By Rüdiger Sturm.
Michael Fassbender is about to embark on another major project, translating the Assassin’s Creed video game from digital phenomenon to live-action blockbuster. In The Red Bulletin the Hollywood star reflects on how perseverance, passion and just a little bit of the luck of the Irish helped in putting him on the path to Hollywood success.
The Red Bulletin: The character you play in Assassin’s Creed has a near death experience. Do you know what that feels like?
Michael Fassbender: Well, I had this weird dream where I was cycling up a mountain in the Irish countryside where I grew up, and then I flew off the edge of a cliff to certain death. That felt so familiar, like it had already happened to me.
But you haven’t faced actual life or death situations?
There were a couple of close calls. Once when I was riding my motorbike, I was sandwiched between two cars that were driving between 210 and 225kph. I could feel the rush of wind as one went by me. That was quite dangerous. Another time I was swimming in the ocean, the waves were pretty rough and I thought I was going to drown. Or when I was up in the mountains and the weather would change.
You’re comfortable with risk?
Of course. In the film [Assassin’s Creed] there is a scene where my character takes a so-called ‘leap of faith’ and jumps down 38m. And I have done that [metaphorically] in many respects. Going into certain relationships or jumping from a cliff into water is a leap of faith. Or in work when we are going for something that seems daunting.
“Going into certain relationships or jumping from a cliff into water is a leap of faith. Or in work when we are going for something that seems daunting”
And if the risk doesn’t result in reward? How do you get back on the horse?
I tell myself: ‘Life goes on – with or without you.’ You get re-engaged; you get back into life. I experienced many, many years of disappointment. Going to auditions, getting rejected, getting rejected, getting rejected. Either you become a victim or you take responsibility and get engaged. Life is not fair all the time. It’s not fair a lot of the time. I learned that lesson very young.
“Either you become a victim or you take responsibility and get engaged”
When was the first time that reality became apparent to you?
In my teens. Certain kids get certain things and you can’t get those things. So you go to work early. I started working jobs when I was 12, 13 – in the summer, on the weekends. When I was washing pots in the kitchen of a five-star hotel at 15 or 16, I met a lot of adults who were working there. That’s an intense environment; you get to become part of that world. You embrace it and learn from it. You start to understand what life can throw your way and the various hardships it presents. And then I moved to London at 19. I didn’t have a lot of money, hardly anything. To survive in such an expensive city without any means is very hard.
Was that early awareness of the hard knock life a key to your success?
Yeah, in a way, maybe. But you also have to keep faith. Or rather I’d say passion. That’s how I fell into acting. When I was 18, I directed a stage version of Reservoir Dogs with my friends – it was all out of love and naivety and passion.
When did that passion translate into pursuit of acting as a career? How did you know you had what it takes?
My original plan was to play guitar in a heavy metal band. I practised two hours a day, every day when I came home from school. And then my friend came around with his guitar one day and he blew me out of the room. I was like: ‘He’s got what it takes, I don’t.’ But around that same time I did some acting classes. Most of the things I was participating in at school, including sports, I was average at. But with this, I had an affinity with it. I felt I could express myself.
You had to put in the hard yards as well. Your breakthrough role, in Hunger, came when you were 31.
It’s about being in the right place at the right time. Ninety-five per cent is luck – meeting the right people. As actors we are very dependent on others to help us get to where we are. Where I’m at today wouldn’t have happened without a series of people who helped me along the way. You have to be awake to these encounters, too. With Hunger I was very aware that I was getting an opportunity that might not come about again for maybe another seven years, 10 years, if at all. So I grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and went for it. I focused and worked hard.
Find the full article on RedBulletin.com here.
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