12 Years a Slave

British Actors You Should Know: Michael Fassbender

Ever since Carmen did a post on James McAvoy – and I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past – I’ve been dying to do a post on all the many talented roles of his co-star, Irish actor Michael Fassbender. (General note: Yes, I am aware that Fassbender is Irish and that I’m stretching the definition of “British Actors You Should Know” a tiny bit to include him as part of this series. But, I’m going with it. Don’t yell at me too much.)

Anyway, most of you reading this probably do know who Fassbender is, in one form or another – whether it’s as the young Magneto from X-Men or the psychotic slave owner in 12 Years a Slave, or even the guy who danced with Benedict Cumberbatch at the Golden Globes in that photo that was everywhere the next day. But he’s turned in several truly phenomenal performances over the course of his (fairly short) career thus far that are well worth your time to watch.

Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

Go Behind the Scenes of ‘12 Years a Slave’ with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch

Director Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated drama 12 Years a Slave – by many critical accounts a lock for a Best Picture Oscar next year – opened in theaters beginning October 18. Of course, that’s a limited release, so you may still have to wait a bit before you get to see this powerful film for yourself if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area.

The drama features a bevy of British stars – including a trio of up-and-coming “it” actors in star Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as supporting players Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch. There are also a few Americans you might recognize, most notably Brad Pitt. The film retells the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. Northrup was forced to work on plantations in Louisana for twelve years before his release and fought both to return home and preserve his dignity against impossible odds.

The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last month to almost universal acclaim – with most critics hailing it as a harrowing, uncompromising (and sometimes difficult to watch) portrayal of slavery in America, and lining up to pour accolades on Ejiofor’s performance, in particular.

Website ScreenSlam shared three behind-the-scenes set interviews with Ejiofor, Fassbender and Cumberbatch, as all three actors shared their thoughts on the film, their roles, and what it was like to work on the set and with acclaimed director McQueen. Watch them all below.

Watch: The First Trailer for '12 Years a Slave' Features Some Recognizable British Faces

Director Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated adaptation of 12 Years a Slave has been much-discussed since it went into production last year – and you can now get your first look at this gritty historical drama.

This film seems like a surefire awards season contender, with its high-end behind-the-scenes pedigree (McQueen made quite a splash with Shame a couple years ago and Brad Pitt is a producer) and star-studded cast that includes several recognizable British performers. The ensemble cast features Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfre Woodard, Michael K. Williams, Quvenzhané Wallis and more, including Pitt himself as a Canadian abolitionist.

Watch the first trailer below.