An Actor on His Directors

2012-03 FEA Fassbender Shame H
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Michael Fassbender on the set of "Shame."

"The common link" says the actor, "is that they all have a confidence in what they're doing that allows you to trust them."

David Cronenberg
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."

Cary Fukunaga
Jane Eyre

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 McQueen
Hunger, Shame

"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 Scott

"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."

Quentin Tarantino
Inglourious Basterds

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."