It’s hard to believe that Michael Fassbender, with his considerable talents and his matinee-idol looks, has only been an A-lister since 2011. Here we take a look at the slow-boil career of the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ star.
Band of Brothers (2001)
Like many actors, Fassbender got his start on the small screen. In fact, for five years, TV was all he did. Along with several U.K. shows, he was part of the ensemble in this Emmy-sweeping account of American soldiers in World War II.
Let’s be honest: the cast’s abs were the real stars of ‘300.’ But no one can deny that this stylish Persian War epic was a monster hit, boosting the profiles of Gerald Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West… and Michael Fassbender.
Not many people saw ‘Hunger,’ a harrowing biopic about Northern Ireland hunger striker Bobby Sands, but it’s significant as Fassbender’s first starring vehicle, and as the first of several collaborations with British director Steve McQueen.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Fassbender’s bilingual skills – his mother is Irish, his father is German – made him ideal for the part of a British spy posing as a Nazi in Quentin Tarantino’s wild WWII saga. This film marked the actor’s true Hollywood arrival.
Hoping to recapture some of that ‘300’ magic, this Roman Empire actioner gave Fassy his first “big” leading-man role. Alas, the movie bombed, so it would take another year for him to become a dependable headliner.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Stardom finally came with this superhero prequel. ‘X-Men’ producers knew it would take a -- well, first-class actor to play the younger version of Magneto, the vindictive mutant so famously embodied by Ian McKellen. In Fassbender, they found him.
Despite his newfound Hollywood fame, the actor went back to director Steve McQueen for this dark, intimate drama about a sex addict. Exposing himself in more ways than one, Fassbender reminded audiences to take him seriously.
Yet Fassbender wasn’t turning his back on studio blockbusters. Along with at least two more ‘X-Men’ movies, he played the wonderfully creepy android David 8 in another prequel: Ridley Scott’s visionary lead-up to the ‘Alien’ franchise.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
In perhaps his most villainous turn, Fassbender terrified Chiwetel Ejiofor – and audiences – as a sadistic slave owner in his third movie for Steve McQueen. His work earned him his first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor.
How good is Michael Fassbender? Good enough to go through most of this quirky-yet-rewarding indie wearing a giant papier-mâché head and still deliver a fascinating – and incredibly human – performance.
Steve Jobs (2015)
Fassbender snagged a second Academy Award nomination – his first as Best Actor – in this talky but engaging biopic about the late Apple founder. Who cares if he didn’t look like the real Steve Jobs? He was still fantastic.
‘Assassin’s Creed’ fans may want to brush up their Shakespeare and catch this underrated (and bloody) adaptation of the Bard’s great tragedy, where Fassbender’s tastes for classical acting and gritty action fused perfectly.
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
In this fantasy video game adaptation, Fassbender plays a man who can literally experience his ancestor’s adventures – and comes to learn he is a descendant of a secret society. As he trains to become a Master Assassin, he will soon take on a powerful enemy.