Michael Fassbender: Assassin's Creed Felt Like Doing Two Completely Different Films

The mega popular video game, Assassin's Creed, is finally being adapted into a movie. SpotboyE.com got in touch with the lead actor, Michael Fassbender, and he gave us an insight into what went into shaping the film, especially his two strikingly-different-from-each-other characters

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Michael Fassbender: Assassin's Creed Felt Like Doing Two Completely Different Films
Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender has enjoyed a whirlwind career since he shot of fame with Hunger (2008). It was only his third feature role, but Fassbender won a British Independent Film Award for the part and began an ascendance as a movie star that shows little sign of slowing down.

He’s also become a bona fide box-office star as part of the X-Men franchise.

For the screen adaptation of the popular video game, Assassin's Creed, Fassbender is reuniting with director Justin Kurzel and co-star Marion Cotillard. He had worked with both of them previously in Macbeth (2015).

Assassins Creed

In Assassin's Creed, Fassbender in playing dual roles – Callum Lynch, a death row convict spared execution by the Templars, as well as his 15th Century ancestor, Aguilar de Nehra, a master assassin who fought the Spanish inquisition in his quest to keep a sacred artifact out of Templar hands.

As the film hits theatres today, SpotboyE.com got in touch with Fassbender. Speaking from the film’s set at London’s Pinewood Studios and on location in Almería in Southern Spain, Fassbender explains his attraction to the role, and what it takes to become a master assassin. Excerpts:

Assassins Creed

What’s your history with the Assassin's Creed franchise?
I met with Ubisoft Motion Pictures in 2011, and I didn’t know much about the game at that point. I’d obviously heard about it and seen all the posters and adverts, but I didn’t know the story or methodology behind it. When I met the guys they told me the whole premise behind it: this idea of DNA memory and the war that was waging between the Templars and the Assassins, and that Adam and Eve were the first Assassins. I thought all of that was really fascinating stuff.

The real thing that I thought was going to give us an extra edge over other films of this genre was this idea of DNA memory; that we hold in us the experiences, mistakes and memories of our ancestors. That’s what we’ve come to call instinct. I thought that was a really cool scientific theory that seemed very plausible.

And then this idea of the Assassins and Templars and the battle that goes on between them. It’s not as clear cut as, let’s say, the dark side and the light. The moralities get very blurred and both factions contradict themselves and are quite hypocritical in certain respects. It’s a very grey moral area, which I always think is more interesting.

Assassins Creed

That debate is central to the film: Are the Templars actually doing some good?
Exactly, and because this is an 'Origin' story, and we’re introducing it to the world of cinema, to deal with those main points in this one – to get them front, centre and alive early so people know what we’re dealing with from the beginning – that was really important. This fight has been going on for a while and we wanted to distill it and simplify it as much as we could so that the information we’re giving the audience is the stuff they need, and we’re not hitting them with too much. There’s a lot to take on, you know. That’s where a lot of our efforts went in, to just sort of refine it and refine it further.

Have you picked up the games since signing on?
Of course, I did, but I’m not very good (laughs). But I think that’s something that we’ve been focusing on this, as well. We realize that the fans really dig the historical accuracy. I think that’s fascinating. I was talking to a friend of mine who said to his son, “We’re going to go away for four days, pick anywhere.” And his son said, “Florence.” He was like, “Wow that’s impressive, my son wants to go to Florence and check out these various buildings.” His son said, “I want to go there because there’s an Assassin's Creed game set in Florence and I want to check it out and see if the details are correct (laughs).” There’s an educational aspect to it, which is very cool.

Assassins Creed

Is it interesting to play two characters in one movie who have this odd genetic connection?
It is because they’re very different people. Aguilar is part of a family and he believes very strongly in the Creed. He belongs to the Creed and he serves for the Creed. In contrast, Cal is somebody who’s much more of a drifter, really. He’s been in and out of correctional facilities for most of his life. He’s fairly underprivileged and doesn’t believe in much. He’s certainly got no alliance to anything because his family is taken away pretty early. It’s with his journey, through Aguilar, that he starts to learn where he comes from and that he does belong to something. He belongs to this bloodline and that is something special. This discovery gives him a direction for the first time in his life.

Does it feel like a movie of two halves?

It seems like two different movies in a way. That was something that I thought would be very interesting cinematically – that you could have all the colors of this Inquisition time, and then have Abstergo, which is very neutral. I thought it would be cool to see both of those worlds laid side-by-side like that.

Assassins Creed

You’ve re-joined your Macbeth director, Justin Kurzel. When did he sign up?
I can’t remember exactly when it was that I brought it to him, but it was obviously sometime during Macbeth. He didn't take long to answer actually. He was excited by it, and I’m pretty sure he went for it immediately.

It’s cool because we’ve got a great shorthand. Adam Arkapaw, his cinematographer, is fantastic and he’s a real artist. The two of them have their own shorthand, and I have one with Marion (Cotillard) also as we’ve worked together previously.

Assassins Creed

Did you spend a long time on Aguilar’s look?
We didn’t want to go too far with Anguilar's look because we didn’t want to add something just for the sake of adding it on. It was all about keeping it as simple as possible with the differences between Aguilar and Cal. The costume designer, Sammy (Sheldon-Differ) did amazing work. With some of the costumes in the game, they look great but you couldn’t really translate them that well into film. They might look just a little off. That was a major part of it, the costume, and the look we discussed off the back of it. It was long hair, beard, all the classics. (laughs) And just some contact lenses to give me brown eyes instead of blue. The eyes are funny because you’re like, “Something’s different,” but you don’t really know what.