Michael Fassbender

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Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender by Gage Skidmore 2015.jpg
Fassbender at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International promoting X-Men: Apocalypse
Born (1977-04-02) 2 April 1977 (age 38)
Heidelberg, West Germany
Residence Hackney, London[1]
Nationality German–Irish
Alma mater Drama Centre London
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 2001–present

Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977)[2] is a GermanIrish actor of stage and screen whose career includes roles in both independent and blockbuster films.

His feature film debut was in the fantasy war epic 300 (2006) as a Spartan warrior; his earlier roles included various stage productions, as well as starring roles on television such as in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) and the Sky One fantasy drama Hex (2004–05). He first came to prominence for his biographical role as IRA activist Bobby Sands in the historical drama Hunger (2008), for which he won a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor. Subsequent roles included the independent film Fish Tank (2009), earning his second BIFA nomination; as a Royal Marines lieutenant in the Quentin Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds (2009); as Edward Rochester in the 2011 film adaptation of Jane Eyre; as psychiatry innovator Carl Jung in historical drama A Dangerous Method (2011); as a sentient android in the Ridley Scott science fiction film Prometheus (2012); and in the musical comedy-drama Frank (2014) as an eccentric musician loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom.

In 2011, Fassbender debuted as the Marvel antihero Magneto in the prequel X-Men: First Class; he would go on to share the role with Ian McKellen in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Also in 2011, Fassbender's performance as a sex addict in Shame received critical acclaim. He won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. In 2013, his role as slave owner Edwin Epps in slavery epic 12 Years a Slave was similarly praised, earning him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 12 Years a Slave marked Fassbender's third collaboration with Steve McQueen, who also directed Hunger and Shame. In 2013, Fassbender appeared in another Ridley Scott film, The Counselor. In 2015, he portrayed Steve Jobs in the Danny Boyle-directed biopic of the same name, and played Macbeth in Justin Kurzel's adaptation of William Shakespeare's play. For the former, he has received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Actor. As well as acting, Fassbender produced the 2015 western Slow West which he also starred in.

Early life and education[edit]

Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany.[3] His mother, Adele, is from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, and his father, Josef Fassbender, is German.[4] According to Fassbender "family lore," his mother is the great-grand-niece of Michael Collins, an Irish leader during the War of Independence.[3][5] When he was two years old, his parents moved to Killarney, County Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland, where they ran the West End House, a restaurant where his father worked as a chef.[3][4] Fassbender was raised Catholic, and served as an altar boy[6] at the church his family attended. He has an older sister, Catherine, who works at the University of California, Davis as a neuropsychologist.[7]

Fassbender and his sister spent summer holidays in Germany, and he speaks German fluently.[8] He attended Fossa National School,[9] and St. Brendan's College, both in Killarney, County Kerry.[10] He discovered he wanted to be an actor at age 17 when he was cast in a play by Donal Courtney. At 19, he moved to London to study at the Drama Centre London. In 1999 he dropped out of the Drama Centre and toured with the Oxford Stage Company to perform the play Three Sisters.[7][11]

Career[edit]

Early work[edit]

Fassbender at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave, 2013 Toronto Film Festival

Before he found work as an actor, he had a period of doing "auditions interspersed with bartending stints, [and] postal delivery".[12] Fassbender's first screen role was that of Burton "Pat" Christenson in Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's award-winning WW II television miniseries Band of Brothers (2001).[13] He played the character of Azazeal in both series of Hex on Sky One and starred as the main character in the music video for the song "Blind Pilots," by the British band The Cooper Temple Clause. In the video, he plays the part of a man out with friends on a stag night who slowly transforms into a goat due to wearing a cowbell necklace.[13]

Fassbender played Jonathan Harker in a ten-part radio serialisation of Dracula produced by BBC Northern Ireland and broadcast in the Book at Bedtime series between 24 November and 5 December 2003. He was also seen in early 2004 in a Guinness television commercial, The Quarrel, playing a man who swims across the ocean from Ireland to apologise personally to his brother in New York;[14] this commercial won a gold medal at the 2005 FAB Awards.[15][16]

During the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Fassbender played Michael Collins in Allegiance, a play by Mary Kenny based on the meeting between Collins and Winston Churchill.[17] In addition, he produced, directed, and starred in a stage version of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs,[13] along with his production company.

He appeared in Angel (UK title: The Real Life of Angel Deverell), about the rise and fall of an eccentric young British writer (played by Romola Garai) in the early 20th century. Fassbender plays her love interest, an average painter named Esmé.[13] The drama—the first English-language effort by French director François Ozon and based on the novel by Elizabeth Taylor—premiered on 17 February 2007 at the Berlin International Film Festival and on 14 March 2007 in Paris. He then made a brief appearance in Dean Cavanagh and Irvine Welsh's Wedding Belles as Barney, speaking with a Scottish accent.

