that way too?
- Diane: Well the first time she sees him (as an adult) in the suit is kind of the answer to the question. I love that line that we've managed to come up with where she says “nice suit son”. Because (his secret) has been waiting to be revealed and if anyone is holding their breath any more than his mom, I can't imagine who it would be. Talk about your son coming out. It's kind of built in.
Kidzworld: Michael, you are an actor who has the ability to play evil like no other. Where do you go to channel that evilness?
- Michael: (he’s kidding here) Satan, yeah that's where I go for my evil. I get my bucket and I go down to the well and I say “Satan are you down there? I've got to be evil today” and I lower the bucket down into the well and the lava comes back up and I drink it and it hurts but then I take some Alka Selzter and some Pepto Bismol (we laugh). No! I really don't know. It couldn't be anything further from who I actually am. I'm kind of just a tall, lanky, goofy person and then I do these other things and...I don't even necessarily think of it as evil. I keep racking my brain. Why do people keep saying I'm evil, I don't get it.
Kidzworld: You’re just a good actor! Henry have you taken anything from other actors who have played Superman before and how did you want to be different from them?
- Henry: I did not take anything from the other actors that played it before. The way I viewed it is that all the actors that have come before, it's their interpretation of the source material; the source material being the comic books and I wanted to have my interpretation, not out of a sense of ego but in a sense that it might be a disjointed performance if I have someone else's personality and their influence affect the interpretation of the character. So I went straight to the comic books and saw the older movies but I did not apply those performances to mine.
Kidzworld: For Russell and Diane, you played such convincing and heartfelt parents to Kal-El/Clark in the film. What did each of you access to achieve that? Was it your own parental skills; your own feelings about your children?
- Diane: That’s a sweet question. It's a hybrid of many things but certainly once you're a parent, it informs everything that you do. This is such a unique scenario (for Martha) having an alien come into your barn and raise it and it happens to be a very beautiful human specimen. Actually it has a lot of other things going on. The challenge and the backstory that Zack and Kevin (Costner) and I really enjoyed discussing was imagining what it would be like to temper a young person’s attitude adjustment that's required in the rearing of children when they have the powers that Clark has.
- It was fun having those conversations. Once you fall in love with a being that needs you, you imprint and you want it to represent your belief system and how does that manifest and what is sacred to you and that winds up being conveyed eventually when you're not even there to see it. That's the hope of parenthood.
- Russell: (lightening up) I had a very interesting experience being a father on this movie. I think Zack employed four babies as the recently-born Kal-El and unlike my own experiences as a father of two, I've managed to dodge all the piss and the poo even though I'm pretty slick with a nappy (diaper) but on this movie I got farted on first and that was okay, pissed on and that was a little bit convenient then the topper happened under those hot lights. It was after lunch, to be expected, and I got a handful of the essential Kryptonian material (ewwwww). So I learned a lot, I had new experiences as a parent on this movie that I hadn't previously had so thank you Zack (big laughs).
Kidzworld: Okay, getting serious again… Henry, I love the idea that Superman has to give humans hope. That’s important because it really speaks to those who feel like outsiders.
- Henry: But, I don't necessarily think that he speaks to the outsider alone, he speaks to everyone or that ideal speaks to everyone. We all need hope no matter what century we are in, whatever state of life we are in, whether we are going through tragedy or not. It's just hope that everything will be okay and if it is tragedy and disaster happens, hope we can overcome it. I don't believe it's solely for those who are outsiders and those who are alone. (Superman and Hope) is for everyone.
See Man of Steel in theaters this Friday the 14th and come back soon for our exclusive interview with Dylan Sprayberry who plays teen Clark Kent!