MICHAEL FASSBENDER stars in the terrifying thriller The Snowman. When an elite crime squad s lead detective (Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.
"Well, it's 'Who-luh,' but I call him 'Hole'," Michael Fassbender pronounces the name of his latest screen character, troubled Norwegian detective Harry Hole.
"The Snowman" is the first movie made from Jo Nesbo's popular series of novels about Oslo's premiere - and probably most screwed-up - police inspector.
Huge bestsellers in not just Scandinavia but throughout Europe and the rest of the world, Nesbo's 11 Hole thrillers ("Snowman,' the seventh, was published 10 years ago) and other books are becoming as emblematic of Nordic Noir as neighboring Sweden's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" novels.
Directed in English by Swede Tomas Alfredson ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," the original "Let the Right One In"), "Snowman" teams a hungover Hole with a mysterious new cop from farther north, Katrine Bratt (Swedish/English actress Rebecca Ferguson), in pursuit of orderly Norway's first serial killer.
You could say that Hole is dogged in his investigation. But the way Fassbender portrays him as almost passive to the point of practically paralyzed, you sometimes wonder if he's even on the job or just lost in some private misery.
"Harry's very dysfunctional," says the Irish star of many an 'XMen' and 'Alien' entry, as well as more artfully ambitious stuff like "Steve Jobs," "Shame" and "12 Years a Slave.
MICHAEL FASSBENDER stars in the terrifying thriller The Snowman.
(Credit: Universal Pictures)
"I basically just worked off the books, in which I saw a man who's got an intelligence to him. But I think he's somebody whose mind is always on overdrive, so he drinks to shut it down. He's brilliant at his job but doesn't necessarily like his job. Some of the other officers he doesn't really respect that much, and you can feel that people look at him like he's a bit of a snob in that way. He's in love but doesn't know how to facilitate that love.
"And I think he's a man that knows himself very well, so he's his own man. That's very much like Jo Nesbo, the writer, too, he's very much his own man. And Harry's somebody who doesn't necessarily like people that much; in the books, you know, he's got one friend."
It must have been difficult, then, to act so dour opposite Ferguson. The "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" actress has an irrepressibly
outgoing and fun-loving personality, after all. But Fassbender reports it was no problem switching emotional gears with her between takes.
"It was the same when we were doing '12 Years a Slave'; Lupita and I would have a joke, laugh aboutsom thing, and then go into these intense scenes," he says of the Oscar-winning Antebellum biopic, in which Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o played out an all-around tortured master/slave relationship. "I kind of like that, and Rebecca's the same. Obviously, you don't want to do that with an actor who's got their process that contradicts that kind of behavior, you just leave them in their space. But Rebecca's very effusive and bubbly, and then - boom! - into what she's doing when we're doing it. It's easy and nice to have that."
While acknowledging that "The Snowman" movie diverges from the book in significant ways - much to the dissatisfaction of many Norwegian critics and other fans - Fassbender hopes there'll be future opportunities to bring out other qualities in the guy he calls Hole.
"I really enjoyed playing the character and have a lot of affection toward him," he says. "The more I read in the books, the more I wanted to do those stories."