Michael Shannon has been a success on stage, screen and television and he has plenty of hardware to prove it. The Tony and Oscar-nominated actor is bringing his talents to McCarter Theatre in Princeton for the latest performance of Simpatico.
Buried secrets, blackmail, and false identities race onto the stage in Simpatico, a tragicomedy about the slippery netherworld of thoroughbred racing from the late Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Sam Shepard.
McCarter is proud to collaborate with the acclaimed Chicago ensemble A Red Orchid Theatre to bring this riveting American drama to Princeton.
During a trip to WBGO to celebrate morning host Gary Walker's 68th birthday, Michael Shannon sat down with News Director Doug Doyle to talk about playing Carter in Simpatico. Shannon, a huge fan of jazz and WBGO, also talks about some of his movie roles and his children.
The recent passing of playwright Sam Shepard makes this performance a special one for him.
"You know when I started doing theater in Chicago in the early 90's, you couldn't walk down the street without bumping into a storefront theater doing a Sam Shepard play. I mean it was everywhere and he was kind of the hero of the movement."
Shannon says he never really knew what to say to the playwright when he met him.
"There's so many of his plays I love, but this (Simpatico) is probably my favorite one and I think it really represents Sam as a person and an artist in a very unique way."
Shannon's amazing acting career roots go back to A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago and many of his close friends are in the cast of this performance in Princeton. Shannon says about 25 years ago, one of his closest friends, Guy Van Swearingen, started A Red Orchid Theatre. They met in an acting class.
"I ran the box office for the first show he did there, and eventually started acting there myself and became a member of the company."
Guy and Michael worked together in Simpatico in Chicago a few years ago, and they renew their roles in this production. Shannon plays the role of Carter.
"Carter is kind of the motor of the play. Carter really gets it handed to him in the play."
There may be another Shannon on stage in the future. The Red Hook resident's young daughter Sylvie is enjoying watching her dad at work.
"My older daughter Sylvie, she's nine, and when we first went to Princeton to start our technical rehearsals, I brought the family with me. Sylvie could not tear herself away from the theater.....and just to see the look in her eyes. I'll come off after she watches me do a scene and I'll say "So what did you think?" The way she's looking at me is just crazy. She really loves it. I certainly would never in a million years recommend anybody get into this business but on the other hand, who knows? She already does little camps during the summertime. She does Shakespeare camp and theater camps."
Sylvie has some great acting genes to work with. Her mom and Michael's long-time partner is actress Kate Arrington.
Simpatico runs through mid October at McCarter Theatre.
Click above to hear the entire interview.