Michael Fassbender: ‘I don’t see myself as a pin-up. I don’t dwell on it’


A few weekends ago, we had a preview of Michael Fassbender’s GQ UK cover for the February issue. Now we have a lot of quotes from the interview, plus more photos from the (terrible) GQ shoot (photos at the end of the post), plus Michael also covers the new issue of Italian GQ (cover above). I do not blame Michael for the crappy GQ UK shoot, as I said two Sundays ago. GQ UK just has some really terrible stylists these days and it seems like the magazine’s mission in life is making attractive men look foolish, old and/or creepy. As for the interview… Michael is holding back a bit, but that’s fine. He went through a phase a few years ago where he would talk about the beast within and ruining the sweetshop in interviews, but nowadays, he’s most circumspect and conservative. It’s fine. I miss Raw Fassy, but Reticent Fassy is okay too. Some highlights:

On claims that he’s a sex symbol: ”I don’t see myself as a pin-up. I don’t dwell on it. That sort of information isn’t good for my own head.”

Whether he would do full-frontal nudity again: ”Of course I would do it again if the film needs it. When filming ’12 Years a Slave’, [director] Steve [McQueen] wanted me to lose my pants for a particular scene and I was like, ‘Steve come on, we’ve done ”Shame” already.’ ‘Listen, it’s not a big deal. I mean half the population has one between our legs and the other half has something else. It’s weird how there seems to be so much hype around one man’s piece of anatomy. It’s just ludicrous, really!”

On his 12 Years character, Edwin Epps: “He is a monster, but he too is a man. As hard as it is to believe, I had sympathy for him, despite his actions. I had this primal feeling that what we do to each other affects us, and that goes for both ends of the whip, if you like. I wanted to bring that part of Epps out to where the audience could recognize themselves, even if just for a second. So then it doesn’t become so comfortable to keep his monstrosity at arm’s length. Bring him closer and it’s more effective. To force the audience into recognizing the human being, the flesh and blood and brain behind the horror. Where does such abhorrent racism stem from? And what does it leave behind in a man like Epps?”

He practiced his whipping skills for 12 Years a Slave: ”I remember I had to practice on the whip; I had to learn to crack it properly. I remember thinking about the knot it created in my shoulder, the knot it would create from doing such a physical task as whipping the skin off another human’s back. That physical memory would stay in the body, my body, Epps’ body. The body would retain the memory of what you have done to your fellow man or fellow woman. What would the psychological effect of this be? The retention of pain in your body memory? It’s got to be stored somewhere. That’s what I tried to with Epps. There’s a deep conflict in the man.”

He’s an adrenalin junkie: “Have you ever done skydiving? I’ve done two jumps but I want to do more. Last time was in Hawaii, New Year’s Eve. An incredible feeling. And that’s the sort of thing that blows my mind about human beings. Someone somewhere first had that idea. To jump out of a plane and free fall. Of course you have to pull the parachute eventually and that’s the bit that freaks me out. When you suddenly slow down and you can see how high you are. You can see the curvature of the earth. Applying the brakes suddenly makes you more aware of your own mortality. Before this everything is just a rush of brown and greens as you scream towards the planet through space. Then the chute opens and you can see all the details. The cars. The trees. Houses. All of life is brought back into sharp focus. Suddenly reality appears a little too close somehow. Wouldn’t it be terrible to be on your death bed and suddenly think, ‘God why didn’t I do that? Was it because I was worried about failing? Or what someone else might think of me?’ We are all going to die eventually. Take the jump. What have you got to lose?”

[From GQ UK via Irish Independent & Contact Music]

He doesn’t see himself as a sex symbol? Huh. And he needs to stop complaining about the attention given to the Fassdong! That’s the whole reason most people went to see Shame. The Fassdong was a marketing tool. A great, big marketing tool. Mm… tool. What were we talking about?

I like the part about bringing humanity to all sides of the slavery issue, and how he ponders the psychological and physiological remnants of slavery. There’s a part near the end of the movie where Michael has to whip someone and it’s so, so awful and uncomfortable and brutal. The look on Epps’ face as he’s doing it too… it killed me. Everything about that film killed me and I really hope all of them win the big awards.




Photos courtesy of GQ UK, GQ Italy.

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43 Responses to “Michael Fassbender: ‘I don’t see myself as a pin-up. I don’t dwell on it’”

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  1. Sixer says:

    I understand what he is saying, and has been saying, about Epps, but I also think that he still hasn’t found a way to articulate it that isn’t going to make people shout at him.

    • Lindy79 says:

      I agree. I get what he is trying to say. I mean, these people did and do still exist. Especially with the whole justifying it with religion aspect.
      People don’t like to be reminded or associated with that. It’s easier to put him into the “oh he’s an inhuman monster” category.

