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✔Michael Fassbender: indie, studio film, repeat

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✔Michael Fassbender: indie, studio film, repeat

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:18 pm

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/27/NS0G1B96VL.DTL

G. Allen Johnson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Michael Fassbender is experiencing one of those sweet spots every actor dreams of having - constantly in demand, mixing pedigreed indie projects with high-profile studio films and poised on the brink of stardom.

His turn as Archie Hicox, the film-critic-turned-double-agent in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," is opening doors and might have led to a wider release of the film he made right before "Basterds," the British indie "Fish Tank," which opens Friday.

"Fish Tank," directed by Andrea Arnold ("Red Road"), is about a 15-year-old girl, not quite a woman but no longer a child, who wants to be a hip-hop dancer. She feels neglected by her mother and weirded out by her mum's boyfriend (Fassbender).

"I shot 'Fish Tank' in London, which is where my flat is," Fassbender said by phone. "That's where HQ is based. Then I went right to 'Inglourious Basterds' in Berlin. I'm set to go in March to do 'Jane Eyre' with Cary Fukunaga (the Oakland-born director of "Sin Nombre"), then a David Cronenberg film in May."

Fassbender had a nice supporting part in "300" - "I'm the crazy one who likes to fight in the shade," he laughed - and turned in possibly his best performance as hunger-striker Bobby Sands in "Hunger." The critically revered 2008 British independent film is being released by the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray next month.

"I had to get as skinny as possible to keep that illusion alive," Fassbender said. "I actually did my diet in Los Angeles, which was perfect - the sun is shining, and I was just another freak power-walking on the beach in Venice every day! We're living in a very immediate society, with a lot of excess. It's interesting when you pare everything down how actually grateful you become" for what you have.

Tarantino based Fassbender's character in "Basterds" on George Sanders, the British star of old Hollywood. "I really found my physical character through Sanders through the original 'Saint' series," Fassbender said. "I just wanted to capture that physical life they had back in that time - the way they had specific lighters and cigarette cases, it was a very sort of elegant period of time."

Acting in "Fish Tank" didn't require crash diets or studying old films. Arnold has become much admired for her spare, truthful looks into hardscrabble lives in the United Kingdom.

"I think it's a slice of a certain type of life," Fassbender said. "There's definitely a class system that's still alive and well in England. Some people think that it's changing, but it's still very much there.

"Andrea has a very organic way of going about her work. We didn't get a script. She had a script, but she wanted to give it to us scene by scene and sort of keep an innocence, without knowing what was to come later."

"Fish Tank" opens Friday at Bay Area theaters.

- G. Allen Johnson, ajohnson@sfchronicle.com

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