For actor Michael Fassbender, getting into distinct characters is another day at the office. Over the last two years, he has transformed himself into a Spartan warrior, an emaciated hunger striker and a dashing English military man. For the upcoming DC Comics adaptation of Jonah Hex, Fassbender donned facial tattoos to play the charismatic henchman Burke, and the actor told Sci Fi Wire it was the costume that helped him get into character the most.
“Burke on the page was a certain sort of character, but then when I arrived in New Orleans and met up with Michael Wilkinson and Christien Tinsley, who did the tattoo, they really gave me all of the information I needed,” says Fassbender. “I put on this three-piece suit, and then I was going through hats, and I just put on a bowler hat, and I was like, that reminds me of Clockwork Orange, and that reminds me of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler. So that would be my physicality—I wanted to try and make him quite angular and quite rakish, and I definitely got the inspiration through the hat. So I found it all in that bowler hat, to be honest.”
According to Fassbender, his primary purpose in the film is to offset the intensity of John Malkovich, who plays Turnbull, a calm and menacing character and Jonah’s main adversary.
“I knew that [Jimmy] wanted quite a sort of boisterous, colorful character to go against John Malkovich’s,” he said. “Something that was sort of off the wall. So that’s sort of why I thought of the Riddler in the 1970s, and then there’s also something very sinister and dangerous about the Clockwork Orange element. So I just sort of mashed them together.”
Fassbender also wanted to make sure there was a degree of believability to his character’s oddball behavior. The actor enjoyed playing a colorful character that was firmly preserved the iconic comic-book style world.
“I wanted to keep the comic-book style,” he explained. “But it always has to come from a real person. If you’re doing fantasy, in order to take this person on that journey to a fantastical world which is already outside of the realms of reality, the people that occupy that world should be real or coming from some sort of reality.”
Jonah Hex, which also stars Josh Brolin and Megan Fox, is slated for release on June 18, 2010.