      I personally found Cumberbatch as Ford quite hard to deal with in the same way, maybe more so as he’s the more human of the Masters. He comes across as a good man, tries to do the right thing yet knows what is going on, knows that it’s wrong but finds a way to push it to the back of his mind.
      It reminded me of that speech in The Reader, about how conflicted the students are knowing their parents/teachers etc. knew what was going on, everyone did, yet no one did anything.

      • Sixer says:

        Yes. It’s easier to believe in a total monster than to assume shared guilt or shame.

        And of course, even the monsters don’t think of themselves as monsters, so how could you act the part of one without even trying to think as he/she does?

    • Renee says:

      I think that you are right, he really is not articulating this properly. And I can almost buy what he is saying here, because I think that McQueen was making a larger point about complicity in this film and the historical and present-day implications of complicity when it comes to societal conditions and histories. But I think the danger of his inability to express the complicated nature of this issue is that people will dismiss the seriousness and trauma of this issue. People don’t really try to humanize SS officers, or Nazi war criminals when they question how the horrors of the Holocaust were allowed to unfold so I don’t see why this would be any different. Also, I don’t think that his portrayal was that nuanced or complex. I thought that it was a bit of a caricature to be honest. The woman who played his wife was much more effective, she was chilling in her spite and vindictiveness. I think that she managed to convey the psychology of her character very well, to show how her husband’s philandering (hardly the right word) enraged her, how she was addicted to power and privilege, how she believed with her mind that Patsey (and the other slaves) was inferior yet her jealousy of her belied her insecurities and her belief otherwise…

    • marion strong says:

      I disagree, I think he was incredibly articulate and astute. The people who will yell at him for it simply don’t want to face the uncomfortable fact of the banality of evil– that monsters are humans and vice versa. They would yell at him regardless of how he says it.

      • Renee says:

        In this statement he has expanded more to elaborate on the fact that everyone suffers from abusive behavior, whether they are the perpetrator or the recipient. But in past statements he was very clumsy in attempting to get his point across. It seemed that he was trying to empathize with his character as he was uncomfortable about playing such an atrocious human…this time he has been a bit more clear, but it still seems as though he was suggesting that he wants us to sympathize with the character rather than identify the ways in which we all make excuses for or are complicit with oppressive actions.

      • jaye says:

        I believe that he’s saying that in order to play Epps, he had to humanize him. If he approached the character as just a monster, his portrayal of him would have rung (rang?) false. The fact that Epps was a monster doesn’t negate the fact that he was human. I think Fassbender’s explanation is quite clear.

    What really got me, in 12 YAS, was right after the ‘Soap’ scene, when he tells the overseer to tie Patsy naked, to the post. Epps came up behind Patsy, and said ‘You’ve done this to yourself Pats’–The look she gave him–ugh. I mean, I just can’t.

    Personally, I do think that Epps saw something *human* inside Patsy, which caused him to question his entire world–so instead of dealing with that, he took it out on her. But I was so disgusted by his character–Michael as Epps. I still managed to find Ralph Fiennes a sexy beast in Schindler’s List–but I just couldn’t with Michael. He made my skin crawl, and I felt sick to my stomach every time he touched Patsy. It was just so disgusting, especially when you realized that he wasn’t ever going to let her go–that scene when his cotton dies, so he hires part of the slaves out–he didn’t hire out Patsy. She was the best cotton picker on that plantation, and he kept her close.

    Sarah Paulson was amazing as well—I don’t know who was worse, Mistress or Master Epps. I just can’t imagine having to be a wife to that kind of man, but then taking it out on the victim.

    • Lindy79 says:

      Did you also feel uneasy when he was playing with the young black girl when they arrive back? Not directly, as in he was attracted to her, but you could just see that she could potentially grow up and meet the same fate as Patsy.

      • In an interview ( the last post that CB covered on Fassy), he said that it was their (Epp’s and Patsy’s) daughter.

        But it’s possible–if she was their daughter in real life, incest between slave and master has happened before. It’s also possible because that *was* Patsy–in the book, Mistress Epps used to play with Patsy, give her milk, cookies, etc until she grew up and Edwin Epps started raping her…..

        But still–creepy. Besides that, the fact that he was an unstable, crazy drunk–I wouldn’t want him around my kid either.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Oh I missed that interview, it adds a different dynamic to Patsy’s whole situation.
        It makes it even more heartbreaking if that was even possible.

      • lisa says:

        That surprises me. I recently read the book and it says nothing about Patsy having Epp’s child.

  3. serena says:

    I hope this movie will do great and all the actor gain some kind of recogniton!

