13 Most Compelling Film Roles Of Michael Fassbender - @asifahsankhan

13 Most Compelling Film Roles Of Michael Fassbender

13 Most Compelling Film Roles Of Michael Fassbender - @asifahsankhan

At the age of 40, Michael Fassbender already has an acting career most members of his clan, these days especially, can do little but dream of. His secret? Preventing himself from thinking about anything too much.

In his own words it’s — “Stop Over-Thinking.” — Well, that’s not exactly a secret, but to anyone who’s hurtling toward a lifetime of misery, that can seem like one hell of an advice or a very useful motto, to say the least.

Coming from a guy who actually wanted to be a musician, not an actor?

Yes, and not just any musician, he wanted became like Kirk F*cking Hammett, the legendary Lead-Guitarist of Metallica. Playing guitar in a heavy metal band was the goal, he practiced two hours a day, every day, whenever he could, especially after coming home from school.

That’s not all, in 2003, he appeared in the music video, “Blind Pilots” by British rock band, ‘The Cooper Temple Clause.’

And here’s the kicker: the actor’s last name —Fassbender (in English: a variant of Fassbinder) —is German for “cooper,” a binder or repairer of casks and barrels. How’s that for a Trivia?

But all in all, posting Fassbender-ish trivia isn’t the motto of this article—rather it’s to appreciate his most compelling film roles to date as well as the ones that went unnoticed or received underwhelmingly less exposure and critical acclaim.

Why? Well, for starters, Fassbender (along with Tom Hardy—who’s arguably the acting talent of his generation) is perhaps the two most talented, gifted and fastest rising Actor in recent history of Cinema—and industries all over—received some of his breakout roles in sub-genre films, a cinematic place that only rarely produced tremendous genre-spanning talent.

How fast was it?

Well, the amount of time it took for him to breakout rapidly from being primarily a television actor into a worldly thespian of staggering proportion is relatively shorter than the rest of his pack.

Michael Fassbender - @asifahsankhan (8)

Even more intruding evidence to his fame came last year when he was rumoured to had been tipped as a favourite to land the plum movie role: “James Bond 007” and among all other actors in the running shortlist to take over from Daniel Craig.

Obviously, Fassbender cleared up all the fusses that weren’t as easily frowned upon such as this. But how about that, for the pickle in the middle, huh?

British GQ tossed it about a month later, whether he would sign up as Bond, if he were given the opportunity, the Irish-German star said:

“To be honest, no. As an acting role, I think Daniel has done such a cracking job in this age group … I think the franchise needs something new.” 

And he was actually right about that since the legendary film franchise needed a new spin as Craig had already excelled in 007’s tuxedo and that nobody of Craig’s age could improve the Spectre star’s performance.

(Sidebar: Daniel Craig is still the current 007 who’s widely seen as the best in modern times).

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“Alma Mater”

Michael Fassbender - @asifahsankhan (9)

Michael Fassbender, nicknamed: “Fassy,” —Born: April 2, 1977, in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany, emerged from the prestigious British Drama Centre in King’s Cross, London, where it recently moved after a major reshaping of the university. The school is part of Central Saint Martins, a constituent college of the University of the Arts London and is a member of Drama UK. Which means the BA (Hons) and MA Acting courses, offered by the school, are accredited by Drama UK.

“Fassy” —remains one of the most famous Alumni, he dropped out of the Drama Centre when he got the chance to tour with the Oxford Stage Company. Before he found work as an actor, he worked as a bartender and postman.

Coincidentally, one of his classmates at the time was Tom Hardy. And get this: Hardy once stated that Fassbender was probably the best actor in the school, while Fassbender credits Hardy as being the best actor of his generation.

His earlier roles included various London based stage / theatre productions, as well as starring roles on television such as in the HBO’s Emmy Award winning British-American miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) and the Sky One fantasy drama Hex (2004–05). He first came to prominence for his role as IRA activist Bobby Sands in Hunger (2008), for which he won a British Independent Film Award.

Garnering ecstatic praise both in UK and the United States for his unflinching, intense performances in roles that are often controversial and extraordinarily demanding, one should care to take look at the little things before heading to the big ones, what say? 

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Michael Fassbender - Film Roles - @asifahsankhan

Since his feature film debut as Spartan warrior “Stelios” in the fantasy war epic 300 (2007), he has literally been playing almost every character based roles there is in the book; everything from a Superhero to a Madman to a Lover to a Dying Hero. . .

