"Freeheld" features Michael Shannon alongside Julianne Moore and Ellen Page telling the true story of detective Laurel Hester (Moore) fighting to get her pension awarded to her partner, Stacie Andree (Page) in New Jersey in 2005. And Shannon has a personal connection to the story that made the fight for marriage equality a no-brainer.
It's interesting to think how the marriage equality fight has evolved since 2005.
It's such a simple thing, such a simple plea for decency and human respect. Laurel devoted a huge portion of her life to protecting and taking care of her community, and she just wanted the same for herself. I don't know, I don't see how people can be unmoved.
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Has what's happened this year with the Supreme Court changed your view on the story?
Yeah, but there's still a stigma. And there's still dissent. There's still people that want to act like the Supreme Court was wrong. Like in my glorious home state of Kentucky. It never stops being topical, but there's definitely a momentum. It seems like we're real close to getting over it. Because it's silly. It's silly that so much pain and angst comes out of how people choose to love one another. I can understand being mad at somebody because they hurt somebody or they disregard other people's experience or whatever, but to have an issue with somebody because of how they choose to love is really perplexing to me. My oldest sister is gay, and she's married and they've adopted a couple of kids and they're just a beautiful family. It's never bothered me in the slightest. I mean, she's my sister.
I just think how much has changed since 2003, and it's mind-boggling.
I mean, it's bizarre because honestly there are people that are tremendously afflicted in straight relationships. The capacity or ability for people to suffer is probably even more prevalent in a neo-fundamentalist Christian 50-year marriage than it is in any other sort of human relationship.
So maybe the dissenters are getting more vocal as they flame out?
I think the number is getting smaller, the number of … I want to say idiots. I think it's shrinking. That's American culture, creating the drama. It's the same thing with Trump. The media is playing right into his hands. He says controversial things and then you pump it up, make it a story and the next thing you know the guy's president. Just ignore him. Don't give him a platform. It's like putting a plant in a pot of soil. You should be yanking it out, throwing it on the sidewalk.
How much does playing a real person impact your performance?
Well, it was huge to meet Dane — and yet the second I met Dane I realized there was no way in the world I'd be able to be exactly like him. We're completely different, physically. And Dane also said in our meeting, "I'm not really concerned about you being exactly like me. That's honestly to me not the point. The point is telling the world about Laurel and Stacie." Dane's a very humble man. He's not looking for attention himself. But it was critical. I can't imagine playing someone and not meeting them — if they're still alive to meet.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick