Few actors have an affinity for diversity like that of Michael Fassbender. Actors often change roles, or break free of certain casting, but are rarely able to transmit the same emotion and energy across many different roles. This talented actor, born in Germany and raised in Ireland, has slowly developed an impressively diverse acting career. While only achieving the status of bankable Hollywood star with his Oscar-nominated role as Steve Jobs, Fassbender has proved his acting chops with a long list of powerful performances.
Starting, as many actors do, on the stage, his first transition was to the small screen. He boasts a respectable television career, appearing in the critically acclaimed HBO series Band of Brothers. His big-screen debut was a role in the epic 300, and since then he has found his way into the X-Men series as Magneto, Ridley Scott’s prequel to Alien, Prometheus, and an interesting role as psychologist Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method.
Taking on diverse roles has clearly not been enough for Fassbender, however, preferring to singularly steal scenes with his immeasurable screen presence. My own first real encounter with his talents (300 did not showcase Fassbender prominently) was his role as the masquerading Brit Lt. Archie Hicox in the Quentin Tarantino masterpiece, Inglourious Basterds. In an absolutely stunning standoff which ends in classic Tarantino fashion, Fassbender creates an unforgettable scene.
From that point on, I always kept an eye on the German actor. Fassbender certainly did not disappoint, delivering a shockingly emotional performance in the Steve McQueen film Shame. Several years later, in another McQueen triumph, 12 Years a Slave, he received critical applause. Fassbender has become the film critics’ perfect actor, giving incredible performances in blockbusters and award winners alike. Even with a steady role in X-Men, and future collaborations with Ridley Scott in line, Fassbender has not stopped experimenting. Most notably, he wore a large mask for his role as the mysterious band leader Frank in Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank.
Which leads us to 2015, quite possibly the year of Michael Fassbender. Only Tom Hardy (Mad Max, Legend, The Revenant) had as notable of a year as Fassbender, who has cemented his place among the masters with his sublime performance in Steve Jobs, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Perhaps eve more impressive, however, is his approach to Shakespeare, as the Thane of Glamis in Macbeth. Many actors use the silver screen to display their Shakespearean skills, from Laurence Olivier to Patrick Stewart, but few have done so in such forceful fashion. Fassbender’s newest role is genuinely shocking–shocking in its emotional perfection, which draws all of the ageless tragedy’s power toward Macbeth, its centerpiece. Fassbender has produced two unforgettable roles this year, and his turn in Macbeth is one for the ages. The film, thanks in large part to Fassbender’s performance, is truly a must see.
Macbeth will be screened Sunday, March 6 at 4 and 7 pm, in the Loew Auditorium of Dartmouth’s Black Family Visual Arts Center.