The Wild Irish Boy

Superhero, hunger striker, Mr. Rochester, psychiatrist, sex addict. Michael Fassbender can play anyone--with or without his clothes on

Peter Hapak for TIME

Michael Fassbender.

Michael Fassbender has a look. It's a cross between a stare, a glare and a laser attack. The muscles in his finely angled face tense, and his blue-green eyes all but pulsate in their sockets. In his breakthrough film, Hunger (2008), Fassbender, playing the IRA martyr Bobby Sands, casts that look on a well-meaning priest, vaporizing any pleas against the hunger strike that will kill him. You see the look in Inglourious Basterds (2009), just before Fassbender's English spy tongue-lashes a Nazi lout, and in this year's Jane Eyre, when his Rochester matches wits with the equally steely heroine. The look...

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