Born in Heidelberg, Germany on 2 April, 1977 Michael’s parents moved the family to Fossa, near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland when he was two years old. Michael’s primary education was at the Fossa National School before he went on to secondary school at St. Brendans College in Killarney. His parents, Josef, an amazing chef, and Adele, owned and ran the beautiful West End House Restaurant and B&B. They have since retired and now lease the establishment to new management, who recently renovated it.
After attending a drama and comedy class run by Donie Courtney, Michael started acting when he was 16. Courtney eventually offered Michael roles with his theatre group, Bricriu. Subsequently, Michael attended the Drama Centre of London, training in the theatre and acting arts, but left before he finished his education
At the age of 17, Michael produced, directed and performed in a stage version of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs in his hometown of Killarney. Little did he know that several years later, he would have a crucial role in one of Tarantino’s blockbuster Inglorious Basterds.
Michael continued his stage experience in 1999 when he landed a role as Fedotik in the Oxford Stage Company’s Production of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. He later starred alongside legendary Mel Smith in Allegiance, a play about Winston Churchill and Michael Collins at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival.
In 2001, Michael auditioned for the part of Captain. Rafe McCawley in Pearl Harbor but instead landed the role of Sgt. Burton ‘Pat’ Christenson in Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ Band of Brothers. Following the heart-breaking series, Michael was cast in several UK TV series including Heart & Bones (where he played Hermann) and Holby City (in the role of Christian Connolly). Michael played the charming Charles Allen in the BBCs rendition of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking before going on to star in Poirot: After the Funeral as George Abernethie. Michael guest-starred in four episodes of Murphy’s Law as Caz Miller before moving onto play the seductive fallen angel Azazeal in Hex.
TV movie’s included Gunpowder, Treason & Plot, where he starred as the notorious Guy Fawkes, and Carla where his is a very shady fling known as Rob. Next came A Bear Named Winnie, a film based on the true story of how Canadian Lt. Harry Colebourn rescued and took the bear (later immortalized as Winnie the Pooh by A.A.Milne) London en route to war.
2006 – 2007
In 2006, Michael’s career hit a milestone when he was cast as the very dishy Stelios in Frank Miller’s 300 directed by Zack Snyder. He garnered praise for his portrayal of the Spartan and the epic adventure and box office hit catapulted him into the Hollywood spotlight. This break gave him the opportunity to complete stunt work with a grueling training schedule. Michael also starred alongside Romola Garai, Sam Neill, and Charlotte Rampling in French director Francois Ozon’s first English production, Angel whilst maintaining his presence in TV series’ by playing barrister Douglas Nesbitt in Trial & Retribution: Sins of the Father.
As pivotal as 2007 was for his career, it was as Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger that Michael would really make is mark. With staggering intensity and commitment, he lost over 14kgs (31lbs) to convincingly depict Sands’ decline. Michael’s dedication was rewarded by a wave of critical acclaim, a memorable lauding as the ‘Brando for Britain’, and numerous acting prizes at a variety of international film festivals- culminating in the best actor prize at the Irish Film & Television Awards.
Michael played the part of Steve as he co-starred with actress Kelly Reilly in James Watkins’ anger-inducing gorefest that is Eden Lake. He also appeared as Thomas Rainsborough in Channel 4’s The Devil’s Whore.
This year saw Michael smoulder as the teen heroine’s off-limits love interest, Connor, in Andrea Arnold’s kitchen sink drama Fish Tank. Michael returned to his German roots as he portrayed Richard Wirth in the somewhat distressing low-budget horror Blood Creek.
This was also the year that Michael was personally tapped by Quentin Tarantino for the role of British commando Lt. Archie Hicox in his WWII opus Inglourious Basterds. Michael claims that the initial audition for the role was disastrous but it was the tale of his 17 year old self that won the director over.
Michael since returned to the battlefield in Neil Marshall’s Centurion in which he portrays a Roman warrior trapped behind enemy lines in dark-age Britain. He also had a stint as Burke, an Irish criminal in DC’s summer blockbuster, Jonah Hex where he worked alongside Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox to bring the popular comic-book series to life.
Michael kicked off 2011 with his performance as the mysterious Mr.Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska’s Jane in Cary Fukunaga’s interpretation of the Bronte classic, Jane Eyre.
This was soon followed by his dark performance as the moody Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto in X-Men: First Class and his representation of Carl Jung in David Cronenberg’s drama A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley.
Michael finished the year by collaborating once again with indie director Steve McQueen on Shame, a dark and gritty drama that follows the life of New York sex-addict, Brandon. The film received several nominations and awards all around the globe.
Michael also had a small, yet important role in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire as Paul. Soderbergh accused Michael of being irritatingly cheerful whilst on set. He also had a lead part in BAFTA winning short, Pitch Black Heist alongside fellow Irishman, Liam Cunningham and Directed by John Maclean.
Michael ventured into new territory and collaborated with Sir Ridley Scott on Alien (1979) spin-off Prometheus as the rather fetching on-board android David 8. The complex film received several nominations and won in various categories at both the Key Art Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.
With the release of X-Men:First Class, Shame and Prometheus, Michael Fassbender was becoming more of a household name. 2013 saw him reach bigger heights, returning to work with Steve McQueen, Michael played Edwin Epps in the highly anticipated 12 Years A Slave, the story of black free man Solomon Northup, portrayed by the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is wrongly taken into the slave trade for 12 years.
Followed swiftly by the reunion of Michael and Sir Ridley for the thriller, The Counselor. This is the first screenplay by Cormac McCarthy and has so far received mixed reviews. Michael’s performance as the Counselor is both tense and emotional, it has been described in reviews as a “perfect neo-noir classic” and “visual poetry”.
2014 brought in the remarkable films of Frank and X-Men: Days of Future Past which feature Michael. Filming was completed of Macbeth, Slow West, The Light Between Oceans and hopefully the Untitled Terrance Malick Film; which thankfully are slated for the big screen in 2015.