This much I know: Actor, Michael Shannon

By Helen Barlow

Actor Michael Shannon. Photo / Getty Images
Actor Michael Shannon. Photo / Getty Images

I've been playing music longer than I've been acting, since I was a little boy when I played piano in an orchestra. Music is my favorite art form. I'm in a band called Corporal. I love acting but sometimes I imagine what it would be like if I'd done music instead.

Playing Elvis was scary. I mean nobody can really be Elvis. But I was encouraged to approach it from a slightly different perspective than merely impersonating him. This project was more about the psychology of Elvis, because he was actually a lot more complicated than he gets credit for.

I was working with Jerry Schilling, who was one of Elvis' closest friends. He took me to Memphis, to Graceland, and he was my guide through the whole process. He told me he was excited I was doing the part because he thought I would bring a little more depth to it ... So hopefully that's the case.

I do a lot of smaller-budget films and they don't necessarily pay a ton of money. I was most solvent on Boardwalk Empire on television. That really is a good way to make some cash, if that's what you're into.

I loved the Boardwalk character, Nelson Van Alden; he was fascinating. I guess in the end I hoped he'd recapture a bit of his former glory before he bit the dust. But c'est la vie.

It was a calmer experience making Midnight Special than recent roles. The film focuses on issues about parenthood and letting your child be fulfilled. My character, Roy, has to let his child go. A lot of sci-fi is about something trying to take over something else, so it's nice to have a story about the harmony of things.

I think my parents were a bit taken aback when I said I was interested in acting, only because it really came out of nowhere. There are no other actors in my family. My father was an academic so he was a little upset that I didn't go to college, but once I started having success he was very happy about it.

I've always liked Zac Snyder's movies. I really like The Watchmen, even if people are mixed on it.

I've had some sex scenes before. I had one in 8 Mile and that was with Kim Basinger. It was quite an education. In the upcoming Frank & Lola, I was actually excited by the challenge of doing a movie that was very romantic.

Midnight Special is now on DVD and Elvis & Nixon on Monday, October 12. Shannon is also in Nocturnal Animals, which releases in cinemas on November10.

- Canvas

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