In recent years Michael Shannon has begun to emerge as one of film’s most versatile and ubiquitous actors. Often cast his villains or law enforcement agents Shannon always brings a brooding intensity to his roles and manages to use that intensity for both good characters and bad that often know a lot more than they are saying.
Shannon first started his career as a stage actor in Chicago. He gained a great deal of notice and other roles from his appearances in the plays of a then little-known actor turned playwright named Tracy Letts. Shannon credits his work in the plays of Letts for the film and television opportunities that came his way after he appeared in two of Lett’s acclaimed plays “Bug” and “Killer Joe.”
He returned to the stage two years ago and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role as Jamie Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” The play was a huge hit and won Shannon’s co-star Jessica Lange the Tony for Best Actress in a Play. Shannon said of the experience that Lange’s performance was so intense and emotional that he initially had trouble holding eye contact with the actress because of the amount of vulnerability she was exposing.
But it is his film work that has been garnering attention lately with two Oscar nominations for “Revolutionary Road” and “Nocturnal Animals.” Let’s take a photo gallery tour above of his 15 greatest movie performances, ranked from worst to best.
– Original text and gallery published in May 2018.