    • Kim1 says:

      I am not a Debbie Downer but I have an unseasy feeling that TYAS is Color Purple 2.0. 12 Oscar noms but no wins

      • I couldn’t believe that they didn’t win anything, to begin with–but Steven Spielberg wasn’t even nominated. Ugh. I grew up on that movie, and I didn’t know until about a year or so ago that he had directed it–until we got the blue ray version. Amazing film…

      • Lindy79 says:

        Same here. When I think that Chicago has a win for Best Picture and Color Purple does not, it gives me unnatural rage feelings.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Horrible photo shoot. I don’t find him all that.

  5. Ice Maiden says:

    ”GQ UK just has some really terrible stylists these days and it seems like the magazine’s mission in life is making attractive men look foolish, old and/or creepy. ”

    I think it’s called jealousy.

  6. Lauren says:

    I love me sone fassbender, but he always looks SO old! He’s only supposed to be 35, right? Damn! Sometimes he looks 50.

    • Boodiba says:

      A quick google says 36. I agree he looks older, though 50 would be a long shot. Loki (forget his real name) also looks way older than his actual age. But then male actors are allowed a wide arc of haggard & can still play leading men. It’s not fair.

      • Renee says:

        THIS. Can you imagine a woman of his age who was as wrinkled and beat looking as him being touted as sexy and hot???

      • MaiGirl says:

        Completely agree. While he does give me the tingles at times, he looks ROUGH for 36, and there is no way a female celebrity would get away with looking this dried up.

  7. Cora says:

    I quite like the black and white photo. 🙂

  8. Ari says:

    This freaking photo shoot makes me want to jump his bones like nobodys business omg

  9. Ann says:

    I wasn’t aware he’s considered a pin-up. The photos make him look rather dour and unappealing.

  10. Fassy looks so creepy in this photoshoot.

  11. Evi says:

    Oh I don’t see myself as a pin up…but I’ll happily pose for the cover of men’s fashion magazines…

    It annoys me when celebrities contradict themselves. When they say such stupid things, I am disappointed and wonder about their IQ.

    • Renee says:

      I think pin-up applies to magazines like FHM or Maxim or whatever the male equivalent would be. Posing for GQ isn’t exactly the same.

    • marion strong says:

      Celebs are obligated to do a certain amount and type of promotion for the films they are in. It’s in the contract. It’s not like he volunteered. The movie studio tells him where to be and when, and the “where” is based on demo market research.

      • derpy says:

        exactly I dont think he is referencing photoshoots when he has movies are coming out. He may mean just the comments on his looks , being in sexiest lists etc

  12. GeeMoney says:

    That man is so droolworthy.

    I really wish they would make a sequel to Shame… just starring Fassbender’s package, lol.

  13. Bailey says:

    Photos courtesy of GQ UK? Uh, these photos are courtesy of Tumblr. You guys stopped giving credit to the Tumblrs you take photos from now?

    • jaye says:

      It’s not like the pics on Tumblr were taken by Tumblr users. They grab them from the publications in which they originally appear. Celebitchy gave the correct credit.

  14. FingerBinger says:

    Surprised there are so few comments on a Fassbender post. A few months ago it would have been up to a hundred comments by now.

  15. LadyS says:

    There is something dark and troubled inside this man. I love him, but he also freaks me out. I don’t know what it is though…. Anyone feel the same? I don’t think I would be able to look him in the eye for too long. On a side note: his face is the epitome of masculinity. My God!!

    • jaye says:

      No. I never got that, but I’ve never had any personal interactions with him. In any of the interviews I’ve seen him give, he seems like a pretty affable guy.

  16. Blue says:

    He’s such a beautiful man. I understand him not seeing himself as a sex symbol. It’s very hard sometimes to see yourself the way others see you. I’ve got to go see 12 years a slave. I’m sure everyone in that film is mesmerizing.

  17. Bgirl says:

    I’ve just recently discovered Fassbender (first saw him in “Jane Eyre”, then “Shame”, “Centurion” and “Fish Tank”) and am blown away by him, both as an actor and as a sex symbol. I would go as far to say that he’s the Marlon Brando of today. He brings such raw magnetism to his characters and understands nuance. He has a deep regard and understanding for human nature and frailty. This is evidenced, not only by his acting, but by interviews as well.

    I haven’t read the infamous interview in which many claim he revealed himself to be an idiot. Perhaps he *in* one in the realm of economics. But in the acting world, he’s a damn genius.

  18. Rumour says:

    Have you seen the facebook or Instagram of Madalina Ghenea (Gerard Butler’ex)? There’s a photo of a man kissing her and it seems that it’s MF… And yeah he looks older, he’s maybe just tired 😉