Mackenzie Gray: Stories of Working with the Cast and The “Freedom Fighters of Krypton” (Interview Part 2)


Man of Steel

Warner Bros Pictures

When we last left on Mackenzie’s Part 1 interview, we had just finished talking about how Jax-Ur absolutely did not want Superman to die.  In Part 2 of the interview, Mackenzie shares more on his prep for the role in Man of Steel, some stories from set working with the cast, Jax-Ur’s age and the how the villains came to be called “Freedom Fighters,” which had been mentioned in some interviews.

MG: In terms of prepping for the role, I was flown down to Chicago to meet and work with Antje Traue so I could have the same accent as Antje. They wanted us to be from the same place essentially.   It was good to get to know Antje. She’d been working for a week or two at that point.  She had a really good take on what Krypton was all about in the movie.  She was very helpful to me to get my head around that.  The time I spent with Antje in Chicago was really important.

ME: Great chemistry then between the actors.

MG: Yeah. Antje and I are terrific friends and got really close during the shoot.  We listened to music together, had a lot of fun, we had nicknames  for each other and all that.  Michael Shannon, he had a huge weight to carry.  He was delightful to work with, he’s such a beautiful guy.  Very intense all the time on set, but not intense off away on breaks. He and I share a background in theater. That opened us up [to each other] a lot more. Suddenly we had this whole other life to discuss and talk about.  The theater is a totally different world that film.   It’s not easy and it’s certainly not for everybody, too.

ME: Having been in television, then in this blockbuster movie with an 8 month production schedule- a really long one- what is the difference like between filming for television and filming for a movie?

MG:  You never had any time to sit with the others.  On Man of Steel, we shot a page a day. In television you shoot 7-10 pages a day, sometimes 6 pages. In terms of schedule [for TV], it’s fast and short.  You work really hard long hours.  In this film we had a bit more time. It was very set specific and it had to be taken into account.  From the  20 what they call “witness” cameras, which were for all the CGI background.  And then we had the hand held  35mm camera. It was being totally held by hand.   It was just incredible, incredible work.  To stay fresh on days like that, we’d go out to dinner between takes.  You have to do a lot to stay fresh.

ME: Zack had Henry, Russell, and Antje with Gym Jones working out and getting into certain physical shape.  Were you required to do any of that for your role?

MG: No. They liked the shape I was in and I didn’t have any battle scenes, so they didn’t think I needed to.  I would have loved to have had the training! (laughing) I had started to lose weight and was actually trying to maintain my weight.  Michael had said “if you lose any more weight I think you’re costume is going to fall off.”  It took 2 hours to get me into it. He was worried because the costumes we so specifically tailored to us, to lose or gain weight, it would have been problematic to the costume- too much weight one way or another.  So I did have to keep in shape to maintain the weight that I was.

ME: How long was your portion of the shoot?

MG:  3 months.  That’s 15 days, but it’s spread out over 3 months.   Antje, as was Michael, was in [filming] from July, 2011 to February, 2012.  So they were in it pretty constantly.

ME: I don’t know if you’ve looked at it or not yet, but one of the books I have for Man of Steel, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman written by Dan Wallace, it’s a really cool book.  It has some concept art and talks more about back stories, and it talks about Jax-Ur in it as the scientist who created the genesis chamber system for genetically producing people.   But I got a giggle out of it because we know from the movie that Krypton hasn’t reproduced naturally in thousands of years, it’s been done through genetic engineering… but Jax-Ur is the one who created the system. I thought “goodness gracious! How old is Jax-Ur?! Did they discover Kryptonian Botox or something?”  (laughing) For someone who is thousands of years old, Jax-Ur looks really great!

MG: Unless you were genetically programmed to age like that.  I don’t know how old he is supposed to be. I would say 400 is the new 30. (laughing)

ME: Well, I’ve got to tell you… as a woman of a certain age the idea of aging really slowly like that is quite appealing.  (laughing)

MG: Absolutely!

We were walking along from one set over to main set,Michael,  Antje and I and about 20 of our hulking Kryptonian guard,  And you make a lot of noise when you’re walking  on plywood.  A young PA, it was his first day, he was reading a call sheet and he looked up when he heard the noise.  He jumped and almost fell off the platform!  “Oh my god! Oh my god! You’re such a badass villain!” And I said “We’re not villains. We’re freedom fighters for Krypton” and I started to use [Jax-Ur’s] voice and he got quite scared.  (laughing) Then Michael Shannon said he liked that and was going to use it from now on.

ME: Freedom Fighters. I like that… it’s a headline waiting to happen. The new one on the internet. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the interview!  There’s something coming up which will have fans really talking!

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