Mainstream success[edit]

Fassbender at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival

In 2006, Fassbender played the role of Stelios, a young Spartan warrior, in 300, a fantasy action film directed by Zack Snyder. The film was a commercial success.[18] In preparation for his role as Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's 2008 film Hunger, Fassbender underwent a crash diet that restricted him to 600 calories a day. He received the British Independent Film Award for his performance.[19] One year after his success at the Cannes Film Festival with Hunger, he appeared in two films. The first was Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, in which he played the British officer Lieutenant Archie Hicox. The other film was Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold. Both films were critically acclaimed and Fassbender's work in them also well received.

In 2010, Fassbender appeared as Burke in Jonah Hex, a Western film.[20] In an interview at San Diego Comic-Con International, a comic book convention, Fassbender commented of the role: "I kind of developed this character and really pushed it – I’ll see how far I pushed it ... I had this idea about the character, he’s kind of psychotic, he gets his kicks in perverted ways. I didn’t want to make it very obvious or like something you’ve seen before."[21] Hex received predominately negative reviews.[22] Responding to criticism of Jonah Hex in 2011, Fassbender commented: "Pretty awful, was it? I haven't seen it myself."[23] He portrayed Quintus Dias in Neil Marshall's bloody Roman war-thriller-drama film Centurion.[24] and was cast as 'Richard Wirth' in the Joel Schumacher film Blood Creek alongside Dominic Purcell. The story centres on a West Virginia man who comes to terms with his moral qualms and helps his brother wipe out a family that had been protecting a Nazi occultist and who had kept his brother captive for him to feed off for years. Fassbender played Edward Rochester in the 2011 film Jane Eyre, featuring Mia Wasikowska in the title role, with Cary Fukunaga directing.[25]

Fassbender (right), Megan Fox and Josh Brolin promoting the 2010 film Jonah Hex at Comic-Con in 2009.

Fassbender portrayed Magneto in the superhero blockbuster X-Men: First Class, the prequel to X-Men. Set in 1962, it focuses on the friendship between Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) and Magneto and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film was released on 3 June 2011 to general acclaim and financial success and promoted Fassbender to being more of a popular movie star. In 2011, Fassbender starred in A Dangerous Method by director David Cronenberg, playing Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist Carl Jung. The film premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.[26]

He also starred in Shame, as a man in his thirties struggling with his sexual addiction. Shame reunited him with director Steve McQueen and premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, where Fassbender won a Volpi Cup Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Brandon.[27] Fassbender was a serious contender for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but he was not nominated, and according to various sources his full-frontal nudity and depiction of sexual encounters inspired voters "to fantasize, and not actually vote."[28][29] Fassbender achieved critical acclaim for his performance in Shame and received nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Starring in the film raised Fassbender's profile leading to roles in larger films.

Fassbender (right) with Prometheus co-star Charlize Theron and director Ridley Scott (left) at Wondercon 2012 in Anaheim, California on 17 March 2012

In 2012, he appeared as an MI6 agent in Haywire, an action-thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh,[20] and in Ridley Scott's science fiction film Prometheus. Reviews praised both the film's visual aesthetic design and the acting, most notably Fassbender's performance as the android David. Fassbender played the title role in Ridley Scott's The Counselor, a 2013 film based on the Cormac McCarthy script.[30][31] In 2013, he starred in 12 Years a Slave, his third collaboration with Steve McQueen. Fassbender's portrayal of Edwin Epps earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Fassbender reprised the role of Magneto in X-Men: Days of Future Past (released 23 May 2014), the sequel to X-Men: First Class.[32] Fassbender stars in the title role in Frank (released late summer 2014),[33] a comedy loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, a comic persona created by English comedian Chris Sievey.

Fassbender at the 2013 TIFF

Fassbender co-starred in Slow West, a western starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn, in 2015. He played Silas, an enigmatic traveller.[34] The film has premiered at Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2015.

Fassbender played late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs in the Danny Boyle-directed film Steve Jobs, which began filming in January 2015, in San Francisco, U.S., and premiered in September of that year. The film is an adaptation of Walter Isaacson's book Steve Jobs.[35] The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin. Fassbender became attached after Christian Bale dropped out of the project.[36] His performance saw him nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Fassbender took on the Shakespearean role of Macbeth in a film directed by Justin Kurzel, where he teamed up with Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth and David Thewlis as King Duncan.[37] Filming for the production began in January 2014 and the film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[38]

Fassbender has filmed Trespass Against Us, with fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson.[39] He will also star in The Light Between Oceans, based on the novel written by M. L. Stedman and directed by Derek Cianfrance, which began filming in New Zealand in late September 2014, for theatrical release on an unspecified date in 2016.[40]

Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Justin Kurzel at the Cannes premiere of Macbeth in 2015.

