In the upcoming DC Comics adaptation, Fassbender plays Burke, a tattooed henchman at odds with Josh Brolin's titular gunslinger. The actor told Sci Fi Wire that he was able to access the role through the very simple but effective method of channeling his costume. The result, as Fassbender described it, was a cross between a "Clockwork Orange" villain and Frank Gorshin's classic portrayal of Batman nemesis The Riddler.
"Burke on the page was a certain sort of character, but then when I arrived in New Orleans and met up with Michael Wilkinson and Christien Tinsley, who did the tattoo, they really gave me all of the information I needed," he said.
"I put on this three-piece suit, and then I was going through hats, and I just put on a bowler hat, and I was like, that reminds me of 'Clockwork Orange,' and that reminds me of Frank Gorshin's Riddler," he continued. "So that would be my physicality -- I wanted to try and make him quite angular and quite rakish, and I definitely got the inspiration through the hat. So I found it all in that bowler hat, to be honest."
Fassbender said that his character is in stark contrast to John Malkovich, who plays Hex's primary adversary in the film. Whereas Malkovich's character is "calm and menacing," Fassbender's is a much more vibrant villain.
"I knew that [director Jimmy Hayward] wanted quite a sort of boisterous, colorful character to go against John Malkovich's," he explained. "So that's sort of why I thought of the Riddler in the 1970s -- I thought there was something kind of off the wall about that -- and then there's also something very sinister and dangerous about the 'Clockwork Orange' element. So I just sort of mashed them together."
Still, the actor stressed that Burke won't be all showmanship and zero substance. Fassbender revealed that playing an effective villain does require a fantasy element, but also some grounding in reality.
"I kind of like wanted to keep the comic book style. But it always has to come from a real person," he said. "If you're doing fantasy, in order to take this person on that journey to a fantastical world which is already outside of the realms of reality, the people that occupy that world should be real or coming from some sort of reality."
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