Yesterday we gave you B.J. Novak and Mélanie Laurent and today we have another Basterd for you! This one speaks the Kings and looks dashing while doing it. Michael Fassbender, the new face taking Hollywood by storm, plays double agent, Archie Hilcox in Quentin Tarantino‘s war epic Inglourious Basterds and boy does he make an impression. It’s easy to see why Josh Brolin made sure to give him a shout out at Comic-Con, he’s about to be huge.
Check back in later and we’ll also have interviews with Eli Roth (watch videos), Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, and of course, the captain of the ship, Tarantino, but until then, check out what Fassbender had to say about his role in the film below…
***Note: We already posted what Fassbender talks Jonah Hex so it will not be found in the interview below, but check it out when you’re done!***
Can you talk about what it was like working with Quentin Tarantino and working on a project like this?
MF: It was very surreal for me. When I was like 18, I got my friends together and we put on a stage version of Reservoir Dogs in my local nightclub, so to actually get to work with him was a dream come true. Once I got beyond that, it is fascinating to watch the man work because he does really works in his own, unique way. He is so knowledgeable in film. He does his craft by absorbing all the information. He is an encyclopedia.
He is just a dream to work with. He gives you a lot of information, outside of what is written, and his reference points are very precise and original. He told me that this guy, Hicox, is like a young George Sanders. All you have to do is listen to the man, and he gives you all the ammunition you need. So, I went out and watched all the Sanders films I could get my hands on.
Did you ever read Sanders’ suicide note?
MF: That is weird isn’t it? I always thought of that while I was watching them. That was always in the back of my head.
How were you cast for this role? Did Quentin seek you out?
MF: Yeah, it was actually kind of interesting. I was trying to get Christoph Waltz’s part, Landa. I was really running after that part. My agent, I think he terrorized Quentin to see me, kept talking about Landa. I really put my eggs in one basket. Every night I came home and put in five hours on Landa. I got French lessons, and I did about 27 hours on Landa’s character. Then I flew out to Berlin, then he [Quentin] goes, “Okay, let’s take a look at Hicox!” I was like, “Can we take a look at Landa also?” [laughs] He said, “No, I cast my Landa on Tuesday.” So I read the Hicox part pretty much cold. I thought I made a real balls of everything. I remember I was terribly depressed that night. Then a week later, they called me up and offered me the job.
This role has all different nuances, how did you develop the character?
MF: Everything that I said was written; it was verbatim. I wanted to try to get that feeling of 1930-40’s movie star. That is why Hicox speaks not just a British accent, but also the physicality; it was really part of that era. The way they move and the props they had, like their cigarette cases, I liked that whole world and I wanted to try to encompass that whole world. Hicox is also a film critic. I thought that he would have liked to be a film actor, so I just tried to embody that.
Can you talk about the scene in the massive basement? Can you talk about the working on that scene and how Quentin worked with you?
MF: I got my testicles blown off. There are actually two exit holes, one in each cheek. Well, we took about two weeks to film that scene and we rehearsed. Quentin likes to get everything prepped before you arrive on the day. Now anything can happen on the day; if we rehearsed something, and did it in a particular way, it doesn’t mean that we are stuck on that. We had played it so many different ways and everyone knows where they are that on the day, we were free to play. You don’t get restrained or restricted. You are really allowed to react and go along with what the other actors are doing. There was a fantastic bunch of actors in that basement. We did that scene so many times, but each time we went for it, tried to keep it fresh, and played with it.
Quentin is so precise; he wants you to get things the way that he sees it, so much to the point that he will give you a line reading, but once you’ve done that you can do what you want. It is really a fun and free experience filming.
Has this changed your philosophy or view of acting?
MF: It has not really changed it, but it was nice to watch someone else in his or her own world doing exceptional work. It was more of just recognizing a good director. Maybe one day I will try to do it. In terms of the acting, I tend to work fairly similarly. I do a lot of prep work. I was in Berlin for five weeks before we started filming, and the project before that I was there five weeks before. I would say that it has defined my inspirations in less obvious places and has broadened that pool of inspiration. One thing that he definitely introduced me to was the sophistication of these films made in the 1930′s and 1940′s, like Pandora’s Box; these films they were making were really dark and on the edge. I definitely got that from him.
His enthusiasm and passion for film is such an infectious thing. It is very easy to go to work because the guy that is sailing the ship really has things under control. He is a real master so you trust yourself and go beyond what you would normally do. It did inspire me to just go for it, push it, and stretch that elastic band until it is going to snap and for how long can you hold it there. I just went all out with Hicox and tried to find the humor there. I just trusted myself to go a few steps beyond.
After you wrapped for the day, did Quentin ever gather the cast to watch one of his selections?
MF: Every Thursday was movie night. Quentin would introduce it and tell you what he liked about the movie and bits of trivia. Then everyone would watch it.
Was there any particular movie that impressed you the most?
MF: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I think that is his favorite film.
Mike Myers is such an unlikely person to be in a Tarantino film, what was it like working with him?
MF: How could you say that after all the people that Tarantino has cast? [Laughs] I was actually shitting it, really. I knew that I was trying to do a comic turn with Hicox so I am trying to go up against Mike Myers, and he is a legend. When I arrived, we just hit it off really well, and we just went back and forth all day with anecdotes and stories. We were just making up little jokes. He just stayed in his accent all day. At first, I didn’t see him. He was sort of gingery, but then you saw his eyes sparkling through. That was, again, a real moment when I was pinching myself. I thought it was cool that I was sparring with someone that I watched when I first got into the business. He was very generous and a lot of fun. Then you have Rod Taylor in there who is, obviously, this giant. I just picked his brain and asked him for stories. I was very lucky.
Being of German descent, what is it like being in a movie about World War II and Nazis?
MF: I thought it was pretty cool. I like Quentin because he won’t be restrained by the confines of history. We have seen this topic done so many times. I was like, “World War II here, we go again.” This is maybe the film to end World War II films.
Were there any aspects about the film that you felt was different from other films?
MF: I love the fact that French people are speaking French, German people are speaking German. I always thought that was weird when there are German people speaking English with German accents [speaking with thick German accent]. It is always like, “Well, why are they doing that?” It kind of burst the bubble of illusion immediately. I think it is great.
Were you surprised by anything from the final cut?
MF: I have to be honest I can’t wait to see it again because I was kind of overwhelmed with being in Cannes. It was like another scene in the film where the Basterds were infiltrating the Basterds premiere at Cannes. It was such a mad trip. I got so many elements from seeing it and I didn’t realize how much of it was like seeing separate films; like the opening scene felt like a movie unto itself. Yeah, I was kind of blown away by the whole event, so I look forward to catching it again.
See Michael Fassbender as Hilcox in Inglorious Basterds, in theaters August 21st.