While film fans across the country held Oscar parties on Sunday, actor Michael Shannon, who starred in The Shape of Water — the eventual Academy Award winner for Best Picture — decided to find a bar stool. Shannon, who began his acting career at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, watched the show from the Old Town Ale House, one of Chicago’s most iconic dive bars. The infamous watering hole is a favorite of Anthony Bourdain and the late film critic Roger Ebert.
The bar, with its woodgrain paneling and colorful paintings, is usually open until 4 a.m. and popular with Second City performers as it’s a less-than-five-minute walk from the iconic improv comedy club. Ale House owner Bruce Elliot, a friend of Bourdain’s who took him on a televised eating tour of Chicago, posted a photo of Shannon via Twitter. Elliot’s quirky paintings of celebrities and others hang on the walls. He noted that they were watching the awards at his bar without sound as the jukebox was playing music. They switched on closed captioning.
Michael Shannon watching the film he starred in, "Shape of Water", win best picture while sitting in the Old Town Ale House. No sound on the TV, just sub-titles. Of course the juke box was rocking, and the beer flowing. Where else would you want to spend Oscar night? pic.twitter.com/WAC6uc6guZ— Bruce Elliott (@GeriatricGenius) March 6, 2018
Old Town Ale House is a unique dive full of history and stories. Many loyal customers have been coming into the bar for decades and are kind enough to educate visitors on old Chicago, politics, and theatre. Besides The Shape of Water, folks may know Shannon from roles in TV’s Boardwalk Empire and in the superhero movie Man of Steel. He was in Chicago to direct Traitor, a play that closed on Sunday at the Red Orchid Theatre, a venue which he co-founded.
- Why The Shape of Water is a natural choice for Best Picture [Vox]
- Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’ Extols Chicago’s Lack of ‘Douchery’ [Eater Chicago]
- Bruce Elliot [Twitter]
- Michael Shannon watched the Oscars from a Chicago dive bar [Marcus Leshock]
- The 25 Essential Bars in Chicago, Summer 2017 [Eater Chicago]
- Traitor [Red Orchid Theatre]