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Michael Fassbender: Best Kept Secret No More

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Michael Fassbender: Best Kept Secret No More Empty Michael Fassbender: Best Kept Secret No More

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:37 pm

Michael Fassbender: Best Kept Secret No More
Jackie Morrison
The ‘X-factor’ behind the X-Men: First Class star

He is like nothing and no one else on the scene right now. If you thought Magneto was magnetizing then the man who played his younger self is just as magnetic. Michael Fassbender is an Adonis handsome man who does not rely on his looks in an industry filled with a sea of pretty boys. The German-Irish actor with international appeal, classically attractive features, and large smile is a thoroughly modern renaissance man. He is also one of the nominees in the "Best Actor" category for the 2012 Golden Globes. Fassbender is emerging to be an actor's actor who doesn't seem to take himself so seriously off screen yet is drawn to complex serious roles once the camera rolls.

He began as a dramatic character actor in a number of European and Independent films and it was evident from the beginning that he had chameleon ability. Even in his earliest role in 2001's Band of Brothers, Fassbender exuded a physicality, discipline, and strong sense of self at just 23. He is a total package and poised to be a leading man for many years to come.

Do not be fooled by his looks. His ability to attract people from around the world as loyal fans has nothing to do with his exceptional sex appeal. Fassbender is our new Marlon Brando. Brando was once called “The Gift” and Fassbender appears to be the return of that same blessing. It's no surprise that he is often referred to as the new Marlon Brando. There are so many thespian imitations in entertainment. Fassbender is not one of them. He is the genuine article and once you watch his work you may find that only the real deal will do.

The movie Shame was the talk of the film festival circuit in 2011 with accolades in Toronto, Venice, London, and New York. Fassbender won "Best Actor" for the role in Venice. People took notice in 2011 as did GQ and Playlist when the magazines named him as "Breakout Star of the Year" and "Man of the Year," respectively. Many tumblr fan blogs are now dedicated to him. All this is good news and much deserved attention for the years that he was unknown outside Europe. His nomination for a Golden Globe was a much anticipated moment for many of his fans.

What sets Fassbender apart is that he acts with his whole being. There is nothing stiff or flat about any role he has done even if the script was limited. For example, in a British movie called Wedding Belles there is a short scene of Fassbender dancing. It is so obvious that his physicality and natural confidence derives from being so comfortable in his own skin. This total body awareness has much to do with his strong screen presence. It is reminiscent of a clip of Sir Laurence Olivier in Hamlet where he says to look into his eyes. In that moment, Olivier physically changed on screen as he spoke the words. When Olivier died in 1989, that scene was referenced in tributes to the acting genius that was Olivier. During his life, Olivier was called the greatest actor in the English language.

The reason I mention this example from Hamlet is because Olivier had a mastery of being able to act with his entire body. Somatic acting is something that Fassbender seems to also possess. Hopefully this trait will perfect itself in him with time. For now, all this recognition of Michael Fassbender as an actor has been a long time coming. While he had the talent even in drama school where fellow classmate Tom Hardy said he was the best actor in the entire institution, the road to a Golden Globe nomination was over 15 years in the making. Even fellow actors like James Franco have been quoted as saying that Fassbender has a special thespian quality.

Franco shared with Variety his thoughts on Fassbender in Shame:

"There is a heavy use of classical music to make the New York atmosphere feel heavier, the sets are generally pristine and sterile, and the lighting is dark and moody, but most of all, Michael Fassbender's regal presence is at the center of everything in Shame. That is the thing about Fassbender, he doesn't quite fit into his movies, he jumps out, not because he can't play his characters to perfection, matching behavior to milieu, but because he possesses something extra, something that we might call an aura. Like all his roles, Fassbender assumes this one with quiet authority; but where does this assurance come from, and why is there something more than just a believable performance? Marlon Brando made Stanley Kowalski explode because he was an extremely sensitive man trapped in the shell of an insensitive brute, shaped by the writing of the poetic hand of Tennessee Williams. In Shame, Fassbender is an emotionally charged being enlivening the shell of an emotionally detached character, in a story crafted by the artist Steve McQueen and his co-writer, Abi Morgan. Fassbender is able to articulate the emotional wrestling match that a man does with himself, an experience that usually is relegated to forms such as the novel and poetry because they can take the reader into the character's inner thoughts. He makes this struggle palpable, he does what is often said can't be done: He gives expression to the inner life of the character in a film, not through spoken language -- films usually need to resort to characters saying how they feel -- but through the depths of feeling that he lets emanate from his core."

