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The actor and comedian lost her mother, younger sister and a cousin in a car accident when she was just four years old.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shannon said: “I was very heartbroken and very sad and just trying to hold it all together as a kid.”
The Saturday Night Live alum continued: “There’s no way that you could feel that type of deep pain about your mother and your sister being dead, so you just hold it all in, and it comes up later in life.”
One of her most famous comedic creations on SNL was the Catholic school girl, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Playing the role, Shannon would frequently do her own stunts without any padding.
Commenting on her mindset at the time, the 56-year-old said: “I didn’t care if I cut myself or I made myself bleed. I did not give a s**t. I looked at it like punk rock. I was reckless, and because of what I went through, I just didn’t care about anything.”
The Twin Peaks star admitted that the impulse to create the character came out of her experiences with grief, saying Gallagher was “really based on me, how I felt after the accident – really nervous, accident-prone, wanting to please, f***ed up but full of hope”.
Shannon has a forthcoming memoir in which she will write about the accident in more detail and the grief she went through.
“The life that we left was not the same life we were coming back into. It just felt like everything was different. Everything made me mad,” she said of the experience.
Shannon can currently be seen in HBO and Sky Atlantic’s hit series, The White Lotus.