. . . and to say the least, all of his performances, regardless of the film’s outcome, has been, topnotch!

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Based in London, England, Fassbender became known in the U.S. after his role in the Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009).

His role (alongside his real-life buddy, the Scottish acting talent, James McAvoy, who protracted Sir Patrick Stewart’s “Charles Xavier/Professor X”) in X-Men film series as anti-hero “Erik Lensherr / Magneto

—starting from the prequel X-Men: First Class in 2011 and it’s sequel Apocalypse in 2016 (while eventually sharing his role with English Legend Sir Ian McKellen in between in the 2014 film Days of Future Past), has become one of the most recognized and popular superhero-film-portrayal in the whole Comic-book-cultural-boom of this on-going decade.

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I know you’re wondering either, “so what?” or “then what?”

 . . . and pretty soon you’ll be asking yourself: Apart from all those mainstream films, what else did he ever do? Like before he became a self-proclaimed Frankenstein’s monster?

Michael Fassbender - Film Roles II - @asifahsankhan

Sensitive little indie hits? Check. Powerful, critically-acclaimed dramas with visionary directors? Check, times three. Giant, ball-swinging Hollywood blockbusters in which he gets to fly and fight monsters? Triple check and add two, buster. 

Through a variety of roles, Fassbender has garnered respect from moviegoers and film critics alike, earning his first Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of a slave owner in Steve McQueen’s 2013 film 12 Years a Slave.

While he did not go home with the award, the recognition alone has helped to catapult him into his reputation for endearing and emotional performances.

And so, with the release of Sir Ridley Scott’s surprisingly good, visually stunning and the latest instalment in the long running British franchise epic, Alien: Covenant, I thought it both fits, timely and responsibly, to reflect on the German-Irishman’s greatest films. Though he (hopefully) has many more decades of inspired work ahead of him, this post here, is to, appreciate some of his most compelling roles of his career to date.

The movies on the list are not actually ranked in any officially certified but in a very non-authenticated order; Opinion only. Also a visual description of his entire (mainstream only) filmography is in chronological order which you can see at the botom of this page.

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13 Most Compelling Film Roles Of Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender - Art/Design - by Asif Ahsan Khan - @asifahsankhan

From psychotic plantation owner to Shakespearean king, Fassbender’s finest films includes his finest roles as well. But let’s start with something legendary, one that’s controversial for god knows what reason and one that does not actually rely on Fassy at all, shall we? 

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13. “Alien” Movie Franchise

Michael Fassbender - DAVID 8 / Walter - Alien / Prometheus - @asifahsankhan

If you’ve seen Alien: Covenant, (and if you haven’t, spoilers ahead!) you’ll know that a main part of the story line focuses on two synthetics: David and Walter, both played by the talented Michael Fassbender. Ridley Scott’s masterpiece took on a new turn with, both in a good and a bad way, nevertheless Fassbender was definitely one of the good things to happen to this legendary “Alien Movie Franchise.”

David is our first look at a sentient being gone rogue, disobeying his programming to serve his human companions, and in essence, developing a mind of his own. We’ve seen other sinister synthetics in the franchise (you’ll remember Ash (Ian Holm) from Alien, programmed with the task of discovering and safeguarding the alien life form), but David is the first to disobey the purpose of his creation and develop freely, with his own interests and desires.

It’s a novel idea, considering the fact that a form of artificial intelligence should not be able to develop intentions outside of its programming structure, which is why David is such an exciting character to watch.

We can trace his beginnings back to the prequel, Prometheus (2012), in which David was originally programmed to serve his creator, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), as well as his daughter, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). He was created with emotional sensitivity towards his human companions — in other words, he can understand human emotions, but cannot feel them. But his curiosity for creation overrides his role to serve humans and he becomes relentless in his search, sacrificing human life for the sake of this curiosity.

The “Walter” ad echoes promotion for Scott’s last Alien movie, 2012’s Prometheus; that feature was teased by an ad for Walter’s predecessor, David:

Prometheus (2012)

This behavior comes to a head in Alien: Covenant, where we see David’s true intentions revealed. Ultimately, David was not satisfied with being something created for servitude; rather, he wanted to be a creator himself, a true God among men — the created yearns to be the creator. We see his character juxtaposed with his updated model, Walter.

