Michael Fassbender: ‘We’d be in a better place mentally’ if we turned off our phones


When Michael Fassbender was nominated for Best Supporting Actor across the board for 12 Years a Slave, it was almost like he was in the wind for the majority of the Oscar campaign. Lupita Nyong’o became the de facto face of the film’s Oscar campaign, with Chiwetel Ejiofor taking on some low-key duties too. While Fassy came out for some of the shows, he definitely didn’t participate in the “campaign” in any way, shape or form. I mean, it even feels like Daniel Day Lewis plays the game more than Fassy, and that’s how you know something weird is happening.

I’m taking that little trip down memory lane because once again, it’s looking like Fassy is going to be nominated across the board for Steve Jobs. And once again, he’s in the wind. Fassy hasn’t done any press in more than a month. He’s been working, for sure, but he hasn’t made any appearances at any of the smaller awards shows or anything. I may have missed it, but I don’t even think he made any statements about his SAG and Golden Globe nominations, did he? He’s really, really serious about this whole “I’m not participating” thing. Which, to me, is like cutting off his nose to spite his face. I get the whole “the work is the reward” mentality, but Fassy ends up looking sullen, or perhaps even unprofessional.

Anyway, I was reminded of all this because there’s a “new” interview with Fassy. He and Danny Boyle sat down with the LA Times back in October, and the LAT is only publishing the piece now (possibly because the LAT Critics Association gave their Best Actor award to Fassy for Steve Jobs). There isn’t a lot of meat on this bone, but here are some highlights:

Music: Danny Boyle’s iPod is loaded with the Clash and he names his favorite as “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.” Then the LAT notes, “In the interest of equal time: Fassbender chooses Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”

Fassy doesn’t believe computers are relationships: “A friend of mine put stickers on his computer that say, ‘This is a tool. It’s not a relationship.’ You could say he doesn’t buy into that vision.”

Fassbender’s restaurant rule: No phones. If somebody at the table brings one out, the actor will politely ask them to put it away. And when he’s on vacation or working, he turns his devices off. And since he’s almost always working (“Jobs” is his third movie this year; he’ll likely have at least four in 2016), people know not to expect an immediate reply.

He’s not into any of it: “The levels of communication now, whether it’s texting, answering the phone, emailing, twittering … where does one find the time? It’s an annoyance. Bing! Bing! Bing! We’d all be in a better place mentally, I think, if we just turned them off and looked at each other.”

[From The LAT]

This is possibly why Fassy “gets away” with being so disengaged from the Oscar season and what other actors feel is their duty/responsibility to represent their film over and over, for months. Fassy is disengaged in general – he’s not online, obsessing over internet comments. He’s not on Twitter, looking to directly engage with fans or the press. He’s not even all that available on the phone. So, he genuinely doesn’t care. He cares about the work, of course, but beyond that… you’re on your own.

Also: his go-to song is “Sexual Healing”? Bless him. Honestly, you could put on Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits and I would already be thinking about Fassy.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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66 Responses to “Michael Fassbender: ‘We’d be in a better place mentally’ if we turned off our phones”

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  1. Marnie says:

    I love that no phones at the dinner table rule. It’s a rule my partner and I have adopted. As soon as we both get in the door, phones are put on silent.

    • KCAT says:

      ^^^This. No one talks anymore. They just pull out phones and type…everywhere. I bump into so many people because they’re looking at their phones.

    • Flora says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I find it terribly rude of people to use their phone when you’re trying to have a conversation with them. But the last time I saw Mr Fassbender out and about he was constantly on his iPhone and he wasn’t alone! Perhaps he’s seen the error of his ways.

    • Carol says:

      Absolutely!!! Especially during dinner. That’s a no phone zone.

      • Marnie says:

        I waitress, and it’s extremely aggravating to be trying to serve someone and them have their phone on the table. There’s always a risk we knock a glass, and phones are so expensive now.

  2. Betti says:

    I agree with him on the phones thing. I bugs me no end that people are walking along all the while texting or watching some TV show on their phone. It’s not the first time I have been trampled by some idiot glued to their phone or tablet. I never answered the phone when walking about and if I need to text or call someone I will stand to the side or sit in a bus shelter.

