Michael Shannon on Donald Trump: 'There's nothing to lose these days'
The Oscar-nominated actor has appeared in 10 films in 2016, including 'Nocturnal Animals' and 'Loving'
Since America’s contentious and historic presidential election came to an end on Nov. 8, millions of citizens who feel shell-shocked by the result have found a patron saint of grumpiness and grief. His name is Michael Shannon.
Of course, a number of high-profile celebrities from Miley Cyrus to Susan Sarandon to Scott Baio have expressed their varied opinions about the election in interviews and on social media. Some, like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks, have projected attitudes of hope and optimism despite differences of opinion with the president-elect.
That’s not Shannon’s style. In a series of interviews in the days after Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, the gruff 42-year-old actor, let his opinion about the election off its leash. “No offense to the seniors out there,” Shannon told Metro newspaper. “But if you’re voting for Trump, it’s time for the urn.” (He was referring to this map, illustrating Clinton’s 504 Electoral College vote advantage among 18-25 year-old voters.)
In the same interview, Shannon offered advice to young people whose parents supported Trump: “You’re an orphan now. Don’t go home. Don’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t talk to them at all. Silence speaks volumes.”
Then in this interview on RogerEbert.com, he doubled down. “This country’s filled with ignorant jackasses,” he said. “The big red dildo running through the middle of our country needs to be annexed to be its own country of moronic a–holes. You can call it the United States of Moronic F—ing A–holes.”
EW caught up with Shannon at an event in New York to promote Nocturnal Animals, one of the 10 films in which he’s appeared this year. Tom Ford’s dark, slippery thriller features Shannon in a supporting role as a Texas lawman seeking justice for the victim of a violent attack (Jake Gyllenhaal). One of the movie’s many themes focuses on how anger can ultimately lead to catharsis — a notion Shannon is quite keen on right now.
“Ah, yeah, and there’s nothing to lose by speaking out these days, really,” he tells EW. “Who really cares what I think or what I say anyway? I have absolutely no influence or power whatsoever. I’m not saying it makes me feel better, but why not?”
Shannon added, “I’ve heard a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, we should give [Trump] a chance, it’s not that bad.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you’re wrong. Just look at the news. It is that bad.'”
The actor’s performance in Nocturnal Animals (in theaters Nov. 18) is already tipped for an Oscar nomination. He also has a touching cameo in Jeff Nichols’ Loving (in theaters now) as Life Magazine photographer Grey Villet, who was instrumental in publicizing the 1960s discrimination case of Richard and Mildred Loving.
And despite the Trump victory, Shannon hasn’t lost his deadpan sense of humor — or his impeccable timing. “I always find it interesting when people ask, ‘Do you think you’ve found the character?” he explained in answer to a question about the acting process. “How can I answer that? I’m not even sure if I’ve found myself, much less an imaginary character. I don’t think I’ve found much of anything. Except a lot of money!”