Working in Common
SHOOTING STAR, MOTORCYCLE FAN, BARTENDER.
SPECIAL FEATURES: LASER LIGHT BLUE EYES.
Twelve months ago he was a nobody in the film business. Today, he is the hottest ticket in Hollywood. What went wrong? Or better: What went finally damn right? How could his class be mistaken for so long? We want answers. Interview by Ulrich Lössl.
Mr. Fassbender: how does one recognize a Hollywood star?
FASSBENDER: I don't know. You tell me. (Laughs) Probably you are one, if you is shown as the greatest on the movie poster.
No, no. before that.
FASSBENDER: Before one is a Hollywood star? Then he's not a Hollywood star!
But he must have it in himself already: This uniqueness, something outstanding, this special something that sets him apart from the crowd.
FASSBENDER: You'll have to ask others: agents, directors, producers ...
How would you describe yourself to a blind producer?
FASSBENDER: (Laughs) Not at all. There is no point in that.
"JONAH HEX HAD ALMOST BROKEN MY NECK. AT THAT TIME I SERIOUSLY THOUGHT TO ENTER THE CATERING BUSINESS. «
You are working for about ten working as an actor. Do you have an explanation why you only recently had your breakthrough?
FASSBENDER: Honestly, no. Although I understand that at the beginning of your career you have to earn a few merits. But like you said, I was ten years actually permanently on the screne – on television or in the movies. This was sometimes a pretty tough issue. And if the fee again was not enough to live on, I sometimes worked part-time even in restaurant kitchens or as a bartender in London clubs. I was not above doing commercials, for example, for MasterCard or Guinness. That was okay. Many of my acting buddies did the same.
Four years ago, the British filmmaker Steve McQueen gave him the leading role in "Hunger." He played the IRA prisoner and freedom fighter Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death in an English prison. For the role Fassbender lost sixteen kilos until - at 1.83 meters – he weighed only 59 kilos. Not by this tour-de-force-diet, but especially for his fearless, intense acting he impressed viewers and critics alike. Among the many awards he received for this role, was the European Film Award for Best Actor. But a turn or even a breakthrough was not on the horizon. Until 2009 when Quentin Tarantino casted him for "Inglourious Basterds." Fassbender, dressed as an SS-Hauptsturmführer, was in the basement of a French tavern and betrayed, during a conspiratorial meeting with friends and Hitler's opponents, through an awkwardness with a Whisky order, his British origins an SS storm ringleader. The rest is bloody film history.
Is not it ironic that a minor part made you to one of Hollywood's "Most Wanted"?
FASSBENDER: Wait, not so fast. Even after that I played in a number of films that had no big echo. Among others in the mega-flop "Jonah Hex." And this film almost broke my neck. Because after that for half a year my phone didn't ring. At that time I seriously thought to enter the catering business. And suddenly the hell broke loose and my career is exploding. Since then I got one movie offer after another.
Including high quality directors such as Ridley Scott, David Cronenberg. Steven Soderbergh ...
FASSBENDER: ... and my old friend Steve McQueen, with whom I made "Shame." That much attention as I got for this film I did not get in my previous career.
No wonder, with such a daring sex thriller. If one plays a sex-obsessed man in a movie like "Shame", does it rub off on one's libido?
FASSBENDER: (Laughs.) No, with my sex life is everything all right. In "Shame" I play a man who is trapped in his sexuality. His sexual addiction threatens to destroy him slowly. He is in my eyes a very ill man. It was very intense, to play him in such a way. But other roles are as well. Except maybe that my penis is not always shown in a close-up. And of course it was not easy to masturbate in the shower in front of a camera or even to run around naked in front of the film crew for days. And I confess frankly: Just before we filmed the ménage à trois, I've knocked back a few glasses of tequila. Then the whole thing went relatively easy.
As cool as he does now, he is not. In his heart, in fact he is very relieved that his mother has not seen the sex shocker until now. And he also remembers very well how he watched along with his father "Shame," at the Venice premiere last year, and afterwards Father Fassbender said dryly: "Good thing your mother is not here!"
Is not "to have courage" the first duty for actors?
FASSBENDER: To be courageous and not to be afraid is actually the basis of all good acting. I once read that the great Dustin Hoffman once said, that an actor should not be afraid to show at any time his asshole to the public. Although this is a dramatic way to put it but it hits the nail on the head.
"I SEE MYSELF AS A CHARACTER ACTOR. I EMULATE ROBERT DE NIRO, AL PACINO, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS AND MARLON BRANDO. NATURALLY WITHOUT COPYING THEM. "
Fassbender makes an eloquent pause. His gaze wanders to the teacup. He ignores it. He takes a deep breath and says: I see myself as a character actor. I try to emulate such role models as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis and Marion Brando. Of course, without copying them. That would be disastrous. There must always emerge enough Independence and Distinctiveness. But when I act, I like to take risks. It becomes me to be a bit afraid of new challenges. Only this fear inspires me to outdo myself.
How well can you assess yourself?
FASSBENDER: As an actor, quite well. There I am aware of my faults and shortcomings. But I know that I can still release a lot of potential. But as a person? There is an answer much harder.
And as a man? I hope you are aware of the effect you have on women.
FASSBENDER: (grins.) I do have noticed. And on others I have none. Let's say, it keeps within a limit.
Has a movie star better sex?
