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✔Actor Michael Fassbender on “Fish Tank,” “Inglourious Basterds”

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✔Actor Michael Fassbender on “Fish Tank,” “Inglourious Basterds” Empty ✔Actor Michael Fassbender on “Fish Tank,” “Inglourious Basterds”

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:30 am

* January 13, 2010, 7:00 PM ET

By Kenji Fujishima

IFC Films

With acclaimed performances in “Hunger,” “300″ and “Inglourious Basterds,” among others, Michael Fassbender is making waves in the United States after spending many years in the U.K. working in film, theater and television.

His latest film is British director Andrea Arnold’s second feature “Fish Tank,” which opens in New York (at the IFC Center) and Los Angeles this Friday. In it, he plays Connor, the mysterious boyfriend of a single mother whose rebellious daughter (Katie Jarvis) — whose coming of age is the focus of the suburban drama — gradually warms to him. That is, until he reveals a mysterious, secretive side.

For Fassbender, the role seems a departure from playing IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands in “Hunger” or British soldier/film critic Archie Hicox in “Basterds.” But he brings a similar, seemingly effortless magnetism to Connor as in his previous performances.

Fassbender talked with Speakeasy about “Fish Tank,” some of his previous roles and the Oscar chances of “Inglourious Basterds.”

The Wall Street Journal: What interested you in taking on the role of Connor in Fish Tank?

Michael Fassbender: The whole reason for me doing it was because of Andrea; I had seen [her 2006 first feature] “Red Road” and I was hugely impressed by that, and just knew she was a special talent and a very interesting filmmaker. So I jumped at the opportunity to work with her.

I read that Andrea didn’t give out the script to the actors. During shooting, she would hand each actor their necessary scenes. How much did you know about your character when you signed on?

She gave me a brief outline…so I had an idea what was going to happen; I could see what was in the cards. But I think, by not giving a script, she…just wanted me to try to make him a charming, light, ordinary guy, and then play against the grain. That’s what I’ve always found interesting about her; she’s very nonjudgmental of her characters, and she doesn’t make it easy for the audience by clearly saying, here’s your hero, and here’s your villain. There are elements of both in all the characters, and it’s very ambiguous and therefore closer to life.

Would you say there are roles that are just so intense and demanding that they somehow stay with you in certain ways, maybe informing later performances?

I basically just take it job to job. I used to take my work home with me at the end of the day, and I expect there will be traces of it coming home. But I got pretty good at leaving it on set. And I think that’s important. It’s different strokes for different folks; some actors might like to stay in it all the time, but I like to step out and come back into it. Once I feel like I’ve done the job, it’s done then.

You say you like to play your roles as close to real as possible. So how did you approach working on “Inglourious Basterds,” which takes place in a comparably outlandish and fantastical context?

Quentin Tarantino can stretch reality; that’s what’s very interesting about him. But the characters have to be steeped in reality to begin with. And I was dealing with genre, dealing with the specific social class this guy’s coming from. He’s more of an upper class of English officer, and basically my inspiration was George Sanders. And that came from Quentin. So I gathered up the original “Saint” series and studied him and watched him, and observed people back then, especially in the movies. And I had this idea that Hicox perhaps secretly wanted to be an actor himself, and so they spoke in a very specific way and held themselves in a very specific way.

What do you think the Oscar chances are of “Inglourious Basterds?”

I imagine it should be in the running for Best Picture. I think Tarantino is such an original; I’ve never seen a World War II film made like that. I think it should be up for Screenplay; I imagine Christoph [Waltz] would have a good chance of getting in there. I would hope…Best Director…all of the above. Fingers crossed.

Are you hoping for maybe some recognition?

Me? No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

You never know.

I’m happy just to be associated, being part of the film. I really hope they get some nominations in there. But I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be nominated.

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