Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender portrayed Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix.

Significant roles

  • Stelios in 300 (2007)
  • Bobby Sands in Hunger (2008)
  • Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  • Magneto in X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • Burke in Jonah Hex (2011)
  • David in Prometheus (2012)
  • Counselor in The Counselor (2013)


  • "Hopefully I won't disappoint the fan base out there, because I know that what Ian McKellen did sort of latched onto a lot of imaginations and was very successful. But what drew me was the script and Matthew Vaughn and the fact that James McAvoy was going to be playing young Xavier. I thought it was a fresh take on the whole story. I've never been a big comic book enthusiast, but I thought it was an interesting concept to go back to when they were both friends and initially came together."
  • "He's such a complex character, really, and the idea of him being a villain is interesting considering his history (Lehnsherr is a Holocaust survivor who lost his family in the camps, and later lost his wife and daughter) ... he's a very solitary individual, and the pain and grief that's gone on even before we meet him in this film is an interesting pool of information to draw from, in coming up with this Machiavellian character for whom the ends justified the means. You can see where he's coming from. Human beings don't have the greatest track record in what they've done throughout history, so his point of view is, "Well, we are the next stage of evolution -- (humans) are to us what Neanderthals were to Homo sapiens.""
  • "He's an extremist, and that's always a dangerous place to be. By the time we leave him at the end of this movie, he's become very clear about what he wants and his decisions and his game plan."
  • (about the parallelism between the couples Martin Luther King/Malcom X and Xavier/Magneto) "You don't set out to play these things that way, but it's a good parallel to have in the back of one's mind, as something to take from real life as a reference. I didn't study any Malcolm X videos or anything like that. But it clarifies where both these characters are coming from. Hopefully by the end of the film, the audience is like, "Damn, why didn't these two guys stay together?" They have enough in common and not in common to keep each other in check, and hopefully the audience will feel like they could have worked together for the greater good."
  • "The cool thing about this movie is that I think it does deal with each individual mutant, and the ones they've chosen are all very much individuals and unique personalities with unique gifts. What's interesting is that we've gone back to a period where the mutants don't know that there are other people out there like them. They just think they're freaks and outcasts from society ... all of these new characters are fearful of their gifts and uncomfortable and misplaced in society, so hopefully when they all sort of come together and realize they're not alone and feel more comfortable in their own skin, that's a discovery for all the characters that you experience."
  • "There's a scene where they just sort of transformed this hall in London into Buenos Aires Airport, and I just looked around this mock airport and said to myself, "My God, I've just had a feeling of being in the '60s." From the colors to the costume designs to the production design itself, there's a sort of nostalgia in the air when you look around the room. It's just from my own perception of the '60s, and all that came with it in terms of the music and the fashions and so forth, but all of that comes across in the visual references that we all have. All of that is there to encapsulate the feeling of that era, for sure."
  • "As for our costumes, we went back and forth on so many things. We added things that worked in the comics, took them away again, and stripped them down again. ... When it came to the Magneto suit, you know, there's various stages of what has been done with it, but you will have something that is traditional to the comics. There is a helmet (laughs), which is of course essential to keep Charlie-boy out of my head, and the colors are also kept traditional to the comics, that sort of red and purple. I don't know if I'm giving you too much, but I'll say it anyway (laughs)."
  • "I haven't based it on him at all actually, and I hope the fans aren't going to be disappointed by that, because I know he's rated as #1 comic villain, well he's up there anyway," he told us. "I just tried to steep myself in the source material, the comic books, and there's so much. He's such a fascinating guy, and how he becomes Magneto is a really interesting journey. The fact that he has been let down so many times by human beings and this distrust that he has. You can see where it's coming from. Obviously, what was happening in the concentration camps and then he escaped from there with Magda, fell in love with her, then their child got burned and he ended up killing the whole town and she's like 'Whoa, this is too heavy for me, I gotta leave.' So the love of his life left him."
