Michael Fassbender on Fish Tank, Sex Scenes, and His Unlikely Literary Fetish
Posted January 11, 2010 | By Kyle Buchanan
In Andrea Arnold’s drama Fish Tank, Michael Fassbender plays Connor, a charming rogue who begins to date the mother of surly Essex teenager Mia (Katie Jarvis) but turns the entire family upside down when Mia, too, begins to fall for him. Fassbender himself has managed to seduce and shake up Hollywood; after impressing (and dieting) in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, then swanning through Inglourious Basterds as the debonair Hickox, he’s got directors like Steven Soderbergh, Cary Fukunaga, and David Cronenberg falling at his feet to work with him.
As Fish Tank is readied for its U.S. debut, Fassbender talked to Movieline about its tricky moments and his intriguing projects to come.
OK, before we get to Fish Tank, I have to ask you about this new Cronenberg movie you’re going to do, The Talking Cure. I’m kind of salivating at the idea already. What can you tell me about it?
Only that I’m super excited myself. I met Mr. Cronenberg up in Toronto about three, four months ago and he’s an absolute gentleman. Obviously, I’m a massive fan of his work. Basically, it’s the story surrounding Freud and Jung and one mutual patient of theirs called Sabina — it’s a triangle between those three characters. I’m very excited to do that and I’ll be shooting in Berlin, where I shot Inglourious. Of course, Christoph is an absolute gentleman and a phenomenal talent as well, and Keira Knightley, she’s not too shabby either! [Laughs] Before that, I’m going to be working with Cary Fukunaga on Jane Eyre, I’m also very excited about that.
You’d been attached to Wuthering Heights at one point — I guess you’ve got a real itch to do a Brontë adaptation!
Yeah, exactly. It’s a fetish of mine. No, I would have loved to do Wuthering Heights — that just fell apart, really. Originally, I was supposed to do it with John Maybury and Abbie Cornish, and I don’t know what happened, to be honest. John left the project for one reason or another and it didn’t come to pass. I was pretty disappointed, actually, because Wuthering Heights is my favorite love story.
What kind of take does Cary have for this version of Jane Eyre?
I don’t know yet, to be honest. I’ll just have to do my prep work and trust him for what he’s going to bring to it from a directorial sense. I love [his last film] Sin Nombre and I think he’s got an edge and a real talent for capturing moments in performances. We’ll just have to wait and see what he’s going to do with it, but I am very excited and I do like the character, Rochester. I think there’s a lot there to play with. I’m very excited about the actress playing Jane Eyre, Mia Wasi-…I’m trying to pronounce her second name.
Yes! That’s it. I think she’s fantastic. I saw her stint on In Treatment and I think she’s got incredible skills. I’m very excited about that.
Last time Movieline spoke to you, Inglourious Basterds was about to come out. Since then, have you seen a change in how Hollywood has treated you?
I hasn’t really changed that much, to be honest. I’m just taking it job by job. Definitely, there’s an opportunity to get into certain rooms that I wouldn’t have had before. I guess in the independent market, I’d be getting offers, but in terms of big studio films, I still have to audition. I don’t think my name is that well-known, I don’t have much of a following to guarantee box office success yet. That’s something that hasn’t changed, let’s say, since we last spoke.
You had an interesting trip to Cannes last year — not only were you promoting Fish Tank, but you also had the massive spectacle of the Inglourious Basterds premiere.
That’s sort of the ideal situation to be in as far as I’m concerned, anyway. To be able to bounce between the two like that, to be able to do high entertainment the size of Inglourious and then to do something like Fish Tank which was made for three million dollars or something. That’s what I find interesting just to keep myself guessing — and everyone else, really.
Tell me about Andrea Arnold as a director. What did she do to establish a vibe on set?
I think she has a huge respect for actors. What Andrea is really good at doing is setting up a safe environment to create in. It was a really intimate crew and she really takes the time to make the actors feel safe. Steve McQueen had the same sort of energy on his set when we were making Hunger. Understanding and clarity are the most important things to have as a director.
You and Katie Jarvis have a very intimate encounter in the movie — how do you shoot something like that when you’re working with someone so young and new to film?
You sort of roughly choreograph the scene before you shoot it, but the main thing for me was to make sure that Katie felt that I wasn’t taking advantage of her. Basically, I made a fool of myself and told my jokes to just sort of loosen up the atmosphere and keep it very light. You don’t want to spend too many takes doing something so tricky and difficult — you just have to dive in and get it done, really. Like I said, Andrea was very close to Katie and spent a lot of time with her making sure that she felt safe and happy.
Do you feel like Connor realizes he has this attraction for Mia and has been anticipating some sort of moment happening?
I think it’s spur of the moment. There’s an attraction there, I think, but I think it’s something that happens when he’s drunk. I don’t think he’s predatory or anything like that — I feel like his weakness is his lack of responsibility. He runs from problems rather than facing them.
So how would you describe the chemistry between Connor and Mia?
I think she’s basically looking for some male role model in her life, and he comes in an actually takes an interest in her. Connor does bring positivity into her life: He gives her self-belief, he tells her she should follow her dreams, that she has got talent. A lot of these kids that grow up in harsh environments, they don’t hear that a lot. Her shell breaks away and she begins to come out more and more as she gets this nourishment that she’s certainly not getting from her mother.
It’s interesting that as soon as Connor comes on to the scene, it’s as though Mia’s mom wants to hide her away, like she’s suddenly competitive with her daughter.
Yeah, I think that is fair to say. I do know that they were playing around with the idea of a mother-daughter rivalry. Kirsten’s character, perhaps, has lost some opportunities with her life because she’s a single mother with two kids. Perhaps sometimes she looks at Mia and she’s bitter because of that.
Lastly, since you’re going to make this film with Christoph Waltz soon, did you ever tell him that originally, you’d been gunning for his role of Landa in Basterds?
Absolutely, I told Christoph! We had a laugh about it. I didn’t dare do any Landa impression for him, but yeah. It all turned out perfectly in the end — I think Christoph did a wonderful job, and I really had a lot of fun with Hicox. Christoph is such a nice man, and he’s got a wonderful sense of humor. He just takes everything in stride, so it’ll be an absolute joy to start working with him in this coming year.
Source | MovieLine.Com