It seems the engineers at Weyland Industries took a cue from the failings of the David model of synthetic, and upgraded him to the Walter model. Walter lacks the ability to exhibit emotions to the same extent as David and is calibrated to serve, harkening back to the self-sacrificing Bishop model of synthetic (played by Lance Henriksen) from Aliens (1986).

Alien: Covenant (2017)

An actor, acting like a robot, acting like a human…. Puts your last roundly positive staff appraisal into perspective, doesn’t it?

When the two finally meet in Alien: Covenant, David, at first, takes on the role of teacher, trying to awaken Walter to a world of possibilities in which he can do more than just serve his human masters. But Walter sees David is more calculated than that, and soon realizes his true intentions.

This discrepancy between Walter and David (the first one in the franchise that pits synthetic against synthetic) can be looked at as a representation of what the franchise has dealt with since its inception, which is the idea of adaptation, and that only the fittest will survive.

DAVID 8 - Prometheus - Michael Fassbender - @asifahsankhan

David can be seen to embody this, as his ability to function beyond his assigned boundaries has allowed him to continue to exist and further progress. Walter, on the other hand, cannot go beyond his rigid controls and faces more challenges. It’s the same enduring quality possessed by the alien life forms in the franchise. No matter what happens, they continue to survive throughout every film because they are not subject to any boundaries and continue to adapt.

We see this within the human characters as well. Often, the ones who survive the longest operate outside of their established boundaries or “roles,” like Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Characters like Ripley and Daniels (Katherine Waterston) disobey orders that dictate what they’re supposed to do, or protest them, and seem to adapt best to the challenges faced by their crew and the threat posed by the Xenomorph — the ultimate adversary.

Interestingly, Fassbender told Esquire he based his performance as android ‘space butler’ David (and his descendant Walter) on David Bowie and legendary high diver Greg Louganis, proving the Fass is nothing if not eclectic in his approach to getting into character.

This much-needed rehabilitation of Sir Ridley Scott’s franchise relies on his ability to elicit sympathy and wrong-foot the audience almost as much as it does the big, black scary things with tentacles and sharp teeth. He is now absolutely essential to the franchise.

In addition to the video, 20th Century Fox has launched a Meet Walter website that details some of the functionality of the android and released a poster to accompany the promotion, which explains that Walter is “designed to help you and only you achieve the optimal human experience.”


12. 12 Years A Slave (2013)

Chiwetel Ejiofor as "Solomon Northup" and Michael Fassbender as "Edwin Epps" in 12 Years a Slave (2013) - Photo by Francois Duhamel - © 2013 Film4 Productions, London, England.
Chiwetel Ejiofor as “Solomon Northup” and Michael Fassbender as “Edwin Epps” in 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Photo by Francois Duhamel – © 2013 Film4 Productions, London, England.

The slavery epic earning him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. That’s right, his first Oscar nomination (and boy, did he earn it) as a psychotic plantation owner in this history-making modern classic, and his third collaboration with Steve McQueen. The genius of his work here is in showing us Epps as, ultimately, another victim – his soul destroyed by participation in a system built on the commodification of human life.

Lupita Nyong’o’s breakout performance as Patsey will rightly be remembered as the highlight of this 2013 multiple Oscar winner, but Fassbender delivered a nuanced turn of his own as Edwin Epps, the slave owner with a queasy mix of contempt and desire for her. A film full of scenes that are almost impossible to watch, perhaps the bravest moment for Fass was in offering a slither of unlikely humour when he slips in pig shit while chasing Patsey around his plantation.

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejofor in ’12 Years a Slave’ | Credit: Francois Duhamel – © 2013 Film4 Productions, London, England.

The film received widespread critical acclaim, and was named the best film of 2013 by several media outlets. It proved to be a box office success as well, earning over $187 million on a production budget of $22 million.

The film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Nyong’o, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ridley. The Best Picture win made McQueen the first black producer ever to have received the award and the first black director to have directed a Best Picture winner.

McQueen simultaneously also became “Britain’s first black film Producer and Director” ever to have received the two most prestigious awards of the ceremony.

Furthermore, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts recognized it with the Best Film and the Best Actor award for Ejiofor. 

Surely, it’s not Fassbender’s film, but 12 Years A Slave was another tremendous show of faith in Fassbender from director Steve McQueen and one that paid off resulting in one of the finest films of the past ten years.


