Michael Shannon on Why He Chooses His Intense Roles And Becoming General Zod

Michael Shannon might be the perfect example of an actor gaining more and more exposure as he climbs himself to the top.

After the long-resumed but little-known Shannon received an Oscar nomination for 2008’s Revolutionary Road his popularity has exploded because of his chilling role as Agent Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which has launched him into the seemingly perfect role of General Zod in the upcoming Zack Snyder Superman film, Man of Steel.

Because of these recent intimidating roles one would think Shannon wouldn’t be the type of person you’d want to run into in a dark alley, but as Shannon tells The Daily Beast, his background is far more varied.

First of all comes the fact that Shannon was trained to be a comedian in Chicago.  Still, he admits that he often finds himself gravitating to characters who have some sort of mental illness — including an upcoming role as infamous hit man Richard Kuklinski in The Iceman — explaining, “I’m not an expert on mental illness.  I don’t necessarily think that we have as great a handle on our brains as we seem to think we do. I still think the mind is very mysterious and people are very mysterious.”   Shannon credits his interest in analyzing such characters to his grandfather Raymond Corbett Shannon, who was a noted researcher in the behavior patterns of insects.  Shannon recalls, “There certainly seems to be a curiosity that’s been handed down.  He died when my father was a child, so sometimes I wonder what he’d make of all of this that I’m doing. My father had this letter that my grandfather had written, and it was the only thing I ever really knew or saw about my grandfather, and it was a letter in which my grandfather listed all the things he wanted my father to be able to do, and it was like 200 damn things! My father would show me this letter and say, ‘This is where I came from.’ I was like, ‘Holy s—, that’s intense!’ So I guess I’ve got some of that in my DNA. That intensity.”  It certainly suggests the intensity that Shannon brings to Boardwalk Empire!

Yet certainly Shannon’s biggest blockbuster role will be General Zod, memorably played by Terrence Stamp in Superman II. Shannon admits that taking such an iconic role is challenging, but he’s ready to make it his own.  He says, “I’ve seen Terrence’s interpretation and I loved it. It’s iconic and it’s intimidating.  It requires a lot of imagination, since it’s not an everyday character or someone you’d run into on the street. I have to figure out what it means, the whole notion of being a general. I went out and got Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs just to read about the life of a general and see what he thought about and what that experience was like, because to me, that’s a key component to capturing the character.  It’s not enough for me to be in Man of Steel, I want to do something really special with it. It’s not like I’ve won the lottery or something. I’ve got to justify everybody’s wanting me to be involved.”

Michael Shannon currently appears in Boardwalk Empire, now in its second season on HBO and in the films Take Shelter and Machine Gun Preacher, now both in limited release.

 

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Linnea-Berthelsen-Stranger-Things.jpg
Linnea Berthelse on Her ‘Stranger Things’ Audition and Keeping Her Role a Secret for a Year
“Sometimes when actors don’t get the part, it’s not always about an actor being a bad actor; it’s about connecting to the material.” – Linnea Berthelsen Stranger Things is back on our screens with its second season, something fans have been waiting for ever since season one arrived on Netflix in 2016. Returning to the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/jonathan-groff-hamilton.jpg
Jonathan Groff on Playing King George III in ‘Hamilton’: “I rehearsed for about a day, and then went into the show”
Can you even imagine stepping into a role in one of the biggest Broadway hits of all time with barely any time to prepare?
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/lina-esco-swat.jpg
Lina Esco on Playing the Only Female Officer on ‘S.W.AT.’: “I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team”
"The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her" - Lina Esco
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sam-rockwell-three-billboards.jpg
Sam Rockwell on Typecasting and One of His Worst Auditions
"I’m kind of a workhorse. It takes a toll" - Sam Rockwell
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/rachel-bloom-crazy-ex-girlfriend.jpg
Rachel Bloom: “The way that I learned comedy was not rigid, but this very specific technique taught by the Upright Citizens Brigade”
"I went from being a person who was doing moderately successful videos online and working as a moderately successful TV writer and aspiring to do this to having a Golden Globe." - Rachel Bloom