Michael Fassbender Tells Us What Makes Him Cry



1Photo: RexUSA.
Michael Fassbender seems to be ubiquitous at the box office this season, appearing in not one but two Oscar hopefuls. The flick 12 Years A Slave is in theaters now, and The Counselor is set to open Friday. In this latest role, Fassbender plays a big-time lawyer up to his elbow in drug lords, but he gets to come home to gorgeous wife Penélope Cruz so life isn't too bad. He's in great company, as his other costars include Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, and Cameron Diaz.

But, despite his stellar resumé as of late, don't expect to see him on too many gossip rags or red carpets. The fire-haired hunk has completely sworn off Oscar campaigning altogether. Luckily, he was kind enough to carve out some time for your trusty R29 editors, and we couldn't be happier. He spilled the beans on his rock-n'-roll fantasies and even got a little emotional — a side we could get used to.

Can you talk about the opulence contrasted with poverty in the movie?
"The Capitalist Western idea that I have been aware of as a child, the idea of being sold objects all the time, materialistic wealth, and that we need to accumulate these things in order to be respected and accepted or looked up to or found attractive, that this will make you happy, if you own this house, this car, this swimming pool, all the things that go with it, there is maybe an element of inadequacy that the counselor feels in order to facilitate that. He dresses up in a certain way. He drives around in a convertible Bentley."

And, the diamond he gets for Penelope.
"It has to be this huge rock because he wants to show her that he is capable of getting that — number one, and that he is knowledgeable about these sort of things. In a way, I don’t think he really is. He tries to be something that he is not that way. If he were concentrated on her in a normal level, without all that material extravagance, he’d be a lot better off."

You're working a lot. Have you ever thought about slowing down for a bit?
"I took a break. I recharge the batteries and when I go back to work, I feel I have the energy and strength to do a lot of work. I do think perhaps in the arts there is a time when you’ll be doing your best work, and there is a time that leads up to it, and there is a time where you go downhill."

Not always.
"I don’t know if that happens. So, I try to be as industrious now. The work is there, and I’m getting the opportunities. And, then we’ll see. Maybe I’ll do something else in five years time."

You do a lot of crying in this movie.

"I didn’t mean to weep in that scene in the car. I didn’t. It just happened. I did think maybe it’s too much. I was afraid of a double beat there."

Are you an emotional person in your life?
"I am pretty emotional, yeah."

What upsets you?
"The things that upset me are really silly things. Like putting a cuff link in a shirt. I get so [frustrated] I want to break something. It’s weird. And, bigger problems I handle with calm."

And what makes you cry?
"Great acts of affection between people — things that deal with human beings. Cruelty. If I feel I’ve let myself down."

The Counselor is always dressed to kill. How would you describe your own sense of style?
"I am pretty fashion ignorant, to be honest. I like tracksuits and comfortable stuff. I do like certain designers. Armani has always been good to me from the beginning. When I did Angel, this French film for François Ozon, it dressed me. I’ve got a practical style sense. I like classical style best."

Have you wanted to be an actor since you were a kid?
"No, I had no idea. I went through the gauntlet of the usual things — pilot, stunt man. Whatever TV show was on at the time. Private investigator was a big one for a while. And, through the teenage years, you start to think‚ what can I do? Everyone’s gone to university. My parents were like‚ 'You gotta go to university.' Because in their generation, everyone that went to university got a really good job and had some security. It didn’t really work out in my generation that way. Anyways, I realized I wasn’t an academic person. I was better suited to practical learning, as it were. But, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought law at one point, but I am a slow reader. And, then architecture, but I failed my technical drawing exam, so obviously.... The dream was to be a musician when I was 15 to 17. So, I went to that quite hard."

What kind of music?
"Heavy metal. Playing guitar in a heavy metal band was the goal. I practiced two hours a day, every day, whenever I could 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. And, around that same time, I did some acting classes. I did a couple of those and thought‚ this feels right. Most of the things I was participating in at school, including sports, I was average. But, this felt like I had an affinity to it. I felt I could express myself in that medium."

Do you still listen to metal music?
"Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes Slayer; sometimes I go to a bit of Maiden, which is not necessarily metal. Some old Metallica albums; some old Megadeath maybe.”