Currently in Australia filming the latest Alien/Prometheus saga under the direction of Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender (or Fassy to his friends) reprises Magneto in the new X-Men installment with more rage harnessed than ever before.
Of German and Irish descent, Michael made his first in many major cinematic impressions in 300 as part of the bare-chested battle-weary Spartan clan alongside Gerard Butler. Nominated for two Academy Awards (12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs) he is notoriously admired for his outstanding dramatic roles from classics Jane Eyre or Macbeth to literally letting it all hang out in Shame. Scandalous to say the least, the controversial film featuring his sex-addicted character partaking in an unusually close relationship with his sister and full frontal zooming camera shots brought a tear to the eye and global recognition. Quentin Tarantino chose him for the bilingual double agent officer helping Brad Pitt trick the menacing Nazi’s during Inglorious Basterds. In the under-appreciated art house hit Frank, he sings while wearing a huge papier-mache head the entire film.
As part of the reboot of Fox’s X-Men universe, playing the younger version of Magneto originated by Sir Ian McKellan in three previous adventures, pop culture status beckoned. Talking to him on the Sydney blue carpet for X-Men Apocalypse was a pleasure. As cool as it was talking all things mutant and at $22 on betting markets to play the next James Bond, I simply couldn’t not ask him if he was interested if offered the role.
Erik digs deep into a serious emotional side here. Did you use that to develop Magneto?
Michael Fassbender: There was the arc of him in the comic books which I followed and always found interesting concerning his hatred of the human race, determined to wipe them out. So that seemed like a really key component to his character. Simon [Kinberg] and I were talking on a plane heading to Russia for Days of Future Past, and we started spit balling that idea seeing him in a different environment in the beginning as a regular guy really living a family life, no longer partaking in world domination, until that incident of course which changes everything.
You mostly work with some of the new cast member mutants in this one, how were they as opposed to the regulars you’re so familiar with?
Great, professional, fantastic lovely young bunch of actors, really sweet. I think it was really important for us to make them feel welcome, at ease and relaxed right at home, the same way we felt like when coming into the X-Men universe on First Class.
Great cameo from Australia’s Hugh Jackman. Has he invited you into Wolverine 3 for a Magneto walk on?
No, he has not. (laughs) I will be talking to him. Unfortunately I did not get to do anything with him this time, but we had a lot of fun on Days of Future Past. He’s an amazing person; what he has done with Wolverine is phenomenal owning that character. Also with the right script and decent material, I would be down for a Magneto standalone film for sure.
I believe there were a few onset pranks with fellow cast. Did you get involved?
Impossible not to, especially the BB guns on the go. Every time you came out of your trailer, you could expect to be attacked. I had a Ned Kelly moment actually when four of them backed me into the trailer, poking my head out of a gap in the door, Nicholas Hoult shot me right in the neck. It took the wind out of me but we did wear protective eyewear that’s important.
What do you think is the reason people just love these movies?
Primarily I think it’s people feeling pushed to the outskirts of society or not accepted, feeling awkward. All of those things are universal themes, which draws people to it. The cool superpowers they have are a blast, but the individuality at the core is what attracted me to it also.
I’m sure you have been asked this before. If you could have a superpower what would it be?
I’ll just take a tail. (laughs) Quite happy with that, I’d use it for balance and as an extra hand (laughs), but primarily balance.
You have been nominated for two Oscars so far. How does it feel to be recognized for your work?
Honored, I feel very lucky to be in this position that I’m in. To get the recognition is like a cherry on top.
I admire Shame and your work with (director) Steve McQueen. Any projects coming up again with him?
Yes, if he ever needs me I’m there. It’s that simple. I love Steve; he’s the best, and the man changed my life, so he just needs to tell me where and when.
You haven’t done much comedy. Is that something you would be interested in?
Yes, definitely keen to do comedy.
If offered the James Bond role, would you seriously consider it?
To be honest with you, I think they should reboot the James Bond series and go back to his origins as a soldier. I’ve got a great idea for it actually, so Barbara Broccoli (007 producer), talk to me. (laughs)