Michael Fassbender is an Irish–German actor of stage and screen whose career includes roles in both independent and blockbuster films.
Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany. His mother, Adele, is from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, and his father, Josef Fassbender, is German. When he was two years old, his parents moved to Killarney, County Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland, where they ran the West End House, a restaurant where his father worked as a chef. Fassbender was raised Catholic, and served as an altar boy at the church his family attended. He has an older sister, Catherine, who works at the University of California, Davis, as a neuropsychologist.
Fassbender and his sister spent summer holidays in Germany, and he speaks German fluently. He attended Fossa National School, and St. Brendan’s College, both in Killarney, County Kerry. He discovered he wanted to be an actor at age 17 when he was cast in a play by Donal Courtney. At 19, he moved to London to study at the Drama Centre London. In 1999. he dropped out of the Drama Centre and toured with the Oxford Stage Company to perform the play Three Sisters.
His feature film debut was in the fantasy war epic 300 (2006) as a Spartan warrior; his earlier roles include starring roles on television such as in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) and the fantasy drama Hex (2004–05). He first came to prominence for his biographical role as IRA activist Bobby Sands in the historical drama Hunger (2008), for which he won a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor. Subsequent roles included the independent film Fish Tank (2009), earning his second BIFA nomination; as a Royal Marines lieutenant in the Quentin Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds (2009); as Edward Rochester in the 2011 film adaptation of Jane Eyre; as psychiatry innovator Carl Jung in historical drama A Dangerous Method (2011); as a sentient android in the Ridley Scott science fiction film Prometheus (2012); and in the musical comedy-drama Frank (2014) as an eccentric musician loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom.
In 2011, Fassbender debuted as the Marvel antihero Magneto in the prequel X-Men: First Class; he would go on to share the role with Ian McKellen in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Also in 2011, Fassbender’s performance as a sex addict in Shame received critical acclaim. He won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. In 2013, his role as slave owner Edwin Epps in slavery epic 12 Years a Slave was similarly praised, earning him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 12 Years a Slave marked Fassbender’s third collaboration with Steve McQueen, who also directed Hunger and Shame. In 2013, Fassbender appeared in another Ridley Scott film, The Counselor. In 2015, he portrayed Steve Jobs in the biopic of the same name, and played Macbeth in Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play. For the former, he has received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Actor. As well as acting, Fassbender produced the 2015 western Slow West which he also starred in.
- First language is English and second is German.
- Has formed his own production company known as ‘Peanut Productions’.
- Has an older sister named Catherine, who is a neuropsychologist.
- He went on a diet of berries, nuts and sardines for his role in Hunger (2008) for which he lost 33 pounds.
- Is close friends with X-Men co-star James McAvoy.
- Is a MotoGP fan.
- The actor’s second name – Fassbender is the German for “cooper,” a binder or repairer of casks and barrels.
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