In a November interview with Marc Maron for his WTF with Marc Maron podcast, actor Michael Shannon laid everything out about his personal and professional life and, although it can be cliche to say this, Mr. Shannon is very much just like the rest of us.
A personal favorite actor of mine Shannon gives off the persona of elusiveness, yet does not come across as such in any interview I have heard with him. Warm and friendly, Shannon spoke to Maron, and to most interviewers of him, with kindness and humility as though he was speaking to a friend and not another famous person. His polite and humble nature likely comes from his quasi-Southern upbringing: born in Lexington, Kentucky, Shannon spent equal time there and in Chicago, where he attended high school and joined theatre troupes. Shannon is aware of the odd dichotomy of his two homes–in the interview with Maron he claimed that he didn’t “fit in” in either place too well, yet found solace in the local theatre. His smooth and slightly Southern accent notwithstanding, Shannon’s quiet confident nature would feel very much at home in Kentucky and throughout the American South; perhaps this is why he has occasionally been typecast in Southern roles.
Another reason for this humility is probably because Shannon believes that he owes much of his success to other people. A fiercely loyal collaborator, Shannon is perhaps best known to the average cinephile as the only person to appear in all of Jeff Nichols’ films, including Midnight Special and Loving, which Shannon appeared on the podcast to promote. A popular character actor in the plays of Tracy Letts as well, Shannon levied high praise on both Letts and Nichols in the interview, saying that he wouldn’t be where he was today without their influence.
Shannon also appeared on the podcast to promote the then-recently released Nocturnal Animals, directed by Tom Ford. One of my favorite films of the year, Nocturnal Animals is boosted by a terrific Oscar-nominated turn from Shannon as, you might’ve guessed it, a Southern (Texas) police officer. The beacon of semi-morality in an otherwise lawless film, Shannon’s Detective Andes is a typical character for him, someone with a strong sense of power and authority in a role that’s just enough flash and prestige without distracting the audience from the rest of the film.
Although he’s a strong family man Michael Shannon manages to stay prolific–he has five films coming out within the next 12 months alone, and, as he’s approaching the thirty year mark of his career, Shannon has also managed to gain widespread acclaim for just about every film he appears in. If he continues to work with acclaimed writers and directors, and if he has it his way, Shannon will continue to stick around and impress us with his performances for years to come.