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Michael Fassbender in focus

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Post by Admin on Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:56 am

SHAME written and directed by Steve ­McQueen, with Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and Nicole Beharie. An ­Alliance Films release. 99 minutes. Opens Friday (December 2). For venues and times, see Movies.
Movie Interview

Michael Fassbender in focus
Actor caps breakout year with two intense performances
By Norman Wilner

Michael Fassbender would probably wince at the idea of being called a breakout star; he’s been doing sterling work in movies for years. But in 2011 – three years after his bravura turn as Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger – he’s come into his own on a global scale.

His layered turn as the young Magneto in this summer’s X-Men: First Class took the charismatic character actor from “that guy from Inglourious Basterds” to genuine megaplex fame. The fact that he could also be seen in theatres as the dour Mr. Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre proved his range and versatility.

This fall, he’s carrying two highly anticipated pictures – the graphically sexual drama Shame, which reunites him with McQueen, and David Cronenberg’s more stately A Dangerous Method, in which he plays a conflicted Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud.

If it’s stressful, you’d never know it. Fassbender is affable and relaxed in the interview suite at the Toronto Film Festival, having just finished breakfast and settling in for a very long press day.

“The last couple of weeks have been pretty insane,” he says, hours after winning the best-actor prize for Shame in Venice. “I’m not making any sense.”

He makes perfect sense, though, when he starts talking about finding his characters.

“Usually the process is pretty much the same,” he says. “Ninety per cent of it would be the same. And then the tweaks come about. When you’re doing something like A Dangerous Method, there’s an etiquette you have to follow. A hundred years ago, people held themselves differently. The physicality of the character is always very important for me – what sort of animal that character is, how he moves, how he embodies himself.”

Fassbender uses a stiff wardrobe and perfect manners to play a European intellectual in A Dangerous Method, but he’s getting much more attention for his graphic nude scenes and raw intensity in Shame.

As sexual compulsive Brandon, he plays a character who is predatory but not a predator – and to show us that unfiltered desire, the actor chose to strip away his acting tricks along with his wardrobe.

“I wanted to keep Brandon as close to me as possible,” he says. “Put up very [few] masks, or none, in fact. That’s something that Steve really sort of pushes you to do. It’s sort of like ice skating, where you’re going along the side of the rink, hanging onto the railings, and Steve is like that six-year-old that just goes flying past and you think, ‘God, let go of the railings!’ Yes, you’re gonna fall over and hurt yourself a little bit, but you’re gonna have a lot more fun in the middle of the ice than anything you’ll do skirting along the edges.”

Fassbender is quick to credit McQueen with the success of his performance in Shame, saying that anything revelatory he did is entirely due to McQueen’s encouragement.

“There’s something there that’s kinda hard to describe,” he says. “It’s like chemistry with a fellow actor, whether they be male or female – something’s there that just sort of organically happens.

“With Steve, we seem to be on the same wavelength. We seem to want the same things from our characters: we want to make them as human as possible. And in that humanity there’s a lot of ugliness, there’s beauty – there’s a rawness and an openness and an honesty that Steve brings on set with him. You can see his style infecting the crew one by one; it’s quite something to see.”
Interview Clips

Michael Fassbender on the value of taking risks:

Fassbender on why he loves working with Steve McQueen:

Fassbender on what he's learned from McQueen:

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