Birthdate: August 7, 1974
Birthplace: Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Michael Shannon (birthname: Michael Corbett Shannon) has built a stellar career with a powerful array of intense, committed performances, which have been acknowledged with two Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
After a few years devoted to serious theater, including at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, Shannon had his feature debut in the beloved comedy, Groundhog Day (1993), followed by a few small roles until he landed a supporting role in director Allison Maclean’s adaptation of Denis Johnson’s short story collection, Jesus’ Son (1999), with Billy Crudup, Samantha Morton, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter, and Dennis Hopper.
Shannon’s first role in a studio movie was in the Joel Schumacher-directed war drama, Tigerland (2000), with Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Shea Whigham, and Clifton Collins Jr., which bombed despite excellent reviews. Shannon portrayed the great German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder in John Waters’ black comedy, Cecil B. Demented (2000), starring Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, and Adrien Grenier.
Michael Shannon’s second big-budget studio war movie casting was in director-producer Michael Bay’s WW2 drama, Pearl Harbor (2001), with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Alec Baldwin, and Jon Voight, grossing $450 million globally. The next major movie with a supporting role for Shannon was Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001), starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, and Kurt Russell, earning $203 million.
Shannon’s next studio work was a small role in the Carl Franklin-directed legal thriller, High Crimes (2002), starring Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Jim Caviezel, and Amanda Peet, followed by a more significant role for Shannon in director-producer Curtis Hanson’s Eminem biopic, 8 Mile (2002), starring Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Kim Basinger, and Brittany Murphy, and grossing a potent $243 million worldwide.
Michael Shannon earned his first significant role in a studio movie in producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s comedy, Kangaroo Jack (2003), with Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, and Christopher Walken, and then director Bay and producer Bruckheimer cast Shannon for the action-packed sequel, Bad Boys II (2003), with Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Gabrielle Union, and Peter Stormare, and grossing $273 million globally.
Shannon landed a major supporting role in the Gram Parsons-biopic, Grand Theft Parsons (2003), with Johnny Knoxville, Christina Applegate, and Robert Forster, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In the fine crime drama, Criminal (2004), by director/co-writer/co-producer Gregory Jacobs (with fellow producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh), Shannon played support to John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Another supporting role for Michael Shannon was in writer-director Nicole Kassell’s Sundance-premiering debut, The Woodsman (2004), starring Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Mos Def, and Benjamin Bratt. Shannon’s most significant screen performance to date was a co-starring role (re-creating his original stage performance) in director William Friedkin’s version of Tracy Letts’ play, Bug (2006), with Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr., released by Lionsgate after premiering at the Cannes film festival.
Shannon’s run as an in-demand supporting actor continued with director Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center (2006), co-starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Stephen Dorff, and Jon Bernthal, and earning a good $163 million gross. Shannon’s first powerful collaboration with the fine indie filmmaker, Jeff Nichols, was lead in Shotgun Stories (2007), landing on many critics’ top-ten lists after premiering at the Berlin Film Festival. Director-producer Hanson cast Shannon in the Vegas-set, box-office bomb, Lucky You (2007), with Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Duvall.
Director Sidney Lumet cast Michael Shannon in a supporting role in the extraordinary crime drama written by Kelly Masterson, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, and Amy Ryan, and earning $25 million worldwide.
Shannon immediately jumped into another major role in a remarkable movie, the Sam Mendes-directed version of Richard Yates’ 60-era classic, Revolutionary Road (2008), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, and Kathy Bates, grossing a fine $76 million and getting three Oscar nominations. Shannon had one of his earliest starring roles in writer-director Noah Buschel’s drama, The Missing Person (2009), with Ryan and Linda Emond, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Another legendary filmmaker cast Shannon, in this case German filmmaker Werner Herzog, in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), with Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Xzibit, Fairuza Balk, and which premiered at the Venice film festival. Herzog immediately cast Shannon in the lead of his intense drama, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (2009)—featuring a stunning close-up of Shannon’s face staring at the viewer—with Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, and Udo Kier, and also premiered at Venice.
Writer-director Floria Sigismondi cast Shannon in the main male role opposite Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in the rock biopic, The Runaways (2010), premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Shannon then joined the colorful ensemble of Jason Statham, Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mickey Rourke, David Zayas, Ben Gazzara, and Alexander Skarsgård, for Georgian writer-director Géla Babluani’s 13 (2011), and released by Anchor Bay Films. Shannon’s first entry into the DC Comics universe was a smaller role in the Western superhero movie, Jonah Hex (2010), with Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, and Michael Fassbender, but making a poor box-office return.
Michael Shannon finally had his breakthrough performance with his astounding work in his second movie with writer-director Jeff Nichols’ masterful drama, Take Shelter (2011), with Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, and Kathy Baker, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and winning Best Film at Semaine de la Critique in Cannes. In the same festival, Shannon was seen in a co-lead role in writer-director Liza Johnson’s acclaimed indie drama, Return (2011), with Linda Cardellini and John Slattery.