11. Frank (2014)

For a man as annoyingly handsome as Fass it is perhaps a little ironic that one of his best performances – certainly the most underrated – came from the inside of a giant papier-mâché head, but so it is. In this indie comedy he plays the eccentric titular front man of a band of tortured musos who enlist a new recruit, whose influence causes them to slowly unravel. Funny, warm and wise, Frank – based on real life oddball Frank Sidebottom – is the heart of the film. Fassbender even claimed to enjoy wearing the giant head, presumably because he didn’t have to do any of that tiring ‘face acting’.


10. Macbeth (2015)

Marion Cotillard as
Marion Cotillard as “Lady Macbeth” and Michael Fassbender as “Macbeth” in Macbeth (2015)

Look – if you’re going to do Shakespeare, you might as well do Macbeth with Fassbender as the mad Scottish king in full-on Braveheart arse-kicking mode suffering from PTSD from all those wars and Marion Cotillard as the malevolent Lady whispering in his ear. Director Justin Kurzel’s stayed faithful to the text of the Bard’s original, but infused it with stunning visuals and a blood-thirst that no amount of stage actors with wooden swords, understandably, can match. Did Fassbender kill it as one of the greatest tragic anti-heroes in literary history? Of course he did.

Macbeth is simultaneously one of the more desired roles and one of the most difficult to do justice. As he is drawn between his desire for power and his guilt for his pursuit of that power, Macbeth’s conflict sees his descent into inescapable insanity.

Fassbender is able to show this beautifully, with every line delivered as if for the first time. That is terribly difficult to do when approaching the works of Shakespeare. His approach to the classic tale is one that is both intricately conceived and elementally carnal.


9. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Michael Fassbender as British Army Lieutenant "Archie Hicox," personally picked out by Sir Winston Churchill to go undercover as a German Captain to obtain important information on the Third Reich from von Hammersmark regarding operation "KINO" and Diane Kruger as the popular UFA actress "Bridget von Hammersmark" in Quentin Tarantino's fictionalised WWII film, Inglourious Basterds (2009). It is through her connections that the Bastards are able to infiltrate Shosanna Dreyfus's cinema which will be occupied by most of the German high command.
Michael Fassbender as British Army / Royal Marines Lieutenant “Archie Hicox,” personally picked out by Sir Winston Churchill to go undercover as a German Captain to obtain important information on the Third Reich from von Hammersmark regarding operation “KINO” and Diane Kruger as the popular UFA actress “Bridget von Hammersmark” in Quentin Tarantino’s fictionalised WWII film, Inglourious Basterds (2009). It is through her connections that the Bastards are able to infiltrate Shosanna Dreyfus’s cinema which will be occupied by most of the German high command.

Fassbender really hams it up to play Bond-esque British Army/Royal Marines officer Archibald “Archie” Hicox in Quentin Tarantino’s historically dubious WWII epic. At once ridiculously over-the-top and yet strangely convincing, Hicox’s British stiff-upper lip attitude is almost as impressive as the dashing moustache that adorns it.

He might look and sound like a UKIP stripagram, but we can’t help but wonder if he’s the smoothest man in cinema history. On the other hand, it also reminds us of how Quentin Tarantino have a great instinct for talent, he knows how to match performers with roles which utilize their strengths. This is never more apparent than when he cast Fassbender as a British spy in his fictionalized reimagining of history. The film was utter fantasised version WWII (100% historically inaccurate) but the role of Lt. Archie Hicox, while brief, provided the actor with an international audience, unlocking the door to many opportunities in the film industry.

Fassbender’s take on both the British and German Soldier revolved around his calm reverence, even in the face of certain death at the hands of the enemy. He is smooth and collected, calling to mind agents from classic British spy movies.


8. “X-Men” Film Series (2011—)

First Class (2011), Days of the Future Past (2014) and Apocalypse (2016)

Inheriting a role from Sir Ian McKellen is a pant-cacking prospect in its own right, but a reverently-adored villain in one of the most celebrated comic book series of all-time? That takes balls. But this was a prequel, meaning Fassbender could reinvent war-mongering super villain Magneto in any way he saw fit – and with the help of a politically prescient backstory and an impressive script, Fass manages to bring sympathy and humanity to a man who will become increasingly incapable of either.

♠ Note: I’ve only given my attention to the first film in the series, X-Men: First Class, since it was the best we’ve seen of “Erik Lehnsherr” so far.  

