"The Scottish film" is what Michael Fassbender calls his "Macbeth" adaption, which is set to premiere Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival. He's maintaining the theatrical superstition of not speaking the name of Shakespeare's play at least he wasn't in an interview ahead of the festival.
"Sometimes I say it, sometimes I don't," Fassbender said. "It depends on the day."
"Macbeth," usually referred to by the euphemism "the Scottish play" by actors wary of its legendary spell, will be the final film to screen in competition at Cannes. Directed by Australian director Justin Kurzel and co-starring Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, it has been eagerly awaited as the blood-soaked finale of the French Riviera festival, which concludes Sunday with the presentation of the Palme d'Or top prize.
Although interpreting Shakespeare is a traditional rite of passage for any British Isles actor of ambition, it wasn't a priority for Fassbender, the Oscar-nominated actor of "12 Years a Slave," ''Shame" and the "X-Men" films. The film marks the first entry into Shakespeare, on stage or screen, by the German-born, Ireland-raised Fassbender.
But the "Othello" villain Iago is his favorite Shakespeare character and "Macbeth" his favorite Shakespeare play.
"('Macbeth') wasn't necessarily on the list, but when the opportunity came up, I felt like I couldn't turn it down," said Fassbender. "I guess it wasn't always something I felt naturally comfortable, but I always thought that I could find something in it that I would have a relationship to it."
However difficult it was for Fassbender to work up to "Macbeth," he was more impressed with his French co-star, Cotillard.
"For me to take it on, it was, 'OK, Shakespeare.' But she's French-speaking," said Fassbender. "I just thought it was incredible bravery."
No release date has yet been set for "Macbeth" in the U.S., but the Weinstein Co. will release it sometime this fall.