Shannon then starred opposite James Franco in one of Franco’s several literary-based movies as writer-director-star, The Broken Tower (2011), and then Shannon co-starred opposite Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, and Kathy Baker in the Marc Forster-directed biopic, Machine Gun Preacher (2011). Shannon’s third feature with filmmaker Nichols was his excellent coming-of-age film, Mud (2012), starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Don Baker, Ray McKinnon, and Sarah Paulson, and premiering in competition at the Cannes film festival, earning a solid $32.6 million return.
Michael Shannon was cast opposite co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt in writer-director David Koepp’s New York City thriller, Premium Rush (2012), produced by Columbia Pictures, and then Shannon starred as a fearsome hitman in writer-director Ariel Vroman’s crime biopic, The Iceman (2012), with Winona Ryder, Franco, Ray Liotta, and Chris Evans, and which premiered at the Venice film festival. Shannon’s second DC Comics superhero movie was a co-starring role opposite Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne in the Zack Snyder-directed Superman movie, Man of Steel (2013), grossing a potent $668 million.
Michael Shannon co-starred opposite Samantha Morton in the John McNaughton-directed horror movie, The Harvest (2013), which earned fine reviews and was released by IFC Films. Shannon then starred in another indie genre movie, director/writer/producer Jake Paltrow’s post-apocalyptic drama, Young Ones (2014), with Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.
Shannon starred in yet another indie film by an acclaimed filmmaker, in this case, director/writer/producer Ramin Bahrani, in the Recession-themed drama, 99 Homes (2014), opposite Andrew Garfield and Laura Dern, and premiering at the Venice Film Festival, followed by a Grand Prix win at the Deauville film festival. Shannon played partner to Julianne Moore’s detective in the Peter Sollett-directed Freeheld (2015), based on a true story and co-starring Elliot Page and Steve Carell and released by Lionsgate after a Toronto film festival premiere.
Michael Shannon appeared in one of his rare comedies in the Seth Rogen-produced-and-starring Christmas movie, The Night Before (2015), with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, and Mindy Kaling, and then Shannon co-starred opposite Rachel Weisz, Danny Glover, and Kathy Bates in filmmaker Joshua Marston’s mystery, Complete Unknown (2016), released by Amazon Studios and IFC Films after its Sundance premiere.
Another Sundance 2016 premiere starring Shannon was writer-director Matthew Ross’ feature debut, Frank & Lola, with Imogen Poots, Michael Nyqvist, Rosanna Arquette, and Emmanuelle Devos, and released by Universal Pictures/Paladin. Shannon’s fourth movie under the direction of Jeff Nichols was the sci-fi drama, Midnight Special (2016), with Joel Edgerton, Kristen Dunst, Adam Driver, and Sam Shepard, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to rave reviews.
Michael Shannon continued his remarkable run of American indie movies as the star of writer-director Bart Freundlich’s sports drama, Wolves (2016), with Carla Gugino, Taylor John Smith, and Zazie Beetz, and released by IFC Films after a Tribeca film festival premiere. In the same 2016 edition of Tribeca, Shannon also appeared (this time in a supporting role) in director-producer Robert Scott Wildes’ indie Western, Poor Boy (2016), with Lou Taylor Pucci, Pat Healy, Dale Dickey, and Eszter Balint. Shannon reunited with director Liza Johnson for the comedy-drama, Elvis & Nixon (2016), in which Shannon played the King of Rick n’ Roll opposite Kevin Spacey’s Nixon, with Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, and Tracy Letts—and marking Shannon’s third movie to premiere at the 2016 Tribeca festival.
Shannon took on a smaller supporting role for the first time with director-writer Jeff Nichols for the acclaimed drama, Loving (2016), premiering in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and co-starring the Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Marton Csokas, and Nick Kroll. Michael Shannon’s third movie with filmmaker Werner Herzog was the Bolivia-shot film, Salt and Fire (2016), co-starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Veronica Ferres, and based on Tom Bissell’s short story, “Aral.”
Shannon was then cast in the top supporting role opposite Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal in director/writer/producer Tom Ford’s stylized art world drama, Nocturnal Animals (2016), winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and Shannon earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Shannon played the heavy in Guillermo del Toro’s Best Picture-winning, 13-Oscar-nominated fantasy, The Shape of Water (2017), starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Olivia Spencer, which grossed $195 million for Fox Searchlight Pictures following its Venice film festival premiere.
Michael Shannon portrayed another historical figure, inventor George Westinghouse, in the troubled production of The Current War (which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017 and was finally released, after re-editing, in 2019), starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, and Michael Macfadyen. Shannon appeared in his second Christmas comedy, this time as lead, Pottersville (2017), with Judy Greer, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, and Ian McShane, followed by Shannon starring (opposite Chris Hemsworth, Michael Peña, and Navid Negahban in producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s Afghanistan war movie, 12 Strong (2018), co-written by Ted Tally (with Peter Craig) and based on Doug Stanton’s book, Horse Soldiers.
