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Mark Kermode | 13:17 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

This week the actor Michael Shannon is interviewed on 5 Live's Kermode and Mayo review show.

He has an extraordinary presence onscreen and can be seen this week in the new movie, Take Shelter.

For me his definitive performance is in Bug - a strange and little seen 2006 film directed by William Friedkin.

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Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.



  • Comment number 1.

    he is the new jack nicholson - this is the only film i can see having any promise of beating 'drive' for film of the year - fingers crossed - will check out bug thanks for da tip

  • Comment number 2.

    I recall renting 'Bug' a year or so ago upon remembering that it was a William Friedkin film. I admit I wasn't too impressed with the film itself, but the performance from Shannon (and later Judd) nailed that paranoid attitude where there's a conspiracy for everything - it's clear that nothing is going to dissuade him.

  • Comment number 3.

    Also should have mentioned, he's been great in Boardwalk Empire as the obsessive agent who simply won't give up.

  • Comment number 4.

    'Drive' as film of the year?! Even though I like Refn's 'Pusher', his geeky attitude annoys me a lot. He's obviously seen a lot of American crime movies from the 70's and the 80's but lacks a certain distance (and transcendental quality) truly great filmmakers such as Melville and Leone, both great connoisseurs of American cinema, possessed when dealing with the genre.

    Speaking of Michael Shannon, he definitely is an interesting actor but 'Take Shelter' is an overrated film. Despite the subject perfectly in synch with the time we're living in, the allegorical side of it becomes a burden. The end of the film is quite disappointing. Deja vu!

  • Comment number 5.

    I first heard about 'Bug' in a news story that told of how Alberto Izaga, a millionaire insurance executive, flipped out after seeing the film and ended up beating his daughter to death, believing her to be possessed by the Devil (a reference to the director's previous work, perhaps?). Anyway, I particularly enjoyed Michael Shannon in his small role as the sadistic officer in the very good Tigerland who specialised in 'advanced interrogation techniques'.

  • Comment number 6.

    Shannon's also great as Kim Fowley in The Runaways, of course, where he almost walks off with the whole movie (and it's a tribute to Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning that he doesn't, quite) - definitely has that air of crazy about him.

  • Comment number 7.

    I loved the director's previous film 'Shotgun Stories' also starring Michael Shannon and I'm really looking forward to this

    Shannon seems to take over films/scenes when he's in them, 'Revolutionary Road' and 'Boardwalk Empire' to name two

  • Comment number 8.

    I saw the trailer for this new film and am really intrigued and looking forward to it. Also saw trailer for Another Earth at the same time and look like these could be an ideal pairing. ( The film i caught after these was Snowtown which was astonishing if relentlessly bleak and difficult, but precisely as it should be given the subject). I stumbled on Bug on dvd when it came out and loved its frenetic energy and ambiguity and of course the brilliant performance of Shannon and the whole cast. Didn't even know if was Friedkin's work, much deserves as wider audience and repeat viewing. Ta.

  • Comment number 9.

    I know Mark's not a big one for TV but Shannon is fantastic as the self-flagellating, insufferable cop in Boardwalk Empire; in fact, he's the best thing in it and agree that this performance looks like more or the same from him.

    Shannon's quality is that, unlike many of the current crop of big-name actors, he isn't all over the media so when you're watching him he is perfectly believable no matter what role he's playing. I'm sure the character of Jack Sparrow was perfectly crafted and amazingly well acted but I just couldn't get over the fact I was watching Johnny Depp!!! *A hem*

    Go Shannon.

  • Comment number 10.

    Bug... wow, what a trip! *Very* odd and probably not to everyone's taste but it cannot be denied that Michael Shannon is brilliant in it. It's notable that he had a small but significant role in "Revolutionary Road", although some critics thought the character was an underwritten cypher (hardly his fault!).

    As seems to be the trend at the moment though (where quality small screen series seems to be the place to be for film actors to show their dramatic chops), he is at his best in Boardwalk Empire - his chilling turn as Detective Van Alden almost steals the show from Buscemi (another screen actor "slumming it" on TV), and that's saying something.

  • Comment number 11.

    Soon to be General Zod,in 'Man of Steel'

  • Comment number 12.

    He also steals the show in Machine Gun Preacher.

  • Comment number 13.

    Drive is a masterpiece and film of the year, end of... move on.

    Michael Shannon is great, I too love Bug, i've only see it once but it's one of the best things i've ever seen, he is so astonishing, I love the weird conspiracy jonestown element near the end of the film. I almost want to say it's Billy Friedkin's best film but I might say Sorcerer. I love the Exorcist and the French Connection like we all do but Sorcerer is a powerful film. Michael Shannon as stated above was great in The Runaways as Kim Fowley and completely nails Kim Fowley who is even more perverted in his old age.

  • Comment number 14.

    Firstly 'Drive' is a masterpiece and it will probably turn out to be the best film of the year.

