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Photography by Peter Ash Lee

The Quiet Storm

by Matt Lee | CS magazine | September 27, 2011

A storm is gathering around Michael Shannon in more ways than one. The longtime Chicago actor, ensemble member of Old Town’s A Red Orchid Theatre and 2008 Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor is receiving downright thunderous reviews for his role in Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, scheduled for release Sept. 30. Shannon, 37, plays Curtis LaForche—a blue-collar family man who begins having daydreams of apocalyptic storms and doesn’t know if they’re premonitions or symptoms of schizophrenia. His simmering performance is being hailed in early reviews as one of the best performances of the year. After seeing the film, which won this year’s Critics Week Prize at Cannes, we’re not afraid to say this: It will be a crime if Shannon isn’t nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.

“Jeff is a very gifted screenwriter,” says Shannon, recently back in Chicago to film Zack Snyder’s super-secretive Superman reboot, Man of Steel, in which he plays General Zod. “He doesn’t build the tension in an artificial way. It’s more like, ‘If I was this guy having this problem, what would I do to fix it?’ It’s interesting to watch because it’s based in the reality of how someone would deal with the problem.”

Shannon’s energy as the ripping-at-the-seams LaForche makes it impossible to turn away. “I was thrilled when I saw the finished product,” he says. “For the dream sequences, they were able to get some really great special effects.”

True enough. But we bet that most people won’t be leaving the theater talking about special effects. It will be Shannon’s acting that gets people raving.

Shannon’s Hots
Twin Anchors; the Old Town Ale House: “my favorite bar and jukebox in the world”; Old Town: “because that’s where A Red Orchid Theatre is”; taking the
train to the Baha’i Temple; Union Station; the Jazz Record Mart; the Green Mill

Shannon’s Nots
Talking about projects before they’re completed