Childhood & Early Life
He was born on April 2, 1977, in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany to Josef Fassbender and Adele. He is of German descent from his father’s side and Irish from his mother’s side, who according to family lore of Fassbender is the great-grand-niece of Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician Michael Collins.
His parents wanted their children to grow up in the countryside and hence relocated from Germany to Killarney in southwestern Ireland when he was two years old. His older sister Catherine became a neuropsychologist.
He grew up as a Catholic and served as an altar boy at the church attended by his family. His father worked as a chef in their own restaurant in Killarney called West End House.
He studied at the Fossa National School and thereafter at the St. Brendan's College. He was cast in a Donal Courtney play following which at age 17, he resolved to pursue career in acting. He attended drama class by Donie Courtney for some time.
He relocated to London at age 19 and started attending British drama school ‘Drama Centre London’, however dropped out in 1999 and went on a tour with the Oxford Stage Company to perform in the ‘Three Sisters’ play. He did several odd jobs including as a labour, bartender, and postman and also worked for Dell computers before getting acting assignments.
Continue Reading Below
He made his on-screen debut playing Technical Sergeant Burton Christenson in the 2001 award-winning American television war drama miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
He starred in music video of the November 10, 2003 released single ‘Blind Pilots’ by British alternative rock band, ‘The Cooper Temple Clause’.
The BBC Northern Ireland produced ten-part radio serialisation of Dracula aired in radio program ‘Book at Bedtime’ between November 24 and December 5 in 2003 saw Fassbender playing Jonathan Harker.
He starred as Azazeal in the British television series ‘Hex’ that premiered on Sky One on October 17, 2004. Over the years he has featured in several television productions including in series’ ‘Murphy's Law’ (2005) and ‘The Devil's Whore’ (2008) and television films like ‘Gunpowder, Treason & Plot’ (2004) and ‘Wedding Belles’ (2007).
He was part of ‘The Quarrel’, a Guinness TV ad that went on to garner gold medal at the 2005 FAB Awards.
He played Michael Collins in the Mary Kenny play ‘Allegiance’ produced during the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Fassbender also directed, produced and starred in the stage version of American heist thriller film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992) written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
His big-screen debut happened with the role of Stelios, a young Spartan warrior in the blockbuster hit American epic war film ‘300’. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 14, 2007 and released theatrically on March 9, 2007 in the US. Its opening weekend gross is the 24th highest in the history of box office. Overall the film garnered more than $456 million worldwide.
He rose to prominence essaying the starring role of Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands in the Steve McQueen directed Irish-British historical drama film ‘Hunger'. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2008 where it won the prestigious Caméra d'Or award for first-time filmmakers. It released theatrically on October 31 that year in the UK and Ireland and garnered both critical acclaim and accolades also fetching Fassbender a British Independent Film Award.
In the ensuing years he proved his acting mettle and versatility performing several challenging roles in critically and commercially successful films. These include playing Conor O'Reily in the 2009 British drama ‘Fish Tank’; Lieutenant Archie Hicox in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 war film ‘Inglourious Basterds’; and sentient android David 8 in 2012 science fiction ‘Prometheus’, reprising the role in its 2017 sequel ‘Alien: Covenant’ as well.
Continue Reading Below
In 2011 he won the Spotlight Award from ‘National Board of Review Awards’ and Best Actor award from Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for his 2011 portrayals as Marvel Comics antihero Magneto in the American superhero film ‘X-Men: First Class’ ( a role he reprised in its 2014 sequel ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ and 2016 sequel ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’); as Edward Fairfax Rochester in British romantic drama ‘Jane Eyre’; as sex addict Brandon Sullivan in Steve McQueen’s British drama ‘Shame’; and as Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist Carl Jung in German-Canadian historical film ‘A Dangerous Method’.
Shame also won him Volpi Cup Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival apart from fetching him nominations for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award thus raising his bar as an actor.
One of the most remarkable roles of Fassbender was that of Edwin Epps in the Academy Awards winning period drama film ‘12 Years a Slave’ (2013), an adaptation of 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American abolitionist Solomon Northupthe. The film that marked his third collaboration with Steve McQueen became a critical and commercial success and garnered Fassbender an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, his first Oscar nomination.
He earned his second Oscar nomination playing late American business magnate, founder and former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, in the 2015 biographical drama film ‘Steve Jobs’ directed by Danny Boyle. The film emerged as a critical and commercial success and fetched Fassbender nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor. He also won Best Actor in a Lead Role in a Film award at the 2016 Irish Film & Television Awards for the film.
Other notable films of this brilliant actor includes the 2013 crime thriller ‘The Counselor’; the 2015 British-French film tragedy ‘Macbeth’ based on play by William Shakespeare bearing same title; and the 2015 British/New Zealand action western film ‘Slow West’ that he also produced. He can be seen reprising the role of Magneto in the upcoming American superhero film ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ that is planned for a February 14, 2019 release.
He has set up a production company Finn McCool Films with screenwriter Ronan Bennett and is presently making a film on Irish mythological hero Cú Chulainn.
He married Swedish actress Alicia Vikander on October 14, 2017 in Ibiza, Spain, whom he dated since December 2014. The couple live in Lisbon, Portugal as of 2017.
Although Fassbender still visits church and lights candles, he has become a lapsed Catholic.