Michael Shannon Finds Television ‘Tremendously Uninteresting’

Prefers a Discman


Who Michael Shannon

Age 38

Accomplishments Stars on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; currently appearing in films Mud and The Iceman; plays Superman nemesis General Zod in Man of Steel (in theaters June 14); member of the band Corporal

Base Brooklyn, N.Y.

What’s the first information you consume in the morning?

I usually look at my emails and then look at The New York Times on my iPad. No print publications—it’s a waste of paper, I think. Then I listen to the local jazz radio station, WBGO from New Jersey, on my little Tivoli Audio radio.

Are you a TV junkie?

I don’t watch any television. I don’t even watch my own show. I find television tremendously uninteresting. However, there is one television show that I actually have some reverence for, and I’ve seen every episode of it several times. It’s called Dr. Katz. It was an animated show on Comedy Central a while ago. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Do you ever download or stream movies?

I hardly ever watch movies, but when I do, I greatly prefer to see them in a theater. I’m very discouraged by the whole digital age of film projection, and I just want to see as many movies projected on film as I can before it becomes a thing of the past.

What books have you read lately?

I just read a really good biography of a saxophone player called Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper. It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it. But I read a lot of scripts, honestly. That kind of monopolizes my time.

How do you pass the time on set when you’re shooting Boardwalk Empire?

I have a very strict rule that when I’m at work, I turn my phone off, and I don’t take any of that stuff to set because I’m there to work and not there to play Tetris on a phone. So sometimes I’ll talk to people, face-to-face—real, actual breathing people. Or I’ll go to the craft services table and get coffee and look at the doughnuts.

Are you involved with social media?

No! That’s a big old no with a lot of exclamation points. And if you ever see someone claiming to be Michael Shannon on Twitter or Facebook or Automaton or whatever the hell it is, they’re completely full of BS. I do not do that, and I know there are people who act like they’re me on there. I hear about it secondhand. It’s kind of upsetting.

What’s your biggest digital indulgence?

Well, I just got back from South Africa, and they gave me an iPhone to use down there. My favorite thing is music. I have a lot of records and CDs, but I didn’t have them with me. So I got hooked on iTunes and started buying music knowing that I was only going to have this phone temporarily. I kept buying albums up until the day I left. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was trying to create the world’s most awesome jukebox.

You don’t have an iPhone at home?

No. I actually use a CD Walkman. I went over to the other side for a brief period, but it’s over now.