Michael Shannon is known for playing unhinged crazies, and he's had a good year of it. He spent another season putting the fear of God into Prohibition-era Atlantic City on Boardwalk Empire. In a Funny or Die video that became a viral sensation, he recited a profane email rant by a sorority sister that's too far-out to be faked. And now, Shannon spars with Superman as the supervillain General Zod in Man of Steel. (Shannon's character does not issue the infamous command "Kneel before Zod!," but we got him to do it anyway.)
Shannon's got more in him than sinister psychos. His comic relief in Revolutionary Road got him an Oscar nomination. He was acclaimed for his performance in Take Shelter as a family man deranged by fear of an apocalyptic storm. His breakdown is extreme, but Shannon says the role comes from within. "That's not something that I'm faking, putting on a show. Because I do feel very concerned about the world right now, I think it's very volatile, and honestly I don't see how much longer it can survive."
As long as it does, though, Michael Shannon would like to try on some roles that aren't so deranged. "I might start making decisions based on trying to change the way I'm perceived," he says. "I signed for the new Smurfs movie. I'm going to be Papa Smurf."
Bonus Track: Kurt's extended conversation with Michael Shannon
Bonus Track: Michael Shannon's 3 for 360
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