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Capone refuses to hide his SHAME from writer-director Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender!!!

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Capone refuses to hide his SHAME from writer-director Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender!!! Empty Capone refuses to hide his SHAME from writer-director Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender!!!

Post by Admin on Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:57 pm

Published at: Nov 28, 2011 8:20:56 AM CST
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

If you've got a pretty solid idea what your Best of 2011 list is looking like, might I recommend that you wait until you've seen writer-director Steve (HUNGER) McQueen's latest work SHAME before finalizing your picks. Working with his HUNGER star Michael Fassbender, McQueen tackles the themes of sex addiction, individual isolationism, fractured families, and the difficulty in making meaningful connections in today's world--nothing heavy or anything. And these weighty subjects are tackled in a fairly explicit NC-17 setting. Horray!

Set in New York City, a town that allows lead character Brandon to easily indulge in all of his vices, SHAME follows this handsome man through his day-to-day conquests of women and living his exceedingly private, neat and orderly life until his whirlwind phenomenon of a sister (Carey Mulligan) drops in to stay with him indefinitely, throwing his life and emotions into turmoil. It's an extraordinary movie that revels in both its quietest moments and its most explosive and chaotic.

I had a chance recently to sit down with McQueen and Fassbender, one of the busiest actors working today, with such recent credits as CENTURION, FISH TANK, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, Magneto in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS; JANE EYRE; the soon-to-be-released A DANGEROUS METHOD, directed by David Cronenberg, in which he plays Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortenson's Sigmund Freud; director Steven Soderbergh's actioner HAYWIRE in January; and Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS in June. He and McQueen have also announced their next film together, the controversial TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt, set for release in 2014.

Enjoy my talk with Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen…

Michael Fassbender: Hello, mate.

Capone: Michael. It’s good to meet you.

MF: How are you man? How are you doing?

Capone: Good. Steve, it’s good to meet you.

Steve McQueen: Pleasure meeting you. So how are you?

Capone: Good, how are you?

SM: Not bad, not bad.

Capone: Did you come in last night?

SM: Yes, we did, from San Francisco.

Capone: Oh, okay. I heard you were just doing a couple of cities on this tour. Is that right?

SM: Yeah, a few. I wish it was a couple.

[Everyone Laughs]

MF: Oh, come on. [Laughs] You love it.

SM: I f#%@#&! love it man.

MF: No, no we love the cities, it’s just that it’s kind of mad. I was just thinking that you go from airport to airport.

Capone: And airport and hotel, that’s it.

MF: But I do have to say, this is a nice hotel.

Capone: Yeah.

SM: It is actually.

Capone: So I remember, correct me if I’m wrong, shortly after HUNGER came out that, Steve, you had said, “Okay, I’m done with making movies now.” Is that right?

SM: Yes.

Capone: So what was the changing factor for you?

SM: Well, the changing factor was the story. I mean, I had a meeting with [co-screenwriter] Abi Morgan and I was like “Okay.” I didn’t know who Abi was, and we met for about 45 minutes. Three-and-a-half hours later, we were still yapping on with each other, and we talked about the internet and pornography, then we got on to sex addiction, and the alarm bells went off in my head, and I thought “Interesting.”

So it was just this first conversation about sex addiction, that’s the thing where I sort of went, “Okay, well this could be a film.” And again it was also about ideas, ideas sometime in need of form, and what I mean by that is that the idea of this needed the form of narrative, needed the form of movies, and I thought “That’s it.” So that’s what brought me back, and it’s also something you have to be passionate about. I think when you do something, it’s got to be all or nothing and I thought, “Yes, I could do that.”

Capone: Did you think that this subject had not been covered particularly well in film up to this point?

SM: It hadn’t been covered at all, and I just liked the idea of a film about addiction, which, okay he doesn't need it necessarily all of the time, but in order to facilitate this addiction you need another person to a certain extent, not all of the time of course. I liked the idea of someone who has this emotional detachment in people. It was fascinating to me.

Capone: Was it pretty easy to transition those conversations you were having into a script? And was it difficult being that blunt with like a female co-writer?

SM: Well she’s a human being. She's not detached from being a human being, and we're interested in talking about, as artists, as people, talking about what is around us and what affects us and what makes us who we are, and also sometimes what we do or what affects us isn’t particularly pretty, but what fascinates me is that we have to look at it in order to progress. We have to look at the beautiful side of us and the ugly side of us.

Capone: Was this always a New York story as far as you were concerned?