(Sidebar: Okay, the prequel could’ve been a McAvoy show all in all if it didn’t have Fassbender in it.)

In the previous X-Men films, Sir Ian McKellan had made the role of the intelligent, determined mutant villain Magneto his own. When the prequel to the first X-flick was cast, Michael Fassbender was given quite a challenge in playing a younger version of this iconic baddie. The relative screen newcomer was more than up to the task. He added something new to the character: a sexy, bad-boy “vibe,” a considerable task with Kevin Bacon giving a similar feel to the film’s main villain, Sebastain Shaw.

ERIK - MAGNETO - @asifahsankhan

One tense scene set in a South American bar is quite memorable. It isn’t long before he crosses paths with James McAvoy’s altruistic Charles Xavier. In their quest to locate more mutants the two form quite a great team. Some reviewers have suggested that a repressed romance between the two is hinted (check out the deleted scene as they recruit Angel).

It isn’t long before Charles and Erik finally clash over their views of humanity and the men part ways. . .

With his dapper 60’s duds, Erik seems almost an super-powered James Bond, who’s more compelling than Charles, the Professor himself.

The upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2018) will see Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy all return to the X-Mansion one more time.

The core cast of the movie – which is director Simon Kinberg’s adaptation of the iconic X-Men comic story The Dark Phoenix Saga – will also bring back Nicholas Hoult as Dr Hank McCoy (aka The Beast), according to Deadline.

Around the time of the first Wolverine spin-off, there was talk of a Magneto solo flick. On the contrary though, at least we got to see this happen on national television:

McAvoy - Fassbender - Jackman - Jammin' it up! - @asifahsankhan

Let’s do hope that if this comes to fruition, Mr. Fassbender will agree to don that Cerebro-blocking helmet a few more times.


7. Jane Eyre (2011)

Michael Fassbender as "Edward Rochester" and Mia Wasikowska as "Jane Eyre" in Cary Joji Fukunaga's Jane Eyre (2011).
Michael Fassbender as “Edward Rochester” and Mia Wasikowska as “Jane Eyre” in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre (2011).

A Rochester can only be as good as his Jane, and Fassbender was blessed with an ideal co-star, a never more brittly alluring Mia Wasikowska, in this for-the-ages Brontë adaptation from Cary Fukunaga. The actor is both beauty and beast in this, and stalks around Thornfield Hall like a partially transformed werewolf, oozing tortured magnetism and making memories of Rochesters past evaporate on contact.

Everyone remembers the sections in Charlotte Bronte’s novel of Jane’s (Mia Wasikowska) childhood, of Jane being a governess at Thornfield and falling in love with Mr. Rochester, and then bolting. Fassbender conveys such agony after her leaving – the type you feel when you are in love with somebody. Wasikowska and Fassbender scenes together are played out so beautifully. It’s tender, romantic, sexy, and exciting – the sparks fly. Fassbender’s take on the gruff, dark character goes part and parcel with his sexual charisma.

If you’ve ever read the book, then go watch the movie. You’ll never think of JANE EYRE again without picturing Fassbender in your mind as Rochester.


6. A Dangerous Method (2011)

A Dangerous Method, dir. David Cronenberg (2011)
Michael Fassbender as “Carl Gustav Jung” and Keira Knightley as “Sabina Spielrein” in “A Dangerous Method,” 2011.

Trying to capture the essence of an actual person on film can be a risky move. You have to display the quirks which made them unique without turning them into a caricature. As Carl Jung, Fassbender had to examine the complex nature of the man of science who was conflicted by his desires.

“There must be more than one hinge into the universe.” —Carl Gustav Jung.

Fassbender dons circular-rimmed glasses, moustache and pocket watch to play a sleek and professional Carl Jung opposite the extremely talented Viggo Mortensen and his chilling portrayal of Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s 2002 stage play.


5. Steve Jobs (2015)

Fassbender as Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, in the 2015 Danny Boyle film of the same title.
Fassbender as Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, in the 2015 Danny Boyle film of the same title.

“Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.” — There is an vibrant energy driving this movie, much of which seems to be hinged on Fassbender’s shoulders. He paints Jobs as a visionary, but also as a meticulous control freak who isn’t understanding of reality failing to meet his impossible expectations.

