Spotlight on the Stars: Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender 600x300

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of the business’s hottest names…one Michael Fassbender. In a rather short period of time, he’s gone from a character actor to a critical darling to a superstar, with an Academy Award nomination thrown in there for good measure (along with a few Oscar snubs as well). Fassbender is arguably one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, so it’s great to see him continually display it in interesting and unique projects. He’s a definite A-lister, likely to go down as an all time great when all is said and done, so he’s perfect for this column!

Fassbender got his start on television, first coming on to my radar with HBO’s landmark miniseries Band of Brothers. There were other small TV projects (both miniseries and movies, as well as full on series as well), but he made his notable cinematic debut in the violent orgy that was 300. He showed a screen presence there, even if it wasn’t the absolute best use of his talents.

Of course, he really first made an impression in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, playing the activist Bobby Sands. He went from a talented no name to someone who really had to be watched in a big way, not just because of the physical transformation that he was able to display, but also the emotional power that he could project. Fassbender became a long shot awards contender, though it was not to be for him there. A year later he again blew people away in Fish Tank, disappearing into a completely different character. He also was a scene stealer that year in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, firmly establishing him as an up and comer that you needed to keep an eye on.

Since Fassbender became a “hot” name on the scene, he’s begun a succession of projects that showed different looks at his talent. From Centurion to Jonah Hex to Jane Eyre, he was usually the best part of even lesser films. Then, he played Magneto in the prequel X-Men: First Class and basically became a movie star. That flick gave him true mainstream credit, while A Dangerous Method kept him firmly planted in the independent realm. It was Shame that same year though that really made him something special. He was ridiculously snubbed by the Academy for this portrait of a sex addict, but he was cited by the Golden Globes, giving him a taste of some citations that would come again to him in a few years time. Fassbender finally was cited by the Academy for his villainous turn in 12 Years a Slave. One of his finest performances, he wasn’t snubbed that time.

This weekend, he has another top notch performance on display in the dark and musically tinged comedy Frank. He’s terrific in the film, showing that whether he’s in action (Haywire), science fiction (Prometheus), a thriller (The Counselor), or a sequel (earlier this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past), he’s usually the best thing on display. That’s just a given these days. He likely will be snubbed again for Frank, but that first nod for 12 Years a Slave won’t be his only career nom, I’m sure of that much.

Overall, Fassbender is one of the industries most talented actors. Some have speculated that he could go down as perhaps the best of this generation, so despite being a big time A-lister at this point, he’s still got an upward trajectory for the rest of his career. With the title role in a new interpretation of MacBeth, Prometheus 2, and a new franchise in video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed, Fassbender is only getting bigger, which I’m thrilled to watch…

Stay tuned for another look at an A-lister next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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