Since 2007, Michael Fassbender has quickly established himself as one of the premier feature film actors of his generation. Mainstream audiences were first introduced to Fassbender as Stelios, the lean Spartan warrior from the movie 300 who gave us the oft-quoted quip about fighting in the shade of Persian arrows.

After breaking on to the scene with this role, Fassbender has turned out one quality performance after another. We have seen him portray characters as diverse as the famed canonical love interest Edward Rochester in a recent adaptation of Jane Eyre, to a young Magneto in the latest X-Men movie franchise, and even a performance as influential psychologist Carl Jung in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Mind. One of his most recent films and the third collaboration between he and director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It was well deserved, and only further cemented Fassbender as one of the most exciting young talents working today.

Michael FassbenderCredit: Gage SkidmoreBorn in Heidelberg, West Germany on April 2, 1977, to an Irish mother and German father, Michael Fassbender spoke both English and German during his youth. This linguistic prowess was subsequently put on full display during his captivating performance as Lt. Archie Hicox in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards. Fassbender spent time in his early years living in both Germany and Ireland, each of which provided a significant influence on his career. Fassbender’s parents ran a restaurant in Killarney, Ireland, but Fassbender often went back to Germany during summers to visit with family and keep up on his German.

He began his acting career on stage in 1994, with a handful of amateur productions, most notably a stage adaptation of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, in which Fassbender not only played Mr. Pink, but produced and directed the play as well. His first on-screen role came in 2001 as Pat Christenson in Steven Spielberg’s epic mini-series, Band of Brothers. Over the next six years, Fassbender would dabble in a few different television roles, many in association with the British broadcasters Channel 4 and BBC.

Although the role of Stelios in 300 was where Fassbender made his commercial breakthrough, it was as imprisoned IRA leader Bobby Sands in the 2008 film Hunger that he first truly proved his acting merit. A bleak and difficult film, the first of director Steve McQueen’s corporeal punishment trilogy, Fassbender is mesmerizing even as he spends a good portion of the running time either in silence or speaking with a barely intelligible Irish brogue. McQueen and Fassbender followed up this contemplative masterpiece with another, 2011’s Shame, and finally the critically acclaimed 12 Years a Slave. None of these films make for easy viewing, but all are made necessary viewings largely through Fassbender’s incredible performances.

Even as Fassbender takes admirable risks with his memorable contributions to art-house film projects, he also rises to the occasion when giving parts in major motion pictures. Although Ridley Scott’s Prometheus received a mostly luke-warm reception, many critics and fans felt Fassbender’s portrayal of conniving cyborg David to be the standout element of the movie. Fassbender has also received wide praise for his performance of Magento in the latest series of X-Men origin films.

Gaining the nod for the main role in the Cormac McCarthy penned The Counselor, along with playing the titular character in the upcoming adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it appears Michael Fassbender has become one of the go-to lead actors in movies. It’s certainly well deserved. Charismatic and humble, Fassbender is a true artist, both in dedication to his craft and outright ability. His infectious smile, subtle accent and revealing …acting have giving Fassbender status as a preeminent Hollywood heartthrob. It seems he is in the midst of the prime of his career, and as such we should expect many more performances of superior quality provided by this amazing acting talent.

Films

2003 Carla
2004 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot
2004 A Most Mysterious Murder: The Case of Charles Bravo
2004 A Bear Named Winnie
2004 Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking
2005 Our Hidden Lives
2006 300
2007 Angel
2007 Wedding Belles
2008 Hunger
2008 Eden Lake
2009 Fish Tank
2009 Inglourious Basterds
2009 Blood Creek
2009 Man on a Motorcycle
2010 Centurion
2010 Jonah Hex
2011 Jane Eyre
2011 X-Men: First Class
2011 A Dangerous Method
2011 Shame
2011 Pitch Black Heist
2011 Haywire
2012 Prometheus
2013 12 Years a Slave
2013 The Counselor
2014 Frank
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past
2014 Slow West
2014 Macbeth

Television

2001 Hearts and Bones
2001 Band of Brothers
2002 NCS Manhunt
2002 Holby City
2005 William and Mary
2005 Murphy's Law
2004-5 Hex
2005 Agatha Christie: Poirot
2006-7 Trial & Retribution
2008 The Devil's Whore

Video Games

2010 Fable III

 

12 Years a Slave
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