    I have met people who take their phone everywhere and God forbid if the battery runs out – the world as they know it is ending. #firstworldstupidproblems

    • LadyMTL says:

      ITA Betti. I have a few younger step-siblings and they are ALWAYS on their phones, be it at dinner, while watching TV…you name it. I’m sort of like Fassy in that I never take out my phone when I’m at dinner, and when I’m on vacation it only comes out if there’s an emergency and I need to contact someone. Heck, even when I’m at home I don’t keep it near me.

      I like being “disconnected” and not having to think about what’s happening online. It’s relaxing, in a way. So yeah, thumbs up to Fassy there! (And for the Marvin Gaye reference, I love Marvin Gaye, lol).

    • Esmom says:

      I’m right there with you. This fall I was particularly bugged when I noticed a few people in my neighborhood walking their dogs — it was a beautiful crisp day and their heads were down, glued to their phones. No enjoyment of the weather or the leaves or the walk or the pet, I thought it was so sad.

      And don’t even get me started on the people who text while driving…grr.

    • Melly M says:

      I have witnessed quite a lot of people panicking because the battery of their phone was running out. That makes me think smartphones cause some form of addiction.
      But maybe most of us are already addicted now that we are starting to think about this.

  3. Lara K says:

    The phone thing is definitely an addiction. I actively fight it. Definitely try to put it away when I’m with my kids – that’s the one time I do not want to be in any way disengaged.

    Fassy is my go to fantasy. a hot weekend with the man would probably sustain me for a long time. He’s a walking sex dream.

    Too bad his idea of a relationship does not really extend past sex.

  4. SBS says:

    I like his way of not campaigning much more than all of the hardcore show up everywhere campaigning some actors do. Though perhaps a middle of the road approach would be best.

    He did release statements about his nominations, I think one of them was that he was on a horse when he got the news.

  5. saltandpepper says:

    I didn’t think I could love him more, but after his choice of music and his take on phones, especially when eating together, I love him even more!!!

  6. Sixer says:

    Mr Sixer is a mahousive fan of The Clash. For that matter, he’s also a fan of Danny Boyle.

    See, I am an inveterate nethead but not an inveterate phonehead. I don’t look at my phone when I’m out unless it rings or unless I need to ring someone. And since it doesn’t work at home – other than wi-fi for which I have a laptop – as I live in the back of beyond without a mobile signal except at the end of the garden, my phone lives in my coat pocket. Therefore, I rarely use it even if I go out because it’s always run out of charge.

    Am I alone in quite liking Fassy for not campaigning?

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Not alone at all, Sixer. Compare Fassy to Anne Hathaway during her campaign and which do you prefer? It SHOULD be about the work, not a popularity contest.

      I use my iPad often throughout the day, but I am not addicted to my phone at all. I tried not to give people my cell number because I kept it in my handbag and don’t hear it ring half the time, but I lost that battle by calling people on it (it’s “free”) and they just dial back. I would never pull it out at dinner and don’t know anyone over 18 who would.

      Sexual Healing, though? Cringe. 😁

    • GingerCrunch says:

      Not alone. It is refreshing and this way we’ll never get sick of him. Which would be a shame, looking like that.

    • SBS says:

      Definitely not alone. Much nicer than some of the crazy campaigning happening.

    • Sixer says:

      I just think that of all the things we could criticise Fassy for, staying out of all the unseemly awards shenanigans doesn’t seem to me to be one of them. I don’t see it as ungrateful at all.

      The Sixlets don’t seem to be particularly wedded to their phones either. Their online communications all take place while playing FIFA with their mates. It’s like football + school gossip, from what I can make out.

    • lilacflowers says:

      You’re not alone. More actors should follow that rule. Leo bit into bison liver and grew a beard and was cold and wet! Give him that Oscar. I’ve had enough of it. Fassy’s way is the better way.

