Michael Fassbender

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Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender by Gage Skidmore 2015.jpg
Fassbender at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International
Born (1977-04-02) 2 April 1977 (age 38)
Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Residence Hackney, London, England, UK[1]
Nationality German–Irish
Alma mater Drama Centre London (dropped out)
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1994–present

Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977)[2] is a GermanIrish actor of stage and screen whose oeuvre 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 dramedy Frank (2014) as the title character, 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 director Steve McQueen, who also directed Hunger and Shame. In addition to Prometheus, Fassbender has appeared in another film by Ridley Scott: The Counselor (2013).

As well as acting, Fassbender produced the 2015 western Slow West which he also starred in. His upcoming projects included playing the titular role in the 2015 Justin Kurzel-directed adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth and Steve Jobs in the Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin biopic of the same name (2015), as well as reprising the role of Magneto a third time in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).

Early life and education[edit]

He 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 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 Donie 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]


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.

In 2012, he appeared as an MI6 agent in Haywire, an action-thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh,[20] and in the 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 The Counselor, a 2013 film directed by Ridley Scott, and 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.[32][33] Fassbender reprised the role of Magneto in X-Men: Days of Future Past (released 23 May 2014), the sequel to X-Men: First Class.[34] Fassbender stars in the title role in Frank (released late summer 2014),[35] a comedy loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, a comic persona created by English comedian Chris Sievey.

Future projects[edit]

Fassbender at the 2013 TIFF

Fassbender completed production on Slow West, a western starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn in 2014. He plays Silas, an enigmatic traveller.[36] The film has premiered at Sundance Film Festival on 24 January 2015. It was announced in 2013 that Fassbender will take on the Shakespearean role of Macbeth in a film directed by Justin Kurzel, where he will team up with Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth.[37] Filming for the production began in January 2014.[38] This film has yet to be released. 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.[39]

Fassbender announced in November 2013 that there will be a sequel to Prometheus where he will reprise his role as the android David.[40] Production for the film is scheduled to begin January 2016.[41] 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.[42][43]

After winning his third IFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor in 12 Years a Slave, Fassbender confirmed that he will start filming Trespass Against Us with fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson.[44] His next film, titled The Light Between Oceans based on the novel written by M. L. Stedman, began filming in New Zealand with director Derek Cianfrance in late September 2014, for theatrical release sometime in 2015.[45] In the end of 2014 filming of the movie has completed. In January 2015, filming of Steve Jobs has started in San Francisco, US. Fassbender plays the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs in this Danny Boyle-directed adaptation of Walter Isaacson's book Steve Jobs.[46] The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin. Fassbender is attached after Christian Bale dropped out of the project.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Shifting between European and North American films, Fassbender resides in East London where he has lived since 1996.[1][48] 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.[49] 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.[50][51] He has also expressed interest in performing in a German-language film or theatre production one day.[52] He is a lapsed Catholic.[10][53]

In 2011 Fassbender was in a relationship with actress Zoë Kravitz, whom he met on the set of X-Men: First Class.[54] Fassbender confirmed he was dating Nicole Beharie, his co-star in Shame in 2012, though by early 2013 the couple confirmed they had split.[55][56] In September 2013, Fassbender started dating actress and model Mădălina Diana Ghenea, but they split in early 2014.[57] Since late 2014, Fassbender has been in a relationship with Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.[58][59][60]


Feature films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 300 Stelios
Angel Esmé Howe-Nevinson
2008 Hunger Bobby Sands British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Eden Lake Steve
2009 Blood Creek Richard Wirth
Fish Tank Connor Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Inglourious Basterds Lt. Archie Hicox
2010 Centurion Quintus Dias
Jonah Hex Burke
2011 Jane Eyre Edward Rochester
X-Men: First Class Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
A Dangerous Method Carl Gustav Jung
Shame Brandon Sullivan British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Volpi Cup
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
2012 Haywire Paul
Prometheus David Nominated– Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2013 12 Years a Slave Edwin Epps AACTA International Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor
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
The Counselor Counselor
2014 1: Life on the Limit Narrator Documentary
Frank Frank Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
X-Men: Days of Future Past Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto Role shared with Ian McKellen; Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain
2015 Slow West Silas Selleck
Weightless Post-production[61]
Macbeth Macbeth
Trespass Against Us Chad Cutler Post-production
The Light Between Oceans Tom Sherbourne Post-production
Steve Jobs Steve Jobs Post-production
2016 X-Men: Apocalypse Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto Post-production
Assassin's Creed Callum Lynch / Aguilar Filming


Fassbender was at the Top Gear studios in Surrey, England, on 8 February 2012 to film Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, where celebs try to set a fastest lap time of the Top Gear test track in a low-spec family hatchback. The lap and his interview with Jeremy Clarkson was aired on BBC2 on 19 February 2012. Fassbender narrated the 2014 F1 movie-documentary 1: Life on the Limit.

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Band of Brothers Burton 'Pat' Christenson Miniseries
Hearts and Bones Hermann 3 episodes
2002 NCS Manhunt Jack Silver
Holby City Christian Connolly 1 episode
2003 Carla Rob
2004 A Bear Named Winnie Lt. Harry Colebourn
Gunpowder, Treason & Plot Guy Fawkes
Julian Fellowes Investigates: A Most Mysterious Murder Charles Bravo
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking Charles Allen
2004–2005 Hex Azazeal 12 episodes
2005 Murphy's Law Caz Miller 5 episodes
Our Hidden Lives German POW
William and Mary Lukasz 1 episode
2006 Poirot: After the Funeral George Abernethie 1 episode
Trial & Retribution: Sins of the Father Douglas Nesbitt
2007 Wedding Belles Barney
2008 The Devil's Whore Thomas Rainsborough Miniseries

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Fable III Logan Voice


Year Production Playwright Role Notes
1994 Fairytales Fairytales 123 Donie Courtney Cinderella's ugly sister Stage debut[62]
1995 Reservoir Dogs Based on script by Quentin Tarantino Mr. Pink Also producer and director[62]
1999 Three Sisters Anton Chekhov Alexei Petrovich Fedotik Performances: Oxford Stage Company
2006 Allegiance Mary Kenny Michael Collins Performances: Edinburgh Festival Fringe[63]

Awards and nominations[edit]


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  58. ^ Template:Cite but later broke up. web
  59. ^ Template:Cite As of August 2015, Fassbender is in a relationship with Anoud Alsheikh. Aweb
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External links[edit]