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On The Tonight Show, Michael Shannon talks skipping the Oscars, playing the first feline Bond villain

Michael Shannon, Jimmy Fallon
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

On The Tonight Show to promote his upcoming role as the scariest person in HBO’s adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, scariest person in any room Michael Shannon was actually sort of adorable. Weird and intense, but adorable. Sort of like seeing a bear playing around with a puppy, Shannon goofed around with host Jimmy Fallon as the two talked about anything Shannon felt like. Sporting a gloriously bushy mustache for his role in the upcoming, Park Chan-wook-directed miniseries of John Le Carrés The Little Drummer Girl, Shannon responded to Fallon’s inevitable giggly admiration of his lip fur by asking, in signature Shannon smiling menace, “You wanna touch it?” Fallon did so (although he didn’t dare ruffle it), as Shannon—still in playful bear mode—allowed Fallon to withdraw his hand unbitten.

Shannon fielded Fallon’s questions with that same mix of amiability and charmingly offhand strangeness throughout. Asked about the online movement for him to play the next James Bond villain, Shannon responded that he’d only be right for the role if his cat were cast, with Shannon providing the cat-villain’s voice. (Which, now that Shannon has put it out there, is the only choice, really.) He also spoke about the famous picture of him watching The Shape Of Water win its many Oscars from a barstool at Chicago’s Old Town Ale House, explaining that he’d ditched the awards show to attend the closing performance of a play he’d directed (Traitor, at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre), and then gone to the noted dive bar to get “completely poleaxed.” He also skipped the Golden Globes earlier this year, in order to do what he described as “a feeble impersonation” of Iggy Pop at a Chicago David Bowie tribute concert in January. (Although the shirtless, slinky, thong-sporting picture of Shannon Fallon showed looked appropriately Iggy-esque.)

Finally getting around to talking about Fahrenheit 451 (premiering May 19 on HBO), Shannon called co-star Michael B. Jordan “the sweetest, nicest guy I’ve ever worked with,” before smilingly brushing off Fallon’s joking suggestion that Shannon and Fallon should team up in a movie. “That’s never gonna happen,” responded Shannon, leaving Fallon (and everyone else) simultaneously amused and unnerved. Such is Shannon’s way.


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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.