At no point in the film does Fassbender make the case that we should empathize with Jobs. He simply allows the audience to see a snapshot of a character as he deals with obstacles both real and perceived. Fassbender effortlessly moves through Aaron Sorkin’s fast dialogue and creates an atmosphere which is mesmerizing.

The film opened worldwide to critical acclaim. Individuals close to Steve Jobs such as Steve Wozniak and John Sculley would praise the film’s performances, but the film also received criticisms for its inaccuracy in some of its scenes.

Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress and Sorkin won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay at the 73rd Golden Globes, while Fassbender and Winslet both received nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, at the 88th Academy Awards.


4. Shame (2011)

MIchael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in Shame (2007)
MIchael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in Shame (2007)

Fassbender’s second collaboration with Steven McQueen after Hunger was an equally brutal examination of flesh and appetite, this time centred around sex addiction.

“Shame” — proved critically divisive, Fassbender’s performance as Brandon, a charming but emotionally stunted New York executive addicted to porn, prostitutes and masturbation was unanimously praised.

While outshone somewhat by Carey Mulligan’s troubling turn as his unstable sister Sissy, Shame nevertheless reminded the world post X-Men that Fassbender can act with the best of them.


3. Fish Tank (2009)

2009 Michael Fassbender as Connor in “Fish Tank”
Michael Fassbender as Connor in “Fish Tank” 2009.

“Fish Tank” is undeniably one of the greatest “British films of 21st Century.” Andrea Arnold’s piercing “Fish Tank” is the portrait of an angry, isolated 15-year-old girl who is hurtling toward a lifetime of misery. She is so hurt and lonely, we pity her. Her mother barely even sees her. The film takes place in a bleak British public housing estate, and in the streets and fields around it. There is no suggestion of a place this girl can go to find help, care or encouragement.

In the worst of all things, Fassbender, with his magnetic charm and powerful screen presence, is able to make the audience for a connection with even an otherwise despicable character. Connor O’Reily, an initially charming father figure, begins a sexual relationship with his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, Mia.

As the audience, we see the world through Mia’s eyes, as her perception of Connor shifts from admiration to disgust. Fassbender is able to balance this transformation with inspired subtlety and enraged anxiety. While he tries to keep the affair hidden from the rest of the family, we are afraid as we anticipate what evils he is willing to commit in order to do so.

In a film so tightly focused, all depends on Katie Jarvis’ performance. There is truth in it. She lives on an Essex housing estate like the one in the movie, and she was discovered by Arnold while in a shouting match with her boyfriend at the Tilbury train station, which is seen in the movie. Now 18, she gave birth to a daughter conceived when she was 16.

We can fear, but we can’t say, that she was heading for a life similar to the one Mia seems doomed to experience. Her casting in this film, however, led to Cannes, the Jury Prize, and contracts with British and American agents. She is a powerful acting presence, flawlessly convincing here. And Arnold, who won an Oscar for her shattering short film “Wasp” (2003), also about a neglectful alcoholic mother, deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.


2. Slow West (2015)

At times slow (and definitely set in the West), what could be a dreary, navel-gazing, critic-cloying pastiche of the Wild West is instead a funny and absorbing buddy road movie with stand-out acting, particularly from yer man Fass (Irish accent optional).

He dials his usual furious, blue-eyed intensity down several thousand notches for his portrayal of a charming bounty hunter with questionable morals, who chooses to escort a naïve Scotsman through the American badlands. Fassbender’s deadpan delivery and steady unlayering of character make this role one of his finest and funniest.


1. Hunger (2008)

Hunger is known for its unbroken 17 minute 10 second continuous shot, in which Catholic priest Father Dominic Moran tries to talk Bobby Sands out of the Hunger Strike he and his fellow 75 IRA members plan to start. The camera remains in the same position throughout the scene. To prepare, Liam Cunningham moved into Michael Fassbender's apartment, and they rehearsed the scene 12-15 times per day. On the first day of filming, the actors got it perfect after 4 takes. Michael Fassbender had to go on a medically monitored crash diet to portray Bobby Sands.
Hunger is known for its unbroken 17 minute 10 second continuous shot, in which Catholic priest Father Dominic Moran tries to talk Bobby Sands out of the Hunger Strike he and his fellow 75 IRA members plan to start. The camera remains in the same position throughout the scene. To prepare, Liam Cunningham moved into Michael Fassbender’s apartment, and they rehearsed the scene 12-15 times per day. On the first day of filming, the actors got it perfect after 4 takes. Michael Fassbender had to go on a medically monitored crash diet to portray Bobby Sands.

