30 Greatest Michael Fassbender Facts

Irish Eyes

If you thought you heard Magneto going a bit Oirish towards the end of X-Men: First Class , don't worry, your hearing hadn't gone all wonky.

Michael Fassbender is actually half German and half Irish - though he has an Irish accent because he grew up in Killarney, south west Ireland.

"I suppose the German side wants to keep everything in control, and the Irish side wants to wreak havoc," he's joked in the past. Which probably accounts for that devilish Irish wobble in First Class


Just because he grew up in Ireland doesn't mean that Fassbender's ignored his father tongue (his dad's German). In fact, Fassbender is able to watch German films without subtitles, and only needed lessons to help him brush up his rusty verbal skills for Inglourious Basterds.

When his dad saw the film, he commented that Michael didn't sound "that bad, actually". Bless.

(Don't) Get Your Ass To Mars

Fassbender was originally in the running to head up Len Wiseman's Total Recall reboot. He was up for the role of Quaid alongside Colin Farrell and Tom Hardy - the producers clearly had their eyes set on gruff European talent for the role.

Instead, fellow countryman Farrell bagged the role. Which Fassbender's probably not too upset about, considering how the film turned out…

The Name Has It

"You can imagine the combinations you can make with a word like 'Fassbender'," the actor has joked in the past, clearly taking his surname in good humour (well, he's had to grow up with it, after all).

In fact, his name has nothing to do with bending (or futuristic, beer-guzzling robots ) - it's actually the German word for 'cooper', somebody who binds or repairs barrels…

Music Man

Acting wasn't a priority for Fassbender in the beginning. Instead, he wanted to be a guitarist in a band.

"I wanted to be a lead guitarist," he recalls. "But I wasn't good enough. And it's always hard to find a drummer, especially in small towns. Or a bass player. So it was just me and this other guy Mike - the two Mikes - and we tried to put on a gig one time in this pub at lunchtime, playing Metallica. It didn't go off too well."

No worries, though - in 2003, Fassy fulfilled his music dream by appearing in the video for 'Blind Pilots' by Brit rockers The Cooper Temple Clause. Yes, that's him as a minotaur…


In 2012, Time Out named Fassbender one of the 100 Most Influential People of the year, in no small part thanks to the bumper year he'd had at the movies with Shame , Jane Eyre and Prometheus .

Meanwhile, The Guardian branded him 'the man to take on Brando's mantel' after director Steve McQueen ( Hunger , Shame ) likened him to the star. "There is no one like Michael out there right now," says McQueen. "And there hasn't been, for me, since Marlon Brando."

High praise indeed, and it doesn't stop there…

Everybody Loves Him

Back-slapping and general up-talking is the lifeblood of movie junkets, but even outside of the promotional circuit, nobody seems to have a bad word to say about Fassy.

Ridley Scott has called him "one of the best three or four actors out there; he holds the screen", and David Cronenberg has branded him "so perky it drives you crazy". Meanwhile, McQueen commends the actor for his "fragility" and "femininity".

"There's … also a masculinity that can translate," adds McQueen. "You're not in awe of him. You're part of him. He pulls you in. And that's what you want from an actor. You want people to look at him and see themselves."

Need For Speed

Movies may be his life, but Fassbender's also got a passion for rubber burning. His grandfather introduced him to Formula 1 racing in 1989, and he's followed it ever since.

“I did go to Monaco to the Grand Prix recently and because of the position I’m in, I was allowed to stand beside Michael Schumacher in his car on the grid," Fassbender has said. "That was pretty amazing and something of a childhood dream. I’ve been a fan of motor racing for 20 years."

In fact, he loves it so much that he's even signed on to narrate awkwardly-titled F1 racing documentary, er, 1 .

Man Who Fell To Earth

If you're going to play a robot, there are worse people you could base that robot on than David Bowie. Which is exactly what Fassbender did with Prometheus , the Alien prequel in which he played android David.

"We took inspiration from David Bowie and some of his looks as well," Fassbender says. "I liked the idea of having a feminine quality to him for sure."

He also watched Blade Runner, The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Servant and Lawrence Of Arabia , plus studied Olympic diver Greg Louganis in order to capture a lithe, fluid physicality.

Dramatic Weight Loss

In order to portray Bobby Sands, the Irish republican who went on hunger strike in 1981, in Hunger Fassbender went on a medically-monitored crash diet that saw his weight drop to horrifying lows.

"I lost about 14 kilos and weighed 59 kilos by the end," he says. "It was the only way we could do it and make it convincing."

He adds: "We live in this society where nowadays if I want something, I take it, I eat it - it's so easy and readily available. When you take all that away, you actually become more appreciative of the things around you. I don't want to do it again, but there is a level where it humbles you in a good way."

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.