  • "We see the stuff that's happening in the concentration camp, you see that, but you don't see that relationship (with Magda). I've just held that for my own personal use (in developing) the character, so when we meet him at the beginning of this film, he's definitely a lone wolf. He's on a mission and he's uncompromising and then he bumps into Charles, literally collides into him, and then it's the development of their relationship and really exploring that during the '60s and the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King an Malcolm X."
  • "That was a big draw when I heard that (James McAvoy) was going to be playing Charles Xavier, I thought, 'That's really interesting," being a big fan of his and we briefly worked together ten years ago on 'Band of Brothers.' I like him a lot. He's really easy to work with, he's just a normal practical worker, and we sat down and made sure that the relationship had all the elements that we wanted and that the progression was a good one, that there's no filler scenes and every scene is there for a reason. We did a lot of writing together with Matthew, each day we'd sit down and make sure the scene was tight and that it was dealing with everything we wanted to deal with, the fact that they're unsure of each other, sniffing each other, almost like dogs, and then there's a real respect and liking for each other, and then the relationship fractures."
  • “I’m in a certain place in my career where a movie like X-Men is sort of the next natural step. It’s not like I’m thinking, Oh, this will raise my IMDB rating or whatever it is. The fact is, I want to have more control over my career and something like X-Men opens me up to a wider audience. Plus, a big movie like that (and Prometheus) scares the piss out of me. And if you’re not getting scared then you’re not succeeding.”
  • At the start of the movie we get introduced to him as a boy, who is played by Bill Milner, who is a fantastic actor. I've watched a little bit of what he did and it's great. So you start in the concentration camps with him and then it sort of jump-cuts to 20 years later. It's the early 1960s and Erik is a grown man. And he's on a quest to get Sebastian Shaw.
  • "Shaw had him in these concentration camps and as we know, the Nazis were doing lots of experimentation - all sorts of things, like measuring skull and brain size and running experiments on human beings. So Shaw is trying to unleash this power in him - he's recognized that he can manipulate metal and so we catch up with Erik on a quest to hunt him down."
  • "I don't really think in those terms to be honest - good and evil. I think about what he wants to get and how motivated he is and what sort of morals he has got in place. It's like I see him as very much a Machiavellian character - the ends justify the means. And he is in a situation where he is right, really, you know? It's like homosapiens vs. Neanderthal and the mutants are the new version. Everything he says is right. The history of the human race is that we are pretty much destroying everything, including ourselves. So he is saying that this is an innately destructive and self-destructive race, and mutants are the way forward. So there is sense to what he is saying."
  • "I don't want to give too much of the story away. There were two scenes. One's fairly early in the film, when you are introduced to him and he's on this sort of hunt. He's on a trail blaze of Nazi killing. He's trying to tighten the screws to pinpoint where Shaw is."
  • "I think he's also very happy to find out that there are other mutants out there. Again, the cogs are working in the back of his head. Like 'I do eventually need to get my army together. There are other mutants that can help me now.' Because I think his idea changes from what starts off as being a mission to get one man into a bigger plan to actually rid the earth of human beings and take over."
  • "At the moment I am just aware that there could be number two and three. I guess it depends on how much money number one makes. But if that does happen, I definitely would like to get in at the ground level to discuss things and get together with the writers. I really enjoy that."
  • "Yeah, forget both of them... I'm just kidding. I mean, I don't really know either of those worlds. But like you said, it's got the Civil Rights element. The idea of mutants and humans and this element of fear, realizing 'Sh*t, we'd better wipe them out before they wipe us out.' There is a lot of interesting things about the human condition and human behavior to be explored with X-Men, and I don't know if you can find that in either of those two other films."
