It would be reductive, bordering on insulting, to say that Michael Shannon only yells in movies and TV. Shannon is an actor of considerable skill and depth; his recent (and very musical) performance in Nine Perfect Strangers serves as a healthy reminder that there’s far more to the Oscar-nominated star’s skillset than just going full, bug-eyed Premium Rush on people.
That being said: There’s probably going to be some yelling in Shannon’ upcoming film McCarthy, in which he’ll be playing Joe McCarthy, the man whose politics so challenged the American ideal that they inspired that infamous phrase: “Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television.”
Wait, no, sorry, those are the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” McCarthy actually inspired the term “McCarthyism,” setting the precedent that there’s no political opponent so loathed that you can’t still make things even uglier by labeling them a Communist, to boot.
Shannon is teaming up on McCarthy, a biopic on the infamous Red Scare-er, with director Václav Marhoul, whose most recent effort was the brutally depressing 2020 effort The Painted Bird. Shannon will co-star on the film with Emilia Clarke, who will play McCarthy’s wife, Jean Kerr, plus Dane DeHaan, who’ll be playing infamous lawyer Roy Cohn. (There’s a lot of “infamous” to go around when you’re doing a biopic on Josephy McCarthy and his pals.) Scoot McNairy, fresh off his recent season of Narcos, is also set to co-star.
Shannon has kept busy during the pandemic; in addition to Nine Perfect Strangers, he’s also set to release an inspirational sports rowing film, Heart Of Champions—produced, somewhat hilariously, by The Social Network’s hard-rowing Winklevii—later this month. Still, there’s something kind of inescapable about him stepping into the role of McCarthy; if we’re going to have societally-destabilizing political demagoguery out there in the ether, at least it can come from a great actor doing it at the top of his lungs.