Michael Shannon Catches The Zeitgeist In Take Shelter, and Talks Boardwalk Empire and Hitmen

You played characters with psychological problems in Revolutionary Road and Bug, to name two films. Why are you playing another one in Take Shelter?

"When I do something like this, I’m not thinking: 'Wow, what a great opportunity to explore mental illness.' I’m thinking, 'This is a fantastic love story.'"

There are a number of films around with an end of times feel to them. Is Take Shelter in tune with the zeitgeist?
"People have been thinking the world was going to end ever since it started. But it is getting a bit oppressive right now. It’s very hard to read a newspaper or a magazine without seeing a story about how screwed everything is. It’s kind of like Chinese water torture. Eventually it’s going to make a mark."

A while ago you said you'd like to work with Lars von Trier. Is that still the case or is he toxic after his "Nazi" meltdown in Cannes?
"[Cannes was] blown out of proportion. I read an article in American GQ recently where he’s trying to explain himself … [and] the guy’s obviously incredibly tortured. I don’t think a day passes where he doesn’t feel like he’s going to lose his mind. People that say things like that, they’re usually suffering quite a bit."

You've done two seasons of Boardwalk Empire. Have you ever been surprised by some of the turns your character has taken?

"Every once in a while I will get a script and I’ll say, 'Really? Do you really think he would do this?'"

Has it been difficult trying to get inside the head of real-life contract killer Richard Kuklinski, for 2013’s The Iceman?
"We’re all people, and any one of us is capable of anything … I would never endorse anybody harming anybody in any way, shape or form, but I look at somebody like Kuklinski and this double life he led, and that is fascinating to me."

I was surprised to read that you're in a band, Corporal.
"Yeah, I write songs, I play guitar and sing. I shake my ass a little bit [on stage]. It’s nothing you’d want to pay money to see, but I feel it."

Take Shelter opens on Friday 

Originally Published in The List

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