Fassbender wins best actor award at Venice Film Festival


MICHAEL FASSBENDER, currently among the busiest of Irish actors, cemented his status by winning best actor at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday night.

The prize was awarded for his performance as a sex-addicted New Yorker in Steve McQueen’s troubling drama Shame.

Born in Germany but brought up in Kerry from the age of two, Fassbender spoke eloquently after receiving the ornate gold cup. He said: “It’s just really nice when you take a chance and you do something that you think is relevant – you hope is relevant – and people respond the way they did.”

Fassbender can currently be seen as Mr Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, in which he plays the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, also premiered at the Venice event. The actor is still best known perhaps for playing Bobby Sands in McQueen’s hugely praised 2008 film Hunger.

Speaking to The Irish Timeslast week, he explained his reasons for taking the controversial role in Shame. “It’s just Steve,” he said. “I didn’t need to see a script to agree. Steve changed my life personally and professionally. With Hunger, he took a chance on an unknown actor. I am forever in debt to him.”

Robbie Ryan, one of Ireland’s most admired young directors of photography, received the best cinematography prize for his work on Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights. The film breaks new ground by casting a black actor, James Howson, as Heathcliff.

Many pundits predicted Fassbender’s victory. But film-maker Darren Aronofsky, chairman of the jury, surprised observers by awarding the Golden Lion, for the best film, to Alexander Sokurov’s Faust.