Terence Stamp looks back at playing General Zod

News Simon Brew
12 Dec 2012 - 06:40

As Michael Shannon heads to the screen as General Zod in Man Of Steel, Terence Stamp has been looking back at his take on the role...

One of the finest villain performances in the history of comic book movies must surely be that of Terence Stamp, thanks to his portrayal of General Zod in Superman and Superman II. His iconic "kneel before Zod" line is oft-quoted, turning up too in movies such as Mallrats and 21 Jump Street.

The role is coming back to the big screen, with Michael Shannon playing General Zod in next year's Superman reboot, Man Of Steel. And The Playlist has been chatting to Stamp about his take on the role.

Stamp revealed that he had been out of work for the best part of a decade when he took on the Superman films, describing the project as "my comeback movie".

"I was a swami in an ashram, with long hair and a beard, and I was in orange", he said. "And then I was travelling and learning all these metaphysical techniques and breathing and tantra, and finally I got to an ashram in Pune and it seemed like the most beautiful women from every country in the world were there, and they were all totally empowered. So then I let go, I thought no, I won’t go back to showbiz, this is my life now".

That changed when he went back to a hotel for a weekend that he'd sent his agent a postcard from the year before. "As I come in the concierge hands me a telegram, and it’s addressed to 'Clarence Stamp' and it’s dog eared and I don’t know how old it was. And he puts it in my hand and the psychic weight of this telegram! I knew my life was about to change".

The contents of the telegram, which proved to be from Stamp's agent, was a request to head to London to meet with director Richard Donner, about tackling Superman and Superman II, which were shooting back to back. "You'll have scenes with Marlon Brando", it added. The telegram also had an offer for a film of Gurdjieff's Meetings With Remarkable Men book. In Stamp's words, "it was like the universe was saying 'you're back in the market, son'".

Our favourite bit of the interview, however, is when The Playlist ask Stamp if he has any advice for Michael Shannon. It led to an anecdote about how Stamp tackled General Zod. "When I walked onto that set I’d been in an ashram for a year", he recalled, "learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation. I was rechanneling the lifeforce and I hadn’t been working, and when I walked on the set, it seemed like everyone was asleep, but I was so, so ready. The only guy who was really up for it was Brando - he totally understood where I was coming from".

The full interview, and it's a terrific read, can be found here.

Man Of Steel arrives in cinemas next summer.

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