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Michael Fassbender on Jane Eyre

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Michael Fassbender on Jane Eyre Empty Michael Fassbender on Jane Eyre

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:10 am

By Oliver Franklin

"Man, Venice was hectic - I was disappointed I didn't get on a gondola," says Michael Fassbender, perched on a sofa in London's Soho Hotel dressed in a sea blue hoody and jeans. Fresh from launching Steve McQueen's Shame the night before at Europe's most stylish film festival, Fassbender is here to discuss his starring role in the new version of Brontë's classic Jane Eyre. The actor is clearly relishing his moment in the spotlight: after his well received role as Magneto in X-Men First Class earlier this year, he's now got three films (including Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method ) all before Christmas and an Alien prequel (of sorts) Prometheus out in 2012. Here he talks to about taking on Orson Welles, working with Ridley Scott and his secret talent... When you go to festivals like Venice, do you still get starstruck?
Michael Fassbender: Of course. I didn't get to meet anyone at Venice this year really... I bumped very quickly into Darren Aronofsky, that was very cool, and the rest was spent running around. But for sure I get starstruck by people. Al Pacino was there and he was a huge influence when I was starting out. He and De Niro were my two main inspirations growing up, as well as Brando and John Cazale...

Your character in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester, has been played by some giants, including Orson Welles in 1943. How nervous were you?
Sure, you feel pressure because of the people but also you know just the novel alone is an amazing piece of work that you want to do justice to. I like that fear with me when I enter most jobs. If I don't have that fear then I'm complacent, I'm in a comfort zone, so I want to be there. I want to continue learning as much as I can. Fear is a healthy thing - it keeps you disciplined. You have to make sure you've done your homework.

Was there any of the previous versions you particularly liked?
I got something out of watching all of them - different elements here and there. I actually really liked the recent TV one with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. I never got round to reading the book in my teenage years but I remember my Mum and sister passionately discussing it. Around 2005 I was auditioning for The Wide Sargasso Sea, so I visited the book then, and then revisited before we went to production.

What are you reading at the moment?
David Mitchell's new book, The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet. I love it. I think I've got about 100 pages left. I always tend to get interrupted when I'm reading a book because there's scripts to read, and it's something that I really need to get back into.

As well as Jane Eyre you've got Shame and A Dangerous Method showing at the London Film Festival. Two films that add to your impressive list of directors that you've worked with - Tarantino, Steve McQueen, Ridley Scott. What's the best advice you have received from them?
God, I don't know, I mean there's so much information that you soak up from all of them. I think the best advice that I've gotten indirectly from all of them is that there's a thousand different ways to do one thing. Never lock yourself off. Leave yourself awake, aware and open... then you start to do the most interesting work. Be generous to the people that you're working with.

You said in previous interviews that Steve McQueen would talk you through scenes saying "OK, you're Muhammad Ali, you're George Foreman." Did Ridley Scott try something similar on set?
Ridley comes to you with an interesting prop and says "I see your character maybe messing around with this". [Sometimes] it's just the oddest little things - like he might rub his finger on a desk to test for dust and then you're thinking "OK, right, that'll take me on a mental tangent". That's the thing with all these directors- none of them want to give you a direct "Just do this in the scene." They want you to find it by yourself. A great director is a great manipulator. They might manipulate you two nights before at a dinner by saying a phrase or by mentioning a piece of information that you realise when you come on set, "Ah, that's what they're talking about". You don't even realise they're doing it.

On the theme of Shame, what's your most shameful moment?
[Thinks for a while] Wow, I suppose there's a good few of them in there. Let me see... I guess it would be when I was in primary school, probably about six years old. We had a rule that you couldn't go to the toilet. You went to the toilet at lunch break or you didn't go until the end of the day. A puddle started to form underneath my chair. I think the teacher was more embarrassed than I was.

Besides acting, what is your hidden talent?
Like I say, I think I'm pretty average. I can play a bit of guitar, but I'm not very good.

Are you going to do like a musical sideline like Jeff Bridges or Hugh Laurie?
Exactly that. I'm just throwing that out there [laughs]. I enjoy go-karting, but again I'm not very proficient at it, but that's what I really love - that's probably my favourite past time. What else? I can make a damn good vodka martini.

Jane Eyre is in cinemas now.

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