It’s a risky undertaking to portray such a celebrated figure as psychologist Carl Jung, but as A Dangerous Method’s Michael Fassbender explains, it was all about channeling the influential doctor’s humor and ego.
“I tried to bring in some humor,” he told the Huffington Post in a recent interview promoting the film, which also stars Viggo Mortensen as Jung mentor Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley as young psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein. “When we pick Jung up in this portion of his life, he was very ambitious, determined, and insecure. Like anyone who’s starting off with a belief system. But Freud and Jung also both had massive egos. Anyone who questioned their work was dismissed.”
A Dangerous Method, which opened in the U.S. late last month, finds Jung and Freud at a turbulent time in their relationship and is set against the beginning of World War I. The actors who portrayed the influential psychologists got along much better off-screen than their characters did on it. “These are people at the top of their game. Everyone came to work prepared, did their homework,” Fassbender explained. “We had fun, played around with things. When you’re working with such people, you get to heights you wouldn’t reach on your own.”
Fassbender also talked about how those heights wouldn’t be possible without one film legend in particular. “Steve McQueen — he’s family to me now. He changed my life, giving me the opportunity in (2008’s) Hunger. For me, a thirty-year-old unknown to get a leading role, and somebody willing to take a risk — that was a big deal and allowed me to show potential within the craft. I’m forever indebted.”