"Reader, how could she not marry him?"
Why isn't Michael Fassbender more famous? In the 18 months since the brilliant Irish actor's career went into overdrive, he's dazzled the film world with his intensely ascetic, luminous performance as IRA activist Bobby Sands starving to death in a prison protest (Steve McQueen’s Hunger); his crisp young British officer turned jovial faux Nazi (Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds); his twotiming seducer who brings sexy back to a parched, unhappy family of women (Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank); and, this month, a DC Comics villain for Warner Bros.' Jonah Hex, with Josh Brolin in the title role. Along the way, Fassbender has collected 11 acting awards in five countries, and there are more films to come. He also got a taste of the gossip blogs, thanks to a romance that soured last summer. But if his rugged, blue-eyed good looks aren't yet tattooed on the American brainpan, it's his own fault. At 33, Fassbender combines star charisma with a chameleon's transformational powers; he's unrecognizable from one film to the next.
"It's exploring human nature. I like things that scare me and force me to work outside my comfort zone," he says, adding, "You don't want to be the weak link in a Tarantino film." Before going off to drama school in London, where he now lives, at 18 Fassbender staged Reservoir Dogs as a play in his hometown, Killarney, Ireland, casting himself and his friends. "That was cool," he says. "It showed me what energy makes possible even if you're naive." Over a recent dinner in Manhattan, he was infectiously funny, showing a side of himself that has yet to reach the screen. Meanwhile, he's wrapped Steven Soderbergh's martial-arts spy thriller Knockout and is set to play Carl Jung to Viggo Mortensen's Freud (with Keira Knightley between them) in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method. He's currently filming his most romantic role yet: an age-appropriate Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska's sturdy governess in Jane Eyre.
If Charlotte Bronte's great novel inadvertently launched an endless stream of paperback bodice-rippers, Rochester is the template for those open-shirted hotties glowering away on their covers. Here's Fassbender's take: "A Byronic character burnt by experience, arrogant but also eloquent and introspective. He's world-weary and jaded, sensual, selfdestructive, yet there's a good sense of humor in there, and at the end of the day a good heart. He sees the freshness and beauty in Jane when everybody else looks past her."
Reader, how could she not marry him?