LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar nominee Michael Shannon says his life is so strange right now.
His portrayal of John Givings -- the surprising voice of reason in the dark suburban drama "Revolutionary Road" -- earned Shannon a nomination for best supporting actor at the February 22 Academy Awards.
But heading into January's nominations, Shannon was on few -- very few -- lists of actors who might get a nod for one of the world's top film honors.
Even Shannon admits he was surprised when his cell phone began buzzing at 6:30 a.m. the day nominations were announced.
"My phone started doing a voodoo dance," he told Reuters. "I still can't believe it. Life is so strange. I never thought this would happen."
Shannon, 34, was born in Kentucky and began acting in Chicago. His work dates back to the early 1990s on TV and on the stage. He credits his working relationship with playwright Tracy Letts ("August: Osage County") for getting him roles in plays like "Killer Joe" that led to film work.
Shannon has had small parts in high-profile movies such as "Pearl Harbor," "8 Mile," and "Bad Boys II." Yet he remains one of those actors whose face people recognize but they're not sure why.
"I'm in this weird middle ground, because I'm not like a movie star or anything but I'm not quite anonymous," he said.
That could change abruptly after the Oscars.
Shannon said that when he became an actor he "just loved doing it so much" and would still act for the sake of acting.
But he also knows that stars fill theaters, and to get major roles in movies that matter, an actor needs a healthy dose of fame.
"It's tricky, the way things get made and financed is based on investors relying on how many people you are going to attract," he said.
Most of his work has been playing character roles, but Shannon said he would welcome a transition to more leading parts that could come with an Oscar. He hopes to build a career like others character actors who have deftly moved to leading roles, such as Chris Cooper or Robert Duvall.
The Oscar talk has been great, but Shannon knows it could end, for now, with the nomination because his competition includes Heath Ledger, who died last year.
Ledger's role as the villainous Joker in Batman movie "The Dark Knight" already has earned him the Golden Globe for best supporting role.
"I know the odds," Shannon said. "I haven't been writing my acceptance speech."
Editing by Xavier Briand