After weeks of anticipation, it finally happened – TIFF Soirée with guest of honour Michael Fassbender. Fundraising for year-round initiatives like Pocket Fund, Special Delivery, and Reel Comfort, the gala kicked off with a fascinating on-stage conversation between TIFF Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey, and
the love of my life Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender.
Looking dapper (and a little jet-lagged) in his blue Gucci suit, Fassbender was generous with his answers, and delved deep into the things that make him tick. One quote that seems to have gotten the most attention was the one about Michael’s performance as Magneto in X-Men. Despite the numerous reports claiming that he was embarrassed by his portrayal of Magneto, it sounded like he was only referring to the scene shown during the conversation, and as Fassbender described it was “just like some dude shouting”.
I wish I’d recorded the entire conversation, but I didn’t want to disturb my seatmates with the bright light of my phone, so here’s what I remember about the rest of the on-stage conversation.
- Liam Cunningham moved in with Michael Fassbender for a couple of weeks to prepare for the infamous 23-minute and 27-page long one-take scene in Hunger, where Fassbender has a lengthy dialogue with Liam Cunningham’s character. “We got up every morning, cooked porridge, and we started rehearsing,” says Fassbender. “We did it every day for 11 days and had people bring lunch to us. The goal was to do it ten to 15 times a day and then Steve would come in in the evening and watch us, give us some notes, next day same thing.” Obviously, Magneto and Ser Davos were great roomies, since they only had to do 4 takes during filming.
- In real life, Magneto’s superpower is power-napping. “I’m a great power napper. Having been a mutant with superhero powers, that is my real superhero power. I could do it now. I could just lie down on the stage, if it goes that way. There is the downside to it, when I get tired, I have to sleep. I can’t keep awake.”
- When talking about his physicality in acting, we learned that shoes (or lack thereof) is one of the most important parts of Fassbender’s wardrobe, as choice of footwear grounds him “from the feet up”.
- When asked about which film was the most personal to him, Hunger was his answer, “because I was hungry…to act, and quite literally”.
- In a moment of self-deprecation, Fassbender admitted that he didn’t make a great first impression on Director Steve McQueen. “I think he said I was arrogant? I guess maybe I was a little defensive. I hadn’t been working a lot, and I don’t know how I came across in the room. I thought I came across well, but that just goes to show how much I know.”
- If you were wondering about what turns him on, it seems that watching his movies for the first time with a live audience does the trick. “I get off on it a little bit. It’s nice when the sort of nerves and excitement are at maximum and you get to experience it with a very passionate audience and they’re usually very honest as well, so you get the full effect, as it were.”
- A self-described “slow-learner”, Fassbender went into a bit of a panic when he received the “mountainous” script for Steve Jobs. “In rehearsals I was trying to find a way to get out of the job,” he said. “I remember telling my driver, ‘If I put my arm in the door, you should slam it. It should cause a break and it should get me out of this gig.'” Luckily, Michael kept his limbs clear of car doors, and ended up with an Oscar nomination as a result. Not bad for a slow-learner!
- After being asked about working with Director Quentin Tarantino, Fassbender revealed that when he was 18, he directed and starred as Mr. Pink in a stage version of Reservoir Dogs. As such, being directed by Tarantino in Inglorious Basterds was “pretty special”.
After the interview, we headed upstairs to Malaparte for the cocktail party, where to my surprise, Fassbender was making the rounds, chatting with people and taking photos. I felt a little bad about stalking him around the room, but not bad enough to stop – I was too excited.
Michael looked great in person, with warm eyes and smile, and had a welcoming energy about him. He laughed often and when it was finally my turn to have a brief conversation with the man of the hour, I am embarrassed to say that I froze up a bit, and could only mumble something about my love of his acting and my appreciation of his performance in Fish Tank. Looking back, I wish I’d asked one of the many questions that were swirling in my head, but hopefully next time. After our brief chat, my friend Anita and I were lucky enough to actually get a photo with Fassy thanks to Nick from Best of Toronto. Giddy like schoolgirls, we let his handler lead him away to the next group of admirers, while we stood around, unable to believe our luck.
And while TIFF has only just begun, without a doubt in my mind, the TIFF Soirée was the best part of the festival for me – even if it happened before the official Day 1. Stay tuned for more TIFF coverage as the festival continues.
More photos after the jump!