Best known to some as a young Magneto, Michael Fassbender has cemented himself as one of Hollywood’s most revered actors. Whether he plays an angry mutant or a disturbed, addicted man, Fassbender brings his own unique energy to the screen. Even so, the actor has remained an enigmatic figure who gives up his secrets slowly and with discretion, which is why some of these facts might be surprising. Without further ado, here are 42 little-known facts about Michael Fassbender.
Michael Fassbender Facts
42. Second Fiddle
Christoph Waltz’s casting as Landa in Inglourious Basterds made plenty of cinema fans happy, but it was a disappointment to Fassbender, since he flew out to Berlin to audition for the very same role. In fact, Fassbender had been working every night on his Landa character to land the part, practicing each day for five hours and even learning French. Then when he arrived at the audition, Quentin Tarantino informed him that Landa had been cast just days prior. Instead, Tarantino got Fassbender to read for the role of Archie Hicox. Fassbender gave a cold reading since he was disheartened not to get his number one choice, but he still got the call for role of Hicox part a week later.
One of Fassbender’s favorite things about working on Inglourious Basterds was the small detail of European countrymen speaking their native languages to one another, e.g. Frenchmen speaking French to one another, and Germans speaking German to one another. This isn't often something you see in Hollywood movies, and it adds a level of authenticity. As he says, "I love the fact that French people are speaking French, German people are speaking German. I always thought that was weird when there are German people speaking English with German accents [speaking with thick German accent]. It is always like, "Well, why are they doing that?" It kind of burst the bubble of illusion immediately. I think it is great."
Fassbender’s character in Assassin’s Creed has a scar on the right side of his lip (which is canon in the games as well), and by total coincidence, Fassbender has a similar scar. His scar was a gift from a Scottish bouncer who was making sure he didn’t get into a nightclub, leading to fisticuffs. However, the actor insists that he is not usually a fighter, and prefers to use his words to settle conflict.
39. Man of Two Worlds
Fassbender’s mother is Irish, and his father is German. He was born in Germany, but a desire for “a green environment and open spaces” led the family back to Killarney, Ireland.
YouTube comments aren’t usually a bastion of intellectual conversation, but according to the online comments on clips from the film, plenty of people could tell that Fassbender’s German in Inglourious Basterds sounded different than the more native speakers. As Fassbender explains, he can watch German films but he does admit his spoken German is “rusty,” and he had to work with a vocal coach for the film.
Fassbender went on a 5,000 mile, cross-Europe motorbike trip with his dad back in 2016. Their stops included Germany, Slovenia, Italy, and Montenegro. Fassbender also made sure to stop in Spain and France solo. He's now also thinking of doing more trips on his bike.
36. Saying Hello
Fassbender’s character in Inglourious Basterds, Archie Hicox, has his cover blown because of the way he gestures for three glasses, failing to use the fingers that indicate a “German 3.” Fassbender says he will still have passerby in greet him by holding up the German 3.
35. High Praise
Director Steve McQueen, knowns best for 12 Years A Slave, described Fassbender as a “once in a generation actor." The director has also said of Fassbender: "He’s a game changer. He’s got a vulnerability and sensuality that is very powerful.” Fassbender has appeared in three of McQueen's films: Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years.
Fassbender, a motorcycle aficionado, has been riding since 2006 and took part in the “Elite” course at the Honda Ron Haslam Race School. Apparently, Fassbender was a quick learner, managing to take 17 seconds off his lap time by the end of the three-hour lesson.
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33. MC Fassbender
Prior to a Hollywood Reporter interview, one of Fassbender’s entourage revealed that Fassbender sometimes breaks out into his own cover of Warren G’s "Regulate." RIP to Nate Dogg.
32. Behind Every Man…
Fassbender is married to the current Tomb Raider, Alicia Vikander. The pair met while filming The Light Between Oceans together, and have remained pretty secretive about their romance since the beginning. Even their ceremony, which was held in Ibiza, was a top-secret affair.
31. Will It Blend?
Fassbender admits to using YouTube as a resource for studying accents. Well, wouldn't you?
30. For the First Time
While working on Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino would host a movie night every Thursday. Fassbender says that watching The Good, The Bad and The Ugly impressed him the most during these nights and revealed that the film was one of Tarantino's favorites.
Aside from acting and producing, Fassbender also has some writing aspirations. He has been working with different writers as he tries to develop his own scripts for Hollywood.
Teenaged Fassbender had aspirations of rock n’ roll stardom, and specifically wanted to play guitar in a heavy metal band. However, humility (or maybe real talk from his peers?) told him he might not be talented enough. It's safe to say, though, that he's got talent to spare when it comes to acting.
27. Not Just a Businessman…
Aside from acting, Fassbender has actually co-founded DMC Film, which has been involved in films such as Assassin’s Creed. Fassbender will also serve as executive producer for the upcoming film Calm With Horses.
Although Fassbender isn’t a professor like his sister, he does have his own realm of expertise. Fassbender is actually able to go toe to toe with none other than Quentin Tarantino in a game of film and television knowledge: “I actually think I got him when I asked what were the names of the two Dobermans on the 1980s series Magnum, P.I. They were Apollo and Zeus. I was pretty pleased with myself,” Fassbender admitted in an interview.
Fassbender is set to star in a feature-length sequel to Kung Fury alongside David Hasselhoff and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This almost makes me willing to watch the first film.
2017 was a rough year for Fassbender. Despite being in many critically lauded projects, he had his fair share of flops and/or films that had poor reviews or lukewarm receptions. From Assassin’s Creed to The Snowman to Alien: Covenant, Fassbender had a bit of a bad run.