The film that kicked off a beautifully wretched artist-and-muse partnership that now includes Shame and 12 Years a Slave, if you see Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender on the credits then you know that you’re in for an emotional ride.

A triumphant directorial debut for the Turner Prize-winning British video artist Steve McQueen, Hunger has subsequently won awards at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. The film is extraordinary, as is Fassbender’s central performance as the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. By that time, Fassbender went through a series of sci-fi, sword-and-sandal and slasher movies. This latest role, as the IRA hunger striker, a part which he starved himself for 10 weeks to play, meant he will be taken seriously from now on.

“I lost about 14 kilos and weighed 59 kilos by the end. It was the only way we could do it and make it convincing.” —Fassbender told The Irish Times in 2008.

Deftly – and devastatingly – charting the true-life story of Bobby Sands, an IRA prisoner who, in 1981, chose to go on hunger strike after being refused status as a political prisoner, Fassbender’s is a searing, skin-crawling turn that features one of the most intense single-shots you’re ever likely to see in the unbroken 17-minute frame of a priest imploring Sands to not go on hunger strike.

Hunger is Intense Fassbender™ at the peak of his mad-eyed powers.

So much of Fassbender’s performance in this film is physical, beginning with the transformation that he subjected his body to for the role and carrying over into every flinch and grimace that characterized the agony of Sands. As a member of the Irish Political Army and a political prisoner, Sands becomes a symbol for the hardships faced in the name of liberty.

A true test of an actor’s ability in any given role is based on how easily their part could be recast. In the case of Bobby Sands, no other performer could provided the energy and humanity which Fassbender so seamlessly brought to the set. The film did not receive the international accolades fitting of its compelling storytelling, but it did see Fassbender win the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor.


Honorable Mention:

The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans (2016)
Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans, the tenderful film from Derek Cianfrance, is mostly set on Janus Rock, a wind-bitten, froth-flecked island 100 miles off the coast of Australia. As I watched, I my face felt raw and stung with salt, which had something to do with its vivid evocations of landscape and climate, but perhaps more with the steady stream of tears that began trickling down my cheeks after half an hour or so and didn’t stop until after the lights came up.

Cianfrance, the director of Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, has come to Venice with a tour de force weepie – albeit one that loses none of the moral intricacy and novelistic scope of his earlier work, nor its curiosity about the fragile fastenings between one generation and the next. (It’s his first film to actually be based on a novel, the same-titled debut by the Australian author M L Stedman.)

Better still, it comes spiced with the curtain-twitching pleasure of seeing a real-life couple playing one on screen – and given the couple in question are Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, thoughtful cinema-owners may wish to have cold compresses and jugs of iced water on hand, and perhaps also a wrenched-open fire hydrant in the foyer.

Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans (2016)
Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Ever wonder how challenging it must be to be one half of a famous couple—he has been dating his Light Between Oceans costar, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, since late 2014—but he assured the fact that it is, in fact, very simple, because they have chosen not to talk about their partnership. They’re each willing to acknowledge that the relationship exists and to repeat kind and respectful platitudes about how hardworking and inspiring the other is. But neither is willing to betray anything intimate. It is hard to argue with the logic of having a self-protective approach toward people he loves.

(Fassbender, resides in London, England, is also close to his family—his parents, who still live in Ireland, and his sister, who lives in California).

⇒There’s an old video from 2009, (if you’re interested in getting to know the guy a little better), it’s an interview/screen test obtained by The New York Times, where the then-emerging-star talks about movies that influenced him and his obsession with TV theme songs: Here

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And here’s a quick look at Fassbender’s impressive filmography
(2007—Present)

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Initially, this post should have had something like “Meeting Michael” planted somewhere in it… As the key to understanding of Michael’s character… the man who combines the features of two very different peoples… German… Irish… and a whole lotta’ British. But, after one meeting with the real person, not distorted by interviews in newspapers and magazines, everything changes at first, last and all the time… And you understand that you can no longer permit yourself a lot of things. . . that’s Fassbender.

Thank you,

Asif Ahsan Khan

"PEACE was NEVER an OPTION" - Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto - Image Credit: @asifahsankhan

© 2017 Asif Ahsan Khan. ® All Rights Reserved.

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