Dissecting Michael Fassbender!

Last Updated on July 31, 2021


Is there a more intimidating and venerated actor in the game right now than Michael Fassbender? Dude's handsome, talented and anyone who's seen SHAME, clearly packing a huge hog. Seriously though, in only 15 short years, this German born, Irish raised chameleonic performer has become, if not the most sought-after A-list actor, certainly not far behind. Leading man, character actor, Fassbender soars at both. And he isn't even 40 yet. We all know of the man's spellbinding turns in outright dramas like HUNGER, SHAME, A DANGEROUS METHOD, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, STEVE JOBS, and more. But let's not forget, since the dude made the transition from UK television to international movie star, Fassy (as he likes to be called) has appeared in such varied genre joints as 300, EDEN LAKE, BLOOD CREEK, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, CENTURION, JONAH HEX, JANE EYRE, HAYWIRE, PROMETHEUS, THE COUNSELOR, MACBETH and no less than two more on the way. No matter what the project, no matter how big or small, this guy is a riveting, realistic natural that has come a mighty long way in a relative short period of time.

So let's give Fassy the AITH treatment he deserves. With ASSASSIN'S CREED coming out this week, what better way to stamp our seal of approval on who's clearly one of the preeminent performers of the day. Merry Christmas lads and lasses, we now Dissect the impressive genre career of one Mr. Michael Fassbender!



If we're strictly talking genre material, we submit that Fassbender's working relationship with Sir Ridley Scott has been the man's most rewarding. His best overall work? Hard to say, but in his two completely different turns under Scott's direction – PROMETHEUS and THE COUNSELOR – Fassy has credibly conveyed characters that couldn't further apart. Let's give them a closer look…

In PROMETHEUS, Fassbender's meticulous movements as David, the eerily lifelike android who serves as de facto housekeeper of the fated Nostromo space vessel, is nothing short of brilliant. The rigid comportment, the perfect posture, the perfunctory speech patterns and finely tunes facial tics, they all add up to perhaps the single most believable onscreen android we've ever seen. WESTWORLD included. And speaking to that, eclipsing Ash (Ian Holm) and Bishop (Lance Henriksen) in ALIEN and ALIENS is no mean feat. Yet we'd argue that's exactly what Fassbender was able to achieve. Word is he spent time studying BLADE RUNNER, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, THE SERVANT, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (seen in the film) and Olympic diver Greg Louganis for robotic inspiration on which to mold his performance. And like Louganis, dude nailed it!

Speaking further of inspiration, it's a fascinating coincidence to note how the spherical helmets that feature prominently in PROMETHEUS were in fact patterned after a Steve Jobs story where he built an entire office out of industrial strength glass, in order to ensure 360 degree vision in the future. Well, just three years after PROMETHEUS, Fassbender of course earned an Oscar nod for playing the title role in STEVE JOBS. The circle of life, yo!


Far less of a critical darling, and sure to met with a raised eyebrow or two, is how high we think THE COUNSELOR ranks among MF Doom's memorable genre run. In fact, the movie was panned by most for being a bit confusing and bleakly nihilistic. But coming from Pulitzer Prize winning scribe Cormac McCarthy, that was exactly the point. Look, heist films are unsentimental by nature, and by that criterion, far more leeway should have been given to Ridley Scott's coldly obdurate 2013 outing. In the film, Fassy plays the title character who gets embroiled in a dangerous web of criminality when he agrees to partake in a high-stakes drug trafficking operation.

With scant dialogue that called for MF to act out a level of anxiety under the cool and calm veneer of a front, doing so through body language and facial expression, we'd argue it's one of the trickiest roles he's ever taken on. It's the kind where you can overlook or tend to under-appreciate the acting, as he makes it look so effortless as to be doing nothing. This couldn't be further from the truth. And even if it isn't among Fassy's finest performances, or even among the best films he's appeared in, that he's forged such a fecund recurring collaboration with Ridley Scott…THE COUNSELOR ought to be regarded with higher esteem!


Skimming over his CV, it's obvious Fassbender has very few weak spots in his 15 year body of work. At least, in cinema. We can't comprehensively speak to his roles in TV early on. That said, when you're fourth on the call sheet for the star-studded but fizzling debacle known as JONAH HEX, yup, you're going to catch some hell. Deservedly so. Word is Fassy based his performance on The Riddler and Alex DeLarge from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Thing is, we can't quite blame any of the actors involved for wanting to partake. Remember, HEX was a beloved graphic novel with a rich back-story for any performer involved to revel in and have some fun. Not to be. The production suffered too much complication that it's considered by many involved to be their worst film. Megan Fox included. If it was the worst for Fox, you bet your balls it was even lower on the pecking order of towering Fassbender roles. Hell, even BLOOD CREEK is better!