    I'm glad that Shannon is finally breaking out and getting noticed. Like many have said, he's great in Broadwalk Empire and he's pretty memorable in Herzog's 'Bad Lieutenant' (in which he has a bit part)

    However with deep regret I still remember him from small roles from two absolutely appalling films: The first is his part in 'Criminal'. The unnecessary and terrible Clooney/Soderbergh produced remake of the Argentine film 'Nine Queens'. In this film Shannon appears nearly at the end of the film as a 'hobo' trying to rob John C Reily and Diego Luna from a rare and valuable dollar note.

    The other film I'm not even going to mention because quite simply it is one of the worst films of the last decade and the worst film of 2001. Unsurprisingly it was directed by Michael Bay (you can pretty much guess already which film I'm on about) Its a film that pretty much everyone hates and Shannon is sadly in it.

    But hey you can't really blame him, he had to pay the bills and put food on the table.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've actually seen "Bug". It was a present from a friend because she knew that I was a horror movie fan and that's what she expected it to be.
    To be honest, I didn't like it at all. I thought it was unbelieveable and hystericly stupit. The first half of the movie was boring, the second half laugh out lout funny, because it gets so ridiculous.
    Maybe I've watched it with the wrong expectation. I thought it would be a full on horror movie, and clearly, that's not what it is and not what it wants to be. Nevertheless, I've seen many movies with the wrong expectation and it was never a problem, never a reason why I couldn't enjoy them. That's why I don't really think that a secont watch would change that much about my oppinion.

  • Comment number 16.

    Anyone remember him as the hippy in Grand Theft Parsons? He was the best thing in that film, playing someone who was, as it happens, somewhat paranoid and slightly mad!

  • Comment number 17.

    I saw Bug a few years back when it was released. Such a great film. Very disturbing and ultimately - a real downer. But that's no reason not to see it. I'd never heard of it when I saw it and this is probably only the second time I've ever heard anyone mention it since, which is a shame really. Makes you think about all the great unreleased or badly marketed films there are out there just waiting to be discovered by an appreciative audience.

  • Comment number 18.

    Others have already mentioned it, but I really don't see how you could interview Shannon without mention of his performance as Agent Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire, which I highly recommend, Mark. I don't watch TV at all, but I keep my ear to the ground for good US series', usually produced by HBO, and Boardwalk Empire is particularly good. I know you're a film critic, but I really think you ought to give some of these shows a go. Mad Men, in particular, is one I'm certain you would enjoy.

    Please, if you don't get the chance to watch an episode before the show on Friday, let Shannon know that Nelson Van Alden is the most interesting and complex character in the show, and that his performance is absolutely flawless.

  • Comment number 19.

    I wish you hadn't brought up Revolutionary Road, I have a deep seated hatred of that movie. Shannon's fine in it for what it's worth as the "mad man who sees the truth more clearly" although he becomes petulant when disappointed by the Winslet and DiCaprio couple, which, frankly, he should have seen coming given his "crazy man" insight. Shannon fleshes out a role that is more of a trope than a character, which is more than anyone else does it that wretched movie. (One of the things that makes me fear a Mendes helmed Bond. Sam Mendes -> Bond as Ang Lee -> Hulk, hopefully not tautological).

    Shannon's been uniformly excellent in all that I've seen him in and ditto absolutely to all above lauding his TV work. I will be digging "Bug" out of the middle of the viewing pile to catch up on that one. I'm really looking forward to Taking Shelter.

    I only hope he doesn't get typecast for playing "broken" people, for which he clearly has a talent. There's only so many roles for the Brad Dourif's and Crispin Hellion Glover's of this world.

  • Comment number 20.

    I saw 'Bug' earlier this year after hearing Mark's interview with Billy Friedkin. The film is an actors piece so all three performances were great, for me watching the film was just seeing the paranoia become more and more extreme without being drawn into the story.

  • Comment number 21.

    Shannon has great screen presence and I can't wait to see him as General Zod in Snyder's Superman reboot. If you liked his intense performance in "Bug" I can also strongly recommend "Shotgun Stories" (besides "Take Shelter" and "Boardwalk Empire").

    BTW I also have "Drive" as my film of the year

  • Comment number 22.

    Just dont do your Zack Snyder impression mark.That 'scare' make become far,far greater lol.
    Actaully stuff it!,do your Zack Snyder impression lol.

  • Comment number 23.

    BUG is actually pretty good, flawed, yes, but interesting nevertheless. Solidly acted and with a nice uneasy/off kilter atmosphere. Ok Billy doesn't exactly hold things together at the end and it get's pretty daft to say the least, but up until then it's a very good film. Well worth a look and great way to pass the time until he starts work on the Blu-Ray of SORCERER next year.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'll second the "Shotgun Stories" recommendations. Probably Shannon's best work, and really good performances all around.

  • Comment number 25.

    Saw it at a preview (Take Shelter) and thought it was one of the best movies I've seen this year. Glad I didn't know anything about it when I saw it too - saw the trailer afterwards and thought it had too much in it. Worth saying that, great as Shannon is, his performance is matched by Jessica Chastain's, who has a role that in some ways is even trickier to do well but she handled it beautifully.

