Michael Shannon is an actor's actor whose career has stretched from a bit part in "Groundhog Day" to the stages of the Steppenwolf Theater Company to his Oscar-nominated turn in "Revolutionary Road," where he yanked the spotlight right out from under Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
In "The Runaways," the new film about the groundbreaking all-girl 70s rock band whose founding members include Joan Jett (played by "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart) and Lita Ford, Shannon is at his scenery chomping finest in the role of Kim Fowley, the band's foulmouthed, manic manager. From his first moment on screen, Shannon straps the movie to his back and walks off with it.
At the film's recent press day, Shannon, in a tight hooded sweatshirt and jeans, looking more like a hipster than a movie star, looked almost crestfallen when his onscreen supremacy is mentioned.
"At the risk of sounding coy," he rumbled, "it's a little awkward to be honest. I have a lot of respect for the people I work with. I don't like to feel like the hard work they put into something isn't getting the credit it deserves. It's never my intention."
However modest he may be, Shannon is undeniably dynamic and captivating as a man who recently knighted himself "a psycho Svengali."
"I got about half of it," Shannon decrees. "[Kim's] an intricate human being; it's hard to pin him down. But I feel that way any time I see [actors playing real people.] Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great in "Capote" but he's not really like Truman Capote. I think I got enough of it that you got the story."
As for his young co-stars, Stewart and Dakota Fanning, as lead singer Cherie Currie, Shannon has nothing but the highest praise. "They're very fearless," he says proudly. "It's pretty incredible when you think of how young they are and what they've already accomplished. Kristen was totally submerged into it. It was very convincing."
"The Runaways" opens Friday March 19.