EXCLUSIVE: How Michael Fassbender Turned Macbeth Into a 'Product of War'


Ahead of Macbeth’s release on Blu-ray and DVD on March 8, ETonline has an exclusive look at adapting William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy for a new audience.

In the film starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Macbeth is re-envisioned as “a product of war,” director Justin Kurzel reveals. Although it is a period piece, the change to Fassbender’s character gives the story a modern twist.

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“On the first day of the rehearsal, Justin says, ‘This is a guy who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder,’” Fassbender shares, gaining new insight to this tragic king of Scotland. “I was like, ‘Actually, Shakespeare wrote about it.’ That’s how ahead of his time he was.”

Ultimately, Fassbender channeled the mental disorder that has affected many veterans of war into his character, giving the spiritual elements -- the famed three witches -- new perspective.

“He’s seeing things right at beginning. The witches, are they really there?” Fassbender asks of Macbeth’s visions, comparing them to the same types of flashes real-life victims experience.

Photo: The Weinstein Company

While Fassbender dug into the psyche of his character, his co-star found inspiration in the locations’ “brutal” weather. At times, the wind and hail was so strong it made it nearly impossible to stand, Cotillard reveals to ET.

“But I think it adds something to the movie. We used it,” the actress says. “We are telling a story with inner violence and the fact that the elements were so violent created a special energy.”

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The energy was especially evident during the film’s pivotal banquet scene. “All of [the feelings] crystalized,” Fassbender says.

Following their dramatic turn in Macbeth, Cotillard and Fassbender will reunite on-screen for Kurzel’s live-action adaptation of the popular game franchise, Assassin’s Creed, which hits theaters on Dec. 21.

“Working with Michael again was great,” Cotillard says. “His passion for cinema is contagious and inspiring.”