IN MICHAEL FASSBENDER’S new film Dark Phoenix, the X-Men face a formidable enemy from within their ranks: Jean Grey, played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. On a space rescue mission, she is suddenly infused with a cosmic power, making her unstable. The X-Men need to unite, and save her soul and our planet from an alien invasion. Fassbender spoke to Open about the strong women in his life and his ability to lead.
Like your film Dark Phoenix, do you also have dark moments?
I feel I’m a pretty light person. I am in a privileged position in life, and I try and enjoy life to its fullest. There were times when I was depressed, like anyone else—you have your ups and downs. But for the most part, I am a pretty light person. What is interesting is I have played a lot of dark characters. Maybe there’s something in that. I don’t know if a lot of comedians have dark personalities—maybe that’s the flip side.
The women in the film are quite powerful. Who have been some of the powerful women in your life?
I would start with my mother and sister. And my grandmothers. My sister is a single mom: she has two boys and works as a neuroscientist. These women largely shaped who I am today. And my wife, of course. She is also a very powerful presence in my life.
Is your wife physically stronger?
Yeah. I think women in general have more stamina and a higher pain threshold. We know that obviously— their ability to give birth. But yeah, she’s pretty formidable. Obviously, I can lift heavier weights, but the ferociousness with which she attacks the exercise is…. There’s an App called ‘The Sweat App’—it used to be called ‘The Bikini Body App’—which she introduced me to a few years ago. She was like, ‘You’ve got to give it a try,’ and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a go, how hard can it be?’ And it is hard. It’s this girl Kayla Itsines—we do this sort of thing together and she usually gets in more reps than me, she flies through it.
How demanding was this role physically?
I’ve definitely done more physical stuff stunt-wise in films other than X-Men because I can move stuff. If you are referring to the helicopter scene, I didn’t have to do much. The cables took care of that. I am not a fan of wires, and as I get older, I feel I am developing a fear of heights. So literally when you get hoisted up by wires, it’s good to just blank your mind. That is why I always have the same expression when I’m in the air. I am trying not to think of what will happen if these wires snap and I crash and hit the ground—it’s two broken legs if I go down. But obviously you are working with the best people and they are not going to let that happen to you. The helicopter scene for me was to show the power of Jean Grey. When she starts to manipulate the helicopter, it’s like she is holding a cup of tea. Magneto is putting all his energy just to counterbalance what she is doing.
In the X-Men films, you play a leader. Are you the same outside movies?
I am not sure I am a good leader, maybe sometimes, it depends. When you say leader, I think politician. I think some times I speak too honestly, frankly and directly. So, I wouldn’t consider myself a good leader. I was always better at individual than team sports, but definitely was the guy to captain the team. As far as films are concerned, I have a newfound respect for producers and their ability to listen to everyone and manage people. That is not one of my skills. I would like to work in other areas, such as script development. I would also like to direct. So I will find out if I have the leadership qualities required to do that.