Michael Shannon moved his latest film out of the forced-birth state of Arkansas

I’ve been a fan of Michael Shannon as an actor for many years. I became a fan of Michael Shannon as a person when he gave a series of interviews in 2016 and 2017 in which he excoriated Trump voters, called Trump a black hole and a “soulless evil piece of sh-t” and told older right-wingers that “it’s time for the urn.” Shannon is amazing. Currently, he’s got, like, a dozen projects coming out in the next year or so, but he’s about to make his directorial debut with a film adaptation of a play. They were set to film in Arkansas, but then Arkansas banned all abortions. So Michael Shannon had the production moved.

Michael Shannon is set to make his directorial debut with Eric Larue, a movie based on the Brett Neveu play that debuted in 2002 at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, where Shannon is a founding member. Neveu also is adapting the script.

The film had been scheduled to shoot in Arkansas. But since the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v Wade triggered that state’s Act 180 of 2019, which bans nearly all abortions, including cases of rape and incest, the filmmakers have withdrawn from Arkansas and now will be shooting in and around Wilmington, NC.

For Neveu, Eric Larue‘s origin as a play was in response to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. The play premiered in 2002 at the Red Orchid. Almost 15 years after its debut, Shannon was directing the play Traitor — which is a new retelling of Neveu’s An Enemy of the People — when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Those shootings led to Neveu adapting his original play into the feature film Shannon will direct.

The film follows Janice, the mother of 17-year-old Eric, who shot and killed three of his classmates. As Janice faces a meeting of the mothers of the other boys, and a long-delayed visit to her son in prison, the story becomes not about the violence but about what we choose to think and do in order to survive trauma.

“Eric Larue has so much to say about our country, about the way we try (sometimes quite ineptly) to deal with the trauma of living here, which is so insidious because it does not present itself overtly in concrete terms most of the time,” Shannon said. “Like most great stories, Eric Larue plays at the macro and a micro level simultaneously. When I read the screenplay, I immediately knew I had to direct it. I saw it. I heard it. I could feel it. And I wanted to make sure that it received just the right touch in all its aspects, because at the end of the day, it is an extraordinarily delicate thing.

“I find it interesting,” he added, “to align with artists possessing the most vivid imaginations, the most stringent yet empathetic senses of morality, and the most passionate and rigorous disciplines to create worlds and stories that contribute to our experience and understanding of what it is to be a human being in this day and age and, particularly, this country.”

[From Deadline]

The film doesn’t actually sound like my jam whatsoever, but I appreciate the fact that Shannon feels strongly about the material and what it says. I also appreciate the fact that Shannon moved the production out of a state which banned all abortions. A true ally. There’s definitely a larger conversation happening now in Hollywood about whether ALL location productions should be moved out of forced-birth states. Glad to see Michael Shannon is ahead of the curve.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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31 Responses to “Michael Shannon moved his latest film out of the forced-birth state of Arkansas”

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  1. Suze says:

    I love Michael Shannon. He’s a phenomenal actor, he’s hilarious (do yourself a favor and find the “sorority letter” video he did), and as Kaiser said he’s a true ally.

  2. CindyLooWho says:

    YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! This is the only way we will be able to change things in ultra red states. Good for him.

    • Deering24@ says:

      Yup. Money is all right-wingers care about, and hitting them in the pocketbook is a good strategy.

  3. Alice says:

    I am not sure what the right thing is. I instinctively support this kind of action, and I personally will not visit a red state, period. But I have read black people on twitter get very angry about this and say you are hurting black people in the southern states who are working hard to change things. I feel like okay, that’s not my lane, so no comment. But I will not visit a red state. Just can’t do it, sorry.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Same. I have friends in Dallas and Louisville who want me to visit. I told them we have to meet somewhere else as I will not bring one penny into those states. They kept saying “their” area is “ok”, but nope. Not one cent.

    • Bevvie says:

      I am glad to hear I am not the only one that feels that way. I’m a Houstonian born and raised but California has been my adopted home for many years. I am horrified by Texas and won’t step foot or spend a dime there, or any other red state for that matter. Those right wing nuts deserve what they get, and the libs that live among them should migrate west if they cannot effect change in their state.

      • MrsBanjo says:

        You want to pay for all those people to move out of state? Secure them jobs? Help them with their health and disabilities? Make sure their families are covered? Especially if they’ve been there their entire lives?

        Telling people to just move as if that’s actually remotely feasible is privileged and gross. The implication of that view is that those who can’t move are shit out of luck and deserve to suffer. Do better.

      • Driver8 says:

        Thank you @ Mrs. Banjo, the elitism on here is astonishing.

      • Gelya says:

        Red State Lib here who fights for change every day. I am moving out of State for my DH’s work. We have been looking into West States. So, you all don’t have Red States like Arizona?
        Thanks for letting us all know who do the right thing, can not possibly move we deserve to suffer. How does that make you better than the Right Wing? Seems like the same thing we hear from the Right Wing but just a different party.
        I agree the elitism on this board can be astonishing.

        I forgot to add I am proud of Michael for standing by his convictions. He seems like the type who looks at everything from all angles before he makes a decision.

    • Anna says:

      I live in Oklahoma and am very much in the minority here. I get it. Save yourself, don’t come here. My husband and I are currently fighting because his job is very much tied to the area and his career would be over if we moved because he’s have to build his entire program again from scratch if we did—and both of our families have lived here for generations. But I can’t handle living here anymore and we might end up calling it quits.

      • Mslove says:

        Up until 1968, Oklahoma voters usually voted for the democrats, but gradually changed to become the red state we are today. Change is possible. Never lose hope.

