Michael Shannon: “One of the great things about acting – you get to pretend you’re somebody else, which is great if you get bored with yourself”
Phenomenal actor Michael Shannon will be appearing in his first sure-to-be blockbuster this year as the villainous General Zod in the newest Superman film, Man of Steel. But fans of acting have already known of Shannon from his roles in films like Take Shelter and in his role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. But Shannon is also an accomplished theater actor, and recent starred on Broadway opposite Paul Rudd in Grace (check out my review here!) In fact, during the production Rudd interviewed Shannon for Interview magazine about what drew Shannon to acting.
Rudd asks Shannon how he feels about performing a play twice in one day. He says,”It’s a little bit odd. The first time you do the play, you kind of throw yourself into it, trying to get the most out of all the individual moments. Then, a few hours later, you’re still there, wondering what you could possibly do differently than what you just did a couple hours ago. Sometimes I try to pitch my voice just a little bit higher as a way to deviate between the two performances. Or I’ll try a slightly different accent.” Later he adds, “Sometimes it’s just fun to change. That’s one of the great things about acting—you get to pretend you’re somebody else, which is great if you get bored with yourself.”
When Rudd asks Shannon why he wanted to be an actor, he answers, “I’m getting to be an old-time—I’ve been doing this for 22 years now. When I started, it was a terrific opportunity to take advantage of my emotional life and do something constructive with it. There are certain ways of being that people don’t find acceptable or very pleasant in regular life, but you go out on stage and do pretty much the same thing and they find it spellbinding. That’s how I got into this racket to begin with—it was just a good opportunity to blow off some steam and have people watch it and think, Wow, that guy’s really acting his pants off! Then you get that out of your system and become—or at least I became—more interested in helping people tell stories. It becomes less self-serving, I guess. And then there’s, you know, the applause.”
However, he also reveals that he got into acting simply because he wanted to get involved in something and he wasn’t the sports type. He recalls, “One of the reasons I’m an actor is because I was no physical specimen as a child. I wasn’t athletic and didn’t have any prowess in that regard. Growing up in Kentucky, most little boys were trying to get into sports, and it was very competitive, so that was not to be. But I did want to do something.”