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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-17 05:42:07

tatler man michael fassbender

mfassbender
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firstperson

2223 IRISH TATLER MAN

BGO iAsanotherhecticyeardrawstoaclose,
Michael Fassbender has yet to honour
his promise and reward himself with a long
over-due day off. He’s not complaining,
though, for when not promoting his new
film, Steve Jobs, he is busy keeping his ego
in check, not concerning himself with other
peoples’ opinions and learning how to say

GHO RO MGEOno, writes Patricia Danaher

firstperson

Michael Fassbender Facing page: Like most people, Fassbender owns a few Apple products,
is in a very giddy but he is far from being a techie (a battered but fully
moodwhen we meet at the Mandarin Oriental Fassbender promoting operational iPhone 4 is conclusive proof that he is no slave to
Macbeth during the keeping up with the latest model) and is happy to put them
Hotel in New York. After another hectic year of work, the Cannes Film Festival away when he’s not working. He is also neutral about the
38-year-old Kerryman is about to unveil two major pieces on May 23, 2015 brutal reputation of Steve Jobs, the man, and how he treated
of work, Macbeth and Steve Jobs, with him playing the title those around him.
character in both movies. He jokes that he “studied Ashton
Kutcher” when he was getting ready to play the part of “I think he was an extraordinary person and he definitely
Steve Jobs, then laughs solidly for about a minute. (Kutcher’s changed the world we live in,” the Kerryman reflects. “He’s
portrayal of the late Apple co-founder in 2013’s much-maligned like Henry Ford multiplied by 1,000.
Jobs was universally slaughtered by critics and tanked at the
box office). “I just find him to be very impressive and someone who
changed the way we go about our lives, that’s about it. I don’t
Fassbender gets a hold of himself and then reveals how he think, ‘Oh, he was a good man or a bad man.’ That stuff bores
almost didn’t accept the role portraying the man many me; it’s just moral high ground.”
people feel is the modern day Thomas Edison – because he
had promised himself some much-needed time off. He continues: “I am not crazy into technology. The phone
is something I carry with me most of the time, but I’m happy
“Your personal life can suffer if one is working too much. to turn it off and put it in the bag when I go on holiday. I use
Living in a make-believe world a lot and then coming back to my laptop if I need to do research on an accent or something,
reality and not pretending needs to be addressed,” he says. “I whereas before I would have to go to the library. I can do it all
was really planning to take a break when the Steve Jobs script at home now, including find interviews with Steve Jobs on
came to me. I was planning to take months off, but when the Google or YouTube. It’s all there at my fingertips and it’s such
script arrived, I was like, ‘I can’t really say no to this.’ a massive tool.”

“That was very much the same with Steve Jobs and his life. Is there anything he’d ask Jobs?
People say he was a hard taskmaster, but he did sacrifice a lot “’Do you want to drop some acid? Where should we do it?’
of his own life, putting in 18-hour days and trying to drive his I don’t know, really. Maybe, ‘Who was the most impressive
vision. I think it took a lot out of his personal life for sure. I try person you met?’ ‘What’s your biggest fear?’ These are the
to keep a healthy balance.” kinds of questions I keep getting asked!”
Fassbender may be well overdue a rest but he has no one
With his heavily-lashed blue-grey eyes, strong jaw and but himself to blame. His first major screen role came in 2001,
enviable bone structure, not to mention that distinctive Irish with a part in the Steven Spielberg-produced HBO series
lilt, Fassbender is in his leading-man prime. He looks healthy, Band of Brothers. A series of stellar performances since his
albeit slimmer than usual, is sporting a few days’ stubble on
his angular face and is dressed simply in a brown jacket and
khaki pants.

After the past four or five years in the public eye, he is
more of a veteran of the interview and junket circuit at this
point and has become adept at avoiding questions he doesn’t
want to answer, while still talking away.

Fassbender’s reputation is that of a fearless, total-
immersion actor, capable of bringing immense intensity to
the screen but just as capable of reverting to normality when
the camera stops turning over.

He may be as affable as he is approachable and famously
popular on set (the director Steve McQueen memorably
described him as “a team player, a dad who embraces
everyone around him”, while Danny Boyle called it an
“amazing experience” working with him on Steve Jobs), but
Fassbender admits that his easy-going persona doesn’t
always come, well, so easy.

“I definitely have an ego and it’s something I try to keep
aware of and to try and sort of keep it in check and when it
works well, it’s there to protect one,” he says. “I think I like to
keep it in control and when it comes to work, I like it to be
about the work and really concentrate on that; and if it strays
away from the work and becomes more ego-based, I have to
have a conversation with myself and when people say no to
me, sometimes it’s fun.

“I try to keep a positive approach to myself, so I will try to
say yes as opposed to no. But as a friend of mine said to me
recently, it’s important to say ‘yes’ when you mean yes, and
‘no’ when you mean no.

