Michael Shannon‘s rise from relative unknown to Oscar nominee to blockbuster movie super-villain has been long, but not as tough as some of his friends suggest. Nonetheless, in a conversation with The New York Times he reveals that the reputation he’s gotten from his dark roles and rumors about his past have prevented him from fulfilling one of his dreams… appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman.
First, Shannon points to the fact that despite his stardom he’s often on the wrong side of luck. For example, the one time Shannon was up for an Oscar (for Revolutionary Road) he was nominated in one of those years that the decision was a forgone conclusion: it was the same year Heath Ledger posthumously won the Oscar for The Dark Knight. In fact, since Shannon was told countless times after being nominated that he wouldn’t beat Ledger, he did what any of us would do — get drunk for the ceremony. He confesses, “I’d had a lot of gin. I was pickled. From the time I was nominated to the awards, it was like a steady litany of every human being on Earth telling me how I wasn’t going to win. It was like being beaten by broom handles. The bus driver being like, ‘You’re not going to win.’ The guy selling me my paper, the guy giving me my coffee, my publicist. By the time I got there, I was like, If I win I’m going to have to say something like ‘praise Satan’ and talk like Linda Blair from The Exorcist.“
However, despite his sometimes hard luck he does dispel the rumor put forth by playwright Tracy Letts that he slept in Chicago parks while doing theater early in his career. He says, “I never slept in the park in Chicago, not a single night. I was actually in a little studio apartment that my father was very kindly helping to pay for. Tracy is one of my oldest, dearest friends, but these are fibs; they’re exaggerations.”
In fact, Shannon laments the fact that his roughneck reputation has sometimes hurt his career, especially when it relates to publicity appearances. He points out, “I’m not some wild animal, some freak. If you tell stories about sleeping in the park, then you can’t get on Letterman. How many movies do you gotta do to get on David Letterman? All I’ve wanted since I was 15 freaking years old was to be on David Letterman. I mean, I’m in Man of Steel. I think they all think I’ll be violent.”
He says his publicist has tried to get him on Letterman, but to no avail. He explains, “That’s what they say every time they cash their checks. I had to audition to be on Craig Ferguson. Some producer was asking me what restaurants I like to go to. I’m like: Are you serious? I don’t even want to be on Craig Ferguson. I just want to be on Letterman.”
And after all that he didn’t even get on Ferguson’s show! He reveals, “I didn’t get on! It’s like I went to the bulletin board the next day, and my name wasn’t on the list. Maybe you should start doing that. You should have auditions before you waste an hour of your life talking to some uninteresting fool.”
Something tells me we’re going to see a “Get Michael Shannon on Letterman” online petition soon…