Back when I wrote a Reader story about him, in January, 2006, Michael Shannon was just getting a taste of big-dealitude, having recently come off starring in the hit off-Broadway stage run--and then the William Friedkin movie--of Tracy Letts's Bug. But he was still answering the phone at A Red Orchid Theatre, manning its tiny box office, and talking loyally about the need for the best Chicago actors to stay put in Chicago. "I'd seen a lot of really talented people that I loved working with, being around, leaving, going to LA and New York," he told me then. "I never really understood why they did it. If everybody who's so great just stayed here then people would be coming to us, begging us to let them be involved."
Well, a lot of reality's happened since then. Shannon now reportedly lives in Brooklyn, with his wife, Steppenwolf ensemble member Kate Arrington, and their baby. And he's started getting big-dealitude in great big gulps, because his small but pivotal role as the mentally unstable former mathematician in Revolutionary Road has earned him a nomination for the best supporting actor Oscar. (Is it too chauvinistic of me to say he's the best thing in the film?) If you miss getting him on the line when you buy tickets at A Red Orchid, at least there's the chance you'll get a glimpse of him February 22, at the Academy Awards. Don't expect a win though: he's up against Heath Ledger as the Joker, and dead may very well trump crazy.