Michael Fassbender: ‘Never turn your back on a poodle’
Posted January 19, 2010 | By Andrew Williams
Irish actor Michael Fassbender, 32, has starred in two of the most acclaimed independent films of recent years: Hunger, about Bobby Sands’s 1981 hunger strike, for which he lost 16kg, and Cannes prizewinner Fish Tank, which is out this month on DVD.
Your Fish Tank co-star Katie Jarvis is a teenager with no previous acting experience. What was she like to work with?
She was very raw and intuitive. There’s no bulls*** or frills with her.
What were you like when you were her age?
I was pretty clueless and irresponsible when I was 17. I had long hair and wanted to be the guitarist in a heavy metal band. When I realised I wasn’t good enough to be a guitarist, I decided I wanted to be an actor. Some acting workshop classes had just started where I lived in Killarney. I felt at home with them so I joined the company doing pantomime and pub theatre, then went to study acting in London.
Did director Andrea Arnold really show you the script for Fish Tank one day at a time? That sounds quite unusual.
Yes, she didn’t want to show the script to the actors. She gave me an outline of the story beforehand. I’d seen her film Red Road and knew she dealt with delicate subject matters really well. She doesn’t judge the characters when she writes them. It’s about human behaviour in an honest way. The audience walks away with a lot to chew on.
What was the physical process like of playing Bobby Sands in Hunger?
I went to Belfast six weeks before filming to make sure I was handling the subject matter with the respect it was due. My mum’s from the north of Ireland and so many of the films about the Troubles are embarrassing and insulting to the people who lived there. I wanted to make sure I was well prepared. The hardest part was a dialogue scene, which lasted 15 minutes. The weight loss was just calorie counting, it wasn’t the main challenge of the piece itself.
Both Fish Tank and Hunger have been massively acclaimed. What impact has that had on your career?
I get offered lots of independent things but the stuff that involves lots of money and big studios still has a serious pecking order involved. It’s all about what fan base you have. I’ve been lucky to work with fantastically talented people, which always stacks the odds in your favour. I’m still just chipping away.
Was filming Jonah Hex a laugh?
I always wanted to do a Western so it ticked that box – it’s boys with toys and cowboy costumes. I play a sociopath who likes stabbing people.
Did you spend much time with co-star Megan Fox?
We just had one scene together. She plays the love interest and I try to bring a nasty end to her. We had to do pretty physical stuff and she just rolled up her sleeves and got on with it. It was an ambitious script for the money they had so everybody had to do their jobs. She was great.
Was there any point when you considered giving up acting?
No, but there were long periods when I thought no one would ever hire me. I got to know the catering trade quite well. I thought about opening a bar but I was never going to throw in the towel. I thought if I kept knocking at the acting door long enough eventually someone would let me in.
What’s the worst job you had?
Market research. I preferred labouring. Market research was just mind-numbing. We had to phone people on a Saturday and Sunday and ask their opinions about Royal Mail.
Have you ever been attacked by an animal?
My aunt’s poodle bit me when I was ten. It bit me in the a*** when I was walking out of the door. Don’t turn your back on a poodle – that’s the tip for the day.
If you were a kangaroo what would you keep in your pouch?
A bottle of whiskey.
Source | Metro