Michael Fassbender : In the Fish Tank
Posted January 10, 2010 | By Jenni Miller
Andrea Arnold’s newest film puts the Inglourious Michael Fassbender in a rather ‘basterdly’ position with newcomer Katie Jarvis.
Red Road writer/director Andrea Arnold, who famously announced that winning an Oscar for her short film Wasp was “the dog’s bollocks,” is back with another stunner, Fish Tank, starring Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender (300, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds). Jarvis plays a tough young teen who spends her days practicing her breakdancing moves and getting into trouble in the Essex council estate where she and her hard-partying mom and boisterous little sister live. Her life is turned upside down when her mom (Kierston Wareing) brings home a cool new boyfriend named Connor (Fassbender), who takes a fatherly interest in the girls that soon becomes much more complicated.
The day that Tribeca Film spoke with Fassbender and Arnold, Fassbender had revealed the first info related to Steven Soderbergh’s hush-hush project Knockout, starring MMA fighter Gina Carano. Since then, several other actors have reportedly joined the cast, like Ewan McGregor, Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, and Michael Douglas, with more details to come.
Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank
It’s not really fair to ask if it’s different to work with a female director since everyone is different, but, well, is it different to work with a female director?
Michael Fassbender: No, not at all. You know, I think you’re either a good director or you’re not, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s female or male. I mean, she’s very good at creating a safe environment to work in, and she loves working with actors and she’s very clear. And all of those directors are like that—[Steve] McQueen, [Quentin] Tarantino. They love their work, and they’re good at it, so it makes my job so much easier, and then they bring a lot more out of me because of that.
I understand she didn’t give you guys the entire script at once—it was week by week. What kind of impression did you have of Connor when you first started?
Because I didn’t have a script, I just basically played him pretty close to myself. I tried to keep him light and charming and fun, and I kind of had an idea of what was to come later, but I didn’t want to ever sort of play any of that, and I think that was why Andrea didn’t want to give us the scripts, so that nothing was sort of, you know, preloaded, and it all happened sort of fairly organically, if you like. So I just kept him light and loose and just tried to see how things unraveled as they went. I did get a feeling as we went on that he seemed very, like a very too-good-to-be-true sort of scenario kind of guy. He was always sort of upbeat, and I wondered why he was so quick to jump into this family unit. It made me think that he had something to hide or he was running away from something.
So as the story went on, did you find yourself having to revise your opinion of who Connor was? He does some fairly deplorable things, but no one’s evil. No one’s bad in the movie.
Well, that’s what I really like about working with Andrea, and that’s what sort of drew me to her, having seen Red Road. It’s never clear-cut: here’s the villain, here’s the hero. The characters are ambiguous, like people are in life. You know, it’s like [we] do positive things to each other and also, you know, negatives, and that’s what I really like. It doesn’t make it that easy for the audience, so in the end they’re kind of like, well, I don’t know really what to think… It just leaves them scratching their heads a little bit when they leave the cinema, which I think is a lot more interesting.
Did you and Katie form a friendship or bond at all?
We were all sort of in the same little flat for, you know five weeks or whatever it was, six weeks, so we all got to know each other really well, and we had a very honest relationship, and you know, she’s a lot of fun, and all of us—Kierston [Wareing], Rebecca [Griffiths], the little girl—we all sort of hung out all the time. It was fantastic. So there was really a sort of good, kind of family sort of feel on set, you know. And the crew, Andrea’s crew, is very pared down; it’s a very basic crew, with very few people on set, so it’s a very intimate environment to work in.
So who’s scarier—the fans at Comic-Con, which you went to for Jonah Hex, or the audiences at Cannes?
That’s a good question. I think the difference, really, between Cannes and Comic-Con is, Cannes is there for the filmmakers and the actors, and it’s very sort of exclusive, whereas Comic-Con belongs to the fans, and that’s for sure. There’s 6,200 of them in that auditorium; it was like, holy Moses.
How did you get involved with David Cronenberg’s The Talking Cure?
Well, he just sort of approached my agent and said that he was interested in me doing this script, so I went up to meet him in Toronto—and, you know, he’s a legend, so to meet him was really special. And then we just sort of had a really good chat, and we both like motor sports, and he was telling me [about] when he went to the Ducati factory in Italy: they really like him there because he based the pods in The Fly on a Ducati motor, the engine of a Ducati motorcycle.
You’re such a chameleon when it comes to accents and different looks. Why does it seem like American actors don’t have as wide a range as actors from the UK and Ireland? Is it the theatre background?
I don’t know if that’s true. I think this country produces many, many, many fine actors, diverse actors. I mean, Philip Seymour Hoffman—you can’t get much more of a better character actor than him. I think it’s just different schools of thought. Possibly, you know, it’s different in Europe because perhaps your apprenticeship is more geared toward the theatre, whereas here it’s television-based. Americans have a real good grasp on working in front of a camera. But I’ve never really thought of it like that, to be honest.
Michael Fassbender’s upcoming films include Centurion, written and directed by Neil Marshall; Jane Eyre, directed by Sin Nombre’s Cary Fukunaga, and much more.
Source | TribecaFilm.com