2425 IRISH TATLER MAN

Do you want to drop
some acid? Where
should we do it?

firstperson

Clockwise from top left:

Fassbender with Mia Wasikowska
in Jane Eyre (2011); opposite
co-star James McAvoy in X-Men:
First Class (2011); Fassbender in
Ridley Scott’s The Counselor
(2013), whose cast included Bradd
Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penélope
Cruz; Fassbender in the starring
role of Macbeth (2015); Steve Jobs
(2015); Fassbender and Kodi
Smit-McPhee in Slow West (2011)

Above:

Christope Waltz, Melanie Laurent,
Quentin Tarantino, Diane Kruger,
Brad Pitt, and Michael Fassbender
attend the Inglourious Basterds during
the Cannes Festival on May 20, 2009

2627 IRISH TATLER MAN

film debut in 2006’s fantasy war epic 300, My philosophy in
including a starring role in Steve McQueen’s life is not to care
Bafta and Cannes-winning Hunger, in which what other people
Fassbender played the IRA hunger-striker Bobby think, to treat
Sands, and survived on water and seeds to shed others as you would
16kg in weight for the part, has consolidated his wish to be treated
leading-man status and have made him one of yourself and to sort
the most in-demand actors of his generation. of live every day as
if it were the last
In addition to the high art movies he has
worked on over the past 12 months, such as Michael Fassbender attends the gala premiere of Steve Jobs on the
the Justin Kurzel-directed adaption of Macbeth closing night of the BFI London Film Festival on October 18, 2015
and Danny Boyle’s new biopic, Steve Jobs, he
recently completed another film in the insanely “I learned a lot and I’m glad I went, but it was pretty brutal at times.
popular X-Men franchise, reprising his starring There was a brutal culling system there. We started with 34 and when I
role as the Marvel antihero Magneto, as well as left there were 17. Everyone was terrified of the teachers. It was so bizarre;
a film adaptation of the best-selling video game it was a pretty interesting place but hardcore.”
Assassin’s Creed, which he also produced.
Success has been with him for the past few years and there is no sign
He has also made a film about the travelling of that slowing down any time soon with the huge raft of projects he is
community, Trespass Against Us, which is set both starring in and producing. What are the philosophies that guide
in England and co-stars Brendan Gleeson. him, I wonder, and did he learn anything from playing a mogul like Steve
Little wonder, then, that the Oscar-nominated Jobs, who didn’t seem to care what people thought about him?
actor averages an impressive four films a
year, spanning from big-budget blockbusters “It’s nice to be liked but I made a decision quite early on that I didn’t
(Prometheus, X-Men) and bold dramas (Shame, want to die and go, ‘Oh, God, why didn’t I do something because I was
12 Years a Slave) to quirky comedies (Inglourious going to be worried about what people thought?’
Basterds) and dark, zany art-house (2014’s
Frank, where he wore a giant papier mâché “Obviously it’s nice to be liked by people, but it’s definitely not a priority
mask over his face for the entire film). and I would hate my experiences of life and judgments to be curbed by that.

Fassbender may be turning 39 next April and “My philosophy in life is not to care what other people think, to treat
boasts a CV that belies his relatively tender others as you would wish to be treated yourself and to sort of live every
years, but he retains his renowned joie de vivre. day as if it were the last.”
He’s also not averse to laughing at himself.
It’s exhausting being Michael Fassbender, it seems: the filming schedule,
“I was joking with Oscar Isaac [who plays the the media commitments, his burgeoning production duties, keeping his
mutant’s evil nemesis, Apocalypse] on the set of ego in check and learning how to say no. It’s a long way from his childhood
X-Men about doing this sort of stuff when I saw as head altar boy in Kerry, but it’s clearly agreeing with him and you
him all dressed up in blue and I have a cape on suspect he wouldn’t have it any other way. That promised rest will just
me – and I looked at him and said, ‘I’m 38 and have to wait a little while longer. ITM
we’re both grown men, and look at us!’

“Who knows, maybe when I’m at an old people’s home, I’ll be
dressing up as all these different characters and they’ll all be like, ‘Oh,
here he goes again!’”

Given his jovial mood, it seems like an opportune time to prise some
personal information about life away from the film set from the notoriously
publicity-averse actor. Mention of his girlfriend, the actress Alicia Vikander,
whom he met on location in New Zealand, elicits a wolfish grin.

“When she arrived on the set of Light Between Oceans, I could see
the determination there and the focus, the discipline and the hard work
and then trying to keep it up all the time. She’s a very good actor,
disciplined, and she works hard and gives great performances.”

Most of the women Fassbender has dated in recent years have been
his female co-stars – known associations include X-Men: First Class co-star
Zoë Kravitz, Shame co-star Nicole Beharie and Olympic heptathlete
Louise Hazel. And many of his friends are actors he knew at drama
school, including Tom Hardy.

“I remember when Tom came in to the School of Speech and Drama
in London,” Fassbender recalls. “I was in third year and he was in first.
He really stood out – he was really confident and fresh, and there was
something really special about him from the very beginning.

“The school was an interesting one, although I left early. These
speech and drama places can be very insular and in a way they become
the centre of your universe.


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