Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Arts Deck Q&A with Michael

This is a wonderful new interview posted today. We learn so much more about Michael's acting methods, his passions, and how humble he is about his career now.

Here's just a few snipets from the long interview:

Whose idea was it, yours or Cronenberg’s, to keep Jung’s shirt and tie on during the sex scenes?
I do remember David and I were talking about it on the day, and I think we mutually came to the decision that it would be something interesting to play with – to show that there is no abandon, there is something still holding him back. But if it’s something that stands out it would probably be a specific idea of David’s.

It’s very comic of course.
Absolutely. I thought the whole script was really funny, and wanted to play as much comedy as I could. Viggo and I really tried to push that together. We just couldn’t help ourselves. We were doing that first scene where Freud says, "Do you realise we’ve spent 13 hours having this discourse?" And in between takes Viggo kept pushing these ceramic penises closer to my cup of coffee, till they were surrounding the cup. Then I took a sip and the cream is on my moustache – at one point it was on my nose and everywhere. So we were just trying to have fun with it. And thankfully David is open. He’s been doing this long enough that he has the confidence and easiness to allow you to explore.

I do think people’s behaviour in general is funny, isn’t it? You know how when we get ruffled, or defensive, or we’re inspired by something, the way the body reacts to that mental state – I think these things are funny. And I think if you can bring that humour to something that is dealing with an academic and intellectual subject, it allows the audience to relax; they recognise that "OK, this doesn’t have to be a lesson". They can relax, and just watch these human beings, with their petty qualities and egos. I think it makes the work more accessible.
By the way, talking of the ceramics, I’m sure you noticed that Freud’s study had all these symbols around the place, it’s full of books, ornaments, Egyptian sort of stuff. And then you have Jung’s, which is more about space. I thought that was really clever of David and the art department, really clever.

I’ve heard many stories about Mortensen’s dedication to a role, the way he turns up on set with his own props and the like.
I think it’s the same with every film. People don’t know when he’s going to arrive, but it will always be before he’s due on set. He gets off the plane, rents a car himself and turns up one day and starts to decorate his trailer. So this time he brought some of the things from that Viennese world that Freud inhabited. And he wrote those letters in the film painstakingly, like Freud did. That’s his process, you know. It’s not apparent everywhere that this is what he’s doing, but these things add texture to his characters. I was never overwhelmed by it, because there was a real lightness and easiness to it. Viggo is a very independent soul, and a very gentle one.

And your process?
I’m different. Both Keira and Viggo really went into the research, more than I did. I tend to spend more time with the script than most. I’ll probably read the script 250 times – that means you spend eight hours a day for three weeks, just repeating it, so that when I arrive on the set for the first day it doesn’t matter what scene we’re doing, because I’ve got the whole thing off by heart.

With this one, Christopher had written such a dense script, that I felt my own work revolved around trying to get the rhythm of it, and to respect the writing. It was written in such a way that I felt it was like a piece of music, and only after lots of repetition did I start to uncover the rhythms. Any extra research I could do was really a luxury. I did get a great book on Jung, which was like Jung for children – an idiot’s handbook. I think found pretty much everything I needed to find in that little book.

Read the rest at The Arts Desk.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the best Michael interviews I've read in a while. He is so precise and thoughtful with his answers. Thanks so much for posting things like this; his talent is ultimately our reason for adoring him so much (in addition to all his other admirable qualities).

Anonymous said...

What a good interview! Thank you Simone for posting it! Every time I learn something new about him, it makes me admire him and love him even more than before (if it is possible...). I like the way he talks about his sister.

Dionne said...

I remember reading somewhere that he reads a script hundreds of times, but couldn't remember where! Michael has found what works for him, and it shows! Great read

Manuela said...

interesting how does Fassay decorate his own trailer? great interview he is so down to earth and the same time like kid -love him

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Michael Fassbender for winning the Evening Standard British Film Award :)

Anonymous said...

I was actually a little surprised that he wasn't at the ES film awards. I wonder if he had more pre-production work on 12YAS?

Anonymous said...

Michael's seating placement at the BAFTAs:

Lucky ladies!!!

Simone said...

With those people next to him, there's no room for his mother to go with him.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about what a MAJOR "fuck you" it would be to AMPAS if Michael won on Sunday. In fact, it would be so blatant, I'm not sure BAFTA has the guts to do it (voting is open until tomorrow). For this reason, I'm predicting a Dujardin win, but I'd love to be wrong. I'm sure the audience reaction to a win for Michael would be deafening... and it would undoubtedly translate into quite the press cycle.

Flora said...

Hey Anonymous at 7.49, he was supposed to be there apparently but was stuck in the US because Heathrow was mostly closed on Sunday due to snow. I would hazard a guess at him being in Atlanta rather than, say, NY or LA, just because there would be flight options from the latter two places. Only one flight a day from Atlanta to Heathrow (tragically, I checked!)

Anonymous said...

And what was he doing in Atlanta?

Simone said...


If he was in Atlanta, so soon after the London 'Method' premiere a few days ago, and so close to the BAFTAs and IFTAs, I reckon the luxury of flying First Class doesn't intefere with research down South.


Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:48: he has been spotted in Atlanta a few times this month. Speculation says pre-production for Twelve Years a Slave.

Alex said...

Even I thought it was some other reason but to shoot the movie at this point it really has to be well acquainted with everything. The poor man has no time for even a moment of rest.
And if he has a girlfriend?