I think there's a certain intensity to all of Fassbender's roles that set him apart. Whether he's playing a character who is docile and passive or overtly aggressive, Fassy brings the same level of forceful concentration to each. Of course, there's the fact he tends to work with director Steven McQueen over and over (HUNGER, SHAME, 12 YEARS A SLAVE), and that wide-grinning smile he flashes is quite disarming in damn near every movie he makes, but when all is said, it's the sheer intensity he brings to each part that really stands out. Other consistencies in his work include working with Marion Cotillard (MACBETH, ASSASSIN'S CREED), whom Fassy has said to be the best actress working in cinema today. He's also done four films with Sean Harris, not to mention played two different ancient world warriors in 300 and CENTURION. ASSASSIN'S CREED makes a third!



One of the few outright horror films Fassy starred in was EDEN LAKE, the STRAW DOGS/I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE like 2008 movie written and directed by James Watkins. Costarring Kelly Reilly and Jack O'Connell, EDEN LAKE is an example of execution over originality. See, the plot isn't anything terribly new, but because of the top flight acting by the three involved, Fassbender especially, the material is undeniably elevated to the point of being a more than worthy watch. Fassbender plays Steve, a good-hearted fella looking to propose to his longtime girlfriend during a secluded weekend getaway in the English countryside. A quite, picturesque lake, to be exact. However, once there, the couple is soon approached and tormented by a gang of violent miscreants.

Steve, doing all he can to protect the one person he loves most, is first attacked, brutally so, leaving his fiancé-manqué to be subjected to a series of unimaginable horrors. Their car is destroyed, their belongings pilfered, their humanity left in tatters. Though an early role, Fassbender finds the requisite tone and tenor to make us feel sorry for his character, at the same time as angry enough to warrant his revenge. As always, Fassbender takes what could have been a one-dimensional person on the page and renders the character a living, breathing, fully shaded individual. Check this movie out if you've not already!


And be sure to do the same with HAYWIRE, the lower case Steven Soderbergh action thriller from 2011 that seemingly went unnoticed. As a starring vehicle by the ass-kicking Gina Carano, Fassbender absolutely hijacks the show as one of the mouth-frothing villains the female lead is forced to square with. Don't take it from us alone though, consider what Carano herself had to say about Fassbender's intensity on the film. According to Gina Carano, she was supposed to miss when she threw the vase at Michael Fassbender, but she had an adrenaline rush when they were shooting and smashed the vase against Fassbender's head.

"Fassbender's crazy. He loves that shit," admits Carano. "He had no problem slamming me into anything. Actually, Steven Soderbergh told him once, 'We need to get this shot better when you slam her head into the wall.' And I was like, 'Damn, that thing's not soft!' Soderbergh is behind the camera and he's being really mischievous. He wants something bad to happen… Anyway, we were going for it and [Fassbender] slammed my head so hard into the wall I kind of lost it for a second. I kind of slammed a vase right into Fassbender's face, but he said he knew it was coming because he saw a flash in my eyes. And right after that happened I thought, 'I'm so fired. I'm going to lose this job,' because that was the first fight scene we did. But Fassbender, he loved training for the fight scenes."

And we love Fassbender for the sheer dedication!


Proving he's indeed one of the busiest and bustling actors in the biz, we have three upcoming genre pieces Fassbender is poised to appear in between now and next Christmas. First up, the one that's in theaters later this week. If you've not been paying much attention to the sweeping, huge-scaled videogame spectacle ASSASSIN'S CREED, here's what you really need to know:

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

More exciting for us Arrow in the Headers, we have a sneaking suspicion, is Fassbender's reprisal of the role of David/Walter in ALIEN: COVENANT. That's right, the sequel to PROMETHEUS is not only centered almost entirely around David the robot, but the ship will once again be steered by the great Ridley Scott. Here are the deets:

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world, whose sole inhabitant is the synthetic David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

ALIEN COVENANT lands May 19, 2017.

Last but far from least, Fassbender will take on the role of Harry Hole (that's some name) in the film adaptation of acclaimed Jo Nesbo novel THE SNOWMAN. Even more exciting is how Tomas Alfredson (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY) is directing from a script penned by Hossein Amini (DRIVE). Here's the simple logline for the project:

Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

THE SNOWMAN is slated to drop October 13, 2017.


This just in, I want to be Michael Fassbender. Dude's easily one of the best actors we have right now, a man so diverse, so wise in the projects he chooses, so damn natural no matter what role he plays – big or small, in indie or blockbuster – that it's simply a matter of time before he collects a gold statuette with the name Oscar engraved on it. Dude's that great. Movies like 300, EDEN LAKE, BLOOD CREEK, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, CENTURION, JONAH HEX, JANE EYRE, HAYWIRE, PROMETHEUS, THE COUNSELOR, MACBETH, ASSASSIN'S CREED and soon to be ALIEN: COVENANT and THE SNOWMAN prove such, and that isn't even including the "award worthy" dramas he also does. Most charming yet? Word is Fassbender, despite enjoying great success in the past decade and a half, still resides in the modest English flat he's lived in for 15 years, before becoming an international superstar. Hell, dude played Steve Jobs and reportedly still rocks a screen-cracked iPhone 4. Handsome, humble, hugely talented…we should all aspire to be the Michael Fassbender of our own lives. Dude's a boss!

Source: AITH

About the Author

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie.