Hole lot of love
Playing a flawed detective was a delight for Michael Fassbender
MICHAEL Fassbender jumped at the chance to play hard-drinking detective Harry Hole. The two-time Oscar nominee plays Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s literary hero in The Snowman, a thriller in which Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.
Despite his character’s flaws, Fassbender believes Hole is a unique hero and hopes to play him in future films.
Q: Set the scene for us and tell us about The Snowman.
A: The snow falls and a serial killer awakens. His signature mark that he leaves behind is a snowman. I play Harry Hole who is this brilliant detective and is somewhat obsessed by his work. At the same time he also resents it. He is a loner who only has one friend and is an alcoholic. Harry has this relationship that spans throughout the book series with a woman called Rakel (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her son Oleg. He is fiercely intelligent and self-destructive with his drinking. He drinks to stop the incessant noise that is always going on in his head. His mind is relentless and he drinks to numb it.
Q: You’re dealing with some dark material here but Rebecca Ferguson says that there were a lot of laughs when you were filming. Is that true?
A: Yes, we had a lot of fun. It helps when you work with that element of levity. We had that when we were doing 12 Years a Slave. You are dealing with serious issues, for sure, because it represents history. It also tends to release the pressure and you have fun with it. I work so much that I like to have fun on set and you have a good time when you love what you do.
Q: Did you know Jo Nesbø’s books?
A: I didn't know them before I got this script. The first thing that attracted me to it was Tomas Alfredson. We had met before and Tomas really made an impression on me and so when this came up I was like “great, we get the opportunity to work together’’. Then I realised that there is a whole series of highly successful books and I started to read them. I read them all except this one.
Q: Why not this one?
A: I knew that the script we had was different in a lot of plot
marks and lines to the book. I wanted to use the script as the bible. I didn’t want to be reading the book and going “I really like that. Tomas, why isn’t this in there?’’ and get preoccupied with the book. I decided to read what happens before this book and what happens after it.
Q: Would you play Harry Hole again?
A: I’d love to. I really love the character.
Q: What do you love about him?
A: I just have a lot of affection for him because I find him to be very human. He is not an action hero – he goes into a scenario and always ends up coming out the worse for wear, but will always commit himself to it. I don’t want to give anything away here but there’s something physical that gets left behind in all the different stories. I also like the relationship with Rakel. He is a very unique male hero who knows himself very well. He’s his own man and I find that attractive to play.
Q: Is Harry a character who carries the weight of his job? A: I think he feels a responsibility towards Rakel and Oleg, but does not always deliver. There’s a selfish element to him, whether it’s when he falls off the wagon and starts drinking or if he gets obsessed with his work. Those two are in the balance. He has so much going on in his mind all the time – it is like the computer is just buzzing and he drinks to numb it, to shut it down. It is only when a worthy adversary comes about that he can actually channel that noise and focus on that objective. What is interesting about him is that he’s very honest with himself. He knows what sort of man he is, and is not deluded.
Michael Fassbender in The Snowman. PHOTO: JACK ENGLISH