If all goes according to plan, Michael Fassbender will be back for more Assassin’s Creed films. The producer and star of the new movie, which opens on December 21, said he worked with Ubisoft Motion Pictures and the creative team at New Regency to map out a story that spans a trilogy. Of course, the standalone first film, which 20th Century Fox is distributing, needs to succeed at the box office against fierce competition from movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Passengers and Sing.
Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch in the film’s present-day story and uses a brand new Animus to explore the Spanish Inquisition as his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha. The film introduces a new protagonist and an original time period to explore, while retaining key elements from the bestselling game franchise. [a]listdaily caught up with Fassbender both on the London Pinewood Studios set of the film and the New York City press junket, where he talked about the Assassin’s Creed game and new film franchise.
Have you ever been a gamer?
A little bit. When I start playing video games, I find myself at 8:30 in the morning still playing.
Which is your favorite game?
I always liked racing games. I would sit there and try and perfect the track or get the fastest I could around the track, trying to get the times down. But since joining this (Assassin’s Creed movie), I’ve started to play the game and it’s amazing to see how things have come on since I was last playing. It’s extraordinary—I mean the detail—and I know what a lot of gamers really are fanatical about is the detail, and the great educational benefits of it, the historical elements of it.
I was talking to a friend of mine who said to his son, who is like 15 or 16, “Let’s go away on a trip together. You can pick wherever you want to go.” His son picked Florence because he played it in the (Assassin’s Creed) game and he wanted to see if all the elements of the city were as they were in the game. So that’s been a real education for me, sitting down playing the game. You can just see a 360-degree view of the city of that time period. It’s pretty exceptional.
What are your thoughts on how far storytelling has come in video games compared to when you were a kid?
It’s a lot more sophisticated in terms of getting a prologue now, which is very advanced graphically, and gives you a proper introduction to the universe you’re going to enter into. Video games didn’t really have that when I was growing up. I’m showing my age, but it was pretty basic stuff. The graphics, of course, have come a long way and the detail and precision of the execution of these worlds—that was something. That really blew me away with Assassin’s Creed.
What do you feel separates this franchise from other games?
What fans find interesting about this is fascinating. What draws them to the game is that thing about going into these different regressions—visiting America during the War of Independence, or more recently The Industrial Revolution in England (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate). I think fans get a big kick out of that in terms of the educational experience more than anything else.
The concept of the Assassin’s Creed film sounds fairly close to the first game. Would you consider this to be part of the same universe?
It’s all part of the same universe. We really want to respect the game and the elements in it, but we also wanted to come up with our own thing. One thing that I’ve learned from doing other franchises like X-Men is that audiences want to be surprised and see new elements of what they already know, and different takes on it. We’re really respecting the very core elements of the game, but then we wanted to bring something new to it as well. That’s why we have these new central characters.
Could you talk a little bit about the redesigned Animus, which is very action-oriented in the new film?
We just didn’t want to have something where I sit in a seat. Number one, we’ve seen it before in The Matrix. Two, it’s just not a very dramatic experience when we’re doing the modern day version of the regression. We wanted to have something where the character is physically involved in it.
They’ve come up with something very interesting. Talking to Ubisoft, they are thinking perhaps of adopting some of these ideas [for future games]. But definitely not having it so much as Cal being a passenger in a chair. We wanted to have something more interactive for that character in the present-day stuff.