THE MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES
Michael Fassbender has proved that despite his sometimes very intense roles, he can still have fun and enjoy the benefits that his newfound stardom brings.
You seem to be really into playing evil, deviant or extreme characters that exemplify the aberrations and darkest desires of mankind. Is that your thing, shining a spotlight on the flaws that humans often try to hide? I’m totally mad, there’s no doubt about it. Thankfully not to the point of self-destruction. But we’re all a bit mad. Recognising your madness is so much more interesting than ignoring it. Look at how we live on this planet, it’s insane, and therefore fascinating. Shocking or violent scenes are never easy to do, but I research my roles in depth so that I can get into my character’s psychology. For my role of Edwin Epps in Steve Mcqueen’s film 12 Years A Slave, I had to get it just right because it was a true story. Solomon Northup really existed, he really was enslaved for 12 years. It was my duty to do justice to the slaves who went through that ordeal. Despite your tendency to play super villains, people see you as a sex symbol. Do you find that strange? No, I find it perfectly normal. What are you trying to say?! I feel good about myself, I don’t mind delving into the ugly side of my roles, the human race or even myself. The most attractive women are those who feel good about themselves. Maybe the reason why people are drawn to me has something to do with that. To be honest I find the whole sex symbol status thing a bit alarming and ridiculous, but I’m ok with it. You earned your place in the “bankable” actors category in 2011 with the wonderful, disturbing and controversial film Shame, in which you played a sex addict. Did this experience change your self-image? From a narcissistic point of view, absolutely not, I already knew I was good looking and the film just confirmed that. No, but on a serious note, the part was pivotal for me. It opened my eyes to other possibilities, I mean more physical, more intense roles, which involved portraying virility openly. And it paved the way for lead roles. I think it was thanks to this experience/performance that I can now take roles in series like X-men and Assassin’s Creed. You’re one of the stars to feature in the impressive cast, including Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale and Natalie Portman, of Weightless, the new Terrence Malick film to be released in spring this year. It’s set in the music scene in Austin, Texas, in the early 2010s. What’s it like being part of such a stellar line-up? It’s nice, and at the same time we find it really weird. But for me, the real stars were Iggy Pop and John Lydon [formerly Johnny Rotten and ex-lead singer of The Sex Pistols]. I shot some scenes with them and they were such a laugh off set. Those guys are huge. Totally crazy, fascinating and incapable of being anything but themselves. You’ve made two films, including the recent Assassin’s Creed, with France’s homegrown star, Marion Cotillard. Did she talk up the charms of France, and Paris in particular, to you? Marion herself embodies French charm. After shooting Prometheus in 2012, I needed a break so I took a year off to go on a road trip with my father. It was fantastic, we saw Sarajevo, Dubrovnik, Italy, France and Spain. When you travel by motorbike, you get this amazing feeling of power, speed and freedom. I met some great people in France. We mostly visited rural France, with its villages and traditions. We didn’t stop in Paris. I’ll keep that for when I’m totally free to explore the city that has always been my mother’s obsession.