23. Golden Age
Although in Fassbender’s early years he had some different career aspirations, he knew he wanted to be an actor by the time he was 18. At the age of 17, he was cast in a play by a local theatre troupe in Ireland. As Fassbender says of the work, “It felt right.”
22. And I Would Swim 500 Miles
After some failed auditions in LA, Fassbender returned to the UK and found some intermittent TV work. One of these jobs was a Guinness commercial where his character swims from Ireland to New York.
21. Brain and Brawn
Fassbender’s older sister Catherine is a neuropsychologist at the University of California, Davis. She serves as the associate adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Her research goals include improving targeted treatments for ADHD and improving the early identification of ADHD.
20. From Make Believe to Dreams Come True
When he was 18, Fassbender put together a production of Reservoir Dogs with his friends at an Irish nightclub (no, I have no idea why this was happening either). Years later, he was working with Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds.
Fassbender describes his Irish accent as “a bit Canadian really. It’s a sort of strange mid-Atlantic I suppose.”
18. Old School
Fassbender’s mom Adele passed on her love for 1970s film to her son, and Fassbender grew up idolizing directors such as Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma.
17. Equal Opportunity
Some people like redheads or brunettes, but Fassbender doesn’t see the point in limiting himself with a certain type of woman: “That would...be pretty stupid,” he responded in an interview when asked what his type is.
16. The Shoulders of Giants
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis and Marlon Brando are among the actors who Fassbender wants to emulate. He doesn’t want to copy of course, but he respects his idols’ willingness to take risks.
15. What Stunt Double?
For his role in Assassin’s Creed, Fassbender performed over 90% of his character’s fight scenes himself.
14. Constructive Criticism
Talking honestly about a flop is probably one of the most dreaded experiences as an actor, and Fassbender was forced to face the failure of Assassin’s Creed. Fassbender deemed it a “missed opportunity” and said that the film likely took itself too seriously and may have stalled too long prior to getting into the action. Fassbender also added that the film had “three beginnings,” which sadly did not give it three times the charm.
Aside from his most famous roles, Fassbender also has a potential career as a narrator for audiobooks. He has recently put his own dramatic, dark spin on Humpty Dumpty on BBC Radio 1. Let's just say that you’ll never see Humpty Dumpty the same way again.
12. His Own Worst Critic
When watching his own films, Fassbender watches his performance twice. The first viewing is a technical one where he picks apart the details of his performance, seeing what he liked and didn’t like. The second viewing is purely for enjoyment. As Fassbender says, “the first time is always the most difficult.” Granted, a lot of actors can't even bear to watch themselves once on screen.
11. Snobby Brits
As someone from the Republic of Ireland, Fassbender doesn’t identify as British. Fassbender also realizes that the British media only tries to claim him as a Brit when his career hits its peaks.
Fassbender is looking to get behind the camera “in the next couple of years.” He may be off to a good start since he’s already received some advice from his legendary Alien director Ridley Scott.
9. Our Arrows…
Although Fassbender has moved on to some leading roles since, he might always be remembered for his line as Stelios in 300: “Then we will fight in the shade.” Long live Sparta, am I right?
8. Dubious Distinction
Fassbender’s roles as two different androids in Alien: Covenant led to a Fassbender/Fassbender kiss that gained way more attention than the actor anticipated. The kiss captured the fanfic imagination, but also earned the film more attention from China, where the kiss scene was cut. This was actually a somewhat fortunate result, since the film could potentially have been banned.
7. Funny Side?
Fassbender recognizes that romantic comedies are omnipresent in Hollywood, though he generally doesn’t think about them much. As he says, “I think there’s always been a market for them. I don’t think there’s ever been a decade that I’ve been around where there haven’t been romantic comedies.” If a good script comes along, he confesses that he might be interested.
6. Ping Pong Battle
Aside from getting to work with Ridley Scott on a professional level, Fassbender also shared some other memorable experiences with the director, such as facing an “incredibly competitive” Scott at ping-pong during a barbecue at Noomi Rapace’s house. As Fassbender says of the encounter, "Ridley really went for it. He's an amazing man, and full of beans."
5. Thanks Pa
In supportive dad fashion, Fassbender’s father joked he was “very proud” when he saw his son’s infamous nude frontal scene in Shame. In a way, I guess Fassbender’s dad was stroking his own ego.
4. Just Jump
We all have our ways of de-stressing from a hectic schedule. Some of us exercise, some drink, but Fassbender likes to skydive. After a promotion blitz that saw him promoting six different movies over 20 months, Fassbender made his way to Hawaii for some skydiving: “It was the most amazing rush…For 50 seconds, you’re free-falling… It was a crazy feeling to jump out of an airplane and land on the ground.” We’ll just have to take his word on that.
3. Odd Job Fass
Prior to his big break, Fassbender’s job titles included bartender and call center representative. Look, I wouldn't mind getting a call from him today.
2. It’s the Smile
Two of Fassbender’s frequent collaborators, directors Steven Soderbergh and Steve McQueen, attest to Fassbender’s charm and, er, social skills. Soderbergh ended up partying with Fassbender till 3:30 am, and McQueen and Fassbender “got pissed together” following Fassbender’s second audition for one of McQueen's films. Fox Searchlight president Nancy Utley also added that Fassbender brings a creative energy and a “personal energy” to his films that is infectious.
1. Stressful Day
Fassbender’s character in 12 Years a Slave isn’t exactly a nice guy, what with him being a slaveowner and all. The role required scenes that are always tough to film, such as a rape scene, which Fassbender passed out after filming.