Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zod gets Stamp of approval


Terence Stamp is a busy guy at age 70,

This week he heads the treacherous KAOS crew in “Get Smart,” and next week he’s a mysterious friend of a brutal killer in “Wanted.” And, all that sets him up for some laughs with Jim Carrey in “Yes Man,” a December release.

(Since it’s on hold because of a potential actor’s strike, I won’t even mention Stamp ’“trying to blow up Hitler in Berlin with Tom Cruise” in “Valkyrie,” a war film likely now on tap for early 2009).

Regardless, the regal Stamp says one role made him famous, and that would be the evil Dr. Zod in “Superman II.”

“There are certain films that sort of change your life,” Stamp said during a “Get Smart” press session. “I hadn't worked for about 10 years when I got that offer, and I was very nervous because it was apparent that they just wanted the ugly.

“What I mean is I had the feeling that they were just going to light me ugly and dress me up in the ugly stuff. Fortunately, I had a friend who was a Dutch baron, a very wise guy and a bit old.”

When Stamp told his friend about his “Super” misgivings, the baron obviously gave the Oscar-nominated actor (for "Billy Budd") some good advice.

“He told me, ‘You really shouldn’t have doubts about it because, for loads of kids, "Superman" movies will be the first that they ever go to see. By the time they grow up, there will be more people who want to be like Zod than Superman. So, don’t worry about it. Just be as ugly and horrible as possible.'

“It all kind of came to pass,” Stamp concluded.

The Zod persona even helped out the star of such films as “The Limey, “ “The Collector,” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” when he got into a bit of pickle in a sauna, of all places.

"We didn't have a bathroom when I was a boy and so I became a clean freak very early on,” Stamp explained. “So, if I can get into a steam bath I do, especially after a jet flight. I was taken to a steam bath in New York and I walked in and I undressed and it was just all guys when I said to somebody, 'Where are the loin cloths?'

Stamp was directed to the front and, when he returned wearing “a very little loin cloth, like a little towel, and a lot of guys in a steam bath go there to be with each other."

“Anyway I'm walking back toward the steam and I see in front of me three enormous guys, and they're just kind of staring at me. That’s when I revert to my East End street mode and I walk straight toward them and as I got close, one asked, 'Are you the Zod guy?'

“I answered, 'Smile when you say that!' And there were these three big grins. Now, whenever I see big fierce guys staring at me, I know that they recognize the General.”

Read about three of Stamp’s “Get Smart” co-stars at MovieZen. Then see my review of this week’s other big comedy release, “The Love Guru,” at Cleveland.com/sun.

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