This Michael Fassbender interview took place prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike
Michael Fassbender has been busy – just, not necessarily with movies. Believe it or not, the actor has been away from our screens for four years now, last appearing in Fox’s X-Men swansong Dark Phoenix in 2019 – and in the intervening years, his focus has been elsewhere, namely starting a family and hitting the gas on his other passion: race car driving. But now, he’s back in a big way – and if there was anything that could get him excited to be in front of the camera again, it was the chance to work with a legendary director who himself was returning to a genre he’d already revitalised multiple times over in his hit-laden filmography. In short: if David Fincher wants you to play the killer in his sharp-shooting thriller titled, well, The Killer, you say yes.
“This is the type of film I was salivating to do,” Fassbender tells Empire, speaking on the set of Fincher’s pulse-pounding hitman tale. “There’s suspense and intrigue. A slow drip. I love that kind of movie.” Of course, being the story of a contract killer who finds himself hunted by his employers after a job gone awry, there’s action and excitement in the mix too. Fassbender trained for ten weeks to get into fighting shape, and learned to assemble a sniper rifle with ease. Oh, and he read up on real-life killers too. “There’s just trying to understand the mind of a sociopath,” he says. “I try and put together a lifespan, to where the character is now.” That, combined with source material in the comic book of the same name (Le Tueur, in its original French) by Matz and Luc Jacamon, all helped him to build a character like no other. “What I loved about the comics is there was a lot to pull from.” Check out an exclusive image here:
For the notoriously exacting Fincher, Fassbender had everything the director could want in his leading man. “Michael’s eyes betray a lot,” the filmmaker explains. “He can hold a lot of conflicting things in his mind and his eyes allow you access to it.” Plus, the actor boasted the same sense of precision as both his perfectionist director, and his masterfully methodical character. “He’s like Daniel Craig [Fincher’s star on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo] in that way, saying, ‘I can do it better.’ Tell him to stop 1/3 inch shorter and he can fine-tune that technical stuff, while on top of that he’s got really good ideas about behaviour.” It’s a combination of star, filmmaker, and subject matter ready to hit directly on target. “He has this gift as an actor, but clamped on top of it is this incredible discipline about how he subdivides his next move,” says Fincher of his leading man. Make no mistake: Fassbender is back, and he’s not about to miss.
Read Empire’s full The Killer feature – going on set with David Fincher, Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton and more – in the November 2023 issue. Plus, this month’s magazine is an epic David Fincher special, looking back on his legendary filmography, with the director himself revisiting his most iconic shots. The issue hits newsstands from Thursday 28 September. Pre-order a copy online here, or become an Empire member to access the digital edition on launch day. The Killer is in cinemas from 27 October and streaming on Netflix from 10 November.