Michael Fassbender powered by android instincts in ‘Prometheus’
BY CINDY PEARLMAN June 5, 2012 9:30PM
PROM-008 - Aboard an alien vessel, David (Michael Fassbender) makes a discovery that could have world-changing consequences.
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:43AM
In space no one can hear you scream … unless you’re a 13-year-old boy seeing the 1979 film “Alien” for the first time.
“My parents allowed me to see it for some reason, which was odd because they were very strict,” says actor Michael Fassbender. “For some reason, they had no problem with their child seeing creatures bursting out of the chests of human beings.
“I’ll never forget running home very disturbed. I’ll never forget John Hurt laying on that table in space and this creature just bursting out of him. I thought, ‘Whoa, what am I watching here? Could this happen to me?’ ”
Funny how things mutate. At age 35, Fassbender — Hollywood’s next big thing— is starring for “Alien” director Ridley Scott in his much-awaited “Prometheus,” one of the most awaited films of the summer season.
Are creatures bursting out of his chest? We can’t say. Is it the prequel to 1979’s “Alien?”
“To call it a prequel is limiting, but it does have a connection,” co-star Guy Pearce told the AP. “It basically plants the seed for that original ‘Alien’ film, but it’s a really clever way to go about it, looking at this mission we’re actually on and how it does connect with that alien creature that Ripley does find.”
Fassbender plays an android named David who jettisons into space with a crew including Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace. Inhabiting someone who has that kind of mechanical control wasn’t easy.
“It was all about finding the right tone,” Fassbender says. “The physicality was inspired by Greg Louganis. I don’t know why. Things come to you when you’re reading a script over and over. I just remembered the way he walked to the end of a diving board. I thought it was unusual, but focused and lean.
“Ridley told me, ‘Check out the movie “The Servant” with Dirk Bogarde.’ Obviously, I also watched ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and David Bowie in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth.’ ”
As with the android character in the sequel “Aliens,” David eventually finds himself slashed in half. He becomes a talking head — literally.
“I know, how delightful!” he says. “When all else around me is going to pot, I’m just trying to keep my head.”
How does an actor prepare to act with just his noggin? Fassbender laughs. “Basically, I got into this green Kermit the frog suit that blocked out everything from the neck down. For the scenes, I was laying on the ground just playing around with being just a head.
“At one point, my head gets put into a bag and zipped up. With Ridley, none of this seemed odd. It was very fluid. He gives you an idea of how it will look, which triggers something in the actor and then sends you in a direction you’ve never gone before.”
What is it about Scott’s concept of an alien that’s so terrifying?
“Maybe it’s just the concept of something taking you over and using you as a host,” Fassbender says. “You come across this first creature that plants a seed in you. The idea of something actually under your skin is pretty creepy.”
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, but raised in Ireland, Fassbender was introduced to U.S. audiences on HBO’s “Band of Brothers.” He went on to appear in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009), “X-Men: First Class” (2011) and “A Dangerous Method” (2011). His explicit role as a sex addict in “Shame” was an awards contender earlier this year.
“There was a time when I was a guy working behind a bar dreaming of becoming a jobbing actor,” he says. “To be in this position now is surreal. I don’t think I’ve fully comprehended it.”
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