Michael Fassbender on Challenges of ‘Macbeth,’ the Future of ‘X-Men’

Michael Fassbender Trespass against us movie
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Michael Fassbender is having such a busy year, he can’t even keep all his projects straight. This week, A24 releases “Slow West,” the Sundance indie in which he plays a cowboy (he produced the film with his company DMC and developed the script with director John Maclean). Then next week, he jets to the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of “Macbeth” on May 23. He just finished playing Steve Jobs for Danny Boyle’s high-profile biopic, and he’s about to reprise Magneto in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” He also revealed to Variety that he wants to direct.

“Slow West” is the first feature you’ve produced. How did the idea come about?
John and I started working together in 2007 or 2008 on this thing [a short film] called “Man on The Motorcycle.” That worked out really well, and we thought, “Let’s continue this, and we’ll aim one day of doing a feature film.” Around that time, he’s like, “I got this idea for a Western.” We started chatting about that and developing the characters and then he went away and wrote it. And then he’d show me a script and I’d give him notes. Eventually, we got a script and was like, “Let’s shoot it.” Here we are. It’s nice to see the goal fulfilled. I think he made a charming love story within a Western.

Were you a fan of Westerns growing up?
Yes. Clint Eastwood is my favorite. The last Western that I saw that I really liked was “Unforgiven.” I was shooting [on the film] for about five weeks. All in New Zealand, which is supposed to be Colorado.

You recently finished playing Steve Jobs. Is it dark?
Like “The Conjuring”?

No, is it a favorable adaptation?
I think it is.

You look skinnier now.
I didn’t lose weight. But I certainly didn’t go to the gym.

Did it cause you to look at Mac products differently?
It did. I’m still on my iPhone 4.

You don’t have the iPhone 6?
No, the 4 is my favorite design. I also use something until it’s no longer useable.

Your phone looks broken.
But it still works. The cover actually broke off my broken phone.

Where are you living now?
I’m still in London, but I haven’t spent too much time there in the last year. I did think about L.A. before, but not so much now. I think I’m European. I know I’m European. I’m happiest there.

Do you still have to put yourself on tape?
Luckily, not for a while. I think the last audition I did was for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the Coen brothers film.

Are you in that movie?
No, I’m not. Thanks for pointing that out. It was an unsuccessful audition. I went up for Oscar [Isaac’s] part.

What are you shooting next?
“X-Men.”

Will you do more after this one?
I will shoot a hundred of them. The contract is in three film deals, and this is the last of that. But I’ll be curious to see what happens next.

Have you seen “Macbeth”?
I have not.

Why won’t they show it to you?
Because they are mean. I’ll see it in Cannes for the first time.

Had you done Shakespeare before?
Just in drama school, but not professionally. I had my Lady Macbeth and we got a scene or two.

Is Macbeth a hard character to play?
It’s challenging because of the language, and he’s going through quite a lot.

Did you have to master iambic pentameter?
I didn’t. I never approached it that way. I don’t even know if I got that right. I’m a little dyslexic with the iambic pentameter. I just always tried to make sense of it, and hoped the rhythm would follow.

You have a lot of acting jobs lined up. But now that you have your own production company, would you want to direct?
I’d like to direct at some point.

When?
Right now, I’m involved in acting. It’s been full on. To direct, you need at least two years for a project. We’ve got a lot of projects that we’re looking at. There are ones that I’d like to do, but I’d rather see them get into production.

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  1. mg says:

    just because he’s getting roles does not mean he is talented – I find him mediocre and arrogant – of course. But now a days society’s view in acting/performing arts have been rather distasteful; when this generation is full of millenials, you’ll get blokes like this assbender because lets face it; he’s a performing monkey who gets attention.

    • ButMadNNW says:

      If you think Fassbender is “mediocre and arrogant”, you 1) have not watched much of his career and 2) have not seen enough interviews with him. Or you just have some grudge against him for some odd reason.

      I just got interested in following his career last year. Because of trying to catch up on his work, I have seen a TON of excellent films that I never would have, so following him has forced me to broaden my cinematic “comfort zone”. And many of those films are excellent BECAUSE OF his performance. Even the few bad films (I’m looking at you, “Jonah Hex”) have good moments – moments made good by his performance, not the script or directing.

      I’ve also watched a TON of interviews with this man. Of everyone working in film nowadays (it’s one word, not three), he is the most down-to-earth, humble man I’ve had the pleasure of following. He takes on projects because he likes the script, wants to work with the director, and there’s something he feels he can learn from the experience, not because of the paycheck or media exposure he’ll get. He’s constantly looking for new challenges and to improve his craft of storytelling. He stays out of the spotlight, keeps his private life private, still lives in the same one-bedroom flat he got when he first moved to London, would rather ride his motorbike to a job than be picked up by a limo… I really don’t get how anyone could ever see him as “arrogant”.

    • Enrique says:

      “But now a days society’s view in acting/performing arts have been rather distasteful” how so? Who are you? An acting expert or what? I hate people who state their opinions as if they were facts by saying things like “lets face it; he’s a performing monkey who gets attention.” Let’s face it? That implies that what you are saying is a general truth which it isn’t. So now all actors are “performing monkeys” yeah sure if it’s coming from a pseudo acting expert then it must be true. You find him arrogant and mediocre well not everyone thinks like you not everyone is as bitter like you besides there are actors who do are mediocre but not this guy.

  2. Kristina says:

    Hmmm. Sometimes, it’s just fun to read an interview like this.
    Just b/c he’s in a Shakespeare project doesn’t mean the interview has to be as such.

  3. dasha says:

    what a hunkkkkkk O_O

  4. The interviewer is not playing with a full deck, but I love Michael’s responses.

  5. F1000 says:

    This interview proves that I have what it takes to be a celebrity interviewer, and I’ve never done it.

  6. Jonny says:

    Good talk with fassy I thought.

  7. Is this a real interview? “Were you in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis?'” This is honestly pretty embarrassing for Variety — you have whatever amount of time to talk to one of the most talented and promising actors in Hollywood, and these are the monosyllabic questions asked?

  8. Bill B. says:

    He is one of the premiere actors of our times. He’s talented, smart, versatile, great looking, funny & daring. He has a huge future. I wish he’d get out of the X-Men game, but he seems to like doing them.

    • therealeverton says:

      Whyy should ge get out of

      X-Men? Aside from them being considered pretty good films, theu not only don’t stop him from doing all manner of other films, they help him do what he wants without having to consider the paycheck, or the size of the paying audience.

      But tel us, why he should stop making x-Men films (critically praised ones at that.)?

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