It hit me the other day that I don’t really like Michael Fassbender any more. I’ve been deliberating about whether to mention this or not, but I’ve come to associate him with surly vibes and unenjoyable films. I’m just tired of that chilly “fuck you” look of his. He was exceptional in Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, but otherwise I haven’t much cared for his choices or his performances over the last two years. I’m not suggesting a criminal indictment but this feeling I have about him won’t go away.
Eight years ago Fassbender was a major discovery and unsuppressable energy force in Steve McQueen‘s Hunger and Andrea Arnold‘s Fish Tank. I didn’t love everything he did between ’09 and ’12 but he was making good choices and I was impressed by that manly, non-smiling thing and flinty vibe. He felt steady, planted, committed. Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Shame, Haywire…good films, good work.
For me the first negative ping began when Fassbender appeared at the beginning of Prometheus wearing sandals — I recoiled big-time when I saw that. I despised his hidden lead performance in Frank, and in fact his decision to star in that hugely irritating film at all. I didn’t get around to seeing him in Slow West until it began to stream, but it struck me as another flunk. And I just began to tire of his glare-y attitude during the last two X-Men films.
I seriously hated his performance in Justin Kurzel‘s Macbeth. More often than not his lead performance in Steve Jobs rubbed me the wrong way. He played Jobs convincingly, but I didn’t like hanging with him. I don’t even want to see Derek Cianfrance‘s The Light Between Oceans because Fassbender is the male lead, and I really don’t want to see Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed.
I’m sorry but I’m just not a fan. I respect Fassbender’s piercing glare but there’s something repetitive about that sullen chill factor. I once saw him smoking a big cigar at an Oscar party and immediately concluded, “Aha, a big cigar guy.” I tried speaking with him at a Telluride gathering in ’13 but I made the mistake of starting things off with a stupid question and he pretty much let me have it. I respected that but he wasn’t my idea of convivial either.
I suspect this is a minority view but whatever. Fassy is merely the newest member of the club. Spielberg, Ben Mendelsohn, Tennisball-head…nice to meetcha. He’ll be fine without me or, you know, until he catches the next wave.