Wednesday, October 8, 2008

*The* scene in Hunger

It would be a dereliction of my duties to not post up this brilliant and eye-opening article from the Times Online of 'Hunger' co-stars Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham. If you are one of the lucky ones to have seen Hunger, you know The scene in question. The 17-minute verbal tennis match between a defiant Bobby Sands and a perplexed priest.

Here is an abbreviation of the Q&A, but to read the rest, please go here. My comments below are in red.

Today the chemistry is evident between Fassbender, the young tyro, and Cunningham, the seasoned pro. The latter, at 47, didn’t start acting until he was 29 (he was an electrician in Dublin), but has since brought his own brand of steely-eyed gravitas to everything from First Knight to Dog Soldiers to The Mummy 3. The former, born in Heidelberg to a German father and Irish mother but brought up in Ireland, has suddenly, after a breakout turn as the beautiful Stelios in 300, become the one to watch – he’s next up opposite Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s Second World War epic Inglorious Bastards.

Damn right, Stelios was BEAUTIFUL. I've never read an article describing him as such. Spot on dude!

“I’m 31, and I left drama school here when I was 22, so I don’t know why it’s all happening now,” says Fassbender, sliding into the sofa seat of a West London restaurant, shuffling up next to Cunningham. “Won’t be long before you’re under fuckin’ house arrest, like Brad Pitt,” says Cunningham, gently needling him. They joke, too, about The Scene. About meeting each other for the first time in a Belfast pub with Steve McQueen, the director of Hunger, and how they bonded by nipping out for a smoke and, says Cunningham, “some heavy petting”. “Yes,” giggles Fassbender. “We called it The Passion.”

Simone giggles too. Oh, and btw, in case you haven't noticed before, I don't believe in censoring so you won't see these *** pesky little things. Nah uh.

And yet the gravity of the subject matter and the importance of what they’ve achieved slowly takes hold as they describe the reality of shooting a 23-minute scene on specially altered film stock (normal reels hold only ten minutes), that somehow has to sum up the essence of wide-ranging political debate while simultaneously being engrossing, thought-provoking and deeply moving.

Liam Cunningham: I remember Steve [McQueen] on that first day saying: ‘I’m thinking of shooting this scene in one shot’. And my immediate reaction was, ‘Are you out of your fuckin’ mind?!’ So I ended up moving in with Michael.

Michael Fassbender: Into the spare bedroom of my waterfront flat in Belfast.

LC: So every morning, we get up, he puts on the porridge and we start running the fuckin’ scene. At one there’s a knock on the door and we’re handed the food, and the door shuts again. We go on till six or seven o’clock until Steve turns up, looks at our progress, gives us some notes, and then off we go again. Running this scene 15 or 20 times a day for five days.

MF: So when we arrived on set we just went straight into it [slaps his hand, clapper-board style]: Take one, 23 minutes, right through. We did four takes, and they used the fourth.

LC: The irony is that now, with MTV editing, you’re lucky to get a two-minute scene in total. Whereas here, we’ve got to hold people for the whole scene, and let them know that they haven’t seen anything like this before.

MF: We said it at the time: ‘If this doesn’t work, then we’re . . .

Liam and Michael seem like dear friends and it's interesting learning about how they came together off screen to prep and practice for their one pivotal scene together.

Fassbender caught the acting bug at 18 in Killarney when he staged a theatrical version of Reservoir Dogs in the local nightclub. After graduating from the Central School for Speech and Drama in London, he struggled, working in bars, popping up in commercials and getting a supporting part in Band of Brothers. “There’s a list, and if you’re not on that list, you never get a look-in,” he says.

Now that he’s on the list, and with a Joel Schumacher horror movie, Creek, and Andrea Arnold’s drama Fish Tank on the way, it’s strange to find himself finally working with Tarantino, and sharing his Reservoir Dogs secret. “I told him about it,” he says. “He thought it was great, but only after I told him that I didn’t make any money from it, and it was for charity.”

Now we're getting some historical info on Michael's thespian education. I'm glad he is now on "the List".

The London-based Fassbender, meanwhile, who admits obliquely to being not quite single and not yet married, says that he was more than happy to be sold as a rippling baby-oiled sex object in 300. “Every time we were doing squats in those leather Speedos I used to say: ‘Well, that’s the pink pound covered anyway!’ ” he says, chuckling wildly, and sending Cunningham into paroxysms of laughter.

Don't rush to get married Michael, you're only 31 and it's so much more fun to think about you while you're still 'free', (aka, single). However, out of sight, out of mind. And I just love how he giggles hysterically. Ok, and translation on the "pink pound"? Perhaps he's talking about his butt, and from what I've seen of it, the squat only made what was nice before, nicer. Grrrrrr!

The two men try to steel themselves for a serious conclusion. Fassbender looks over at Cunningham and asks: “Have we forgotten to tell him anything?” Cunningham shrugs, smirks, then adds: “Other than the fact that we’re lovers, no.”

I love it when men are so free that they can tease with gay speak. It's so refreshing and very open-minded. Michael and Liam kick ass!
Edited to Add: Here is the definition of pink pound courtesy of Wikipedia -


greyeyegoddess said...

Love the comments.


Simone said...

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed my two cents. :)

Anonymous said...

The pink pound is a term for gay entertainment

Simone said...

Thank you. I eventually figured that out. :-)