Michael Shannon: “For me the thought of trying to be in character all the time makes me very tired”
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but Michael Shannon playing the villain has me more interested in Man of Steel than anything else. That’s because ever since I saw Take Shelter and started watching Boardwalk Empire Michael Shannon has become one of my favorite actors. In an interview with the San Diego Reader, Shannon speaks about his early career, whether or not he believes in staying in-character on set, and is very open about his motivation to take roles.
Shannon credits his early days working in the Chicago theater scene as forming his ability as an actor. He explains, “My experience in Chicago in general was my formative experience. Chicago is where I learned how to act.I did three shows at Steppenwolf. The first time I ever got hired at Steppenwolf was a really big deal. That’s king of the highest level you can get, Steppenwolf or the Goodman. I also worked in a number of storefront theatres over the years. I’m a member of a theatre there called Red Orchid Theatre in Old Town. Chicago is a great place to learn how to act. In New York and L.A. the stakes are always so high and people are always trying to make it big or break into the business. In Chicago it’s a little more mellow, people who really want to do theatre, want to experiment and try new things out. It’s not so expensive, either.”
Though known for his intense performances, Shannon confesses that he doesn’t believe in staying in character once the cameras aren’t filming. He explains, “For me the thought of trying to be in character all the time makes me very tired. It seems like it would take a lot of energy. I’m very much into energy conservation. I try to conserve as much energy as possible so that when I’m in front of the camera, whatever energy I manage to have is captured on film. I hate doing great things that nobody is ever going to see. That being said, I’m not like a big Chatty Cathy or anything. I don’t like to make small talk, but I’m not sitting there writing with a quill pen or something.”
And while Shannon might be on a hot streak of quality right now, he is honest in a way that almost no big name actor is: he admits he’s motivated by his paycheck. He reveals, “I’m willing to do anything. If someone wanted to cast me in The Smurfs Part 4, if they gave me enough money I would do it. It’s not like I’m on some mission to scare the shit out of everybody. You send me a script, it’s decent, and you’re willing to pay me enough money, I’ll do it.”
That’s good to know, but I think Shannon as Gargamel would cause nightmares for millions of children worldwide.