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Michael Fassbender: The X-Men Star Taking Hollywood

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Michael Fassbender: The X-Men Star Taking Hollywood Empty Michael Fassbender: The X-Men Star Taking Hollywood

Post by Admin on Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:26 am

Michael Fassbender's not yet a household name, but with a blockbuster about to drop and serious projects with Soderbergh, Cronenberg, and Scott in the works, he's on his way. The actor talks to Chris Lee about crying in X-Men: First Class and respecting Magneto.

About two-thirds of the way through the comic-book movie X-Men: First Class, Irish actor Michael Fassbender does something unusual. It's a weird move in a pivotal scene so uncommon that viewers may be startled, even amid all the far-out and fantastical trappings of superhero cinema.

He weeps.

Article - Lee X-Men Fassbender Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: First Class. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Action heroes aren't, as a rule, depicted shedding bitter tears during moments of duress, especially in big-budget summer blockbusters or multibillion-dollar franchises like the five and counting X-Men movie installments. But sure enough, Fassbender does in a sequence where his character, Erik Lehnsherr, a mutant with the psychic ability to levitate and manipulate any metal object, tries to concentrate hard enough to move a gigantic radar dish. He repeatedly fails. Until, that is, he focuses the major league grief and rage that propel his character upon the objective at hand. Enter the waterworks.

Turns out Fassbender took it upon himself to provide Erik with a burst of emotion that was not written into the script. "That was a personal choice," the actor said via a Skype interview from New York. "Everything I put my name to and take part in, I want to be good. That's not saying it will always happen. But I want to make bold choices. That scene was very important to me."

In a superhero/sci-fi genre increasingly reliant upon Serious Actors and art-house directors to class up the movies' essential schlocky nature, Fassbender—along with co-star James McAvoy, who plays X-Men patron Professor X—can be seen as the latest in a long line of real-deal thespians transplanted into a Hollywood tent-pole movie in a bid to infuse artsy integrity on popcorn fare. That select fraternity includes Sir Anthony Hopkins (Thor), Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), Sir Ian McKellan (who portrays the evil super-mutant Fassbender's character evolves into in the X-Men franchise, Magneto) and goes back as far as Marlon Brando's appearance in 1978's Superman. Ergo, Fassbender, the guy that plays Mr. Rochester in 2010's Jane Eyre gets a cape and a crazy helmet.

“There’s no point in swanning through and being cool as a breeze in every scene,” he said. “It’s not really that interesting. Even if you’re a superhero.”

In the case of X-Men: First Class, his inclusion certainly elevates the material. The actor, best known for literally starving himself to portray IRA hunger-strike casualty Bobby Sands in 2008's Hunger, is absolutely riveting. Which is saying a lot in a film where he's competing for screen time with Rose Byrne and January Jones flouncing around in lingerie. Fassbender, 34, brings to the role of a Holocaust survivor-turned-Nazi-hunter-turned-reluctant mutant-rights champion a pulsing James Bond-esque machismo as well as an undercurrent of melancholy that make his psychic power to lift a submarine out of the waters of coastal Cuba seem almost plausible.

"It's about respect," the German-born, Irish-raised actor said. "To never be lazy or blasé just because it's in a superhero context. Even if I'm playing a superhero, it has to be steeped in reality."

The movie unfolds in the '60s, set against a backdrop of the Cold War and the dawn of the Space Age; it serves as a creation myth explaining how and why the X-Men came to be. Fassbender's Erik joins McAvoy's telepathic genius character Charles Xavier to recruit fellow mutants with superhuman powers—including a dude who can scream at ultrasonic frequencies, a kid who can unleash torrents of energy from his pecs, and a pretty girl with butterfly wings who can belch lava—to battle a rival crew of super-mutants led by Kevin Bacon who are hell-bent on destroying the world. As it turns out, such creatures both provoke and diffuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But from the start, Magneto and Professor X exist on two sides of a mutant empowerment divide—human society's repulsion to extra-evolved people in the X-Men movies stands as a parable for homophobia, racism, and/or religious intolerance. And McAvoy and Fassbender based their relationship on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., leaders who worked toward a common goal with radically different agendas.

"Charles is someone who wants to integrate humans and mutants together. Erik just wants to get rid of humans," Fassbender said. "That Martin Luther King-Malcolm X thing—one is the more militant mutant and one is the optimist."

It's probably unlikely that, say, Ben Affleck took to portraying Daredevil with the same kind of intellectual fervor. But Fassbender's immersive commitment to craft has made him a hot commodity in Hollywood. Since his breakout performance as a comically dandy British officer who impersonates a Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, the actor has landed big parts in several upcoming movies. Fassbender will portray psychology pioneer Carl Jung in director David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, he's a lead in the Steven Soderbergh thriller Haywire, and has recently been filming Ridley Scott's Prometheus—a prequel to Alien—in London.

