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Michael Fassbender likes to take big swings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial risk like “Assassin’s Creed,” the $125-million video game adaptation he produced and starred in or a creative gamble like “Trespass Against Us,” an indie drama (opening in theaters on Friday) about a family of criminals that’s thick with British accents and slang. “The main thing for me is giving everything I can to a project and learning as much as I can from it,” Mr. Fassbender said in a telephone interview from South Africa. “That’s always been my philosophy.”

Mr. Fassbender talked about balancing studio tent poles like the coming sci-fi sequel “Alien: Covenant” with low-budget fare, as well as the recent commercial disappointments of “Assassin’s Creed” and “The Light Between Oceans,” a literary adaptation that sank at the Labor Day box office and grossed only $12.5 million in the United States. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

I’ve watched “Trespass Against Us” twice.

Is that because you couldn’t understand the dialogue? [Laughs]

It’s true, I could’ve used subtitles a few times. What made you want to do this movie?

When I read the script, there was something very fresh about it. There was an energy to the writing. I loved the story of this traveling family and the way they live parallel to the settled community, but there’s very little harmony between the two communities. And you’ve got this family story at the core — a father-son relationship from Brendan Gleeson to my character and from my character to Georgie Smith, who plays my son. It’s about how my character wants something different for his son, and the struggle of breaking away from the old tradition to move with the times.

Brendan Gleeson also plays your father in “Assassin’s Creed.” His character kills your character’s mother. Did you need to keep your distance on the sets from him since your characters have ambivalent relationships?

Not at all. I’ve been a huge fan of Brendan’s since I’m 16. I saw him onstage in Dublin in “Juno and the Paycock” and was really drawn to his presence. I just love the way he embodies characters. We’d met in 2008, and we’ve kept in touch since, and the opportunity to work with him was a real dream come true for me.

Do you plan out your career to alternate between smaller indie films like “Trespass Against Us” and big-budget studio fare like “Assassin’s Creed” and “Alien: Covenant,” or is it just catch-as-catch-can?

A little bit of both. I like the idea of doing both kinds of films. There’s something very immediate and intimate about doing the lower-budget independent films. They move very fast, and it’s pretty exciting. That’s where a lot of the young new talent is coming out, whether it’s writers, directors or actors. I go see both types of films as a movie fan. As a punter, I like action-adventure films as well as something more intimate. There’s something remarkable when you get so many people on a big film and everybody has to jell. It’s like a huge circus family. It’s difficult but very rewarding.

What about your task as an actor? On “Assassin’s Creed,” you were reunited with Marion Cotillard and the director Justin Kurzel from 2015’s “Macbeth.” Do you approach a role based on a video game differently from a role based on Shakespeare?

Essentially, the ingredients are the same. It was different on “Assassin’s Creed,” because I had a producer role. That was a new learning experience for me.

The film has done well internationally, grossing more than $185 million, but its domestic take of less than $54 million is considered underwhelming. How does that affect you? Do you think about your status as a box-office draw?

First of all, I think about it in terms of the people who invested the money, to be honest. You don’t want to dent anybody financially. You want to see people recoup, for sure. Because obviously, if you don’t, that’s a black mark against your name, I suppose, in some respects. You try to learn as much as you can. There’s not much you can do when the film gets released. It’s in the public’s hands.

Last year, “The Light Between Oceans” didn’t make much of a ripple at the box office. Why do you think that is?

Marketing people could answer that question more accurately than me. [Laughs] Maybe people prefer to watch that kind of movie at home. I don’t know, but I’m really proud of the movie. I don’t sit back and think too much about those things. It’s just, does the material interest me or not? Then it’s about giving everything I have to it and hopefully doing my job properly.

You’re working with Ridley Scott for the third time on “Alien: Covenant,” after “Prometheus” and “The Counselor.” You’ve also worked with Mr. Kurzel twice and Steve McQueen three times. What do you get out of working with directors multiple times?

It’s great when you’re on the same wavelength. It makes things a lot easier. Also, to have fun at work is key for me. I work quite a bit, so I like to enjoy the experience. When you come across people who are like-minded and you can have fun, then you want to do it again. [Source]

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