Michael Fassbender’s fame has had a slow build over the last few years — appearing in 300 and Inglourious Basterds in addition to a few artsy, well-respected movies that us Americans aren’t as interested in. But his notoriety is about to go through the roof with this coming summer’s release of the X-men prequel, X-Men: First Class in which he plays Erik Lensherr, i.e. the evil Magneto, as a young man.
While he was promoting Jane Eyre – Cary Fukunaga’s interpretation of the Charlotte Bronte novel in which Fassbender plays the smouldering Mr. Rochester — we got the Irish-German actor to spill a few details about the highly anticipated X-Men film.
How much will this X-Men go into Magneto’s past?
You will see a little bit of that, yeah, at the beginning, but I thought what was interesting was what happened to him after the war – he gets that young gypsy girl out of the concentration camp that he falls in love with. They take off together and have a baby and the mob ends up going crazy and burning down the house and the child dies in the blaze. Magneto goes ape shit and kills everybody. She’s freaked out and leaves him. So by the time we get to him in the movie, he’s a bit of a loner, really.
Performing opposite James McAvoy, who plays Professor X - who your character is close friends with before you become mortal enemies - must have been an attractive component to doing this film.
Definitely a big draw for me. At signing up, I only knew that James was attached to be in the film so I thought, "OK, he’s an intelligent guy and he’ll bring something to it."
Can you talk a little bit about the changes we see Magneto go through in the film?
It’s kind of like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X — Charles [Professor X] being Martin Luther and Erik [Magneto] being Malcolm X — these two ideals, two intelligent guys but with different methods of achieving what they want. Erik doesn’t trust humans and thinks they need to be wiped away, and I can kind of see his point. It’s like Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals … it’s like it’s the next stage of evolution. And humans have made a bit of balls of it. We have, haven’t we?
How was working with the special effects?
Ah, that’s John Dykstra — he’s the guy who did the original Star Wars and shit. There’s something for the fanatics out there. He’s an amazing guy. But how do I feel about acting with a tennis ball? That didn’t bother me so much. It’s like saying in theatre that it’s supposed to be cold, and you see a town off in the distance — it’s kind of the same thing.
How do you feel about the fact that after this movie comes out, you won’t be able to walk down the street in peace.
It’s going to be an interesting thing. There are so many X-Men fans out there. Hopefully, they’re going to be happy. They didn’t seem to be happy with the last two installments, so hopefully this will please them again.