Elvis & Nixon, Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Elvis and Nixon

Tribeca Film Fest: Michael Shannon’s Career Rise

Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon at the "Elvis & Nixon" press conference in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo
Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon at the “Elvis & Nixon” press conference in New York | Melanie Votaw Photo

I saw fellow Kentuckian Michael Shannon on Broadway in 2012 in a play called “Grace,” in which he starred with Paul Rudd, Ed Asner, and Shannon’s real-life partner, Kate Arrington. Shannon frequently plays intense characters, and “Grace” was no exception.

Shannon now has three films in the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival – “Elvis & Nixon,” “Wolves,” and “Poor Boy.” I didn’t manage to catch “Poor Boy,” but I saw the other two – both also intense characters for Shannon, although the role of Elvis has comic elements as portrayed in this particular movie.

I covered the press conference for “Elvis & Nixon,” in which Shannon’s Elvis is opposite Kevin Spacey’s Nixon.

Taylor John Smith, Michael Shannon and Chris Bauer in "Wolves"
Taylor John Smith, Michael Shannon and Chris Bauer in “Wolves”

In “Wolves,” Shannon plays a novelist and literature professor with an out-of-control gambling habit. His son, who is the most popular kid in his high school and the resident basketball star, must come to terms with his father’s many shortcomings.

Carla Gugino plays Shannon’s wife – a woman who makes far too many excuses for her husband. The film is largely formulaic, but the payoff at the end is worth everything that comes before. Taylor John Smith as the couple’s son is a revelation in the film. I think we’ll see a lot more from this young actor.

“Wolves,” which refers to the name of the school basketball team, was written and directed by Bart Freundlich.

I look forward to seeing Shannon’s other film, “Poor Boy.” On IMDB, it’s described as follows: “Two misfit brothers hustle cash and chase dreams in the desert. When a mysterious woman threatens to repo their beloved houseboat the brothers cook up an epic con to finally leave their dusty town and sail off on a beam of sunshine to California.”

Shannon is currently on Broadway again in the Eugene O’Neill play, “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” alongside Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne.


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