(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)
by Saidah Russell
March 4, 2012
The end of the Oscars marks the end of another awards season filled with its share of victories, as well as disappointments—perhaps none more bitter (depending on whether you’re camp Davis or Streep) than the snubbing of Michael Fassbender for his devastating and shockingly vulnerable portrayal of long-suffering sex addict Brandon Sullivan in Shame. For those of you who have only recently become aware of the actor, well, let’s just say there’s a lot to learn. Last year was certainly a breakout year for Fassbender with the release of four films (Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, and Shame), a feature in GQ as the magazine’s pick for Breakout Man of the Year, and a Golden Globe nomination. Though he didn’t win the award, the nomination and subsequent publicity have done much to garner Fassbender some well-deserved attention. But, unfortunately, there are still those among us—those non-believers—who may need some convincing. So whether you’re reading this for validation or proof of the wonder that is Michael Fassbender, here are a few reasons why we love him and why you should, too.
1. He’s earned our affections.
While new to mainstream audiences, Fassbender’s career in film and television wasn’t made overnight. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, the actor moved to Ireland at age two. He described himself as a somewhat unruly child, more comfortable outdoors than indoors, and not especially fond of the classroom setting. Like most teenagers, he had vague plans for life after secondary education—plans to study journalism, architecture, or law. Luckily for him (and us), what he stumbled upon instead were weekly community drama and comedy classes, which turned into small roles in pub theatre and pantomimes, and on from there. Suffice to say, something clicked. Ultimately, Fassbender enrolled in the Drama Centre of London to focus on acting full-time. However, it wasn’t until he was cast in Steven Spielberg’s HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) that Fassbender was able to get his foot in the door, and even then the grip was tenuous. The actor describes his life in the aftermath of Band of Brothers as “skid row,” considering that “all the money was gone and I hadn’t been working for a year.” His life as a struggling actor was supplemented by bartending and small roles until 2008, when he was cast as IRA volunteer Bobby Sands in Hunger (2008). The film—and more importantly, Fassbender’s performance in it—established his reputation as a powerful cinematic presence, as well as his relationship with artist and Hunger filmmaker Steve McQueen—a director/actor partnership which seems to be developing into something comparable to that of Scorsese/De Niro. Fassbender has certainly come a long way since community theatre in Ireland and shows few signs of slowing down anytime soon.
2. He’s not a snob.
After the release and subsequent acclaim of Hunger, Fassbender faced an important choice: embrace the world of lesser-known, more highly regarded “deep” cinema, or diversify. Looking at the trajectory of his work since Hunger, it seems he chose the latter, which brings us to the second reason why we love Michael Fassbender: he doesn’t discriminate. His range in the types of movies he does spans to include historical drama, war movie, science-fiction-thriller, and comic book movie, among others. The more serious filmgoer can enjoy and appreciate his work in films like Shame and Fish Tank (2009), while the more mainstream audience can come to associate the actor with his roles in X-Men: First Class and 300 (2006). What this means is that Fassbender, if all goes well, will most likely end up with a fan base as diverse as his film choices. This is obviously great for him, but it holds significance for the film industry, as well, especially if mainstream audiences choose to enter the world of underground film due to a certain amount of Michael Fassbender-centered devotion. (I’m sure plenty of X-Men fans walked away from Shame thinking they’d seen way more of Magneto than they ever wanted to). Michael Fassbender is the kind of actor who gains audience devotion trans-genre due to the honesty and bravery he brings to each role.
3. The nickname.
How could anyone pass up the opportunity to join the ranks of the Fassinators? Truly, it is one of the cleverest fan nicknames in recent years.
If these reasons leave you unconvinced, then perhaps the countless nominations and wins for his role in Shame will do a little more to sway your opinion. In addition to critical attention, Fassbender has also had the opportunity to work under members of the Hollywood elite: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds, 2009), David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), Steven Soderbergh (Haywire, 2012), Ridley Scott (Prometheus, to be released this June), and an upcoming third collaboration with McQueen. Given the evidence, the conclusion seems a bit obvious. He’s talented, dedicated, and unafraid of challenging his audience. If you’ve yet to fall in love with Michael Fassbender, then honestly, what are you waiting for?