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Next Generation of Superheroes October 13, 2010

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Next Generation of Superheroes October 13, 2010

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:22 am

http://www.backstage.com/bso/content_display/news-and-features/e3id48ea20039ae74bdbce0ed62b33dad5a

Michael Fassbender

Where you've seen him before: Although Michael Fassbender had appeared in such films as "300" and earned raves for the HBO series "Band of Brothers," his acclaimed turn in 2008's "Hunger," as Irish Republican Army activist Bobby Sands, put him on the map. Born in Germany but raised in Ireland, Fassbender lost more than 30 pounds to portray Sands, who led a 66-day prison hunger strike in 1981. That performance won the attention of Quentin Tarantino, who cast Fassbender in "Inglourious Basterds" as the British lieutenant Archie Hicox, who finds himself in a stalemate in a bar after accidentally revealing that he's not a Nazi by the way he orders three beers. Though it was only one scene, it gave Fassbender the opportunity to show a gamut of emotions, from confident to trapped.

Upcoming projects: After appearing in two high-profile action films in 2010, "Jonah Hex" and "Centurion," Fassbender suddenly finds himself in demand by some of the best directors in the business. David Cronenberg handpicked him to play Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen's Sigmund Freud in "A Dangerous Method," and Steven Soderbergh cast him opposite Michael Douglas in "Haywire." In addition, Matthew Vaughn chose him to succeed Ian McKellen as a young Magneto in "X-Men: First Class."

Breaking in: Fassbender says he endured many auditions where he felt like a "dancing monkey" early in his career. He also admits he went into his "Basterds" audition a bit unprepared, as he had concentrated more on the role of Col. Hans Landa, which, the actor notes, "ultimately and rightfully went to Christoph Waltz…. They said to take a look at Landa and Hicox, and I couldn't really divide my time and commit to both, so I just threw all my eggs in the Landa basket." When he arrived in Germany for his audition, Tarantino told him, " 'I cast my Landa Tuesday.' So I was like, okay, well, I'm not going to argue with Quentin and tell him how to cast a film. So we read it and he gave me a few notes. He said to me, 'Everyone is coming in and reading this script like Michael Caine, and I'm not looking for that.' He was looking for a bit of comedy in the role. I thought it was kind of interesting to take that sort of vanity as well and bring it to Hicox. I tried to expand on that humor as much as possible and tried to find the happy balance without it tipping into ridiculous."

His philosophy: Fassbender credits not reading reviews with helping him survive the cutthroat world of show business: "An actor, Mel Smith, taught me that. He said, 'If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.' It's not to say that I never read, but I keep it to a minimum." Instead, Fassbender learns by watching his own performances two or three times. "It's good for me to see the things I get right and the things I mess up," he explains. "I think it's important to continue learning the craft."

—Jenelle Riley

(had to add Karl because I like him too)

Karl Urban

Where you've seen him before: New Zealand native Karl Urban made a splash with couch potatoes by playing Julius Caesar on "Xena: Warrior Princess." But it was his role as steely swordsman Eomer in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films that sealed the start of his career. The gig came about in part because of Urban's work in a "light, quirky New Zealand film" called "The Price of Milk," he says. Director "Harry Sinclair showed Peter Jackson a rough cut, and it really propelled me forward." Incidentally, Urban considers "The Price of Milk" to be "in many ways a forerunner to 'Flight of the Conchords'—without us breaking into spontaneous song."

Upcoming projects: The self-professed Trekkie will reprise his role as cantankerous doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the next installment of J.J. Abrams' successful "Star Trek" reboot. The actor's charming performance in the first film skillfully evoked the spirit of the late DeForest Kelley without resorting to mere imitation. "You have to be very careful in how much you absorb of another actor's performance," Urban says. "In 'Star Trek,' being a longtime fan, it was important to have that sense of continuity. Going to the cinema, I certainly wouldn't have appreciated—had I not been in the film—seeing a character that wasn't identifiably Bones. So really it was about identifying the very essence of what that character is and then imagining what he would be as a younger version." Urban also stars in the long-awaited Judge Dredd flick "Dredd" and the high-octane comic-book adaptation "Red," featuring Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Willis.

First inspirations: Growing up half a world away from Hollywood, Urban experienced movies thanks to his mom's vocation. "When I was a young boy, my mother worked at a company in New Zealand that rented out film equipment to productions," he says. "Every so often when a major New Zealand film was completed, they would screen it on the garage door for the crew. So I was watching what was really a renaissance period in New Zealand cinema—movies like 'Smash Palace' and 'Goodbye Pork Pie,' watching these actors like Bruno Lawrence and Zac Wallace. I was in awe of them. That really lit the flame."

Master class: Urban remembers his "Lord of the Rings" experience as an amazing education of sorts: "I would watch the way that Viggo [Mortensen] would approach the scene, the way he would, take after take, do something slightly different than he'd done in the previous take. I realized that he was not only keeping the scene fresh and spontaneous for himself, but he was also giving the director the luxury of choice in the editing room."

The challenge of "Dredd": Urban, who read "Judge Dredd" comics in his teens, immediately zeroed in on the greatest challenge of playing the futuristic law-enforcement officer, who sports a trademark face-concealing helmet: "I had to figure out how to convey thoughts and feelings to the audience without the use of my eyes. For me, this is one of the most interesting and stimulating parts. As I approach any character, you inevitably have to go through a whole lot of doors to find out who the character is and why the character makes choices that he does. It's an investigative process that's about defining aspects and attitudes of your character and finding out what makes him tick. It's part of the process that I greatly enjoy."

—Sarah Kuhn
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