Michael Shannon Is Oscar Nominee

January 22, 2009

Michael Shannon is a critically acclaimed American stage and film actor. See photos and video here of the rising star who has received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for ‘Revolutionary Road.’

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Michael Shannon has had a distinguished career as a Chicago stage actor; in recent years he has branched out into feature films. His standout performance as John Givings in Sam Mendes’ ‘Revolutionary Road,’ had already garnered much critical acclaim and praise before the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the announcement.

The movie based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the starring roles, their first onscreen reunion since ‘Titanic,’ the No. 1 box office blockbuster in cinematic history, more than ten years ago.

It chronicles what happens when a Connecticut couple, Frank and April Wheeler, former Bohemians, try to break free from the oppressive conformity of 1950s suburbia; the husband commutes to an office job in New York City and the wife stays home with the children. April comes up with the idea of moving to Paris and finding freedom, an idea which brings nothing but private scorn from their friends and colleagues.

Enter Michael Shannon’s John Givings who is the son of Frank and April’s real estate agent (Kathy Bates) who is trying to sell their suburban home; a necessary step in their Parisian escape. Shannon brings riveting intensity to the role of the gifted musician and college professor who has been in a mental institution where he has endured electroshock treatments. He shares the couple’s disdain for suburbia while challenging them, “Plenty of people are on to the emptiness”, he tells them, “but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness.”

As a biography, Michael Shannon was born in 1974 in Lexington, Kentucky, so his age is 34. He is 6’4” tall. Upon moving to Chicago, Shannon began his career as a stage actor at such landmark theaters as A Red Orchid Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre, and Bang Bang Spontaneous Theater.

He made his film debut with a bit part as a wedding groom in Groundhog Day in 1993. His had subsequent small roles in several movies, including in Jesus’ Son, Pearl Harbor, 8 Mile, Vanilla Sky, and Kangaroo Jack. He landed major roles in ‘Grand Theft Parsons’ Lucky You,’ and ‘Let’s go to Prison.’

He has furthered both his stage and screen careers simultaneously, as he discussed in an interview, he believes his unnerving physical presence lends itself well to edgy roles such as that of his Oscar nod.

“I suppose there is this nothingness that I seem to be able to do,” Shannon said back then, when I asked to explain why his film career blossomed so fast, even though he had done very little to promote himself. “I can just stand there and look at someone. That seems to come across as menacing.”

Shannon’s theater work extends beyond Chicago; he has appeared in several plays in London’s West End in London. The longtime Chicago resident now lives in Brooklyn, New York with his partner, actress Kate Arrington, and their daughter, Sylvie.

Michael Shannon’s nomination in the 81st annual Academy Awards brings him new prominence and recognition although he has nearly insurmountable competition with the posthumous nomination of Heath Ledger for his stellar performance as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight.’

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Photos: www.wenn.com

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