nomination, frustration, urination
MF: My God, man. I'm nervous.
JM: You'll be fine.
MF: You'll be like, "Oh, you fucked it!"
JM: I'll phone you up: "Remember I told you I was really excited? Aww, dude . . ."
The two friends wait for me to ferry over the next round of pints. And as the bitter begins to flow, so does talk of Fassbender's recently wrapped big-screen adaptation of Macbeth. He and McAvoy compare notes on the interpretation of several lines, the delivery of Shakespeare's verse, and the demands of the Bard's darkest play. McAvoy played the lead in a grueling stage production of Macbeth on London's West End last year and was nominated for an Olivier Award, Britain's equivalent of a Tony.
JM: Yeah, didn't fuckin' win it, though.
MF: Shoulda won it, shouldn't you?
JM: Didn't fuckin' win it, did I? Lost it.
MF: Yeah, yeah. Easy, easy.
JM: I'm not bitter, I'm not bitter—
MF: Just angry.
JM: I'm drinking bitter. It's just really fuckin' annoying. No, I'm only joking.
MF: Oh, no you weren't.
JM: No, listen. It's not about winning awards, and I really don't give a fuck about awards when I do a job. But if you're sitting in the room, I'd much rather they called my name out than the next guy. Of course I would. It's not like you're Mother Teresa and you're like, "No, I really want everyone else to win."
MF: We're all winners, we're all winners. Goddamn it, we are!
McAvoy pats his friend on the back as he gets up and makes for the bathroom. After a six-month-long Oscar campaign for his role as a troubled sex addict in Shame, Fassbender showed a candor rarely seen in the For Your Consideration crowd, saying he was disappointed about not getting a nomination and suggesting he was done campaigning—comments that were interpreted, by some, as a dig at those who did lobby the academy.
MF: It takes five to six months to go and do a campaign, and that's fine, but I would prefer to make the movie and tell another story. And that's all I meant by that. It's not like, "Oh God, this is a drag and I can't be bothered with this." It's not that at all, and I don't want to take away from anybody who does it, because that's not what I meant. Basically, what I'm saying is, I think we live in such a politically correct time at the moment. It almost feels like the fifties again. People are so quick to judge and pick on something that you say. The fact of the matter is, of course it affects you—because of course everybody likes approval, that's just human nature—so you'd be lying to say it doesn't. Like James said, it's nice to hear your name called out.
DETAILS: So was it validating to be up there this year, alongside director Steve McQueen, for 12 Years a Slave?
MF: Absolutely. Like I said, it's always nice to get approval from your peers. I think everybody wants that in life, to be sort of . . . acknowledged is not the right word—celebrated, if that's what it is. You try and tell a story and it touches people.
DETAILS: In that moment, as the envelope was opened for Best Supporting Actor, did you feel anxious or nervous?
MF: I didn't feel that at the Oscars. I just felt it was a very cool, chill, relaxed atmosphere. I knew what the result was gonna be, so maybe that was why.
DETAILS: So you predicted Jared Leto would win, but what about 12 Years? And Lupita Nyong'o getting Best Supporting Actress?
MF: I actually had predicted the way it went. I thought it would get best film. And I did sort of call the Lupita thing. I was pretty sure she'd get it, and I was so happy she did.
DETAILS: She gave you an amazing shout-out in her speech—she called you her rock.
MF: And I wasn't there!
DETAILS: What were you doing?
MF: I went outside to go to the toilet.
DETAILS: So you were taking a piss?
MF: Yes. I was taking a piss. And I did have a sneaky vodka tonic. But I got totally caught out, because I was thinking that category was going to be way down the line. And then, of course, you can't get back in until it's a commercial break, so I watched it backstage. I felt pretty embarrassed about that.
With perfect timing, at this moment McAvoy returns from taking a piss.
JM: Where was this?
MF: The Oscars—I missed Lupita winning. So there's a stand-in beside my mom. [Laughs] And Brad Pitt said he could hear them going, "Michael Fassbender? Where's Michael Fassbender?" Bad timing on my part.
MF: It was really bad. It was close here and frizzy up here. And then, because I tied it back, whenever I took the band off, it just went like this—poof—mullet. Really bad. Lucky enough, I managed to have a girlfriend. I don't know how—'cause I was really pimply as well.
This portrait of an artist as a young metalhead both is and is not a passing snapshot. Fassbender will still psych himself up on set with AC/DC, Slayer, or Megadeth on occasion, and growing up in Killarney, Ireland, he harbored rock-star aspirations. "I've gotta say, I wasn't very good. It was just two of us, both on lead guitar, and both of us singing—nobody wanted to back down," he recalls. "We couldn't get a bass player, and we couldn't get a drummer. It was a small town." The shift happened when he and a friend produced a stage version of Reservoir Dogs, in which Fassbender played Mr. Pink. (When Fassbender told Quentin Tarantino, who directed him in Inglourious Basterds, Fassbender says, "he got a kick out of it. I stressed to him it was for charity—we weren't profiting off his work!") As a teen, Fassbender waited tables at a restaurant run by his mother, who was born in Northern Ireland, and his German father, who was the chef—though he preferred tending bar. "I'm a little bit too proud," he says. "You're at the mercy of the floor when you're a waiter, whereas behind the bar, it's your domain. You've gotta wait for the bartender to come and serve you."