Michael Shannon shunned a Method approach to play Texas cop Bobby Andes in Focus’ “Nocturnal Animals,” for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination early Tuesday.
“I drew on a lot of inspirations I had already gathered before doing the movie,” Shannon told TheWrap after receiving the news. “I’ve always been a huge fan of the true-crime fiction — I basically kind of drew on that and mostly used my imagination. I didn’t go do any drive-alongs or anything.”
Instead he relied on writer-director Tom Ford’s script to play a detective with an old-school conscience and a sandpaper voice. (Ford didn’t earn a nomination in either category.)
“I’m just trying to figure out who this person is and why they’re doing what they’re doing and why they’re saying what they’re saying,” he said. “And if I can get that half-figured out, it’s a job well done.”
“Nocturnal Animals” is a story within a story, where a novel passed to a gallery owner from her ex-husband turns out to be a dark thriller involving a man’s family being kidnapped on a West Texas highway and his search for justice — with the help of Andes.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played the killer in the film, won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, but he was left out of the Oscar nominations. Shannon wasn’t surprised that so many people seemed to connect with his and Taylor-Johnson’s character in the film.
“I just think it’s the feral nature story,” he said. “It’s not just dark, its beyond dark. There’s something very animalistic about it. These characters are kind of iconic characters, archetypes yet they’re eccentric. They’re unqiue within that archetype. There like people you’ve never met but you already know.”
Shannon had high praise for Ford as a filmmaker. “He is one of the most thoroughly prepared people I’ve ever worked with,” Shannon said. “He has gone over the script with a fine-toothed comb. He has basically walked in the shoes of every character. He’s woven them together in this very interesting tapestry. He finds ways to relate himself personally to the character. The way he’s able to weave together these two totally different worlds. Its reflective of his own life experience that he’s had.”
Shannon said “Moonlight” and “Loving” were among his favorite feature films this year, and he singled out “Gleason,” a documentary about a former football player and his family coping with ALS that was passed over in the Documentary Feature category.
“You’re never going to see anything like ‘Gleason,'” he said. “The fact that exists. What that man did and what his family did just is beyond words.”