Game on: Michael Fass­ben­der rises to the very phys­i­cal chal­lenge of dual roles in the fran­chise that’s sa­cred ground to its many fans

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - JOE UTICHI

scar-nom­i­nated ac­tor Michael Fass­ben­der has en­joyed a whirl­wind ca­reer since break­ing through as the star of Hunger. Assassin’s Creed is the lat­est film based on a hit video game se­ries, where Fass­ben­der plays dual roles in the past and present, the former as Cal­lum Lynch, a death row con­vict who is spared ex­e­cu­tion by a mys­te­ri­ous woman. Through ge­netic mem­o­ries Lynch is able to re­live the life of his an­ces­tor Aguilar, an assassin in 15th century Spain. Fass­ben­der ex­plains his at­trac­tion to the role and what it takes to be­come a Mas­ter Assassin. What’s your his­tory with the Assassin’s Creed fran­chise? I met with Ubisoft Mo­tion Pic­tures in 2011 and I didn’t re­ally know much about the game at that point. I’d ob­vi­ously heard about it and seen all the posters and ad­verts, but I re­ally didn’t know the story or method­ol­ogy be­hind it. When I met up with the guys they told me the whole premise be­hind it: this idea of DNA mem­ory and the war that was wag­ing be­tween the Tem­plars and the As­sas­sins, and the idea that Adam and Eve were the first As­sas­sins. I thought all of that was re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing stuff. The real thing that I thought was go­ing to give us an ex­tra edge over other films of this genre was this idea of DNA mem­ory; that we hold in us the ex­pe­ri­ences, mis­takes and mem­o­ries of our an­ces­tors. That’s what we’ve come to call in­stinct. I thought that was a re­ally cool scientific the­ory that seemed very plau­si­ble. And then this idea of the As­sas­sins and Tem­plars and the battle that goes on be­tween them. It’s not as clear cut as, let’s say, the dark side and the light. The moral­i­ties get very blurred and both fac­tions are quite hyp­o­crit­i­cal in cer­tain re­spects. It’s a very grey moral area, which I al­ways think is more in­ter­est­ing. That de­bate is cen­tral to the film: are the Tem­plars ac­tu­ally do­ing some good? Ex­actly, and be­cause this is an ori­gin story, and we’re in­tro­duc­ing it to the world of cinema, to deal with those main points in this one – to get them front and cen­tre and alive early so peo­ple know what we’re deal­ing with from the begin­ning – that was re­ally im­por­tant. This fight has been go­ing on for a while and we wanted to dis­til it and sim­plify it as best we could so that the in­for­ma­tion we’re giv­ing the au­di­ence is the stuff they need, and we’re not hit­ting them with too much. There’s a lot to take on, you know. That’s where a lot of our ef­forts went in, to just sort of re­fine it and re­fine it. Is it in­ter­est­ing to play two char­ac­ters in one movie who have this odd ge­netic con­nec­tion? It is, be­cause they’re very dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Aguilar is part of a fam­ily and he be­lieves very strongly in the Creed. He be­longs to the Creed and he serves for the Creed. In con­trast, Cal is some­body who’s much more of a drifter, re­ally. He’s been in and out of cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties for most of his life. He’s fairly un­der­priv­i­leged and doesn’t re­ally be­lieve in much. He’s cer­tainly got no al­liance to any­thing be­cause his fam­ily is taken away pretty early. It’s with his jour­ney, through Aguilar, that he starts to learn where he comes from and that he does be­long to some­thing. He be­longs to this blood­line. This dis­cov­ery gives him a di­rec­tion for the first time. Does it feel like a movie of two halves? It seems like two dif­fer­ent movies in a way. That was some­thing that I thought would be very in­ter­est­ing cin­e­mat­i­cally – that you could have all the colours of this In­qui­si­tion time, and then have Ab­stergo, which is very neu­tral. I thought it would be cool to see both of those worlds laid side-by-side like that. Sure enough, I think it’s turned out pretty in­ter­est­ing. I think that con­trast will look beau­ti­ful. Is this the most phys­i­cal role you’ve had? Yes, it was def­i­nitely phys­i­cal. I did a lot of train­ing in the gym and all that jazz. The stunt stuff was fun – try­ing to get it right was the most im­por­tant thing, and try­ing to keep up with the stunt team was the chal­lenge. Our stunt team was fan­tas­tic. Did you spend a long time on Aguilar’s look? There were dis­cus­sions about how far to go with him and we didn’t want to go too far be­cause we didn’t want to add some­thing just for the sake of adding it on. It was all about keep­ing it as sim­ple as pos­si­ble with the dif­fer­ences be­tween Aguilar and Cal. With some of the cos­tumes in the game, they look great but you couldn’t re­ally trans­late them that well into film. They might look just a lit­tle off. That was a ma­jor part of it, the cos­tume, and the look we dis­cussed off the back of it. It was long hair, beard, all the clas­sics (laughs). And just some con­tact lenses to give me brown eyes in­stead of blue. is in cine­mas now

Mar­ion Cotil­lard as Sofia and Michael Fass­ben­der as Cal­lum Lynch in a scene from Assassin's Creed.

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