Five Favorite Films with Michael Shannon

The star of Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done and The Runaways biopic delivers his all-time favorites


Michael Shannon has made an impressive mark on Hollywood over the past several years. The noted character actor picked up a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his small-but-crucial role in Revolutionary Road. A bigger showcase for Shannon's talents is Werner Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, (out this week on DVD) an unconventional police procedural that examines the mind of a man who slowly goes mad. As Brad in My Son, My Son, Shannon convincingly embodies a deeply disturbed man whose life was changed during a rafting trip in Peru. Upon his return to the States, he becomes consumed by religious fervor and his role in a community theater adaptation of Elektra-- and the result isn't pretty. (Shannon also has a key role in the Martin Scorsese-exec-produced HBO series Boardwalk Empire, which premieres late this month.)

In an interview with RT, Shannon shared his favorite movies and discussed what it's like to work with Werner Herzog, what he does to get into character, and why he tends to play obsessive, disturbed types.

The King of Comedy (1983, 92% Tomatometer)
The King of Comedy I like The King of Comedy by Scorsese. I like that one. It makes me laugh a lot. I think it?s very funny. I mean, I like the combination, the trio of Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard; that?s just one of my favorite trios in a movie. The three of them had a pretty amazing chemistry, I thought. I?ve heard that Scorsese was reluctant to make it, that it was on the shelf for a while; I guess that makes me appreciate it even more.

And you?re working with him pretty soon, too -- or you have.

I worked with him on the pilot for Boardwalk Empire; that was last summer. September 19 that?s premiering. It?s very lavish and lush and beautiful to look at: the costumes, the cars, the sets, the props; a remarkable ornate universe. It?s a really exciting cast, I think. Everyone in it was someone I was excited to work with

The Decalogue (1988, N/A Tomatometer)
The Decalogue

Well I guess this is cheating because it?s 10 movies, but I like [Krzysztof Kieślowski's] Decalogue a lot. That?s one director I was sad when he passed away, because I would have loved to have worked with him -- although he never really worked with American actors. I love all of his films but Decalogue is very satisfying. When I watched it for the first time I saw them all in two days, as this little cinema in London. I watched five the first day and the second five the next day.

Seul Contre Tous (I Stand Alone) (One Against All)

I remember being pretty astonished by I Stand Alone, the Gaspar No picture. I remember when I saw that one I was pretty astonished -- I?d never seen anything that grim before. But also very honest -- not gratuitous or trying to get a shock -- just very simple and quite and powerful and disturbing.

Alphaville (1965, 84% Tomatometer)

I like Alphaville a lot, by Godard. Lemmy Caution -- I love that guy. That actor [Eddie Constantine], I could watch him all the time. That?s probably one of my favorite performances in a movie.

Crumb (1994, 95% Tomatometer)
Crumb It?s a documentary, but I remember liking Crumb a whole lot. When Crumb came out I would go and see it like three times a week; I would be bringing different people to see it. I?d seen a couple of documentaries before, from Errol Morris or whatever, but that, I mean that one took it to a whole other level as far as I was concerned. I just thought it was the most interesting family I?d ever seen in a movie, really.

Next: Michael Shannon discusses working with Werner Herzog on My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?, and talks about getting into character on The Runaways.



Kyle Pettingill

Michael Shannon is awesome and his list is awesome. Looking forward to seeing him in Boardwalk Empire.

Sep 9 - 04:20 PM


Mar Jeez

He did a fine job in The Runaways. This is one of the most unique lists I've seen to this day. I have never heard of four of these and they all actually interest me...

Sep 9 - 04:24 PM

John T.

John Taylor

Not a single one on this list I even recognize except The King Of Comedy. That never interested me enough to watch it on free TV.

Sep 9 - 04:42 PM

kyle c.

kyle cox

watch crumb please... or louie bluie... its even been released from criterion recently for your convenience

Sep 9 - 07:44 PM

kyle c.

kyle cox

watch crumb please... or louie bluie... its even been released from criterion recently for your convenience

Sep 9 - 07:44 PM

cornelius fucklebutt

John Maus

Nice list, far more interesting picks.

Sep 9 - 07:48 PM


Jimmy He

FINALLY The Decalogue gets credit! <3

Sep 9 - 08:06 PM


Rick Richardson

Crumb is awesome!!!! So interesting, a family full of genius. King of Comedy was good but I need a second viewing of that one. Great list though, I will put the rest of these movies on my Que.

Sep 9 - 08:55 PM


James Bond

The King of Comedy! So underrated.

Sep 9 - 10:02 PM

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