Profile: Michael Shannon
Actor known for Take Shelter, The Ice Man and Boardwalk Empire
August 7th, 1974
Intense actor from Lexington, Kentucky. After treading the boards, Shannon made his screen debut in Groundhog Day. He is known for playing disturbed characters, in films such as Bug and Revolutionary Road, for which he earned an Oscar nod. In Take Shelter he portrays a man suffering from apocalyptic nightmares. He is currently adding a chill factor to Boardwalk Empire as a puritanical prohibition agent, and in 2013 will appear as Superman’s nemesis, General Zod, in Man of Steel.
Why he’s playing another unstable character in Take Shelter?
‘When I do something like this, I’m not thinking: “Wow, what a great opportunity to explore mental illness.” I’m thinking, “This is a fantastic love story.”’
On apocalyptic anxieties
‘People have been thinking the world was going to end ever since it started. But it is getting a bit oppressive right now. It’s very hard to read a newspaper or a magazine without seeing a story about how screwed everything is. It’s kind of like Chinese water torture. Eventually it’s going to make a mark.’
He’d like to work with Lars von Trier, despite the director’s ‘Nazi’ meltdown in Cannes
‘[Cannes was] blown out of proportion. I read an article in American GQ recently where he’s trying to explain himself … [and] the guy’s obviously incredibly tortured. I don’t think a day passes where he doesn’t feel like he’s going to lose his mind. People that say things like that, they’re usually suffering quite a bit.’
On unexpected character twists in Boardwalk Empire
‘Every once in a while I will get a script and I’ll say, “Really? Do you really think he would do this?”’
On trying to understand real-life contract killer Richard Kuklinski, for 2013’s The Ice Man
‘We’re all people, and any one of us is capable of anything … I would never endorse anybody harming anybody in any way, shape or form, but I look at somebody like Kuklinski and this double life he led, and that is fascinating to me.’
‘I write songs, I play guitar and sing [in a band called Corporal]. I shake my ass a little bit [on stage]. It’s nothing you’d want to pay money to see, but I feel it.’
Take Shelter is on selected release from Fri 25 Nov.