  • Comment number 26.

    I can't agree that Bug is worth seeing. I got it as a DVD rental and I am in the camp that thinks it's a self indulgent mess. It makes little sense and the end is really stupid. Good acting doesn't save it. Avoid.

  • Comment number 27.

    Mark, don't you mean the film show to which you contribute?

  • Comment number 28.

    Mark, you write "He has an extraordinary presence onscreen".
    Well I live in the Redhook neighborhood of Brooklyn and presume that Micheal Shannon does too, as I often see him around. I've seen him pushing around a stroller on the streets muttering to himself and in the smoking area of a local bar, also talking to himself, strangely and in a dark corner.... Always on his own and seeming to be on another planet - I think this onscreen presence he portrays is not just acting.

  • Comment number 29.

    As others have said, I really, REALLY am hoping that this isn't Simon one on one with Shannon so that at the very mention of Shannon's involvement in the new Superman movie, Dr. K will reflexively offer up his Zack Snyder (ZackSnyder!ZackSnyder! ZackSnyder!) impression.
    I'm also anxious to hear what the Good Doctor has to say about Martin Scorsese's Hugo (or more importantly how he feels about the accents in the film).

  • Comment number 30.

    Been looking forward to Take Shelter, its sounds completely 'in tune' for the times (which is an awful thing to say but hey-ho). What is all this talk of Drive being film of the year (Total Film seem to think so too)? It is undoubtably the best looking and sounding film of 11' but whats it actually about? Nothin! Its a nihalistic style excercise which I enjoyed but don't really care to revisit. Gosling's 'Blue Valentine' was a considerably better film.

  • Comment number 31.

    I tried to catch Bug in the cinemas in 2006, despite being in London I had only 2 cinemas to choose from, both around 20 miles away so I decided to wait. Was quite impressed when I finally did see it. Very intense film, I don't think Judd has ever been better and Shannon certainly terrifies you. I do feel he plays the same role in every film though, but then that's character actors for you.

    I shown Bug to some mates expecting them to hate it, I even recommended it in the most half-hearted fashion "Well, this one's a bit weird," but surprisingly, they loved it. Probably because it's a proper horror movie!

  • Comment number 32.

    i kinda feel bad for being the first comment - had i known you would all read it and for some reason all include it in your replies - i wouldn't of said it i doubt - if anything i hoped you or the doctor would spring on the nicholson likeness - all i meant was that this year has produced some awful films and this is one of the only films left this year to challenge a clear leader -

    i thought 'in time' (run lola run) was disappointing even though it's a better concept than 'drive' - i watched bug - not too into it - but i can see why the horror fan doctor liked it - gonna give shotgun stories a shot next - looks promising

  • Comment number 33.

    Judging by this video, Michael Shannon is Bono in the original Band Aid - the guy who says what no one else wants to hear!

  • Comment number 34.

    Drive IS the film of the year. Period.

    Any Michael Shannon fans who haven't seen Boardwalk Empire really need to check it out. It's a real treat, and Shannon is fantastic in it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Mr. Kermode, please, please, please let Mr. Mayo do all the talking in this interview. Mr Mayo seems to understand the art of interviewing and respects his guests, whilst you spend the interview making assertions and then expect the guest to agree with them, expressing shock whenever they happen to have a different opinion e.g. the Soderbergh interview in which you suggested that his plans for retirement were misquoted, and then express frustration when he says that he wants to do something else with his life. Mr. Kermode, the interview is about the guest, not you, so please let Mr Mayo do all of the talking as there are few chances for film fans to hear someone like Michael Shannon talk at length.

  • Comment number 36.

    back again - shotgun stories was ok

    speaking of film of the year - i watched the doctors half way report again last night and decided to watch source code.........two words - twelve monkeys

    predictably draining

  • Comment number 37.

    Saw 'Take Shelter' last night, the performances are very good and it has a few decent moments of tension but overall there's just not enough in the script to make it gripping. A few people in the audience laughed at the end which I thought was a bit over the top but at least that helped confirm that I wasn't missing something and it was some kind of masterpiece.

    Speaking of masterpieces, 'Drive' certainly isn't one. I understand people's desire to find something new and great at the cinema but just because something's different doesn't make it good. I found it pretty underwhelming - Ryan Gosling was good but he's a long, long way short (at this time) of the kind of screen presence a McQueen or a Newman had, and I think even they'd have struggled to carry off the sheer number of long pauses without losing large chunks of the audience. Also, the villains were mediocre at best (the characters, not the actors) which makes the whole thing an uphill struggle. Music smacked of trying to be different for the sake of it. Nicely shot though.

  • Comment number 38.

    Saw the play "Bug" in Dublin, some good moments and would make me want to see the movie. Despite some of the previous comments about "Take Shelter", the clips look intriguing and will definitely go and see it. Sometimes if people laugh at a film, it means the film is touching a raw nerve and there's something to it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Having grown up in the New Forest I've never seen a landscape quite so obviously shot in the area as in the background of the Good Doctor.


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