There are actors, there are celebrities, and there are movie stars. Fassbender is an actor, first and foremost. Some sources have reported that he has read a script as much as 300 times and embodies the words before acting a scene. He is an actor because he seems to approach it as a profession with a discipline uncommon in many of his peers. His motivation to become an actor appears to be derived from a personal desire to express his inner creative artist. Had he not become a film star, he has hinted in interviews that he would have been a singer. This is not a man who was a model or was scouted at the gym because he was so good looking. Fassbender is the real deal kind of actor. No wonder he has chosen such interesting parts to play in his career so far.

For those who are unfamiliar with Michael Fassbender, here is some basic background information on him. He was born in Heidelberg, Germany on April 2, 1977. His father is German and his mother is Irish. He was raised in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland from the age of 2 onwards with his older sister. After high school, he moved to London to attend drama school but later dropped out before graduation. His first major professional role was in Band of Brothers with Tom Hardy and James McAvoy. Fassbender later spent several years gaining professional experience in a variety of British television shows and European Independent films. In between acting jobs he worked in bars to keep afloat. Then in 2006 he starred in 300 as the Spartan warrior, Stellios, with Gerard Butler. Some people took notice of him then but it was not until 2008 that Steve McQueen brought him to the attention of Hollywood in Hunger. Three years later, the duo got back together to make Shame.

Shame is an NC-17 limited release film about a New York sex addict named Brandon Sullivan. Taking the role was a big risk for Fassbender, but like any major gamble it paid off. His performance is a piercing look into the daily life of sexual obsession. There was nothing in his performance that indicated that the character could have been played by anyone else but Fassbender. The acclaim for his acting in Shame stems from his ability to bring such an addiction to life so realistically. This is an art film and it deals with a topic that remains somewhat misunderstood by the general public. Sex addiction is a real problem and the kind of emotional torture behind such a character was revealed in a disturbing way that Fassbender did with searing accuracy. Brandon is emotionally stoic yet just below the surface he reveals the paralyzing toxic shame that drives his behavior. At the end of the film some audience members were crying.

Fassbender gives a glimpse of Brandon’s sorrow in a touching scene in a New York nightclub. His sister, Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, sings a show tune and is so Edith Pfiaff-like in her delivery that Brandon’s eyes begin to tear. When Fassbender cries you think he really is sad. You forget that it is just acting. This is why he is a cut above the rest. You cannot tell when he is acting. You even forget that he is being someone else. He suspends reality and has you believe you are being a voyeur into a real person’ life.

After 300, Fassbender appeared in several other films in addition to Hunger. He was a tortured artist in Angel, an irresponsible man who commits statutory rape in Fish Tank, a posh English accent speaking Nazi Hunter in Inglourious Basterds, a virile, handsome and complex Mr. Rochester in the classic Jane Eyre, a young Magneto in X-Men: First Class, and young Dr. Jung in A Dangerous Method. These other films also showcased his ability to speak German and facility with foreign accents. In addition to the ability to physically alter his appearance with mannerisms, hair color, and styling, Fassbender has gone the physical distance for a role. He lost considerable weight for Hunger and bulked up for Centurion. In each of these movies he looks like a different person every time.

Kathy Hosfall, the administrator of Michael Fassbender Online (MFO), says that Fassbender is currently involved not only in Hollywood blockbuster projects but also small independent projects and short films. Fassbender is featured in three short films right now: Goldfish by Ed Sayers, Man on a Motorcycle and Pitch Black Heist by John MacLean. Michael is also one of the executive producers for Pitch Black Heist.

The Michael Fassbender Online (MFO) team is just as talented. Two of the site moderators are writers/editors/film reviewers - Kristin Battestella from I Think, Therefore I Review (US) and Katerina Papstova from (Czech Republic).

“There are actually two on the MFO crew that are writers/editors,” said Horsfall. “We have a very talented and intelligent global crew and members. Our community is well versed on films, filmmakers, artists, authors and more. On the MFO forum there are some well thought out, deep and fun discussions.”

As much as Fassbender has been featured in magazines dressed up with exceptional style for photo shoots, the obvious substance behind his artistic talents is still what draws you in. Fassbender's discipline and perseverance in his acting career says two things about him. The first is that his level of success today is an example of reaping the fruits of his labors. You reap what you sow is also another definition of karma. Secondly, he is the kind of chameleon that Meryl Streep has been for the last 30 years. Maybe in time this karma chameleon will win more than just the Golden Globe but possibly an Oscar. He may be new to the mainstream public but to the loyal fans and followers who were aware of him for years, his nomination is a source of pride and joy. Many fans from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom will join American “Fassynators” from around the world to see if he wins. Even if he does not take home the trophy, it is a sign that more accolades could be just around the corner. The “Fassy Nation” may well become an Empire.

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