Asked why he decided to prepare so studiously for First Class, a film that—despite its historical leanings, sociological underpinnings, and expensive production design—is just breezy popcorn entertainment, Fassbender demurred.

"There's no point in swanning through and being cool as a breeze in every scene," he said. "It's not really that interesting. Even if you're a superhero."

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:03 pm

Michael Fassbender Finally Hits The Big Time With ‘X-Men: First Class’
June 3rd, 2011 3:00pm EDT

Though he is still relatively unknown to most audiences right now, after this weekend Michael Fassbender will officially be one of the biggest movie stars in the world. He stars as Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto in the comic book origin story “X-Men: First Class.” His performance as the metal-bending, vengeance-seeking mutant will definitely be the performance people will be talking about after seeing the movie.

The German-born actor had his big break in the TV mini-series “Band of Brothers” which was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Fassbender continued working steadily in British television for several years, and in 2006 appeared in director Zack Snyder’s special effects epic “300” as a Spartan soldier. Though is role was small, he brought a great energy to the part that made people take notice.

fassbender 2Fassbender has been a favorite among critics for almost three years since his incredibly moving and breathtaking performance as Bobby Sands in the 2008 film “Hunger.” The film won him critical acclaim and opened the door for a role in the 2009 film British film “Fish Tank,” but his most widely seen role was as the multi-lingual British officer Lt. Archie Hicox in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 masterpiece “Inglourious Basterds.” His ability to speak both French and German fluently and convincingly was the least impressive part of his performance, though the most talked about. Fassbender was able to handle Tarantino’s tricky style of dialogue while still maintain the appearance of class and sophistication.

After portraying the great literary character Mr. Rochester in 2011’s “Jane Eyre” opposite Mia Wasikowska, Fassbender is now starring in the biggest movie of his career: “X-Men: First Class.” Directed by Matthew Vaughn (“Kick Ass”), the movie focuses on how the iconic comic book characters came to be. Fassbender will star alongside James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, but will without a doubt be the focal point of every one of his scenes.

Later this year, Fassbender will appear as Carl Jung in director David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method.” The film focuses on a love triangle that develops between Jung, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and a patient named Sabina (Keira Knightley). Also this yearm, he will be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire” which is set to release this fall. Another large project on which he is currently working is “Prometheus,” a quasi-sequel/spinoff of the “Alien” franchise which will be directed by Ridley Scott. The film is expected to be released in 2012.

Pretty soon, Fassbender will be everywhere you look. For right now, though, it’s nice to know he’s still a secret weapon upon whom filmmakers can call.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:26 pm

X marks a star: Michael Fassbender arrives as an action hero
1:45 PM, Jun. 2, 2011

Michael Fassbender stars as Magneto in "X-Men: First Class," opening Friday.
Written by
Roger Moore

Michael Fassbender’s name seems to pop up most any time a new film project is announced. “Prometheus,” Ridley Scott’s prequel to “Alien”? Jim Jarmusch’s new vampire movie? Danny Boyle’s “Trance”?

A film industry hungry for a hunky, young leading man with action-hero potential is taking a hard look at Fassbender. He was Rochester in the recent “Jane Eyre,” a Roman soldier on the run in ancient Britain in last year’s “Centurion.” And this weekend, he is Erik Lehnsherr, the tormented Holocaust survivor who will become Magneto in “X-Men: First Class.”

At 34, born in Germany, raised in Ireland (thus the accent he shows off, out of character), the Drama Centre London-trained Fassbender has barely time to catch his breath between film jobs, meetings about film jobs and premieres.

“I haven’t had time to sit back and sort of take stock,” he says. “It is a dream come true for me. The way I got here, it took some time. Sometimes it takes a lot longer, sure. But I felt like I really took a journey to get to this point.”

The journey began in earnest with a role in HBO’s World War II series “Band of Brothers” (2001) and continued with lots of British TV work. Eventually, he would be plucked to join the ensemble of “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). But the role that made him was 2008’s “Hunger,” a little-seen but acclaimed drama about Irish Republican Army hunger strikers during the 1980s. The film was “a remarkable cinematic experience, driven powerfully by Michael Fassbender’s impressive performance as Bobby Sands,” the most famous of those men who starved themselves to death in British prisons, raved the London Daily Mirror.

“It’s been an incredible trip from ‘Hunger,’” Fassbender says of the film, for which he lost much of his body weight in order to be convincingly starved and emaciated. “’Hunger’ definitely changed my life, in terms of being recognized by filmmakers, since that was very much a filmmakers’ film.”

So everything afterward would have to be a breeze, right? Playing a comic-book villain, for instance?

