by Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY
Michael Fassbender has long been a critical favorite, lauded for his almost-mesmerizing ability to inhabit utterly intense, often unlikable characters living marginal lives. There's his icky sex addict in Shame, and the tortured young Magneto in the first X-Men prequel. But in reality, the actor, 36, has a loose, breezy charm totally at odds with the broodiness he displays on screen. USA TODAY caught up with Fassbender over sushi.
1. He's perfectly willing to go to the dark side.
Perhaps there's no better example than unhinged slave owner Edwin Epps, whom Fassbender plays in 12 Years a Slave, now in theaters. His is considered one of the film's many standout performances. "I felt I had a huge responsibility to make a layered human being out of the character and to really show the effect of that world," says Fassbender. And on Friday, he switches gears in Ridley Scott's sleek, sexy The Counselor, with Fassbender frontlining a star-studded cast of criminals, subversives and weirdos. "He's an arrogant guy. He's greedy. He drives a Bentley he can't afford. He's living outside his means and that's a pretty common thing in Western society," says Fassbender.
2. He gets weirded out by sex scenes, even when they're with Penelope Cruz, who plays his fiancÃ©e in The Counselor.
It didn't help that her own husband, Javier Bardem, plays Fassbender's boss in the film and was on set. "You try to be as respectful as possible, and it sounds crude, but you just get it done," says Fassbender.
3. He wants to headline a musical. Yes, seriously.
Fassbender loves '80s tunes and deftly performs Toto's Africa on cue, a skill he demonstrates in between bites of salmon. Which is why, he says, he and Slave director Steve McQueen "are hopefully going to do a musical together. I guess it would be an original piece. I'm an excellent singer."
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