Michael Fassbender is an acclaimed Irish-German actor known for playing intense, complicated characters in films like Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave, and the X-Men franchise.
While he has garnered critical praise and multiple awards nominations for his acting skills, Fassbender has also faced some backlash and hatred from certain groups over the years. Here is an in-depth look at the reasons why some people dislike Michael Fassbender.
Background on Michael Fassbender
- Born in 1977 in Heidelberg, Germany to an Irish mother and German father
- Moved to Killarney, Ireland at age two and was raised there
- Began acting in stage productions at 17 and dropped out of school to pursue acting full time
- Had early TV roles in Band of Brothers and Hex before breakout role in Hunger (2008)
- Went on to star in critically acclaimed films like Inglourious Basterds, Shame, 12 Years a Slave
- Portrayed Magneto in the X-Men prequel films First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse
His Intense Acting Style
One of the main reasons why Michael Fassbender elicits strong reactions, both positive and negative, is his intense, emotionally raw acting style. He is known for completely immersing himself in dark, troubled characters.
- Played IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in Hunger – lost significant weight for the role
- Portrayed a sex addict in Shame, involving full frontal nudity
- His Magneto is multilayered but also ruthless and explosive
- Does not shy away from complexity, darkness, sexuality in roles
While some praise his fearlessness, others are turned off by the abrasiveness or explicitness of some of his characters. His intensity highlights moral ambiguities that make some viewers uncomfortable.
Allegations of Abuse Against Ex-Girlfriend
In 2010, Fassbender’s ex-girlfriend Sunawin Andrews filed a restraining order against him and alleged that he broke her nose and caused her to have a miscarriage. The Daily Beast published details of the allegations, which brought negative attention to Fassbender.
- Andrews claimed he dragged her alongside his car and twisted her ankle
- Also said he went on drunken rampages, verbally abused her
- Fassbender’s reps denied allegations, no charges were filed
- Left a cloud over his name in wake of domestic abuse scandals in Hollywood
Right or wrong, these abuse allegations had a big impact on his reputation, leading some to view him as volatile, dangerous, and morally questionable in light of the #MeToo movement.
His Womanizing Reputation
Throughout his career, Fassbender has been linked to a string of high-profile actresses and models. Some paint him as a classic womanizer, moving from one beautiful conquest to the next.
- Rumored flings with Nicole Beharie, Zoe Kravitz, Naomi Campbell
- Brief relationships with Leasi Andrews, Madalina Ghenea
- Current wife is actress Alicia Vikander
While his love life is no one’s business but his own, being viewed as a womanizer or serial playboy has made some think less of Fassbender and his treatment of women. It clashes with his progressive film roles.
Declining Quality of Roles
After acclaimed performances in 12 Years a Slave and the X-Men films, some believe the quality of Michael Fassbender’s roles has declined in recent years to more commercial, less interesting films.
- Did critically panned video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed
- Action film flop The Snowman lost $35 million
- Alien prequel Covenant and Prometheus underwhelmed fans
- His indie films like Trespass Against Us and The Light Between Oceans fell flat
Moviegoers who became fans of his artier, grittier early roles feel disappointed and disenchanted with his film choices as of late, tarnishing their view of him as an actor.
His Defense of Alleged Abusers
One of the most controversial issues has been Fassbender’s defense of directors who have been accused of abusive behavior, like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen.
- Called their treatment a “witch hunt” and said he would “absolutely” work with them
- Defended Narcissus and Goldmund director Peter Shaffer, accused of abusive tactics
- Called them “artists” who should be forgiven their personal behavior
This sparked outrage from victims’ advocates and those who feel he excuses terrible misconduct. It makes him seem complicit and callous about abuse in a post-#MeToo era.
What Are Michael Fassbender’s Strengths as an Actor?
However, while Michael Fassbender certainly has controversies around him, he has undeniable strengths as a performer that have made him so acclaimed.
Intense Dedication to His Roles
Fassbender’s extreme commitment to transforming himself is one of his hallmarks. For Hunger, he restricted himself to 600 calories per day to look authentically starved.
In Jane Eyre, he took on the task of playing Rochester, a Byronic hero described as physically unattractive – a rare choice for a leading man. Even in action films like 300, his dedication to the role’s physical intensity impressed audiences.
Ability to Evoke Complex Emotions
While Fassbender doesn’t shy away from darkness in his characters, he uses this to tap into nuanced, layered emotions in his performances. As Magneto, he captured the character’s tragic history, charisma, and ethical complexities amid his violence.
In Shame, he depicted the main character’s internal battle with sex addiction in a way that evoked empathy. His range allows him to bring humanity to even the most troubled figures.
Natural Screen Presence
Fassbender’s magnetism on screen is another of his key strengths. He commands attention in even small roles like his eye-catching turn in Inglourious Basterds.
With his striking features and brooding charisma, the camera effortlessly focuses on him. When combined with his acting intensity, this makes for electrifying viewing. Even in critically panned films, his presence elevates the material.
Ability to Work Well with Great Directors
From Steve McQueen to Quentin Tarantino to Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender has proved himself adept at collaborating with talented directors to bring their unique visions to life.
These partnerships allow him to find new facets of his acting and repeatedly deliver memorable performances under their guidance. His director relationships showcase his skills.
Table: Michael Fassbender Filmography Highlights
|Inglourious Basterds||2009||Lt. Archie Hicox|
|Jane Eyre||2011||Edward Rochester|
|12 Years A Slave||2013||Edwin Epps|
|X-Men: Days of Future Past||2014||Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto|
|Steve Jobs||2015||Steve Jobs|
|X-Men: Apocalypse||2016||Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto|
Michael Fassbender is certainly a polarizing figure who provokes strong reactions in fans and critics alike. While his troubled off-screen behavior has drawn detractors, he remains a compelling performer on screen due to his sheer talent and magnetism.
Audiences are bound to continue debating Fassbender’s merits and flaws as he takes on new roles and continues crafting his complicated public persona. But the passion he evokes, both positive and negative, cement his position as one of the most interesting dramatic actors working today.
FAQs About Michael Fassbender Backlash
What abuse allegations were made against Fassbender?
In 2010, his ex-girlfriend Sunawin Andrews alleged that he physically abused her, broke her nose, caused her to miscarry, and dragged her alongside his car. Fassbender denied the claims and no charges were filed.
What womanizing behavior is he known for?
Fassbender has been linked to numerous high-profile actresses and models over the years. He has a reputation as a heartbreaker and serial playboy in his dating life. He is currently married to Alicia Vikander.
What controversial directors has he defended?
He has defended working with Roman Polanski and Woody Allen despite their sexual abuse allegations, calling it a “witch hunt.” He also defended Narcissus and Goldmund director Peter Shaffer against abuse claims.
Why did his ex-girlfriend file a restraining order against him?
His ex-girlfriend Sunawin Andrews filed a restraining order in 2010 detailing allegations that he physically abused her, broke her nose, caused her to miscarry their child, and mistreated her verbally as well as physically.
What recent films has Fassbender starred in that were critically panned?
Some of his recent poorly-reviewed films include video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed, thriller flop The Snowman, and Alien prequel Covenant. These have contributed to a decline in the quality of his roles since his early breakthroughs.