When you make your first big onscreen splash in a costume consisting of little more than a pair of tight brown leather underpants, most would be forgiven for assuming that you’re in for a long, hard climb back to credible. But even though it has been only two short years since he first foisted himself onto movie-goers as the limb hacking, wisecracking, wedgie sporting Spartan warrior Stelios in 300, Michael Fassbender has managed to establish himself as a formidable acting talent, giving a series of acclaimed performances that have already seen him likened to such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christian Bale. Not bad for a bloke who spent most of his first movie not only nearly naked but sporting the sort of hairdo most commonly seen on 1980s heavy metal bands.
Making his on-screen debut in the Steven Spielberg produced mini-series \”Band of Brothers\” in 2001, Michael began his career working steadily on the small screen, playing characters as diverse as the fallen angel Azazeal in cult TV series \”Hex\” and would-be bomber of British parliament Guy Fawkes in Gunpowder, Treason & Plot, before leather loincloth infamy came beckoning. But even though 300 might have been his international breakthough, it was with his performance as Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s Hunger that he would really make his mark. His staggering intensity, and commitment that saw him lose over 14kgs to convincingly depict Sands’ decline, would be rewarded by a wave of critical acclaim, a memorable lauding as the ‘Brando for Britain’ and numerous acting prizes at a variety of international film festivals, culminating in the best actor prize at the Irish Film & Television Awards.
Michael has since returned to the battlefield in Neil Marshall’s upcoming Centurion, in which he portrays a Roman warrior trapped behind enemy lines in dark age Britain, smoldered as the teen heroine’s off-limits love interest in Andrea Arnold’s kitchen sink drama Fish Tank, and been personally tapped by Quentin Tarantino for the role of Lt. Archie Hicox, a British commando, in his WWII opus Inglourious Basterds. And if that weren’t a diverse enough range of genres, he most recently completed work on the comic book western Jonah Hex, playing the unhinged henchman of chief baddy John Malkovich. Phew!
Not many actors out there are capable of playing the romantic lead, psychotic villain, or colorful supporting part with equal conviction. Add looks to kill and dangerous lashings of Irish charm, and its about as close to a complete package as you are ever likely to find. Odds are on that Fassy, as his fans affectionately know him, will sooner rather than later be joining the ranks of acting legends to whom he is already so willingly compared.
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