SM: No, no, we obviously were in London and we wanted to make the film in London, but unfortunately at that time, no one wanted to speak to us. It was one of those times where I think sex addiction was very much in the press, and everyone had to go underground. So when we started to speak with [sex addicts], no one wanted to speak to us, and I think it was because the press in Britain of course are kind of notorious, so no one wanted to speak to us. Therefore, we came over to the United States, I spoke to two experts in the field, and they introduced us to people who had the affliction and people that were covering sex addicts, and then I thought, “Why don’t we just make a movie in New York?” It was just one of those things.

Capone: Because it seems like in almost every shot of the film, New York is outside the window. It’s gorgeous by the way.

SM: This is it. I think a lot of times people live or work in the sky in New York; it’s kind of weird. It’s kind of strange for me as a European to think of it that way, but there’s always a perspective on your environment, and it’s a very lonely situation. When you've got that perspective of the whole city, you’re on your own, and so it has a real sort of strange feeling in that way, where you have this situation that you have this huge view, and yet you are put in that equation. It makes you feel even more isolated in a way.

Capone: And was Michael always the guy for you?

SM: Yes, absolutely.

Capone: How would you describe the nature of your working relationship at this point? I think you’ve also sort of announced that he’s going to be in your next film as well.

SM: He wanted to be in it. I asked him.

Capone: How does that manifest itself, the working chemistry?

MF: Effective.

[Everyone Laughs]

SM: One-word answer, fantastic. That really does it--knocks it out of the park, yeah.

Capone: I’ve never seen Carey Mulligan do anything like this, this outgoing and open. How did you land on her?

SM: Blackmail basically. "Do as I say, or I’ll expose you.”

[Everyone Laughs]

SM: "The press will love it. Here’s this pretty little girl, but behind this curtain…” Oh no, Carey wanted to do it. I think people have an idea of her and I think it’s the wrong idea. They don’t really know her, and I think that happens a lot in life when people have an idea of who they think you are, but actually she’s a very deep well and she has the capability of doing great things more than even she knows. But people like to pigeonhole her as a sort of English Rose, and there’s a huge depth of emotion, a huge depth of talent there; she’s totally untapped. We were very grateful that we were able to use that for the movie.

Capone: Michael, you seem to have this great history of playing these very damaged men, almost without exception. Is that just something you are looking for? Is that something you are drawn to? How can you find new ways of screwing up someone’s head?

MF: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m looking for damaged people. It’s not always damaged, it’s conflict. That just makes for interesting drama, it’s that simple.

Capone: But at the same time, I think you kind of go out of your way not to repeat yourself either.

MF: Yeah, well you know it’s like if I’ve explored something before… The worst thing that I can do is be in a lazy or comfortable zone, you know? If I’m supposed to learn as much as I can and continue learning, then I think I have to just try different things.

Capone: Is there a certain level of fear involved in your decisions?

MF: Always.

Capone: Are you better when you are a little scared?

MF: I don’t know, but I think it’s always there [laughs], and it’s not that I don’t want it not to be there, let’s put it that way. I like to be a bit nervous going into things, because I always think it’s better to be nervous before getting to the church than being nervous at church. [Laughs] I don’t know where that came from.

Capone: They showed us SHAME the same week that they showed us DANGEROUS METHOD, so the juxtaposition was unavoidable and looking at one of the characters through these psychoanalytic mind of the other one. Have you been getting a lot of questions like how would Jung like at Brandon?

MF: Sure, absolutely. I mean, it makes sense really and you see it in hindsight. I had no idea at the time, but what’s fascinating is that you have a couple of--well I was going to say “a couple of guys”--but you’ve got Freud and Jung, who are starting sort of this idea of psychoanalysis as a science, but essentially a lot of it is revolving…well with Freud, everything is really stemming from a sexual point of view or a physical relationship, with us and our bodies for the first time, like the relationship with the penis, vagina, anus, excrement, these things that sort of ripple through into adulthood. If you don’t recognize them or become aware of them, it creates some sort of barbarity or some form of insanity or whatever you want to call it, psychological effect.

But essentially they're talking about that, and it’s very relevant to their time, both of their relationships with sex, and here we are a hundred years later, and this is very relevant to today, you know? Here’s a guy in our modern western society, and this is how he's trying to survive. He's trying to connect in a strange way and he’s doing it in a very damaging way or reverse way of what he’s trying to achieve, if you know what I mean. His relationship with [co-worker] Marianne shows us that, in that he has a yearning for it. It’s not like somebody who was just waltzing through this behavior in life, he’s aware that he’s got a condition and he is trying to break the pattern. I’m sorry I took so long to answer.

Capone: Not at all. Those scenes with his co-worker are really interesting, because that’s the time when you really do feel for him. He’s trapped by his addiction, and it keeps him from achieving something more intimate.

