Michael Fassbender (born 2 April 1977) is a German-Irish actor. His most popular roles include Lieutenant Archie Hicox in the film Inglourious Basterds (2009), Magneto in the superhero film X-Men: First Class (2011), and the android David in the science fiction film Prometheus (2012).
His other credits include the fantasy action film 300 (2007); the drama film Fish Tank (2009); the romantic drama film Jane Eyre (2011); the historical film A Dangerous Method (2011), the biographical film Hunger (2008) and the drama film Shame (2011), both directed by Steve McQueen. For his role in Shame, he won the Volpi Cup best-actor award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival held in August 2011 along with being nominated for a Golden Globe Award and BAFTA.
Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. His mother, Adele, is from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, and his father, Josef Fassbender, is German. According to Fassbender’s “family lore”, his mother is the great-great-niece of Michael Collins, an Irish leader during the War of Independence. 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. Fassbender was brought up as a Roman Catholic and served as an altar boy. He attended St. Brendan’s College, Killarney (The Sem) and the Drama Centre London.
Fassbender first played the part of Burton “Pat” Christenson in Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s award-winning television miniseries Band of Brothers. He played the character of Azazeal in both series of Hex on Sky One and he also 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 on a stag night with his friends, only to slowly transform into a goat due to wearing a cowbell necklace.
Fassbender played the part of Jonathan Harker in a ten-part radio serialization 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 apologize personally to his brother in New York.
During the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Fassbender played Michael Collins in Allegiance, a play by Mary Kenny based on the meeting between Winston Churchill and Collins. In addition, he produced, directed and starred in the stage version of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, 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 and average painter Esmé. 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 Wedding Belles as Barney, speaking with a Scottish accent.
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. 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. 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. 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”. Hex received predominately negative reviews. Responding to criticism of Jonah Hex in 2011, Fassbender commented: “Pretty awful, was it? I haven’t seen it myself.” He also portrayed Quintus Dias in Neil Marshall’s war-thriller-drama film Centurion. and was cast as ‘Richard Wirth’ in the Joel Schumacher film Blood Creek alongside Dominic Purcell. The story centers 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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. In 2012, he appeared in Haywire, an action-thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh, and in the science fiction film Prometheus.
Due to a schedule conflict, Fassbender had to pull out of negotiations to work with Oscar-winning director, Danny Boyle, in his new film, Trance. Fassbender signed to star in actor Brendan Gleeson’s directorial debut of At Swim-Two-Birds, a film adaptation of Irish author Flann O’Brien’s novel. He will also team up for a third time with McQueen to co-star as slave owner Edwin Epps with Chiwetel Ejiofor, portraying Solomon Northup, in Twelve Years A Slave. 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. In February 2012, Fassbender signed on to play a title role as a lawyer in The Counselor, a film directed by Ridley Scott and based on the Cormac McCarthy script. Filming is currently in progress as of September 2012. Fassbender will reprise the role of Magneto in the sequel to X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will be released on 18 July 2014. Living up to a reputation as much sought after actor, Michael will star as Thomas Wolfe in, Genius, about literary editor Max Perkins, to be played by Colin Firth. Fassbender will play a large part in and co-produce the upcoming film adaptation of the Assassin’s Creed video game series. He has been cast as the leader of an eccentric rock band in the upcoming comedy film Frank. Fassbender has also signed on to star alongside Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun, a western to be produced by Handsomecharlie Films and 1821 Pictures.