The more you think you know about Michael Fassbender, the less you know.
When his jaw-dropping nudity in the film Shame had even George Clooney blushing, you figured he was the latest of a rising crop of new British faces.
But think again.
Before Shame, he had appeared in no less than 10 TV series, six TV films, and nine movies some which you might even have seen.
But who knew?
Then, there was that story book romance with Alicia Vikander, which he resolutely refuses to talk about, a relationship that seemed pure and innocent.
But lurking in the shadows is a sordid episode with an ex-girlfriend who accused him of assault and battery and sought a restraining order against him.
Even though the charges were later dropped and the two reconciled, no explanation was ever given.
Another assumption was that he’s a tender-aged newcomer on the verge of greatness.
But again, not so.
He’s just turned 40, and he happily admits it.
In London for the international press junket for Alien: Covenant, in which he again plays the android David as well as his alter ego Walter, he’s good-humoured and relaxed.
Now that you’ve turned 40, how does that feel?
It feels good and bad. I feel good about who I am, but bad about getting older.
How did you celebrate your birthday?
I spent it with my family and friends in Ireland. My sister arranged a surprise birthday party for me there, which wasn’t a surprise because she had to tell me, in order for me to be there.
But it was cool, loads of friends, some of them I have known since I was five, and definitely a lot of friends from high school and stuff. So, it was great.
Where is your home base right now?
I gave up my flat in Hackney (London); so I have been homeless for the last two years, comfortably homeless.
Are you staying in hotels?
No I don’t like hotels. When we filmed in Sydney, I rented a really nice place that was home for four months.
And that’s the same wherever I go; you just make that place your home. I just put food in the fridge, and that is it really.
I don’t have a lot of possessions that I carry around with me, other than clothes. I like to travel as light as possible.
Is there anyone in your life right now?
That’s a question that really doesn’t interest me, to be honest.
Your mother is a very strong woman who started her own business. Is that the quality you’re looking for in a partner?
Don’t forget my dad. He did too. He’d be very upset if I ignored him.
But strong women, yes, I always look for that. Self confidence, a good nature, good spirit, and a kindness I suppose, but definitely strength. Strength of mind and strength of spirit.
How do you handle negative criticism?
Sometimes I’m charming and sometimes I’m not. There’s nothing really I can do in terms of people’s perceptions of me or what they take away or what they talk about after a film.
It’s kind of annoying when a film like Shame that has so much going on inside and all, and then all everybody’s talking about is the physical aspect of it. Maybe that’s more reflective of them as opposed to what they’re saying about me, but I was taught at a young age to treat people as you would yourself; so I try to be positive even if things around me aren’t.
What traits did you inherit from your parents?
Definitely stubbornness, which I attribute to my father, but a good work ethic from both of them. However, it was my mother who introduced me to the films that really inspired me to want to be an actor; so maybe artistic taste comes from my mother’s side.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an actor?
When I realised I’d never be a musician even if I practised quite a bit. I just knew I didn’t have it.
So, I started going to drama classes. I had no idea about drama or acting, or that it was an avenue I could go down.
There was no drama in the high school that I went to. But a past pupil had come back from the Gaiety (Theatre in Dublin, Ireland), and he set up these acting comedy classes.
I did two or three of the classes, but then he stopped doing them. And when I saw him in town, I said, “What happened to the classes? I was really enjoying them.” And he said, “Well I’m setting up a professional company in town so why don’t you come and join the group and work with us part time?”
And I did. And from that moment on, it had me. I knew that that’s what I wanted to pursue
How old were you at the time?
On your down time, what do you like to do?
I like speed. Not the drug but the sort of sensation. So, I try go-karting whenever I can. It helps me meditate a little bit.
I also like to go on bike trips on my motorcycle. When you’re on a motorcycle, there’s something cathartic about that, something sort of cleansing about it.
I’m trying to learn how to surf. That’s been interesting even though it’s more floundering than surfing. But I also find it to be quite cleansing, being in the water and trying to harness the ocean.
Where do you do that?
There’s various places like the south of France. I’ve tried it in Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, various places, wherever the ocean is.
I like to travel. That’s something I take great pleasure in, seeing different cultures and going to different places.
Would you like to return to a life where you were not as famous as you are now?
I wouldn’t want to go back at all. No desire to do that. I enjoy my life now. I enjoy acting, it’s my passion. It’s what I love doing.
I consider myself very lucky to be in the position I am now. It doesn’t bother me if I’m sitting in a corner café or in a bar and get interrupted. That goes with the territory; doing what I love doing far outweighs any of the negative stuff.
If it ended tomorrow, would you be able to give it all up?
Absolutely. I think one thing that human beings are great at is adapting.
And if for some reason I didn’t have the opportunity to do it again, knowing I’ve had eight great years, terrible as that might be, I could still set up a little pot on the side of the street and do street theatre and live with that.
What do you want out of life?
At this point in my professional career, I want to continue telling good stories, I want to continue learning, I want to continue working with people who inspire me and hopefully the audience.
That’s really it. It’s that simple. And then in terms of life, I want to be around people that I love and be a positive influence on them.
Do you have any morning rituals?
Not really, I just come on set and get ready, rehearse it and go through it and come back and do it. While they’re setting up the lighting, I nap. I am pretty good at power napping. But no real rituals, I don’t drink coffee. Tea maybe.
If you have kids, what would you like to pass on to them?
I would be happy with just health. Health would be a good thing. Blue eyes would be good. Depending who has the other eyes in the mix.