MF: He is absolutely. I always thought he was imprisoned by this addiction, and New York is sort of the enabler. He knows where to go. He knows New York. It’s like, “I know where to go for my fix.” So he knows where to go to knock on the door with the two girls. There’s a certain neighborhood where he goes and ends up going with the guy into the club. He has a relationship going on with the city, and the relationship that he has with people are less connected than the relationship that he has with the city, because he almost knows the city, and the city knows him in terms of what he looking for in his cravings. They have this sort of connection.

Capone: The city is an enabler and so is--not to put too fine a point on it--the internet. That is something you show a couple of times, just that the internet gives him that lovely disconnect that he seems to live in.

MF: Yes, absolutely.

Capone: We were debating this after the movie, is this a movie about sex addiction or is it about porn addiction? Not that they are mutually exclusive.

SM: I honestly don’t think this movie is about either of those. I think pornography, right now, is the most used thing on the internet absolutely, there’s no two ways about it, so when you’re talking about the internet, you’re talking about pornography to a certain extent. I think also sex and pornography have never been as available as it is now. Kids of 13, 12 years old are going to school with their iPhones, push a few button, and they're watching pornography. In our environment, how do we navigate our way through that environment, which is highly sexualized? I think in this story, sex addiction has as much to do with sex as alcohol addiction has to do with being thirsty; it’s about something else. It’s about a situation where we are trying to find something.

MF: And figure s$#! out. They're manifestations, aren’t they?

SM: We’re trying to figure s$#! out, and also trying to numb ourselves, because it’s just too difficult to figure out. It's easy just to get lost.

MF: …and escape.

Capone: The introduction of the sister into Brandon's very controlled, disconnected life brings in this chaotic force. Can you just talk a little bit about what that represents to him, having her back in his life after every attempt he has to make to keep her out?

SM: I think what Sissy does is she brings the past into the present, and it’s somewhere that Brandon does not want to go. He doesn’t want to go back and have that reminder of maybe who he is or where he comes from, and Sissy does that. Also she’s a bit annoying. I mean she's looking for things, of course, and she’s dealing with the same situation as Brandon, but she’s dealing with it very differently. She’s exploding; Brandon is imploding. They're dealing with it differently, and I think that’s what it is, and that’s the annoying thing.

MF: They're opposites. It’s a great dynamic to play with as well.

SM: Yeah, totally.

MF: In storytelling form and everything else.

SM: And what she does also is disrupt his ritual. All of a sudden, this person comes, and he can’t really do what he wants to do and he’s stifled a little bit.

Capone: Yeah, and the way that he discovers she's in his place is like the three bears story, where someone has eaten his food, someone has slept in his bed…

MF: [Laughs] I’m going to use that. "Someone's been sleeping in my bed!"

Capone: She just gets more and more invasive. One last question, the scene where Sissy sings that stripped-down, sexy version of “New York, New York” is one of my favorite scenes that I have seen all year…

SM: In the last ten years, please.

Capone: At least the last decade, fine.

MF: “Outrageous!” [laughs]

Capone: But that’s a "connection scene." Can you talk about just conceiving that moment.

SM: I thought of “New York, New York,” because Sissy’s extroverted in a way she would want to… She’s a person who wants to do things, and I thought “Okay, she will be a singer, because whatever it is inside of her, she wants to get it out,” and I thought it could be interesting if she sings this song, and it’s this very famous song.

I thought this song was written in the '50s or the '40s, and you find out it was actually 1977 for Martin Scorsese for NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and Liza Minnelli was the first person to ever sing it. And I thought about how I was introduced to the song, and most people were introduced to the song was through Frank Sinatra, who did it as a triumphant showtune. And then I read at the lyrics and thought, “My God, this is a blues.” I thought, “Okay, well why don’t we sort of put it upside down?” I was saying the other day, at the beginning of the last century, jazz musicians made their mark by doing something completely different with standards like “When The Saints Go Marching In” or something like that. So I thought, “Okay, it’s up for grabs,” and then Carey went to a singing coach, trained and trained, and that was it

But what I wanted to say about it was about how verse, how this abstraction of a voice could actually tell us more about the past in the present than any other thing, and of course Brandon is sitting there next to David, he has to stay there. He can’t move. He can’t escape. He’s almost nailed to his chair, therefore, he’s forced to listen to his sister for the first time, and of course what happens is all of his armor is evaporated. His defenses are disheveled, the drawbridge opens, and of course, that allows Sissy to enter. And when she connects when she’s singing, he has to listen and he opens up for the first time in the movie. And, of course, when the song is finished, the drawbridge goes up, the troops go back in… That’s it for the moment.

[Everyone Laughs]

Capone: Yeah, then she kind of ruins it. Gentlemen, thank you so much. It was great to meet you, Steve.

SM: It was a pleasure. Take care. Thank you.

Capone: Michael, thank you so much.

MF: Cheers.

-- Capone


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