  • "These two brilliant minds coming together and their views aren’t that different on some key things. As you watch them you know that if their understanding, ability and intelligence could somehow come together it would be really special. But the split is what makes them even more interesting and tragic. At one point I thought, should I study Ian McKellen as a young man, should I take that approach? Matthew wasn’t so keen on it and after discussing it we decided it might lead off away from the real priorities. Just returning to the comic books you find that Erik can — in terms of taking on a voice — Erik can be anything when we meet him. He speaks German, he goes to a concentration camp in Poland, ends up in Eastern Europe with Magda, has a child there and then sort of goes off to Israel. There’s so much there and I tried to approach it freshly from that source material and see what I could come up with independently. There is, of course, the hint of what Ian McKellen has done in the movies is there as well"
  • "I think the power to speak different languages. Is that a superpower? A tail would be kind of cool. You can balance and stuff with a tail. Be like a monkey. Or just for climbing, you know. Flying’s pretty amazing, but you could fly with a tail… From tree to tree, like spider monkeys. Tail Man. Tail-linguist. Flying’s the obvious one - it’s like that thing of what animal you’d be if you could be any animal. It would be a bird, because flight is the one thing we can't do.
  • "There's a dark side in everybody. You just have to dig deep and get involved in it. Any time you get a role, you realize three main characteristics of that person, and then you just have to inflate them in yourself if they're not there or just use them if they are already there."
  • "Neither, really. I got all my source material from the comic books."
  • "Trying to bend metal when obviously I can't do that."
  • "I absolutely feel a connection. I think the interesting thing about Magneto is he does magnify the human race's failure in trying to co-exist and then magnifies the destructiveness. Even though his methods are extreme, his arguments actually are true and make sense."
  • "You feel a little bit silly, but then you just have to sort of throw yourself in there and really have fun and own it."
  • "No. This is the transitional period. He is still learning how to use his power just like everyone else. By the end of the movie he is definitely using it though."
  • "What's very encouraging as an actor trying to approach this part, is that there's so much material there in the comic books that you can very easily form a character and know exactly where he's coming from. In that respect you can just get on with it and enjoy being the person."
  • "I think all of the mutants are outcasts trying to fit in, but within his own peers, I think he's a definite leader. There's no doubt about that. I think any megalomaniac that manages to get an army behind him the way he does has to be a good leader. I think he's charismatic, I think he's intelligent and I think he's very forceful. That's a pretty influential combination."
  • "Not really. I think there are signs of seeds to be sown later, but I think when we meet Erik in this film, his life is more about revenge than anything else. In this film, he's a lone wolf and he's on a very specific mission and he's Machiavellian in his approach to whatever ends justify the means."
  • "I'm kind of using my own accent and taking out as much Irish-ness as I can. People always say that I sound anything but Irish... most people say to me Canadian, or people have said Dutch, German, South African. "But what do you do with the accent? Because he's not English and he didn't really have any sort of history in England. But I think he is well-educated... so I'm just trying to play a more neutral version of my own accent."
  • "I have no choice. They contracted me for two options. I gotta get down with it. We're at the ground level, but yeah I think there's going to be another one."
  • "You know what’s interesting about Magneto and Professor X from the comic books as well, is there’s such a complexity to their relationship. It’s not just like clear-cut enemies; they’re best friends as well. In the comic books, even after they’ve had this sort of rift, Professor X asks Magneto to come back and look after the students at certain points... I think there’s always that complexity in their relationship and we want to keep that alive as possible, because that’s I think a really interesting thing — the conflict there."
  • "Magneto is a guy that plays both side. It depends on the day of the week. When we first meet him here, he's hung up his cape and he's fallen in love and had a family. His motives are in some ways justifiable, it's just his methods that are questionable."
  • "He arrives and it’s like, “Okay well something much more powerful than me has arrived,” in a way kind of like a god; he’s the original mutant. And...Magneto doesn’t really follow anyone, so it was kind of a hard thing like, well how does he just become one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen, and is he cool with that? But he appreciates that this guy is going to do what he couldn’t do. He’s got just so much more power than him, he’s such an immense force. In a way, it’s like that classic thing of joining any cult or radical group, he’s caught him at a very low, vulnerable point where he doesn’t really care anymore whether he dies or not or what happens, so he’s like, ‘Yeah I’ll join this guy. I’ll go on this path of judgment.’ Apocalypse is sort of bringing judgment to the Earth."
  • "I don’t know to be honest. I haven’t made any sort of decision on it because I have no idea what’s happening next with the franchise to be honest."


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