      And Mr. Sixer is not alone either. Love the Clash. We’re approaching the anniversary of Strummer’s death next week. Such a loss.

      I entertain myself with my phone while I’m commuting or waiting for court hearings (in the outer corridor, NEVER in the back of the courtroom) but when with other people, the phone is away and off. It’s important to interact with the people I’m with, not with the people who are somewhere else. And it drives me crazy when I see people interacting with shop people while still talking on their phone somewhere else. That guy behind the counter deserves our attention. It’s basic courtesy.

    • Farhi says:

      “Am I alone in quite liking Fassy for not campaigning? ”

      I will be in the minority I think but he is wrong here. He has to market his product whether he likes it or not. I doubt that many actors actually like campaigning and dealing with fans ( some of whom can be rather unhinged) but if they don’t they are not doing right by their product and the investment put in them.
      It will hurt Fassy’s career, if it hasn’t already. If that is what he wants , that is his choice but I don’t think he is better than others because he doesn’t campaign.
      It is similar to recognizing that one doesn’t have social skills for a successful professional career and instead of doing something about it just continuing on because change is difficult and social skills don’t come naturally to all people. It is a choice but there are consequences to that choice.

      • lilacflowers says:

        But Oscar campaigning goes quite a bit beyond the standard movie promotion.

      • moon says:

        I completely disagree. The whole structure and industry of oscar campaigns are shameful and detract from the work. Just because you’re supposed to play the game even though it’s wrong doesn’t mean you should. If Fassy’s career is hurt because he refuses to do stupid things the Hollywood system demands, then props to him for highlighting how bs the whole system is.

        The oscars are bs anyway. Marlon Brando famously refused to campaign or show up for his award. DId it hurt his career? Yeah, some years he got snubbed. Guess what – his legacy stands for himself despite that. Others with the golden status, Goop for example, are nothing more than this era’s joke.

      • SBS says:

        He did promote Steve Jobs before it premiered. Oscar campaigning seems to be more about promoting yourself.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        Looking at his IMDB, he has four projects coming out next year and two more in 2017. I’d say he’s doing just fine with his non-campaigning stance.

        So many actors talk about caring only about the work but few actually walk the talk like Fassy and McAvoy do.

      • Farhi says:

        @Nutballs, he is a good looking and talented actor. He will have work.
        But he has no movie to his name where he was the lead that was a box office success. If this doesn’t change it will affect his career. And I think the box office misses have to do with him no campaigning .
        He does the minimum but he never acts excited about his projects ( from what I’ve seen) , he doesn’t sell them.

      • NUTBALLS says:

        He tends to choose niche, indy projects. They aren’t expected to appeal to a wide-ranging audience. But he gets paid and he’s critically acclaimed for his work and I surmise that’s what’s most important to him.

        Again, I find that kind of attitude very refreshing and I’m glad he’s willing to do those kind of projects.

      • Mary-Alic says:

        Eh,Hiddleston is always super excited about his projects but he doesn’t strike anyone as a box office wonder leading man either. Yes, yes, I know Fassy has been around longer but not so much and the truth is that the days of the 100% gold leading men actors are almost certainly over. Those who can act will have work, excited or not. What breaks a career in acting is actually being difficult on set and repeatedly so. Divas of any gender are rarely accommodated these days, partly, again, because of the passing age of the irreplaceable stars. Everyone is replaceable these days and discipline on the set is valued highly.

    • NUTBALLS says:

      I find his attitude about phones and campaigning very refreshing and it certainly hasn’t hurt his career.

    • jammypants says:

      You’re not alone. I have mad respect for his integrity.

  7. Ginger says:

    I go on regular Internet and Facebook breaks. And my friends and family know that I put my phone in another room at night. If there’s an emergency I will hear it ring, otherwise I don’t look at it when I get home from work. I also go on News fasts at times. I also get annoyed when people look at their phone while out to a restaurant but I can also be guilty of that so I don’t ask people to put theirs away. My point being is that Fassy is right that it does help mentally I think.

  8. mom2two says:

    Michael Fassbender is a 100% right on the phones. To me, when you are visiting people or dining out with them-it is totally rude to be looking at the phone all the time. You might as well not bother.

  9. bebea says:

    He has a point, I get the fact that always texting, emailing and being on Instagram is annoying, and should never be done on a date, but for those of us with personal assistants, some calls can’t go unanswered. If i’m going out I will tell my family and kids not to call me unless it’s life or death, so if i see that they have called i’m more inclined to excuse myself and see what’s going on. Everything else can wait, I’m not on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or any of that other mess, but i will make sure my children are OK if they call, if that’s a bother then oh well. on a side note, He is handsome in these pictures. lol

  10. Armenthrowup says:

    You know what else would make us better people, Michael? Not treating women like shit.

    • anon says:

      lol what’s that about? How do you know how he treats women?

    • Farhi says:

      Agree. He is never there for them. People criticized Amber for dragging Depp around everywhere but I felt that this is what a couple should do.
      Depp should support Amber and Amber should support Depp. Partners should be there for each other even if it is not convenient.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        I make a distinction between being there for a work event, and premieres and red carpets are work events, and being there when truly needed, like when someone is upset or sick.

  11. ell says:

    this is the sort of thing my 60 year old dad says.

    • Melly M says:

      And the sort of thing my 68 year old dad says. It makes me think, well, 68 years of life experience, maybe I should take his opinion seriously.

  12. CornyBlue says:

    I mean what an old man yells at cloud type of comment. While i do agree that sometimes people go overboard, people are usually talking to people on their phones and not screaming into a void. Even when they are Twitter, Tumblr etc i feel it is very helpful. Presently i do not have a lot of friends in the city i live and i have very high social anxiety so social media is a very happy medium.

  13. Renee says:

    Totally agree about phones at the dinner table or restaurant when you are eating with others that the phone should be put away. It is just rude not to be totally present.

    • Jayna says:

      I agree with him. It’s just silly that you can’t be disconnected from your phone for a few hours. It is an addiction and has become a rude addiction in many instances, like at dinner. I’m excluding emergency calls, like about children, etc.

      I have been converted to the Fassbender love. I’m finally on the bandwagon after watching a few of his movies back to back.

    • Esmom says:

      It is so rude. A friend was telling me how he was at a really nice birthday dinner and even as they were toasting one guy still wouldn’t get off from texting or surfing or whatever on his phone. He finally had to ask him to put it away, and said it kind of ruined the whole dinner.

  14. Pondering thoughts says:

    Do manage it sensibly.
    Emails is once or twice a day and that is it. Except when you know to expect an urgent email.
    Phone is mostly turned off. Some of my whatsapp contacts think nothing of sending a message at 04:00 in the morning. I don’t want to hear my phone beep at that time.

    And yes, friends should understand that one needn’t answer a SMS within an hour.

  15. Peach says:

    Fassy did release statements on his GG and SAG nominations. I remember he said the SAG nom meant a lot because it came from his peers.

    And ITA with him on the phone thing. It’s kind of sad to see a family at a restaurant and everyone… Mom, Dad, and kids are all on their devices.

  16. Farhi says:

    Ah, well. It helps that I never liked the phone and avoid it if I can. I just don’t like talking to people on the phone . It has to do probably with how we process information.
    I can’t learn or process information by just hearing it, I have to see it and understand it. I am too visual for going just with audio input.

    But I think he means all the devices, not just phones. And, yes, it is rude to be texting or browsing internet when you are in a company of other people. Engage them instead.

  17. littlemissnaughty says:

    I don’t think he comes off as sullen or unprofessional but that’s just me. I respect him more than say, Ben Affleck, who decided to trot out his kids for his campaign. After his wife testified in front of a committee. Pushing for stricter laws. Ugh.

    I do agree about the phones. I love mine and I love group chats because it’s so easy to keep a group of friends together who are living all over the world at this point. Love it. But I sometimes forget looking at my phone between Friday night and Monday morning.

  18. Minxx says:

    He did release statements about his SAG and GG nominations and he did campaign quite a lot for Jobs in October, before the big premiere. I think he’s been busy filming since and I kind of respect him for having integrity not to whore himself out for the awards. I saw Macbeth the other night and I wish the movie was promoted like it should have been – he’s better in it than in Jobs, IMO and it’s a stunning film.
    As to the phones, he’s completely right though I wouldn’t go as far as telling people to turn it off (sounds a bit rude to me) .As far as I know he does not have a twitter, instagram or facebook accounts, so he’s not just being pretentious for the interview. I have only a fb account, can’t even imagine finding time to deal with more. I’m addicted to Pinterest, which is bad enough!

  19. spidey says:

    In 1,000 years time archaeologists are going to start digging up bodies and wonder why one of the arms appears to be attached to one of the ears!

  20. Lilacflowers says:

    The woman standing over me on the subway is loudly discussing the sex she had last night while the guy next to me is arguing with someone about a plumbing problem in graphic detail. On the subway. I’m with Fassy

    • spidey says:

      And have you noticed, it is always loudly? I feel like saying “you don’t need the bloody phone, they can hear you miles away.”

  21. Elle says:

    I have been guilty of looking at my phone instead of engaging with others a time or two. And it makes me feel honest guilt! In our culture I find it commendable to set standards for how we engage w the technology that’s now at our fingertips. This quality makes me like him more!!

  22. I Choose Me says:

    I knew there was a reason I loved him. I don’t even bring my cellphone to work. Anyone close to me knows my work number. That’s sufficient if you need to reach me. When I’m home my phone sits on the coffee table. I don’t look at it unless it rings or pings with a text or unless I need to make a call. If I’m out with friends/acquaintances and they’re engaged with their phones rather than me, I’ll tell them to knock it off. If they don’t then I say ciao. Definitely NO phones while dining.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love that he doesn’t campaign. But I strongly disagree that he doesn’t promote the work. He does and always has. He is a consummate professional. I think it’s just that everyone else who campaigns is so extra that in comparison, it seems like he’s not making much effort.

  23. Fanny says:

    I know Fassy doesn’t want to do the same type of all-out Oscar campaign that he did for Shame, but count me in as thinking that he needs to find a middle ground and do more promotion of his movies.

    When audiences were polled pre-release about Steve Jobs, their level of interest in seeing the movie went down when they were told that Fassbender was the lead actor. That is perhaps the worst thing for him about the movie flopping.

    He needs to demonstrate his worth to movie studios if he wants to continue to get good jobs in the future and a willingness to promote films is one of the things they value.

    • Guesto says:

      He needs to do nothing of the kind. He will continue to get quality work from quality directors because they know that quality is what Michael Fassbender has in spades.

      This need to turn him into something he’s not – a bells and whistle circus act – says something seriously woeful about people’s ability to stand back and just appreciate talent.

      • Fanny says:

        He’ll always work because of his talent, but will he always get great lead roles though? Not necessarily. We know from the Sony hack that it was already pretty tough for him to get cast as Steve Jobs.

        There’s a huge difference between putting on a circus act and simply going out and being interviewed about your films and showing up for screenings. As the article points out, it’s gotten to where Daniel Day-Lewis does more promotion than Fassbender, and DD-L is certainly not a circus act.

  24. Dangles says:

    I agree. I’m surprised by people’s inability to leave their phones alone. I even see people looking at their phones between sets in the gym FFS! Theses people obviously have an inability to sit with themselves. What’s next? Waterproof phones so swimmers can check their phones after every lap?

  25. seesittellsit says:

    And kept our clothes on in movies to preserve the difference between reality and fantasy, and art and shock-art. Much as I love looking at you naked, you understand . . .

  26. Solanacaea (Nighty) says:

    I’m with him on the phone thing.. My phone is turned off for most of the day (I’m a teacher and phones are not allowed inside classrooms) and at home I barely look at it… I even forget I have a phone sometimes… :)

  27. Andrea says:

    I see so many couples when I am out to dinner not talking but using their phones during an entire meal. It is sooo sad and makes me think they have nothing in common and aren’t getting busy enough.