Michael Shannon then co-starred and executive-produced writer-director Elizabeth Chomko’s Sundance-premiering drama, What They Had (2018), with Hilary Swank, Robert Forster, and Blythe Danner. Shannon reunited with Waterston as co-stars in writer-director Meredith Dunluck’s feature debut, State Like Sleep (2018), with Luke Evans and Michiel Huisman, released by The Orchard after its Tribeca film festival premiere. Director/writer/producer Rian Johnson cast Shannon in the ensemble for his smash-hit murder mystery, Knives Out (2019), co-starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, and Christopher Plummer, and grossing $312 million for Lionsgate, spawning two sequels.
Lionsgate also released writer-director Scott Teems’ mystery thriller based on Damon Galgut’s novel, The Quarry (2020), starring Shannon (who also served as executive producer), Shea Whigham, and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Shannon then co-starred in his second crime drama in a row in Echo Boomers (2020), marking writer-director Seth Savoy’s feature debut, and with Patrick Schwarzenegger and Alex Pettyfer. After the poorly reviewed sports drama in which Shannon starred and produced, Heart of Champions (2021), Shannon acted in yet another directorial debut—in this case, Spencer Squire’s—in the horror movie, Abandoned (2022), with Emma Roberts and John Gallagher Jr.
Michael Shannon joined the large ensemble of the David Leitch-directed action movie, Bullet Train (2022), starring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sandra Bullock, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benito A. Martinez Ocasio, earning $239 million for Columbia/Sony Pictures. Another big-ensemble movie in which Shannon played support was David O. Russell’s commercially disappointing period drama-comedy, Amsterdam (2022), co-starring Christian Bale, John David Washington, and Margot Robbie, with Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Alessandro Nivola.
With director-writer Michael Maren, Michael Shannon starred in A Little White Lie (2022), the film adaptation of Chris Belden’s novel, Shriver, co-starring Kate Hudson, Don Johnson, and Zach Braff, and released by Saban/Paramount Pictures. Shannon made his feature directorial debut with the film version of Brett Neveu’s play about the Columbine massacre, Eric Larue (2023), with Judy Greer, Paul Sparks, Alison Pill, Tracy Letts, and Alexander Skarsgård, and which premiered at the Tribeca film festival.
In his third DC Comics Universe movie, Shannon played General Zod in Warner Bros.’ commercially disastrous, The Flash (2023), with Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, and Ron Livingston, and losing over $200 million for the studio. Shannon reunited with his longtime filmmaker collaborator, Jeff Nichols, for the 20th Century Studios-released biker saga, The Bikeriders (date to be announced), co-starring Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Jodie Comer, and Boyd Holbrook, and based on photojournalist Danny Lyon’s book.
Shannon’s next project was as part of the ensemble in filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer’s European-produced sci-fi musical comedy-drama, The End (date to be announced), starring Tilda Swinton, George MacKay, Moses Ingram, Bronagh Gallagher, and Tim McInnerny, and released by Neon. With writer-director Larin Sullivan, Shannon starred in the Vegas-set The Young King (date to be announced), with Kiersey Clemons and Barbie Ferreira, followed by the Vaclav Marhoul-directed historical drama, McCarthy (date to be announced), in which Shannon portrays notorious Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, opposite Emilia Clarke, Dane Dehaan, and Scoot McNairy.
Michael Shannon was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky by parents Geraldine Hine (lawyer) and Donald Shannon (DePaul University professor). Shannon has one brother, Dave. Shannon’s paternal grandfather was entomologist Raymond Corbett Shannon. Shannon’s parents divorced when he was a child, and he divided his time between his Lexington-based mother and Chicago-based father.
Shannon schooled at Lexington and Chicagoland but dropped out during his senior year at Evanston Township High School, in Evanston, Illinois. Michael Shannon married theater actor (and fellow Steppenwolf Theatre colleague) Kate Arrington in 2019, after having been in a relationship since 2002; the couple has two children, Sylvia and Marion. Shannon’s height is 6’ 3¼”. Michael Shannon’s estimated net worth is $8 million.
Rocker: Michael Shannon established the indie band, Corporal, in 2002, with fellow musicians Rob Beitzel and Ray Rizzo, and produced recordings in 2010-2012, including a song, “Obama,” dedicated to Obama’s re-election campaign.
Theatre Man: Shannon began his acting career in the American theater, and has continued to work there, co-founding the Chicago-based company, A Red Orchid Theatre, which has produced among other plays, Brett Neveu’s drama, Eric Larue, which Shannon then adapted to the big screen in 2023.
Busy Man: Michael Shannon certainly ranks as one of the busiest actors on the big and small screen, factoring in not only his dozens of big-screen credits, but also his starring and co-starring roles in multiple episodes of such notable cable and streaming dramas as Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014), Waco (2018), Waco: The Aftermath (2023), Fahrenheit 451 (2018), The Little Drummer Girl (2018), Nine Perfect Strangers (2021), Little Demon (2022), and his Emmy-nominated role in George & Tammy (2022-2023) opposite his Take Shelter co-star, Jessica Chastain.