Michael Shannon is known for intense performances: his Oscar-nominated role as the unbalanced neighbor in Revolutionary Road, his current tour de force as the about-to-explode federal Prohibition agent in Boardwalk Empire. (Here’s my new-season review.) But he also brings huge restraint and subtlety when they’re called for, as he does in the powerful new drama Take Shelter.
Shannon plays Curtis, a working class father who begins to dream signs of the apocalypse – or is he experiencing the beginnings of a hereditary mental illness? Uncertain, Curtis keeps it all to himself, even shutting out his wife (Jessica Chastain, who also talks about making the film in our video interview).
Take Shelter is Shannon’s second go-round with director Jeff Nichols. Their first collaboration, 2007’s Shotgun Stories, is the quirky story of two sets of half-brothers so at odds they begin to kill each other. Weird, but it works and I highly recommend it. As in Take Shelter, Shannon is the commanding center of the film as a man trying hard to come to grips with his own flaws.
In our video talk, he analyzes what he likes about Nichols’ work, and quite convincingly says that, despite his fierce on-screen aura, “ I’m pretty much a pussycat.”
Video edited by TAYLOR LEVY.