Future projects[edit]

In November 2013, Fassbender announced a sequel to Prometheus, in which he will reprise his role as the android David.[41] Production for the film is scheduled to begin January 2016.[42] He will co-produce and star in the film adaptation of Assassin's Creed along with Marion Cotillard which is set for release on 21 December 2016.[43][44]

In 2015, Fassbender was announced in The Snowman, an adaptation of a Jo Nesbo book directed by Tomas Alfredson and co-starring Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Filming began in January 2016 and the film will hit theaters in 2017.[45]

Together with screenwriter Ronan Bennett, Fassbender has formed a production company, Finn McCool Films. Fassbender and Bennett are currently developing a film about the Irish mythological hero Cú Chulainn.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Shifting between European and North American films, Fassbender resides in east London, where he has lived since 1996.[1][47] Fassbender still lives in the same modest flat in Hackney, East London, that he has owned since his late 20s, when he was struggling to get enough work to make ends meet.[48] He speaks German, though he stated before filming Inglourious Basterds that he had needed to brush up a bit on his spoken German because it was a bit rusty.[49][50] He has also expressed interest in performing in a German language film or theatre production one day.[51] He is a lapsed Catholic.[10][52]

Relationships[edit]

From 2006 to 2008, Fassbender dated the Australian singer Maiko Spencer,[53][54] they lived together in London.[55] From 2008 to 2009, he dated American model Leasi Andrews.[56] In 2011, Fassbender was in a brief relationship with actress Zoë Kravitz, whom he met on the set of X-Men: First Class.[57] Fassbender confirmed he was seeing Nicole Beharie, his co-star in Shame in 2012,[58] though by early 2013 the couple confirmed they had split.[59] In May 2013, he had a brief relationship with British Olympian Louise Hazel.[60] In September 2013, Fassbender started dating actress and model Mădălina Diana Ghenea, but they split in early 2014.[61] Since late 2014, Fassbender has been dating his The Light Between Oceans co-star, actress Alicia Vikander.[62]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 300 Stelios
2007 Angel Esmé Howe-Nevinson
2008 Hunger Bobby Sands British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role - Film
IFTA Rising Star Award
2008 Eden Lake Steve
2009 Blood Creek Richard Wirth
2009 Fish Tank Connor Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Film
2009 Inglourious Basterds Lt. Archie Hicox Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2010 Centurion Quintus Dias
2010 Jonah Hex Burke
2011 Jane Eyre Edward Rochester Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Spotlight Award
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2011 X-Men: First Class Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto National Board of Review Spotlight Award
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2011 A Dangerous Method Carl Jung National Board of Review Spotlight Award
London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2011 Shame Brandon Sullivan Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor
Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Actor
British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role - Film<
London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Spotlight Award
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Seville European Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Volpi Cup
Nominated – AACTA International Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critic's Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2012 Haywire Paul
2012 Prometheus David Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2013 12 Years a Slave Edwin Epps AACTA International Award for Best Supporting Actor
Empire Award for Best Supporting Actor
IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Film
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Supporting Actor (2nd place)
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Guardian Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for Supporting Actor of the Year
Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Village Voice Film Poll Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
2013 The Counselor Counselor Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
2014 1: Life on the Limit Narrator
2014 Frank Frank Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role - Film
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain
2015 Slow West Silas Selleck
2015 Macbeth Lord Macbeth Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
2015 Steve Jobs Steve Jobs Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
North Carolina Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Pending – Academy Award for Best Actor
Pending – AFCA Award for Best Actor
Pending – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor
Pending – Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Actor
Pending – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actor
Pending – Gold Derby Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Pending - Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Pending – Evening Standard British Film Award
Nominated – Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Indiana Film Journalists Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2016 Trespass Against Us Chad Cutler Post-production
2016 The Light Between Oceans Tom Sherbourne Post-production
2016 X-Men: Apocalypse Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto Post-production
2016 Assassin's Creed Callum Lynch and Aguilar Post-production
2016 Untitled Terrence Malick film Post-production[63]
2017 The Snowman Harry Hole Filming[64]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Band of Brothers Burton 'Pat' Christenson 7 episodes
2001 Hearts and Bones Hermann 3 episodes
2002 NCS: Manhunt Jack Silver
2002 Holby City Christian Connolly Episode: "Ghosts"
2003 Carla Rob Television film
2004 A Bear Named Winnie Lt. Harry Colebourn Television film
2004 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot Guy Fawkes Television film
2004 Julian Fellowes Investigates: A Most Mysterious Murder Charles Bravo Television film
2004 Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking Charles Allen Television film
2004–2005 Hex Azazeal 11 episodes
2005 Murphy's Law Caz Miller 5 episodes
2005 Our Hidden Lives German POW Television film
2005 William and Mary Lukasz Episode #3.3
2006 Agatha Christie's Poirot George Abernethie Episode: "After the Funeral"
2006 Trial & Retribution Douglas Nesbitt 2 episodes
2007 Wedding Belles Barney Television film
2008 The Devil's Whore Thomas Rainsborough 4 episodes
Nominated – IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Television

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role
2010 Fable III Logan

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Fairytales Fairytales 123 Cinderella's ugly sister [65]
1995 Reservoir Dogs Mr. Pink Also producer and director[65]
1999 Three Sisters Alexei Petrovich Fedotik
2006 Allegiance Michael Collins [66]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

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