Michael Fassbender’s career has been one of steady growth, earning rave reviews for his roles in movies by acclaimed directors. From breakthrough independent films to searing personal dramas, he has a wide range of filmography. He starred in the television miniseries Band of Brothers, and toured with the Oxford Stage Company. His work in these productions helped him hone his dramatic skills.
Band of Brothers (2001)
After appearing in various TV series, Michael Fassbender finally caught the attention of Hollywood with this epic World War II miniseries. Adapted from the book by Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers follows Easy Company—the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division—from their formation through their combat experiences in Normandy, Paris, Holland, the Ardennes Forest and the capture of Adolf Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.
Fassbender’s performance earned him a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination, as well as praise from critics. The Irish actor continued to win accolades with roles in films like the slavery drama 12 Years a Slave (2013) and the director Steve McQueen’s 2013 drama Shame. He also starred as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in the X-Men franchise and a man with two faces in Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi movies like Prometheus (2012).
From the grim realism of Steve McQueen’s Hunger, to the alien android in Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels, Fassbender’s acting range is vast and impressive. He also played Magneto in the X-Men movies and was the man behind the mask as Batman’s nemesis Bane in Dark Phoenix.
12 Years a Slave and Shame are two more films that earned him Oscar nominations. His portrayal of slave owner Edwin Epps in the slavery drama was particularly acclaimed.
Likewise, his performance as Apple’s founder Steve Jobs in Danny Boyle’s 2015 biopic was widely lauded. Lastly, Fassbender delivered a powerful performance as the title character in The Killer, an action thriller directed by David Fincher. This year, he’ll star as an MI6 agent in Haywire and an android in the upcoming Prometheus sequel.
In this erotic drama, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a successful New York businessman hiding a dark secret: he has a sexual addiction. When Sissy (Carey Mulligan), his needy sister, crashes into his life, he is forced to confront his problem head-on. Despite its erotic content and depictions of sexual encounters, Shame is both thought-provoking and deeply moving.
The movie earned critical acclaim and garnered Fassbender the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Its success led to his roles as Magneto in the X-Men prequels and as Edwin Epps in slavery epic 12 Years a Slave (2013). He also starred in Ridley Scott’s thriller The Counselor (2013), as well as Steve Jobs (2015) and Macbeth (2015), the latter a role for which he received Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Almost as much an ode to movies as it is a movie about World War II, Inglourious Basterds offers a smorgasbord of references ranging from D-grade exploitation flicks to A-list classics. The film is a testament to Tarantino’s not inconsiderable cinephilia and boasts some of the most entertaining dialogue of any of his work.
The movie centers around a Jewish cinema proprietor Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), her Nazi-hunting American counterpart Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and a team of American soldiers. Their mission is to locate and destroy a theater where Hitler’s top brass are slated to attend one of Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda films. Christoph Waltz – who was largely unknown at the time of shooting – gives a tour de force performance as SS Colonel Hans Landa, The Jew Hunter.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Fassbender received critical acclaim for his performance in Steve McQueen’s 2011 drama Shame, which won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival. He also appeared in 2012’s slavery epic 12 Years a Slave, 2014’s Frank and 2015’s Macbeth, for which he received Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.
Vaughn’s First Class introduces us to Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) as a lethal Simon Wiesenthal hunting down escaped Nazi war criminals around the world. He is a formidable foe for Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who, as his polar opposite, has the power to telepathically unlock happy memories. Their telepathy-based bonding and ideological clashes define the core conflict of this franchise, which pits mutants against humans who want to control them rather than let them be free.
A Dangerous Method (2012)
Michael Fassbender earned critical praise for his performances as a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s drama Shame (2011) and as a slave owner in 12 Years a Slave (2013). He was awarded the Venice International Film Festival’s Volpi Cup and nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe.
A Dangerous Method is a suave chamber piece that offers a series of glimpses of two 20th-century intellectual titans in friendship and separation. It is based on Christopher Hampton’s stage play, which was adapted from the non-fiction book A Dangerous Method by John Kerr. It stars Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Sarah Gadon.
Following his role as Magneto in Quentin Tarantino’s X-Men movies, Fassbender starred as an android in Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel, Prometheus. The film was a critical and commercial success.
The film’s visual aesthetic and design received universal praise, with a particular appreciation for Fassbender’s performance as the android David. However, the plot was criticized for leaving certain elements unresolved and predictable.
Despite its shortcomings, the movie is a visually stunning experience and it does have some moments that evoke early scenes in Alien with similar levels of sinister wonder. However, a major flaw is the way it comes so close to tying into Alien and then completely disregards correlation at the end. A novelization of the film written by Joe Spies was published, and a soundtrack album by Marc Streitenfeld was released. Also available are a series of short films and an extensive behind the scenes book.