    • ConcernFae says:

      The problem is that every movement for social change works on multiple levels. You have to have the locals working on the ground. You also need corporate America to shame the state by refusing to allow people to travel there, canceling conferences, shutting down local offices, and doing whatever they can to protect their people.

      This isn’t just about “abortion.” What if a crew member has an ectopic pregnancy and were to die because the local hospital couldn’t treat them? This isn’t just theoretical. People don’t want to be in a place where they are at active risk of harm. Their employers should make sure that they are not. We are at the point where hospitals are consulting with lawyers about how low a woman’s vital signs need to be before they can abort a fetus with a heartbeat to save her life.

      I don’t think people realize how bad this will be and that it will get much worse before it gets better. I know that there are good people in red states, but the only way for this to end is rapid response on every available front, even if some of those ways cause pain to other members of the coalition.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Yes, I am also conflicted and I don’t know that the right choice is. And maybe there isn’t one perfect answer, but just what each person’s conscience allows them to do. I still visit red states, but here’s the thing — the country is not really divided between red states and blue states, it’s more red rural vs. blue cities. The city of Phoenix is blue even if Arizona as a state is red, and eastern Washington (the rural areas) is red even if the state itself is blue. The republicans are trying to keep red states red by voter suppression and gerrymandering, even if the large populations of their cities could make the state turn blue if voting was actually fair. I applaud the people of red states who stay and try to make it a better place rather than flee — but I also understand the motivation behind economic boycotts and (especially if you are a POC or woman), feeling unsafe and not wanting to visit.

      • Twin Falls says:

        Having protective state laws is an important difference. Living in a blue city in a red state that’s made abortion illegal isn’t going to do you any good if you need reproductive medical care. Until there is a federal law, it is a red state/blue state issue and I’m not voluntarily going to a red state right now as a personal choice.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve given up travel for pandemic, but even if I did travel, I don’t want to go to any red states right now, period, at the very least for my own safety.

  4. Jan90067 says:

    Def. a baller move. I hope all follow suit.

    On the other hand, with all these mass shootings (and no curbing in sight), everything is so raw; I don’t know how many people are going to want to see a film like this, even in a year or two when it comes out.

  5. Liz Version 700 says:

    This is what needs to happen. $$ talks…apparently louder than equal rights. Good for him!

  6. notasugarhere says:

    He’s right, deny them oxygen and money. The film/streaming/tv industry is a HUGE money maker and employer globally.

  7. Bettyrose says:

    Let the economic fallout begin.

  8. Stacey Dresden says:

    Thank you Michael Shannon

  9. ANON says:

    Hell yes, this is what is needed. Grateful for this solidarity this morning.

  10. Annaloo. says:

    Good on Michael Shannon, but worse for this nation’s women is the toxic influence of Hollywood, and I can guarantee you there will be plenty of other productions that remain “go” in these female oppression states. Hollywood can be so terrible bc it literally survives on the oppression and exploitation of the female image in all its forms, especially race. So much needs to be changed from root, but what galls me is that there are still going to be so many people who say “not my body, not my problem”. Blood and milk, we all come from it.. blood and milk– this is everyone’s problem.

    Anti abortion is anti female empowerment.

  11. Lisa says:

    LOVE HIM!!

  12. Mavel says:

    Just here to thank you for using the term “forced birth” instead of the other more common propaganda term often used which gives power to those who seek to do harm.

  13. girl_ninja says:

    I love Michael and have for years. Maybe this kind of protest will galvanize the people in turn putting the pressure on their state governments.

  14. Cait says:

    This is a difficult conversation to have in the comments section, even as lovely as Celebitchy commenters are.

    But I’m not sure many of you genuinely perceive how disenfranchised and gerrymandered most of the south is. We’re not a soulless amalgam of hillbillies down here – we have major minority populations, and the highest concentration of LGBTQIA+ Americans in the country. But state legislatures wield a lot of power – look at what just happened when Louisiana Republicans refused a court order to draw a new congressional map, and went to SCOTUS to further disenfranchise Black voters in Louisiana. (Sidebar: I never thought someone from Metairie would have this much control over my life, but here we are.)

    The Black Belt gives me some hope, and I’ll continue to organize with my friends and colleagues here on the ground to push for more and better – because thing is, I have the privilege to pick up and move it things become ultimately untenable for me. Millions of people in this state do NOT – and that’s the case across many red states.

    I think film industry bans make a lot of sense in terms of corporate pressure, but I also don’t want you to lose sight of the people on the ground in these states who have been deliberately muted by old white dudes desperate to grasp power.

    • Lisa says:

      That’s true. A lot of Midwestern states (where I live) are also a mix. However, money talks and for most of the legislators that’s the only language they will hear.

    • Lucy says:

      I appreciate this comment, Cait. I live in NYC, but have spent a lot of time in the south for my job and have deep respect for the people I’ve met there.

      For what it’s worth: I work in television, and for us in this industry, withdrawing from places like Arkansas is purely a safety issue. It’s not about punishing the forced-birth states. It’s about making sure that no pregnant person in the cast or crew is ever in a place where if she develops a life-threatening pregnancy issue for which the treatment is abortion, she won’t be able to get the life-saving treatment she needs.

  15. K-Peace says:

    I LOVE Michael Shannon. Re-reading his “time for the urn” interview from when Trump had just been elected (which i remember loving at the time, because he put words to how upset i was about Trump being elected), what he predicted for how bad Trump would be, he was right on point, unfortunately.

  16. The Recluse says:

    He’s a righteous dude and I love that.