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Michael Shannon.

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Michael Shannon on Oscar Season: ‘If They Want to Throw a Party, I’ll Show Up!’

This year, the Best Actor Oscar category will be tough to crack, but don't count out Michael Shannon. The previously nominated actor is in contention again for his commanding work in Take Shelter, where he plays a family man with apocalyptic visions, and last night Shannon's performance was fêted by Jake Gyllenhaal, David Koepp, and Amy Ryan at Rue 57 following a special screening of the film.* While there, Shannon chatted with Vulture to give us an honest assessment of his Oscar chances and catch us up on some Boardwalk Empire secrets.

So David Koepp, your director for Premium Rush, is one of the people throwing you this party for Take Shelter
Yes! I miss David. I had a lot of fun working with him, but he's got a big family and a lot of commitments, so it's nice to see him tonight. [To Koepp] I know you invited me to see Premium Rush, and I haven't seen it yet, but it's not out of disinterest.
Koepp: Will you be out in L.A.?
I'm going to be in Vancouver. When I get to L.A., I'll be there for 24 hours. I'll fit it in there, in between my pedicure and my Keratin treatments! [Laughs]

Part of the reason they're throwing the party is to kick-start the Oscar campaign for Take Shelter. Is the pressure on?
I don't know! I went through that for Revolutionary Road ...

That was for supporting actor. This would be for lead actor.
I'm not aware of what the big difference is. Are there any? What's the difference? More costume changes? Yeah, I don't know. There's obviously a lot of big-time, A-list actors doing great work this year: George Clooney in The Descendants, DiCaprio in J. Edgar, I saw Woody Harrelson in Rampart last night, but you know, there's some real heavy hitters. Brad Pitt in Moneyball. So me, I would definitely be bringing up the rear in that situation. Whatever, you know. I like a party. If they want to throw a party, I'll show up. The pressure, then, I guess, would be to drink! Or not drink too much. [Laughs.] I don't know. There's more high-pressure situations in my life — my family, my work, my acting — so this doesn't feel as much pressure. I'm actually going to miss a lot of this stuff, because I won't even be here. I'm going to be in Vancouver, so this is one of the rare opportunities I had to do something like this.

It looks like you're gearing up for some major scenes in Man of Steel.
I've done some pretty important scenes already, though. I've shot some pretty important scenes. But the bulk of what I have to do is this month.

I don't know if you have time during the shoot to keep track of what just aired for Boardwalk Empire, but on Sunday, Lucy had her baby! We joked before about how Van Alden might want to do a baby swap ...
Oh yeah, you figured it out! [Laughs.] And there it was. I couldn't say at the time, but that was Van Alden's plan from the beginning — pay Lucy to have the baby, and then somehow convince Rose the baby was an orphan and that he and Rose can raise the child together. That was the plan. It's an idiotic plan, but it might still happen! Who knows? But it didn't happen on Episode 206.

Given that Take Shelter is about the apocalypse, what are your favorite apocalyptic scenarios?
What's my favorite apocalypse? I like Apocalypse Now. It has apocalypse in the title. But I don't really like any of these end-of-the-world movies too much, like the big ones. I honestly haven't seen The Day After Tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of the apocalypse in general. There almost certainly will be an apocalypse, but I'm trying not to think about that.

How would you want to spend your end of days?
Probably at parties like this. How would I want to? I would just want to be with my family, my daughter, my girlfriend, me and my family. I always get worried when I'm on the road, I don't like being away from them — what might happen when I'm not there? But that's the risk you take.

*This post has been corrected to show that Susan Sarandon and Kevin Bacon were not at the party.

Photo: Patrick McMullan