Michael Fassbender talks surfing, sharks and why he likes to bend the truth.
While filming in Australia last year you were spotted surfing at the famous Bondi Beach. Ever thought of a career change – could you be the first Irishman to win a World Surf League championship? Definitely not. I’m pretty bad but I’m enthusiastic. The shark alarm went off there last time and I have a healthy fear of them. If I’m in a very sharky spot I try to leave my imagination on the beach. Besides sharks, what are you most afraid of? Mob mentality and xenophobia. How would you say the Australian paparazzi compares to Britain’s? Don’t like any of them. You play two androids, David and Walter, in Ridley Scott’s new film Alien: Covenant. How would you convince someone who isn’t a fan of sci-fi to see it? I wouldn’t. I don’t know, I always feel bad telling people that they have to see something. I’m not necessarily crazy about sci-fi, I just like a good movie and Ridley Scott is a great storyteller and he creates complex worlds, and worlds that are rich. He brought us [Ellen] Ripley [played by Sigourney Weaver] nearly 40 years ago. In an age when the industry was finally addressing equality, he brought us this wonderful female character who had her own strength and whose objective wasn’t decided by the male lead. Ridley has always been ahead of the curve and it’s always worth seeing what he does. Scott doesn’t rely too heavily on CGI in his films. As an actor, how does filming in front of a green screen compare to being on an actual set? On set is just a lot more fun, to be honest – you get to explore and interact with the universe that you’re taking part in. In space it was so fun to walk around the spaceship, both on Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. It’s a real treat because, as you said, it’s a very rare thing these days. After Carrie Fisher’s death, there were rumours that Disney would CGI her back to life in future Star Wars movies. Do you think CGI will render actors irrelevant one day? Probably. With [the development of] virtual reality, the experience of going to see a movie will be different because it’s almost like the video-game world and movie-going experience sort of meet. So you go to watch Alien: Covenant and you are David, you choose one of the characters that you want to be, and you experience it that way. Are you excited for that future or does it make you nervous? I’m excited; I think it will be interesting to see the world of virtual reality. One of your lines in the film is: “I think if we go into the new world with kindness, it will be kind.” Is that the advice you’d give your fellow global citizens at this point in history? I think that’s the advice I’d give anyone, to be honest. I think
“The shark alarm went off last time [I was surfing at Bondi]. I have a healthy fear of them”
we’re all responsible for each other, and our actions. Yeah, that would be sound advice. Your girlfriend, Alicia Vikander, played a robot in Ex Machina. Did you two compare notes? No, but I thought she did a damn fine job. You also play Magneto in the X-men films. Who’s more passionate: Alien or Marvel fans? Tricky, tricky. I’d say there could be a crossover there. They could be one and the same, I dare say. You turned 40 earlier this month. How did you feel about that particular milestone? I felt a little shaky... No, I felt good, but birthdays always make me feel a little bit weird anyway. Maybe it’s the idea that I’m getting older. How do you cope with stress? Chamomile tea. You’ve said before that you can lie pretty easily to journalists. What’s the biggest fib you’ve told? Today I said that Katherine Waterston’s character and my character [in Alien: Covenant] have a love affair, so I’m waiting to see if that gets out. I wouldn’t say I lie excessively… Should we fact-check your answers from this interview? I think you probably should, yeah. You are notoriously private. Why is it important to you to keep your personal life to yourself? Number one, I think it’s effective for me as an actor because I want to be able to disappear into the characters I play. I don’t want the audience to be distracted by whatever else is seen of me in the real world. I would consider myself a private person. I work in a medium where we rely on the public to go see it. But my own life is for me. You’ve starred in thrillers, period dramas, dark comedies and Westerns – but we haven’t yet seen you in a rom-com. Has that been a deliberate decision? No, not really, but stay tuned… So we’ll see you starring alongside rom-com queen Katherine Heigl pretty soon? That’s exactly right. That one you can go ahead and print. How often do you get mistaken for Tom Hiddleston? Happens all the time. I can see the similarities, but I’m better looking than him [laughs]. Other than that, yes. I like Tom. Alien: Covenant is in cinemas nationwide on May 11.