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Dirty pretty thing

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Dirty pretty thing

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:41 pm

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Interviews/article856056.ece

Dirty pretty thing
Michael Fassbender is tipped for an Oscar for his performance as a sex addict in Shame. We ask the Irish-German actor why he can’t keep his kit on
Camilla Long Published: 22 January 2012

O n the way to the interview, I can’t stop thinking about Michael Fassbender’s naked body. In his latest role as the sex addict Brandon in Shame, he delivers a performance so electric, magnetic and balls-out biological you can’t help but wonder which bits are acting and which aren’t. He romps with prostitutes in a brothel, gets a blow job in a gay bar. He has quasi-pornographic sex in a hotel room and a knee-trembler under a railway. He is totally nude for the first five minutes of the film, wanging out of the bedroom, into the kitchen and back to the bathroom, where he takes a long, rump-flexing slash, all pecs, taut torso, and a huge…

Well, let’s not spoil ourselves just yet. Aside from anything else, Hollywood’s freshest meat seems a bit drained as he shuffles into a London hotel room, a slight, wiry thing with freckles and a patch of red hair. He turns his cheekbones diffidently for the photographer, huffing and asking: “Is this the last shot?”

But then, when he finally sits down, whumph! On goes the charm like a floodlight. He burbles energetically about the film, how priapism consumed him. He describes how he spoke to sex addicts and realised the problem “is all-encompassing, like being an alcoholic.

Brandon doesn’t want to be surfing internet porn at work, but the addiction overrides the control”. Which bit did he find most difficult? “This bit.” He laughs. “No, no, I’m kidding.” He was actually most concerned about the actresses during the sex scenes.

He felt quite 'self-conscious' himself, facing challenges such as a truly acrobatic scenario in front of a floor-to-ceiling window

He would always talk through the scene with them beforehand, “saying, is it okay if I touch your breast, kiss your breast, try and make them feel comfortable”. He sighs. “Of course, it never is.”

Was anyone comfortable? Apparently, the men in the gay bar were well away even before the cameras got rolling — “the best extras I’ve ever come across” — but he felt quite “self-conscious” himself, facing challenges such as a truly acrobatic scenario in front of a floor-to-ceiling window. “You gotta get on with it,” he shrugs, blank, placid, Irish. “You can either get it right, or go half in and not really commit, which means you’ll be there all day.”

So did he ever really get embarrassed? He certainly doesn’t strike me as shy. When he auditioned for Inglourious Basterds, he lobbied so hard for one of the bigger parts that Quentin Tarantino snapped: “Any guy who is cast as Heathcliff is not f***ing German enough to play Landa.” The only genuine flash of insecurity comes halfway through the interview when I remember to congratulate him on his performance in Shame. But embarrassed? No, he is assured, confident, smooth, an actor of talent and depth. And I couldn’t help but notice he has an enormous penis, too. Would he have done the film if he was less well-endowed?

“Ahhhh.” His eyebrows shoot up. “That’s kind of you to say. I didn’t have any references to measure it against. I figured it was average.”

Average? Come on. “No! I’m serious. I don’t check out…” Other men at the gym?

“I don’t really go to the gym,” he shakes his head. “Obviously I figured I didn’t really have a small penis. Would I have done it if I didn’t have whatever-sized penis? I didn’t think about that.”

Oh, actors. I seem to remember Ewan McGregor had the same sort of problem in the late 1990s. He did so many nude scenes in The Pillow Book, an erotic flop in which he got off with everyone — including a 75-year-old Japanese man — that he didn’t bother getting dressed between scenes. He eventually swore off the nude scenes because they were “terribly exposing” and not worth the hassle, but so far Fassbender has found exactly the opposite is true. He has earned a sweep of awards, including Best Actor at Venice, a nod from the Golden Globes, and, hopefully this week, his first Oscar nomination. His fanbase is permanently convulsed. Three friends asked me if they could come and “hold the Dictaphone”; others requested a detailed report on “the size of the Fassbender”. Another said “he’s the only ginger I have evah fancied”, and that she played his sex scenes in Fish Tank “over and over again”.

The sad thing is, there genuinely seems to be nothing he can do to put women off, even though he has tried quite hard in a number of roles. He lost two stone and smeared excrement over prison walls as Bobby Sands in Hunger, only to be hailed a heart-throb. As the lying, cheating, statutory rapist Connor in Fish Tank, he was seen as the ultimate man women wanted to fix. Now, as Brandon in Shame — a tragic “poon hound” who discards women like Kleenex — he is the sum of all fantasies.

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Re: Dirty pretty thing

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:43 pm

And while I wouldn’t say that I was overwhelmed by him, I certainly start asking an unusual number of obscene questions, such as “Are you a very sexual person?” and “Weren’t you worried about getting an erection during filming?” Whereupon he roars with laughter, says, “It’s all about the cock with you, isn’t it?” before admitting: “Well, sometimes, you do.”

Really? I squawk. “I don’t know if I was ever fully erect,” he expands. “A lot of the time the scenario is so unnatural. There’s cameras, people around… a very unnatural environment. But sometimes there’ll be maybe a sort of a…”

A what? “I was gonna say, you get a Henman [he only ever made it to the semi-finals]. It’s not an unexpected semi, it is a semi.” More laughter. “Actually,” he waves his hand, “don’t put the Tim Henman thing in. That’s not fair. He’s a bloody good sportsman. You probably get, not like… fully aroused.”

