Easily the busiest actor of the year, Michael Shannon has had 10 films in cinemas and festivals in 2016. The latest to arrive in American multiplexes is Frank & Lola, a romantic mystery set in Las Vegas, in which he plays a man who uncovers some uncomfortable secrets about his girlfriend (Imogen Poots).

Michael ShannonMichael Shannon talks 'Frank & Lola'

Shannon has made a career out of unexpected choices, switching between big blockbusters like Man of Steel and smaller independent dramas like this year's Midnight Special and Loving, both from his writer-director friend Jeff Nichols. "I'm not primarily profit-driven, necessarily," he laughs. And he finds it amusing that the films are never released in the same order that they're made. "If you look at something like Midnight Special, I made that quite awhile ago, and Warner Bros for some mysterious reason kept it in a closet for a year. With Frank & Lola, there is a Vegas part and a Paris part. And the Vegas part was like three and a half weeks and then we went to Paris for a week. But Elvis & Nixon was also coming together, so what we did was we went to Vegas shot the meat of the Frank & Lola story, did Elvis & Nixon in its entirety, and then did the Paris portion of Frank & Lola afterward! You get to the point where you're so tired and things just get sketchy."

Despite his wide range of projects, Shannon is picky about the films he decides to be a part of. "I think I want a lot of the same things that most people going to the movies want," he says. "I want to be surprised. I want to be curious about the characters. I want to feel like I'm seeing something that I haven't seen a thousand times before. There's just so much formula to this business. People have figured out formulas that work and they just keep regurgitating them, and I like to see people take risks."

More: Watch the trailer for his other film 'Nocturnal Animals

He's also determined not to fall into the movie star trap. "I don't mean to sound cocky, but I guess the one thing I always try to do, I always resist the notion that I'm a sort of star or something," Shannon says, "I still walk down the street, take the subway, try and stay in the real world as much as possible. It's so you don't become some insulated pompous a**hole who doesn't have the slightest idea how the world works. Like Donald Trump."