Fassbender on Fire
One of the most gifted actors today, the star of "Shame," "A Dangerous Method" and the upcoming "Prometheus" has the industry in awe. Says one studio chief: "In our world, the real deal doesn't come along very often."
FASSBENDER'S FAVORITES: The actor inherited his love of 1970s cinema from his mother, Adele. Her favorite actor? The late John Cazale, who played Fredo in the first two Godfather movies and starred in a string of seminal films including Dog Day Afternoon and The Conversation before dying of cancer
at the age of 42.
- The Godfather (1972): Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
- Mean Streets (1973): Directed by Martin Scorsese
- The Conversation (1974): Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
- Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Directed by Sidney Lumet
- The Big Lebowski (1998): Directed by the Coen brothers
A DIRECTOR ON HIS ACTOR: Steven Soderbergh talks about working with Fassbender on Haywire, the actor's incredible energy, enthusiasm and favorite phrase: 'So where are we going now?'
When Steven Soderbergh told Relativity Media he wanted to cast Michael Fassbender in Haywire, Relativity, which financed the action pic, balked. That was more than two years ago, and the Irish-German actor still was relatively unknown in wider Hollywood circles. "I thought, 'You should just be hoping he says yes,' " recalls Soderbergh. As for himself, the director already felt he was late to the Fassbender party. "I'd seen him in Hunger and Inglourious Basterds and my reaction was, 'This guy's a movie star.' It was blatantly obvious to me," he says. Fassbender is only onscreen for about 10 minutes of Haywire -- which opens Jan. 20 -- but his performance is a highlight of the film. Soderbergh shot the scenes in Dublin and quickly learned three things: Fassbender is a consummate professional, a cinephile and a social butterfly. "He's a blast. We're out one night and it's 3:30 a.m., and we're in someone's kitchen and Michael is singing. I'm like, 'Dude, I gotta go,' " remembers Soderbergh. "The phrase Michael uses most often is, 'So where are we going now?' He's the Duracell movie star."
AN ACTOR AND HIS DIRECTORS: "The common link" says the actor, "is that they all have a confidence in what they're doing that allows you to trust them."
A Dangerous Method
Fassbender says Cronenberg's got a wicked sense of humor. "We were always going back and forth. Once, he said he'd have to spend a lot of money putting intelligence back into my face, saying, 'It is amazing what they can do with CGI these days,' " the actor recalls. "He just took the piss out of me all the time."
The actor, who was "blown away" by Fukunaga's indie film Sin Nombre, says the filmmaker is incredibly intelligent. Fukunaga also loves capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, which intrigued Fassbender. One unforeseen glitch Fukunaga had to deal with on set: The horse became aroused each time Fassbender mounted.
"Steve always says, 'You're going to die one day, so let's go for it,' " says the actor. They may have a jocular relationship, but they're hardly interested in lighter fare. This summer, they shoot their third film together, Twelve Years a Slave, about a free black man sold into slavery in 1841 (they won't say whom Fassbender's playing).
"Ridley is incredibly competitive," confides Fassbender, who stars opposite Noomi Rapace in the director's upcoming Prometheus. "One night, we went to Noomi's place for a barbecue and there was a ping-pong table. We ended up convening there and Ridley really went for it. He's an amazing man, and full of beans."
Fassbender tried to go toe-to-toe with Tarantino, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of film and television. "I actually think I got him when I asked him what were the names of the two Dobermans on the 1980s series Magnum, P.I. They were Apollo and Zeus," Fassbender says. "I was pretty pleased with myself."