Anyway, now he is 34 and he is “pretty confident” with women — “I enjoy sex,” he says — but he can still be quite shy. He lost his virginity “fairly late, to my first love. It was actually perfect” and recently bungled asking someone out for a drink. He is currently single — “um… yes. Ha ha ha. Well, yeah” — but little is said about past girlfriends. The internet throws up two significant exes: an actress, Leasi Andrews, and Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of the rock musician Lenny. He met Kravitz on the set of X-Men: First Class, in which he played Magneto, a metal-bending superhero he brought to life by imagining he had “constipation in his hands”. Perhaps he doesn’t have much time for diversions — at one point he did six films in 20 months. He says he tried to slow down in case his work suffered. The next big thing is a David Cronenberg film, A Dangerous Method, about sadomasochism and the birth of psychoanalysis. He plays Jung and Viggo Mortensen is Freud. He is polite about his co-stars, especially Keira Knightley, but Fassbender is mesmerising, taut, even comical.

He says the “biggest draw” was working with Cronenberg. He first watched Scanners, Cronenberg’s science-fiction horror flick, as a child in Ireland. His parents were quite liberal and always encouraged his interest in “thought-provoking social commentary”. “I never really felt like, oh God, sex scenes in films, that’s so dirty.” Have they seen Shame? “My father and sister have,” he nods. He warned his father it is “pretty close to the bone”, but Fassbender Sr was apparently “really impressed” when he went to see it. “We’d seen Hunger together, and at the end of it he was like, phew, thank God your mum wasn’t here.” But she’s going to Shame? “Yes.”

His parents are retired now, but they used to run a country hotel in southwest Ireland. His father is German and his mother is from County Antrim, Northern Ireland. They met at a club near Piccadilly, got married and moved to Heidelberg in Germany.

I like his playful recklessness and feel certain he would willingly show me his penis, given different circumstances and a bucket of champagne

“My sister was born there,” says Fassbender. “She was six and I was two when they left.” They wanted somewhere green and rural for the children, so got jobs in a hotel in Ireland. His mother was nostalgic about Germany and encouraged them to speak German at home, but he felt embarrassed, so his is only “all right. I can watch a film, but my spoken German’s a bit rusty”. His smile flashes like a blade. “On my CV, it says I’m fluent, of course.”

He seems to have been well behaved as a child, “quiet and sort of stupid”, a head altar boy, no less, at the local church, “but I don’t practise now. I’m spiritual, but not a practising Catholic.” Lapsed? “Fallen.”

His sister was always more academic, an avid bookworm and now a neuropsychologist.

He is a “slow reader” who abandoned plans to become a lawyer because he wouldn’t have got the grades, and couldn’t be an architect either, “because I’m not very good at drawing”.

At one point, he really wanted to be the lead guitarist in a heavy-metal band but settled on acting at 17 after a man came to his school and did some workshops. Hilariously, he decided to stage a school production of Reservoir Dogs in which he played Mr Pink, but he won a place at the Drama Centre in London, and moved over.

Almost immediately, he secured a role in Steven Spielberg’s Band of Brothers. He moved to LA to capitalise on this success, but hated the smog and isolation, and only landed about six weeks’ work in two years.

He came home downhearted, reduced to taking jobs in bars and unloading trucks at night while he bumped along in cheap TV productions such as A Bear Called Winnie and Julian Fellowes Investigates. The lowest point was a spot on Holby City playing a man who was having his spleen removed. He fell asleep on the hospital bed, only to wake up mid-take and hear the director saying: “We’ll have better guest actors in the next episode.” He later described the experience as “awful”.

He finally got a proper blockbuster role in 2006, as a Spartan in 300. He worked out for four hours a day for 10 weeks to achieve the film’s ripped 480BC look. He rocked a spear, a cape, and tiny leather shorts. “The Speedos,” he laughs.

Suddenly, he asks, “are you a sexual person?” and “do you enjoy sex?” He pauses. “How many people have you slept with?”

I stare hard at my notebook. I don’t mind being asked questions in interviews — after all, these are questions I’ve asked him — but this is extraordinary. Perhaps he is trying to disarm me. He definitely does this; he totally disarmed the director Steve McQueen when he turned up to audition for Hunger. McQueen thought he was “cocky” and dismissed him, but Fassbender came back the next day. On a third meeting, he bundled McQueen onto the back of his motorbike. They went for a ride singing, Up Where We Belong. “It was an Officer and a Gentleman moment,” recalled McQueen, and gave him the role.

I can see why people are intoxicated by him: he has the perfect mix of manners and psychosis. He is constantly blurting strange things out, such as “when in doubt, f***”, which he does at one point, during a discussion about architecture. Personally, I like his playful recklessness and feel quite certain that he would willingly show me his penis, given slightly different circumstances and a bucket of champagne. Stupid me for not asking — he admits, “I like getting naked”.

It would be far more entertaining, at least, than listening to the banalities he churns out on his method as an actor, endless foof about tick-lists and character-building that he says are too “private” to describe in detail. I put this down to years out of work, yearning for the moment he can tell someone about his “personal preparation”.

Thank God he is brilliant when he gets on screen, a throbbing, moody presence to rival Sean Penn.

Amazingly, I only laughed once during the whole film — and spent the rest of the afternoon recovering in a darkened room, wondering how far this frighteningly driven young man would go for a role. Would he ever film sex scenes for real?

“It depends,” he shrugs. “What do you mean, for film or for personal?”

Let’s start with personal. “Probably not,” he says. “Maybe. It wouldn’t be a good idea.”

What about for a role?

He shrugs. “Definitely not. There’s no need.” His laughter echoes down the corridor.

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