vulture festival 2017

Michael Shannon Gets Through Grueling Film Shoots by Acting Like a ‘Vampire’

Michael Shannon. Photo: Andrew Toth/2017 Getty Images

Michael Shannon may be the hardest working man in show business. Yet, for a man who has basically lived on film sets — he was in eight movies last year, one of which (Nocturnal Animals) earned him an Oscar nomination — he’s a bit wary of them. “They basically are like a petri dish for boredom and silliness,” Shannon told New York film critic David Edelstein in a conversation at Vulture Festival Saturday night.

“I try to not say much,” he says. “People think, Oh, you’re in character or whatever. It’s like, ‘No. I don’t come here to talk.’ I just want to say what’s written and go home.”

Unlike theater, which can take “real muscle” in rehearsals, film sets can move more slowly. “You go on a film set, it’s like, ‘You’re going to say five lines today, and it’s going to take 12 hours,’” he said. “I go into my little room in the trailer and I turn all the lights out and I just lay on the floor like a vampire. And then they knock. I’m like, Okay, I’ll go. What am I going to do — knit?”

Shannon, who has two small children, says he’s just conserving his energy. “I take advantage of the quiet time. It’s my nursing home. Sometimes I’ll take advantage of this time, like, well, I’ll just look at my script, read, work, study, think about things.”

Michael Shannon Gets Through Shoots by Acting Like a Vampire