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When you find yourself cast in a movie that is based on previously existing material, as nearly every movie is these days, it’s common for actors to read that book or watch that television show in order to get an understanding of how the material was intended. In Michael Fassbender’s current film, he had to do something which millions of people would have loved to do for "research." He played a lot of video games.
While Fassbender had never played the Assassin’s Creed series of video games before, he’s had to do so in order to get an understanding of the world that the movie is trying to recreate. In the case of the Assassin’s Creed film, the story is not taken from any of the nine games in the franchise, and is instead an original story that simply uses the game’s "historical epic meets science fiction movie" premise as its launching point. For that reason, Fassbender told Coming Soon.net that his playing of the games was not to gain insight into a character or plotline, but rather to understand the game’s mechanics in order to inform his own physical performance.
I hadn’t played it before these guys approached me. I’ve played it since mainly to get an idea of the physicality of the character. We’re striving to find something special.
One of the things that makes adapting video games into movies uniquely challenging is the way that a game’s mechanics factor in. They are of vital importance to the game, but are usually only a minor aspect of a film. In the case of Assassin’s Creed, much of the game is focused on the character doing parkour-style acrobatics, running, jumping and climbing, in a fast, flowing way. The way the character moves is a big deal in the game, but it’s not something one would expect a movie to dwell on much at all. Fassbender obviously wants to be sure that the film version recreates this aspect of the game properly. In the grand scheme of the film, this will likely still be a minor detail but it may go a long way to making the film a good adaptation of the video game as well as, hopefully, a good movie in its own right.
The premise of the game series is that it is possible to for somebody to experience the lives of their ancestor by unlocking the "genetic memory" stored in their DNA. Through this process, Fassbender’s character of Callum Lynch is able to experience the life of a man named Aguilar in 15th century Spain. In doing so, he learns of a centuries-long battle between the Assassins and the Templars. Both the character and the setting will be new to the series mythology.
As with the original X-Men and Spider-Man movies, it only took a couple of strong movies to turn comic books into a major source for film adaption. Assassin’s Creed appears to be trying to do the same thing for video games. How important do you think Michael Fassbender's physicality will be to that success?