FASSBENDER: (Laughs.) There is - I fear - no relation. Sex is one of the major driving forces in my life. I mean not only the erotic aspect, but also the artistic one. I can not imagine a life without sex. Or more precisely, I do not want to Not yet.
Which is the most erotic part of a woman's body?
FASSBENDER: The brain. The soul. If you have seen "A Dangerous Method." then you know what I mean.
In the psychodrama of David Cronenberg, he plays the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, and Viggo Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud. The film depicts the conflict-ridden relationship between work and friendship between the two great pioneers of psychoanalysis. And besides, Jung's sex affair with his patient Sabina Spielrein, played by Keira Knightley.
Are you more a follower of Freud or Jung?
FASSBENDER: I certainly don't share Freud's opinion, that one can simply reduce a man to his sex drive. On the other hand I'm not convinced like Jung, that individualism is the only truth. In our society, the obsession to see oneself entirely as an individualist and to fulfill oneself only individually has become a major problem. Life is not always just about how I can fulfill myself, how I can be a better person, how I can become successful and rich. I find it much more interesting, to look up from one's navel and see one's neighbor, one's fellow men. And ask yourself: How can we work in common?
"IN OUR SOCIETY IS THIS OBSESSION, TO UNDERSTAND ONESELF AS AN INDIVIDUALIST AND TO FULFILL ONESELF INDIVIDUALLY HAS TO BECOME A BIG PROBLEM."But Jung has tried to show how we all - especially subconsciously - are interconnected. Keyword "archetypes."
FASSBENDER: Yes. But I believe that this can very be very dangerous and can lead us to the fact that we all live in our small, homemade soap bubble, rather than actively be absorbed in a social community. Also, I do not believe that we are all inspired by the myths of the past or the legends alike, and that all that is written in our DNA.
Should an actor not be very egoistic?
FASSBENDER: I do not think so. I've never forged ahead into the spotlight.
Perhaps therefore it has taken so long until you became famous.
FASSBENDER: Maybe. I only cared about acting. And acting is primarily teamwork. To me it's all about my work. That's why I'm pretty sure I'm immune to pursuit of glory and egomania. It was certainly luck that I had my great breakthrough relatively late – in my early thirties. Then I had already enough life experience under my belt and it has certainly helped me, not loose the ground under my feet, which would have been being twenty years old which probably quite different.
Michael Fassbender tells that his good relationship with his parents is very important to him, it stabilizes him. He was born in 1977 in Heidelberg, and is the son of a German father and an Irish mother. When he was two years old, the family moved to the Irish village of Killarney, where they opened a restaurant. When asked which of his characteristics are rather Irish or German, he gives himself diplomatically and says he is proud of both influences. However he is pretty sure that the German side in him always wants to keep everything under control and the Irish likes to throw everything into confusion. From his father he inherited a penchant for discipline and for organizing everything. "My father always said, when I once again recalled in only 85 percent of my performance in school, 'Boy, where are the other 15 percent?' That was my influence. From my mother I got the joy of life and the ability to celebrate long and intensely." As a child when in Ireland he was often homesick for Germany, he says with a smile, but when he moved to London in his twenties, it was Ireland he missed. Meanwhile, at 35, he has freed himself from these things, and feels as an European. The only thing he regrets is that he no longer speaks fluent German as before. He could still read and understand German newspapers and German films, but with flirting at the bar he comes to his limits. But there the alcohol helps.
Do you have a certain type of women?
FASSBENDER: No, that would also be pretty stupid. I do not want to limit myself. But it's been a long time since I had a date. Mostly I go out with friends - in my rare spare time. We just hang out in a pub. And if there are women ... Do not get me wrong: I'm fond of girls. But I am not one, who defines himself with women-firing ratios.
And what else do you do so after work?
FASSBENDER: I laze around - and I like to ride motorcycle. Recently, I bought a BMW motorcycle, the R 1200 GS / Adventure. Because my old machine - a Triumph Speed Triple - was stolen in London. Okay, I did not lock it, although I had the feeling that I was being watched. So I'm to blame a bit myself. As the saying goes, motorcycling is definitely better than bad sex ...
You have done lately some fashion shootings. How important is style for you?
FASSBENDER: I like to wear clothes in which I feel comfortable. I don't care for labels or designers. But of course, there are no objections against a suit, for example from Armani. But I'm not fixed at all ...
"OFTEN I GO OUT WITH FRIENDS. THEN WE HANG OUT A PUB. AND WHEN THERE ARE WOMEN... DO UNDERSTAND ME CORRECT: I AM NOT AN ABSTAINER".During the interview, Michael Fassbender absentmindedly fingers with his right thumb a scar on his upper lip. When asked how he got it, he laughingly told the story of a fight with a Scottish bouncer, who prevented him six years ago very decidedly with his fists from gaining entry to a nightclub in Edinburgh. He lays an emphasis on the fact that for him fights are an absolute exception. He tries to settle conflicts either with words - or running away! Suddenly Fassbender's spokesman stands in the doorway and pushes to ask the last question.
Should your acting career for some unlikely reasons it go down the drain - you have a plan B?
FASSBENDER: (Laughs) Then I'll be back to be a bartender.
Your favorite cocktail?
FASSBENDER: A dry martini. Sounds simple, but it's incredibly difficult to mix. If it's to be good.
And what's your favorite curse word?
FASSBENDER: Fuck! That's actually one of my favorite words in the English language. It is so wonderfully descriptive and can have a variety of different forms. Yes, "fuck" is actually very diverse ...