But Magneto has “a whole lot of complexity to him,” Fassbender says. “Emotionally, he’s coming from a very damaged place. I like the ambivalence of it. I want the audience leaving the theater wondering, asking the questions themselves rather than being spoon-fed (what to think) like a lot of these super-villain characters.

“Holocaust survivor” is, Fassbender notes, just “the first part of his makeup. ... He tries to live an honest life even after the concentration camps, in the comic books. But the human race lets him down.

“So he’s left alone. Every personal relationship he has gets damaged or torn away from him.”

Fassbender might have tried to back-engineer the character, as he was played in the earlier “X-Men” films by the great Sir Ian McKellen. But director Matthew Vaughn (“Stardust,” “Kick-Ass”) wouldn’t hear of it.

“He said, ‘You know, there’s something about this character that reminds me of an early Bond, a Sean Connery Bond from the ’60s,’” Fassbender says. “Connery had this unusual accent and voice and Matthew heard similarities with my voice and we sort of went with that.”

Fassbender is not new to comic-book adaptations, having played a heavy in the disastrous “Jonah Hex” adaptation of last summer. He doesn’t concern himself with a film’s success, resolving only to take each part seriously: “Just because it’s a comic-book story or a fantasy, that doesn’t mean I approach it with any less seriousness.” And with “X-Men,” he had plenty to chew on.

“The great thing about ’X-Men’ is that within the philosophy and story of the saga there are very real and relevant human issues — alienation, being ostracized from society for whatever reasons — ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.”
And the setting for much of this prequel is the early 1960s, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“It’s a great manipulation, isn’t it? Dealing with a period in history that has a lot of mystery still surrounding it, a lot of frenzy around the world, the paranoia. ... There is room in there to play with that piece of history, which our scriptwriters have very cleverly done.”

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:23 am

'X-Men: First Class' Star Michael Fassbender: 5 Things to Know About the Actor
5:33 PM 6/2/2011 by Sofia M. Fernandez

Murray Close/Twentieth Century Fox
The Irish actor has one of the biggest roles of his career in Fox's super hero prequel, due in theaters this Friday.

Irish actor Michael Fassbender's profile is about to skyrocket with the release of X-Men: First Class on Friday. Though he's appeared in films like Inglourious Basterds, Jonah Hex, 300 and Jane Eyre previously, X-Men gives Fassbender a starring role in a summer tentpole of an already-established franchise.

PHOTOS: ‘X-Men: First Class’ Style Gallery

Fassbender stars in First Class as Erik Lehnsherr, a stylish man living in London in the early 1960s and learning to use his super powers. The character hasn't turned into Magneto yet but in the film, the young Erik, challenged to display his “magnetic” powers, sees his mother gunned down by a heinous Auschwitz camp doctor, and the event dictates all his actions from then on.

REVIEW: X-Men: First Class

In addition to starring in First Class, Fassbender has lined up an solid lineup of future roles including Danny Boyle’s thriller Trances; and a starring role opposite Noomi Rapace in Prometheus, Fox's sci-fi project that was once an Alien prequel.

Here are five things you should know about the actor, who shares the screen with James McAvoy, January Jones and Jennifer Lawrence in the Fox film.

1. Fassbender admits he initially felt silly putting on a superhero costume for First Class.
He told the Irish Voice: “You feel like a bit of an idiot. I mean, I put Magneto’s helmet on and I thought I’m a grown man, for God’s sake. Then you just realize you have to commit to it,” he says.

2. He looked to Sean Connery as inspiration for his toned down Irish accent as the future Magneto.
"I took the Irishness out of my accent and neutralized it," he tells the Wall Street Journal. "[Director Matthew Vaughn] said the reason that Sean Connery was the best James Bond was that he had this weird sort of quirk to his accent and it wasn’t straight English. I think that’s why he wanted me to maintain an element of my own Irish accent," he told the Irish Voice.

3. He is a descendant of Irish hero Michael Collins.
London's Telegraph reports, "According to family lore [Fassbender's mother] Adele is the great-great-niece of Michael Collins, the revolutionary who helped found modern Ireland. 'We're only going by my grandfather's word, but - I believe it' Fassbender says. (He played Collins in the play Allegiance at the Edinburgh Festival.)

4. He has worked as a bartender.
And fittingly, appeared in a 2004 Guinness commercial as a man who swims from Ireland to New York to apologize to his brother (below).

5. Fassbender lost 42 pounds to star as Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands in the 2008 film Hunger.
Like Christian Bale in The Machinist and Jeremy Davies in Rescue Dawn, the actor went skeletal for a film role. Fassbender put himself on a 900-calorie a day diet for the movie and when that wasn't enough to make him look like he was starving, he began skipping, practicing yoga and walking more than four miles a day.

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