Midnight Special is the fifth movie he has made with filmmaker Jeff Nichols. Having appeared in all of Nichols' movies, Shannon feels like he's a brother. "We have a kind of rapport that just materialises out of thin air," Shannon says. "We can go a long time without seeing each other or talking to each other, and then we meet and it's like we just saw each other yesterday."

Midnight Special stars Michael Shannon and Jaeden Lieberher

He credits this to their similar backgrounds. "We both come from the same region of the U.S.," Shannon adds. "And I think we have a lot of common interests and influences. We also both share an aesthetic in terms of storytelling. I've always appreciated Jeff's economy and directness in his writing. I've always found it challenging to work on."

Midnight Special was a new genre for both actor and filmmaker: a family sci-fi adventure. Although it sounded different the first time they talked about it. "Jeff said, 'I'm going to write a chase movie for you, and it's gonna be you in an old hot car driving around at night real fast.'" Shannon recalls. "It sounded like Cannonball Run or something! I didn't know what to expect. Then when I read it, I was very moved by the relationship between father and son. Jeff has continuously explored, in all the movies we've made together, that bond between parent and child, both its strength and its weakness."

Shannon feels that "everything Jeff does is from the heart. He's conscious of cinema and film and he's interested in exploring genres, but underneath it all, Midnight Special is basically about a man struggling with some fundamental questions that I think a lot of people struggle with. It's very heartfelt."

And enjoyed taking his character into a mysterious situation. "He's a father trying to protect his son," Shannon says. "But as the story unfolds, he is not sure what he's saving, and he's frightened of the unknown. And it's the same for the audience. Some people love it and some people are kind of like, 'What was that?' Because it can be kind of a head-scratcher sometimes. But you know, that's the beauty of it to me! I like head-scratchers. I like to scratch my head!"

Watch the trailer for Midnight Special: