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Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in the classic romantic drama Jane Eyre.

Michael Fassbender is officially a Hollywood leading man

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Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in the classic romantic drama Jane Eyre.

“I haven’t seen it yet!” he laughs. “I’m waiting for the premiere here. But making it was a fantastic experience.

“I just wanted to try and understand all the complexities of the character (the conflicted Mister Rochester). I have to say the Brontes wrote some cracking characters, both female and male. I love the idea of this Byronic hero with a shady past. We see his courage and his self-destructiveness, his intelligence and everything else.

“What I wanted to show is that he really doesn’t like himself. He tries to sabotage things for himself. I thought he was quite bi-polar in fact. One minute he can be happy and by the end of the scene he switches.

“The sins of his past are with him all the time too.  I’m sure he’s visited brothels, and the fact that he leaves his mansion all the time are all things I dealt with.

“And Mia (the film’s co-star Mia Wasikowska) is just f***ing brilliant. We worked on scenes for hours and it would have been impossible to get that level of intensity without her.”

You could forgive budding Irish actors looking at Fassbender’s filming schedule to be disheartened that they’ll ever come close themselves. Few actors ever get the offers that this man is taking in his stride.
But Fassbender says press ahead if it’s what you really want, because a film career involves as much luck as it does talent.

“Oh Jesus it’s all luck and timing. I think you have to be aware of when your opportunities are coming,” he says.

“When Hunger came my way I just knew I had to get that one right. I was being given a chance to get my foot in the door. I think being aware of that and seizing it when it’s there helped.

“That feeling of timing is really important in this business, definitely. Having business awareness is important too.”

Fassbender’s Irish side has deep connections to the southwest, going back generations -- in fact, his mother is the great great-niece of the Irish revolutionary hero Michael Collins, a fact he takes considerable pride in.

“My great grandfather joined the Royal Irish Constabulary and he was disowned by the family because of it.  He ended up living in the North, and when he returned years later to visit them they still didn’t want anything to do with him,” says Fassbender laughing. 

“My mother’s a great-great niece of Michael Collins, which balances out things.”

The next Irish project that Fassbender is slated to appear in is actor Brendan Gleeson’s much heralded version of the Flann O’Brien masterpiece At Swim Two Birds.

“I met Brendan at last year’s Irish Film and Television Awards, and hopefully we’re going to work on it. I think he’s an amazing actor and so generous. I’m waiting to hear what the deal is and where the financing’s at and everything else.”

Gleeson will be lucky to catch him in 2011. The way Fassbender’s career is going, we all will.
Jane Eyre opens on March 11.
 

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