Interview: Michael Fassbender

Interview: Michael Fassbender

Hollywood megastar Michael Fassbender has become one of the hottest actors in world cinema thanks to roles in films such as 12 Years a Slave, X-Men: First Class, and most recently, Steve Jobs. The German-Irish actor, who lives in London, talked to Aspire about his latest bucket-list tick and his most adventurous holiday experiences.

You’ve talked about your love of getting out on a motorbike. What’s been your most memorable journey on two wheels?
I took a motorcycle trip with my father in Europe a few years ago and I love being able to wander into different cities and experience the kind of wonder and escape you find in those moments. We just went off for two months travelling around Europe on a motorcycle and I pretty much turned my phone off. I did 5,000 miles with my dad. We went through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Italy, and then I did Spain and France by myself. Motorcycles are a different experience. You’re exposed to the elements more and there’s this sense of freedom that you have from getting on and just taking off and travelling. I like to be able to take breaks and get to do that. Also I’ve been so focused on my work that I haven’t had as much time as I would like to do that.

Are you ticking any items off your bucket list?
Last time I was in Hawaii, it was New Year’s Eve, and I went skydiving. I’d previously thought “Wouldn’t it be terrible to be on your deathbed and suddenly think, ‘God, why didn’t I do that?’ So take the jump!” It was an incredible feeling, to jump out of a plane and free fall. Of course, you have to open the parachute eventually and that’s the bit that freaks me out. When you suddenly slow and you can see how high you are. You can see the curvature of the earth. When the chute opens you can see all the details. All of life is brought back into sharp focus.

What have been your most adventurous holiday experiences?
I tried jet-skiing in Mexico on holiday and I turned the thing upside down. The guy with me wasn’t happy – we had to swim back to shore! I love it, though – speed is something I enjoy. I’d like to do more of it if possible. What I find really interesting is to try and mix it up, to push myself and try different things. I don’t want to stay in my comfort zone. I want to take risks and keep myself scared. The last time I was in New Zealand I did some clay pigeon shooting. I wasn’t too bad at it…after a while!

What is your favourite part of taking a trip away?
A sense of freedom is something I highly value. That’s why I love riding my motorcycle and travelling so much.
That frees me from the intensity I apply to my work. I’m very conscious of taking time off to appreciate my life and finding out what makes me happy. All I need is a few books, my motorcycle and my helmet!

Where on your travels have you come across the worst weather?
When I was filming Macbeth on the Isle of Skye, the weather was relentless. The water temperature was five degrees, I think, and it was minus two outside – when I come out of the water in one shot in the film, the air just involuntarily slips out of me. That was cold, but actually the coldest part was when I come down over the top of the mountain having just met the witches for the first time. That was the coldest bit, with bare feet – and Marion [Coutillard, who played Lady Macbeth] nearly went down a bog-hole!

You’ve got ties to Germany. Do you go back there often?
My father is German and I want to keep my ties to Germany. I still have a few aunts, uncles and cousins whom I visit fairly regularly near Hildesheim. I visited my grandparents in Germany while they were alive and that helped me stay in touch with my German roots. I love schnitzel with sauerkraut and the German sense of humour. It’s different from the Irish or American sense of humour, but it’s surprisingly good. I also appreciate that Germans seem to have a relaxed attitude towards sex!

What is your biggest travel regret?
I find it embarrassing that although I visit Germany regularly, I’m not more fluent. Although I can speak it, it’s nowhere near as good as it should be. I’m able to understand the language when I hear it in conversation or if I’m watching a German film, but I want to be able to speak more easily and comfortably. My parents did their best to teach me German while I was growing up in Ireland, but it’s hard to stay fluent in a language if you’re not speaking it on an everyday basis.

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