"99 Homes" opens with Florida real estate broker Rick Carver reacting to the suicide of a man he had tried to evict from his home. But he doesn't let the tragedy slow him down. Rick may seem hardened to the emotional fallout of his work, but his portrayer Michael Shannon doesn't think he's heartless. Far from it. (Watch our complete video chat below.)
"I feel like it's my job to try to understand why people do what they do, not to judge them," says Shannon about playing the unscrupulous broker, who evicts another young man (Andrew Garfield) but later takes him under his wing. "I think Rick is desperate to make some sort of connection … Rick's a very lonely person." And despite the character's often stone-faced approach to acquiring foreclosed homes, Shannon adds, "I don't think Rick's numb to anything. I think he's a deeply anxious, stressed out individual."
Shannon's life experiences are far removed from those of the characters in the film. Because he "moved around a lot" as a child he has never been attached to a single home the way Garfield's character is, and he has always been wary of mortgages. "I've always thought mortgages were complete scams," he explains. "They don't make any sense, why you would pay so much money for something worth so much less than what you've paid for."
But he certainly empathizes with those who are in dire straits after the housing market crash of 2008. "It's a real tough environment economically down there right now, and if you've got kids and mouths to feed, you've got to figure something out." And though he himself doesn't get attached to houses, his perspective is a little different since he himself became a father. "My daughter says all the time [about our home], I want to live here my whole life."
How will "99 Homes" fare at the Oscars? Watch our interview with Shannon below, then use our drag-and-drop menu at the bottom of this post to predict whether he will win Best Supporting Actor.
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"99 Homes" Photo Credit: Moviestore/REX