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Interview: Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen talk SHAME

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Interview: Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen talk SHAME Empty Interview: Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen talk SHAME

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:44 pm

Interview: Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen talk SHAME
Mark Walters
Published: December 9, 2011

The NC-17 rating may be keeping Fox Searchlight’s sexual addiction-themed masterpiece SHAME out of most multiplexes, but come Oscar time you’ll undoubtedly hear it being brought up a lot, particularly for Michael Fassbender’s impressive leading performance, and Steve McQueen’s daring direction. Both talented individuals paid a visit to Dallas recently to sit down with select members of the press and discuss SHAME in detail. What you see below are excerpts from the roundtable interviews I participated in. The questions featured (regardless of whether or not you see them on other sites) are my questions followed by their answers. I highly recommend checking the movie out, if only because it’s a unique breath of fresh air in this age of sequels and remakes… albeit a pretty serious and gritty one.

Mark: So you guys automatically win the award for the most uplifting movie of the year, obviously. (laughter)

Fassbender: That’s what we were hoping for.

Mark: One thing I wanted to ask you about that I thought was really impressive in this film was your use of long-running shots, where you’d have long periods of time where you’d have guys having conversations and things like that. And I wanted to talk to you, first of all Steve about the logistics of shooting something like that when you have those long-running shots, and Michael maybe the pluses and minuses from an acting standpoint of having the camera running that long without any cuts.

McQueen: For me it’s about the scene and what the scene needs. It’s not about imposing any kind of framework on any kind of situation, it’s what the scene needs. For example I’ve used this a couple of times before when Marianne and Brandon attempt to make love in the hotel room, the situation where we have the see the character Brandon attempt to have contact, communication, with a woman, Marianne, in a way that is sharing, giving. And I think for me I think it is the most erotic moment in the movie because it’s lovemaking where it’s communicating together, it’s give and take, whereas apart from most of what we’ve seen with Brandon at that point is very much taking, because of the addiction, because of the affliction. So we stay with the characters in that situation, because it’s all about Brandon attempt to sort of hamanize himself, and attempt to sort of be intimate with another human being. So when that collapses it’s kind of tragic. We stay with it, and I think that’s the whole point of having that long take. We stay with it in the moment there, and there’s a possibility, and of course when it collapses it’s kind of tragic.

Fassbender: For me it’s just really sort of about, you know, doing the scene until Steve says cut. And whether that’s like three minutes long, ten minutes long, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. I work with the script pretty, sort of intimately, for a long time. I sort of read it over and over and over again so it doesn’t… it doesn’t really concern me how much of the scene we’re going to do with or without cutting it. I’m just trying to sort of, you know, do my part, which is trying to sort of live in this guy’s shoes and represent him. So yeah, I guess with the long takes you have the joy of sort of, you know, exploring and… I think what I like about it more so than it being a personal thing is the atmosphere that it creates in the room. Because it’s not only about the actors having to be on point and on their game for that length of time, it’s everyone, it’s the camera, focus puller, sound department, everything. And that energy collects in a room, and I think the matte box soaks it up. It conveys itself onto the screen. And that’s what I find interesting about it. That energy, that focus.

Mark: Now you guys have worked together before, obviously, and you’re actually set to work together again on another film. Can you talk about what are the strengths and things find in working with one another? I mean obviously you’ve developed a good relationship, and with this film especially it shows that you work good as a dynamic… sort of, if you’ll forgive the pun, sort of a dynamic duo, but you guys are really good together.

Fassbender: (whispers) Which one is Batman?

Mark: What is it about one another…

McQueen: Well I’m Blackman. (laughter all around)

Mark: What is it about each other that allows you to work together so well? (laughter continues) We could sit with that for a minute.

Fassbender: I think trust. It kind of all goes around trust, really.

McQueen: Absolutely. I’m so grateful to have a situation where I’m working with someone… it is a dream come true in a way, you know you’re working, you’re collaborating with someone, you’re pushing each other, you’re sort of challenging each other, and it coming off. You know, it’s wonderful. I was a bit naive, I thought every actor was like Michael, when I did my first movie. But no they’re not, they’re not. They’re not, he’s exceptional, and I think… I think within the work he just sort of transforms and transcends in some ways the character. He can actually embed himself into Brandon Sullivan, and then come out, have a cigarette and start talking to hair and make-up. He has that comedic, comedian sort of thing. And it’s not put on, it’s not false, he’s a working – hard working actor, in the real sense. I don’t think you’ll ever, ever be a certain kind of “Hollywood” actor because he’s just too good. Meaning that he possibly could be in big movies like you said, but he is just amazing. I’m going on, I’m sorry, you’re here. (at Michael)

Fassbender: I’m right here.

McQueen: There is a quality to him that is just incredible. I believe him. The situation where he’s a man… there’s such femininity in him, such fragility in him, which he shows, meaning I can see myself in him and other people can see their self in him. He’s not just this macho guy. There’s a beautifulness to him, a femininity to him that you can not feel that you can’t sort of involve yourself or invest yourself with him. So that for me is a huge plus, because the audience can very much want to embrace him.

Fassbender: But you know it’s all down to the environment you sort of create as well, and I think the first thing that sort of struck me when I met Steve was this idea that he’s a very honest person, and open. So it’s alright to be vulnerable and it’s alright to be insecure, feminine or you know, nerd-ish, all the things that we perhaps try to disguise because we’re afraid of ridicule or whatever it is. You know, not being accepted, these are all things I think we can all relate to, and Steve is sort of very much an open book. And that’s with the entire crew. When we were working in Belfast on HUNGER I thought “Okay wow”, you know I come to work and you see the passion on the art department’s face or any department you like… and I was like “Whoa, this is pretty palatable and powerful stuff.” But then of course we were dealing with a topic matter that was you know very personal to the people that were working on it. So when we went to New York I was curious to see, and exactly the same thing happened on that set. And you know you’re talking about people who have been working in the business for 30 years. I know Joe the grip was saying to me “I don’t want to let Sean (cinematographer Sean Bobbitt) or Steve down.” He’s been in the business for 35 years, and believe you me he’s not getting paid a lot of money to do SHAME. But it’s that passion because Steve’s a very inclusive person. Everybody believes, right down to catering, that they’re part of something together. So then you have a force that’s collectively really, really effective and powerful, and we work fast.


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