They are the three most famous words in all of Superman lore: “Kneel before Zod.” Part command and part threat, that phrase is designed to instill instant obedience in all sons and daughters of Krypton...even if they’ve built another life as Earth’s mightiest hero. First uttered by the O.G. General Zod, Terrence Stamp, in 1980’s Superman II, “Kneel before Zod,” has long since achieved pop culture immortality. It’s also a rite of passage for almost every performer who has played the role of the Man of Steel’s most powerful nemesis since—up to and including the new Dru-Zod, Colin Salmon.
The English actor assumed the mantle of Zod during the freshman year of the Syfy series, Krypton, which unfolds decades before young Kal-El took a one way trip to Earth as his homeworld exploded. And Season 1 ended with Zod delivering his signature line in front of a rapt crowd of Kryptonians looking for guidance in an uncertain time. It was a moment that Salmon didn’t take lightly. “I was very excited to get to say, ‘Kneel before Zod,’” he remarked at a Yahoo Entertainment-moderated BUILD Series panel ahead of the show’s Season 2 premiere. “It was quite theatrical, actually. Everybody’s hanging on your last word and you’ve got 200 extras and four camera set-ups.” (Watch the video above.)
Besides getting to partake in a storied Superman tradition, for Salmon those words also represented the culmination of his character’s arc over the course of Krypton’s first season. Exiled to the Phantom Zone in his own era, Zod returned to Krypton’s past in order to defeat invading alien, Brainiac. In the process he met his future parents-to-be: Lyta-Zod (Georgina Campbell) and Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), who also happens to be Superman’s grandfather.
Father and son teamed up to defeat Brainiac, but not without a price: Seg ended up in the Phantom Zone, while Zod assumed control of Krypton with plans to make the rest of the galaxy kneel before…well, you know. “I’d been hiding that element for what I call this…overbearing beast of a man,” Salmon explains, noting that Krypton is, in many ways, the origin story of how Dru-Zod becomes General Zod. “You just get a brief glimpse of him, and now in Season 2 he’s there in full force.”
It’s worth noting that Salmon’s onscreen father wasn’t on set for his offspring’s big moment. “I was not present for that,” Cuffe admits. “I saw it in the script and I was like…’How do you not say it like it’s one of the most famous lines in history?’ But Zod made his (young) old man proud. “Speaking as a fan of Superman in general, Colin’s done an amazing job. He is my Zod forever.”
Krypton premieres June 12 at 10 p.m. on Syfy
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