Alien: Covenant – Michael Fassbender

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INTERVIEW WITH
MICHAEL FASSBENDER

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This year is shaping up as the year of the franchise. Already we have seen a new Fast & Furious film, a new Pirates Of The Caribbean film, and there are more films coming in both the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. There is, however, one other franchise movie that has got a lot of fan-boys (and girls) very, very excited – a brand new film in the Alien franchise from the creative mind of masterful director, Ridley Scott.

 

For Alien fans, the last few years have been a little confusing. Some loved Prometheus, others hated it. Whether you were a lover or a hater though, Scott promised very early on that the new film, Alien: Covenant would answer a lot of the questions that people were left with after Prometheus. Star of the film, Michael Fassbendersat down to see if he could help us out with some of those questions.

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Fassbender begins by telling us about the ship, ‘The Covenant’, that is central to the film’s plot. “This is a ship that is going to start a new world,” he explains. “This ship has something like 2000 colonists on it that are going to start life anew on a new planet. On their way there, the ship hits a storm and the storm does some damage to the ship and Walter (Fassbender’s robotic-like character) is concerned that the colonists might get damaged so he awakes the commanding crew. So, the commanding crew are awake and are out of cryosleep, and soon after they have woken up, they hear a beacon… one seems to be a distress signal or call, which happens to be Shaw’s distress signal from a planet that seems to fulfil all the necessary requirements that they need to start life – air that is breathable and fresh water – foliage. It is a sustainable planet to their knowledge so they decide that rather than going back into cryosleep and journeying on for six years, they decide to take a look at this planet… and they shouldn’t have done that.”

…continued below…

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He is also quick to admit that like most Alien movies there is a ‘scare factor’ to this film. “The concept of space and what is out there is that it is very hard to believe that we are the only species that exists in the universe, so there is that to begin with, and then there is the idea of parasites that can use us as a host. I think that is a very disturbing concept, and for me personally, I always remember from the first Alien film John Hurt and the bursting out of the stomach scene and that has always stayed with me. That whole thing of something growing inside of us is pretty scary.”

 

As an actor, Fassbender’s work on Alien: Covenant was made harder by the fact that he plays two characters that look identical but are very different on the inside – Walter and David. “The David models are designed to allow the synthetic to have human-like qualities and characteristics, so we very much see that in David. He has characteristics like pride and vanity – which are very human traits – and that ended up disturbing people… they weren’t very comfortable with it, so they decided to design the following models with fewer of those programming functions, so basically Walter is very much just a functioning synthetic that operates on logic without any human emotional thread, so he doesn’t incorporate threads like vanity or jealousy or gratitude; he doesn’t fall in love with characters like the strange relationship we saw between Shaw and David in Prometheus – there is a bond that develops there that is a very human one and with it comes human flaws. But Walter is just there to look after the crew and the ship, the Covenant, he is like a super butler.”

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Michael Fassbender is an actor who has now put together an impressive resume of films, so what has it been like for him to work with a director like Ridley Scott? “There is nobody like Ridley,” he says. “Certainly no one that I have come across or that I have read about or heard other people in the industry talk about. He is just very special. He comes from an art background, so he is very aware of a frame. He’s very specific and he is very knowledgeable about what should be in the frame, i.e. working with the costume department on looks for the outfits that we are wearing. I’ve seen him talk in great detail to the Art Department in a language that is familiar to them, which is exactly what he does with the acting department and the camera department and every department. He is seeing everything and his passion for each department. Ridley will always pick actors who are on the fringe of popularity, from films that are more arthouse and there is always a great diversity in his cast. There are different ethnicities that he uses, and even just the fact that he will notice somebody in the props department and notice how important they are or how good they are at their job. He’s just an all-rounder and that would be selling him short because he is a master… a master filmmaker and there aren’t many of them out there, they are a very rare breed.

Alien: Covenant is out in cinemas now through Twentieth Century Fox.

Written by Dave Griffiths

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