Get Paid To Promote, Get Paid To Popup, Get Paid Display Banner

Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Fassbender and McQueen — a team built on trust

    Posted: 24 Nov 2011 10:21 AM PST

    Mick Jagger has his Keith Richards and Steven Tyler his Joe Perry.

    Their movie equivalent? Steve McQueen, the British artist turned filmmaker, and his muse, Michael Fassbender.

    "It really is like making music together," says Fassbender. "There's not much dialogue. We seem to be on the same wavelength. And at the center of it all is trust."

    It isn't every director an actor would lose most of his body weight for, but Fassbender took on true emaciation for McQueen's "Hunger," back in 2008. And it isn't every filmmaker an actor would get utterly naked for – physically and psychologically, in their new film – "Shame."

    "When you're moving in the dark, trying to find your way, you've got to be doing it with somebody you trust, totally," Fassbender says. "I had to go to some ugly places with 'Shame.' But I believed in the character and the director."

    Both Fassbender and McQueen, 42, were relative unknowns when the experimental "art" filmmaker cast Fassbender in "Hunger." That acclaimed drama put them both on the map. And as Fassbender's career has exploded, he continues to find time between mainstream films to work with McQueen.

    "It's a true collaboration, the way we work together," McQueen says. "We work fast. We surprise each other and challenge each other."

    Before "X-Men: First Class," before Fassbender's star turns in "Jane Eyre" or "Inglourious Basterds," he and McQueen made noise with the scorching, hard-to-watch but little seen film about IRA hunger strikers – "Hunger." Their latest, "Shame" is about sexual addiction and is almost as difficult to watch – sex and sexuality at their ugliest and most off-putting.

    "I wanted to put humanity into a subject matter that people try not to think about," McQueen says. "I wanted to make this man one of us. Addiction, whether it's sex or drugs or whatever, is an enormous burden and I wanted to see how someone would navigate their way through it, through their working world, their private life, all of it. I wanted to put a mirror up to the rest of us with this guy. He's not a freak. He is us."

    Fassbender calls Brandon, his sex addict character, "the toughest role I've ever had. The thing with 'Hunger,' playing [IRA hunger striker] Bobby Sands, at least I was dealing with somebody who was strong in his belief system and believed in himself. Brandon doesn't like himself at all – self-loathing, punishing himself. That's harder to live with, that darkness, than the very strict diet I was on with 'Hunger.'"

    McQueen says Fassbender's co-star in the film, Carey Mulligan ("An Education"), pursued her role (as the sex addicts equally messed-up sister) "quite aggressively," and compares her to Fassbender and himself in that "as an artist, you want to show us things that we don't particularly like seeing in ourselves. It can be ugly. We can't be ostriches and put our heads in the sand."

    "Shame" has already scored top prizes at the Venice and Hollywood Film Festivals — and early reviews have been glowing – "Fassbender and Mulligan both give massive, irresistible performances as people drowning in a hostile sea of commodified sexuality and self-hatred,"'s Andrew O'Hehir raved.

    Don't put it past us. Michael, and Carey Mulligan, his co-star, are actors people think they have figured out. And then they do a film like this. Our next film together ['Twelve Years a Slave', filming next summer] could be a musical romance. Well, no. But don't put it past us. I think Michael trusts me enough to try that, as I do him."