Even now, three years since it took home the grand prize, director Guillermo del Toro's unorthodox, ethereal love story The Shape of Water still stands out as a surprising, and unusual, Best Picture winner. Actor Michael Shannon, who co-starred in the movie, seemed equally as surprised as everyone else, considering he had not even attended the ceremony and was instead photographed hanging out in a bar in Chicago the night that The Shape of Water took home the Oscar. Well, Shannon has now elaborated on the why behind his whereabouts that fateful night.

"The owner of The Ale House took that photo. Bruce, or one of the owners. ... Anyway, he took the picture and he said, 'You have no idea what this is going to do!' And I said, 'What are you talking about Bruce? Who's going to care about that silly picture?' And here I am. [laughs] But, I was in town, honestly, because the show that I had directed was closing. And I had been gone - because I had been working on Little Drummer Girl and I had missed most of the run and my cast... this play ran through the winter in Chicago, and it was a brutal winter. People were getting sick."
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"People were slipping on ice. I mean, my cast had just gone through Hell to do this show. And it was a very popular show for the theater and I felt like I owed it to them to be there for the closing, which was in the afternoon. It was a matinee. So I went to the last performance, and then we had a reception afterwards and I told everybody how much I appreciated the hard work they had done. And then we had a little after party at The Ale House."

So, it sounds like Michael Shannon was as surprised as everybody else about The Shape of Water taking home the top prize, but his reasoning for not being there is sound and demonstrates his dedication and love of his craft.

Shannon though was quick to heap praise and appreciation of the movie and its director, but that just because one performance is in a glitzy Oscars winner, that does not make it any more important to him than his theater work in Chicago.

"But don't get me wrong. I mean, I'm phenomenally proud of the fact that I'm in The Shape of Water, and I'm phenomenally proud of the fact that I worked with Guillermo and I don't take it lightly. Not one bit. But I'm also very proud of the work I do in Chicago at my little theater company. So I felt like I owed it to my people to be there."

Best Picture Oscar Winner The Shape of Water follows Elisa, a lonely janitor, who stumbles upon an amphibious creature that is held captive in a secret research facility. She then develops a unique relationship with the creature. Shannon plays the villain of the piece, a U.S. Colonel ordered to test the merman, and stars alongside Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. This comes to us from Cinemablend's ReelBlend podcast.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge