Michael Fassbender on Fish Tank, Sex Scenes, and His Unlikely Literary Fetish
In Andrea Arnold's drama Fish Tank, Michael Fassbender plays Connor, a charming rogue who begins to date the mother of surly Essex teenager Mia (Katie Jarvis) but turns the entire family upside down when Mia, too, begins to fall for him. Fassbender himself has managed to seduce and shake up Hollywood; after impressing (and dieting) in Steve McQueen's Hunger, then swanning through Inglourious Basterds as the debonair Hickox, he's got directors like Steven Soderbergh, Cary Fukunaga, and David Cronenberg falling at his feet to work with him.
As Fish Tank is readied for its U.S. debut, Fassbender talked to Movieline about its tricky moments and his intriguing projects to come.
OK, before we get to Fish Tank, I have to ask you about this new Cronenberg movie you're going to do, The Talking Cure. I'm kind of salivating at the idea already. What can you tell me about it?
Only that I'm super excited myself. I met Mr. Cronenberg up in Toronto about three, four months ago and he's an absolute gentleman. Obviously, I'm a massive fan of his work. Basically, it's the story surrounding Freud and Jung and one mutual patient of theirs called Sabina -- it's a triangle between those three characters. I'm very excited to do that and I'll be shooting in Berlin, where I shot Inglourious. Of course, Christoph is an absolute gentleman and a phenomenal talent as well, and Keira Knightley, she's not too shabby either! [Laughs] Before that, I'm going to be working with Cary Fukunaga on Jane Eyre, I'm also very excited about that.
You'd been attached to Wuthering Heights at one point -- I guess you've got a real itch to do a Brontë adaptation!
Yeah, exactly. It's a fetish of mine. No, I would have loved to do Wuthering Heights -- that just fell apart, really. Originally, I was supposed to do it with John Maybury and Abbie Cornish, and I don't know what happened, to be honest. John left the project for one reason or another and it didn't come to pass. I was pretty disappointed, actually, because Wuthering Heights is my favorite love story.
What kind of take does Cary have for this version of Jane Eyre?
I don't know yet, to be honest. I'll just have to do my prep work and trust him for what he's going to bring to it from a directorial sense. I love [his last film] Sin Nombre and I think he's got an edge and a real talent for capturing moments in performances. We'll just have to wait and see what he's going to do with it, but I am very excited and I do like the character, Rochester. I think there's a lot there to play with. I'm very excited about the actress playing Jane Eyre, Mia Wasi-...I'm trying to pronounce her second name.
Yes! That's it. I think she's fantastic. I saw her stint on In Treatment and I think she's got incredible skills. I'm very excited about that.
Last time Movieline spoke to you, Inglourious Basterds was about to come out. Since then, have you seen a change in how Hollywood has treated you?
I hasn't really changed that much, to be honest. I'm just taking it job by job. Definitely, there's an opportunity to get into certain rooms that I wouldn't have had before. I guess in the independent market, I'd be getting offers, but in terms of big studio films, I still have to audition. I don't think my name is that well-known, I don't have much of a following to guarantee box office success yet. That's something that hasn't changed, let's say, since we last spoke.
You had an interesting trip to Cannes last year -- not only were you promoting Fish Tank, but you also had the massive spectacle of the Inglourious Basterds premiere.
That's sort of the ideal situation to be in as far as I'm concerned, anyway. To be able to bounce between the two like that, to be able to do high entertainment the size of Inglourious and then to do something like Fish Tank which was made for three million dollars or something. That's what I find interesting just to keep myself guessing -- and everyone else, really.
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