Michael Fassbender says it was his portrayal of Bobby Sands – the Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteer, who led the 1981 hunger strike in a Northern Irish prison, in the bio-picture “Hunger” – that first put him on the radar of his “Prometheus” director Ridley Scott. Co-starring “Monster” Oscar winner Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace, who played “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” anti-hero in the Swedish version, “Prometheus” is a science-fiction flick about a late 21st century crew traveling through the cosmos on a quest to find the origins of human life. Fassbender plays a highly intelligent android who serves as a butler and maintenance man on the spaceship.
“We met, first of all, in 2008. [Scott] invited me to his office. He had seen ‘Hunger.’ He sees everything and still has that passion for films out there, like ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ I remember him telling me about that at the time and so you get the offer and you think: ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing. I have to go home and really start working and get prepared,’” the 35-year-old German-born Irishman told reporters during a recent press conference in Paris.
Fassbender, who was raised in Killarney, Co. Kerry, said he approached the role in the Hollywood blockbuster “Prometheus” much the way he did his characters in the well-received independent films “A Dangerous Method,” “Jane Eyre” and “Shame,” and popular TV projects “Hex” and “Band of Brothers.”
“I really believe in preparing, preparing, preparing, so when I come on set I can allow things to happen, but have an idea of where I’m going with it. It was just a lot of fun,” the “X-Men: First Class” actor said of “Prometheus.”
“I was pretty nervous the first day,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what to expect and then it just became like play, really. And although we were both very serious about the work, it was a joy. No idea was stupid until we tried it and put it on the floor and took a look at it. If it worked, it worked. If it didn’t, it didn’t,” he explained. “But what is really impressive about Ridley and watching him work is you have 350 people on a set and each department has got to come and bring their top game to set and seeing somebody have an involvement and instilling passion in each of those departments is pretty amazing to witness and to have that precision in each department, to have the imagination and enthusiasm and energy, that’s what makes him a master. You have to be a ringmaster especially with something that size and magnitude.”
Asked if he looked at any of Scott’s previous sci-fi classics before he started shooting “Prometheus,” Fassbender replied: “I didn’t watch any of the ‘Aliens’ films before this.
“I’ve seen them all before,” he went on. “But for some reason, I decided not revisit them just before filming. We had some other ideas. I did watch ‘Blade Runner,’ funnily enough. There was something in the replicants that I thought was kind of interesting, particularly Sean Young’s character.”
The actor said he also found inspiration for David’s voice and movements in characters from the films “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Servant” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” as well as the style of Olympic diver Greg Louganis.
“Just certain images and people come to mind,” he said about breathing life into his robotic alter-ego. “[I wanted to] bring something totally different to it. I didn’t want to be influenced by what those guys had done in the earlier ‘Alien’ films.”
Scott, who was sitting beside Fassbender, Rapace and Theron at the press conference, said he hired the international stars because they are “free-thinking, free-moving artists, who think on their feet.”
Fassbender returned the compliment, noting Scott has a talent for capturing special, intangible interactions between actors on screen.
“We try and capture moments in cinema and you don’t know how they come. … A lot of directors don’t see it brewing in the atmosphere. … But Ridley is very attuned to it. So he’s like, ‘We’ve got to go now.’ He sees something happening within the actors and that something special is about to happen,” Fassbender observed.
“Prometheus” is in theaters now.