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Michael Fassbender discusses ‘Macbeth’
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard stand respectfully still as the Thane of Cawdor is anointed king.
Three times the assembled bishops, priests noblemen and soldiers cry out: ‘Hail, Macbeth!’
Fassbender refers to his screen wife as ‘Lady M’, and together, they make as powerful a screen couple as I’ve observed in many years.
As I sit with director Justin Kurzel and watch the scene he’s shooting at Ely Cathedral (standing in for Dunsinane Castle), the camera picks out Fassbender’s eyes, and they give a hint of Macbeth’s inner torment.
‘He’s suffering from post traumatic stress disorder,’ Fassbender told me later. ‘It makes total sense, when you think about it. Justin set the seed of the idea in my head.’
‘This trauma is something we know about. In World War I they called it battle fatigue, and it was probably more horrific in Macbeth’s days, when they were killing with their bare hands, and driving a blade through bodies.’
'He’s having these hallucinations, and he needs to return to the violence to find some sort of clarity, or peace.’
Macbeth and his Lady M had also, the actor and director point out, lost a child.
‘He’d been away fighting and when he returns, we see it’s a relationship that’s broken down. They lost a child, and there wasn’t time for them to grieve because he’s been away campaigning.’
However, the couple do reconnect. ‘Lady M is desperate for that reconnection, and briefly they do. And, of course, the doorway has been opened to darkness and to violence,’ Fassbender said.
After Duncan is murdered, Lady M hopes that this ‘fantastical deed, this terrible deed, this extraordinary deed of killing a king will be something that will bond them together’.
But once the blood is spilled, it leads to more and more killings.
‘He’s wary of doing it,’ Fassbender said, ‘but Lady M bolsters him, and tells him to garner his strength.’
The actor, last seen playing a brutal plantation owner in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, will be back on screen next month as Magneto in the next X-Men movie: Days Of Future Past.
Interestingly, his X-Men co-star James McAvoy played Macbeth in the West End last year — and gave Fassbender some literature and advice on playing the Thane.
So, clearly, this is not just any old Macbeth. For starters, the key producers — See-Saw Films — were behind Oscar-winning The King’s Speech.
Macbeth and King’s Speech producer Iain Canning noted that they also filmed King George VI’s coronation scenes at Ely, which in that case doubled for Westminster Abbey (though, on the day I visited, the light shining through the stained glass windows was more stunning than anything I’d ever noticed at Westminster).
Also, the hiring of Kurzel was crucial. He and his creative team travelled extensively around the Highlands to find locations that would be as authentic as possible. The Australian-born film-maker wanted a rugged-looking movie.
Kurzel and Canning were adamant about not moving the story to a modern setting. ‘The story of Macbeth is eternally pertinent,’ Canning insisted.
The Bard’s verse remains, too, though it has been edited. ‘There’s a vibrancy and intelligence to the script,’ Fassbender observed.
He explained that the cast speak with Scottish accents — all apart from Lady M, the Oscar-winning French actress Ms Cotillard. ‘We felt it would be unreasonable for her to put on a Scottish accent. It would not be unreasonable to presume that her character spent time in the French court.’
I asked how he was approaching the psychology of Macbeth. How evil was he? ‘I always have a problem with that word,’ Fassbender said sharply. ‘It never gives me any information, or helps me in any way. I like to find a character’s motivation. I don’t think Macbeth is evil. I think he’s damaged.’
‘When we meet him, he’s a man who’s as good as his circumstances will allow. He serves his king loyally and looks after his soldiers.’
And what about Edwin Epps, his character in 12 Years? Surely he was evil? ‘You put it down to insecurity, and fears — unless of course you’re dealing with a total sociopath.’
‘Evil is a cloudy word, and something that’s not going to inform me to play the character in any other way than pantomime.’
Audiences will be able to judge for themselves when StudioCanal releases Macbeth in the UK early in 2015.
Source: Daily Mail
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Michael Fassbender will attend Dublin premiere of ‘Frank’ on May 9th
He’s a jet setting Hollywood star, but Michael Fassbender will be back on Irish shores for the second time in two months when he flies home for the premiere of his movie Frank.
The 37-year-old returned to Ireland to pick up an award at the 11th annual IFTAs nearly two weeks ago and the Kerryman has confirmed he’ll be flying in to Dublin again on May 9 for the screening of Lenny Abrahamson’s comedy.
Also joining Fassbender on the red carpet will be his co-star Domhnall Gleeson, although American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is unable to attend.
“It’s always nice to come home and special to work here too because it’s always hard to get back and unfortunately I don’t get home as much as I’d like; so you can kill two birds with one stone when you get to do it, like with Frank. It’s perfect for me,” he told this newspaper.
The 12 Years A Slave star, who splits his time between London and LA, recently completed production on Macbeth with Jack Reynor.
“It has an amazing director and great cast, so it was a privilege to work with such great people,” he said.
“The crew was absolutely amazing too because we were out in that crazy cold weather all through January and February in Scotland. It was horizontal hailstones.”