Original-Cin interview: Michael Fassbender learns to ski on The Snowman

By Bonnie Laufer

The Snowman is a new crime thriller directed by Tomas Alfredson based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø.

The film stars Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole, an elite crime squad’s lead detective who investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter and fears an elusive serial killer nicknamed "The Snowman" may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit - played by the Swedish-born actress Rebecca Ferguson - the detective must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

Original-Cin's Bonnie Laufer spoke with Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson in Los Angeles about working on this film.

 Rebecca Ferguson and Michael Fassbender on a literally cold case in The Snowman

Rebecca Ferguson and Michael Fassbender on a literally cold case in The Snowman

ORIGINAL-CIN: Jo Nesbo's books are so popular in Scandinavia they have even created a Detective Harry Hole tour in Oslo. Michael, how important was it for you to read some of the books to get more of a back story and understand who Harry was?

FASSBENDER: “It was really important and a great bonus to have that opportunity. Usually when you are putting together a fictional character together you've got to go and find your inspirations and your source material wherever you can. I try to always use my imagination of course, but in this case I had this whole collection of books so it was extremely helpful. I just read as many of them as a I could, with the exception of Police and I also chose not to read The Snowman.”

OC: Why was that?

FASSBENDER: “Just because I only wanted to get a sense of who Harry was up until that point. I thought that if I did read the Snowman it would influence the way I portrayed him, or try to draw upon things that weren't in the script. I needed some mystery into the character before playing him.”

OC: Rebecca, you play Detective Katrine Bratt. Did you find it necessary to read any of the novels?

FERGUSON: “Being Scandinavian I am quite familiar with Jo Nesbo's books as they are very big in Sweden. I had already read three or four of his books. So when this one came on the table and I heard that Tomas Alfredson was directing it, I was delighted. I hadn't read The Snowman, but I was flabbergastingly excited when Tomas told me that they were going to make it into a film. I then read bits from the book but I also knew that we were going to remake it and Jo was going to be a part of the whole process. So I read enough to get a framework into who she was and then it was an ongoing conversation.”

FASSBENDER: “You just read the summary notes... ( laughs)”

FERGUSON: “Yes, I just read my bit very quickly and then I moved on. (Laughs)”

OC: Harry is such a complex guy. Did you find him challenging in any way?

FASSBENDER: “No more than any other character I've played. But like I said, I had the books to draw from, so that helped immensely. I had so many different circumstances that he finds himself in to draw upon, from where he started in the beginning to where he winds up in the end. So I had so much information and I have never had that with any part I have played before.”

OC: The movie was shot in Norway, which is beautiful but extremely cold. What on earth did you do when you weren't shooting?

FERGUSON: “You go skiing and snowboarding.”

FASSBENDER: “I tried it for the first time on this job. Not much style to my method, but I got on the mountain pretty fast. The location was very beautiful and I think, because of the way the light falls there, the beauty and the extreme silence, it made for the perfect place to shoot the film. Tomas really played up the location in the film making it almost another character.”

FERGUSON: “The books are so popular and set in these locations for a reason. The cold and darkness add so well to the eerie feeling that Jo is writing about, and makes a perfect background for the serial killers he writes about.”

OC: Had the two of you met before shooting this film?

FERGUSON: “No, we hadn't met before.”

OC: Tell me about the first time you met Michael Fassbender.

FERGUSON: “I clearly remember the first time I met Michael. I was having my bangs cut and I wasn't turning my head because I am very good about keeping my head very straight when I get my hair cut. I just heard this man walk in, and he was singing some Irish songs and my hairdresser whispered into my ear, ‘That's Michael walking in.’”

FASSBENDER: “Is that right?”

FERGUSON: “Yes, and you just kept on singing and laughing and I thought...”

FASSBENDER: “He's drunk already!”

FERGUSON: “Is he drunk already? Is he already in character?”

FASSBENDER: “It's six in the morning and I'm raring to go!”

FERGUSON: “I was like, ‘What is going on?’ I have to say, since the very first moment, it has been absolutely fantastic knowing and working with him. Actually ( I can't look at him when i say it) but I am one of those people who will go to the cinema if Michael is in it,  because I do find you to be an extraordinary actor. And now I have been part of the behind the scenes finding out for myself what a very goofy fantastic guy he really is as well.”

FASSBENDER: “Thank you, that's very sweet. I've got to say that Rebecca is my favourite thing in this movie. So, how about that?”

FERGUSON: “Aw.. thank you!  (They fist bump each other)

OC: The love is all around! Will either of you ever look at snowmen in the same way again?

FASSBENDER: “Definitely not!”

FERGUSON: “It will take a bit of time.”

FASSBENDER: “I say use a carrot for the nose instead of coffee beans to lighten it up kids!”

FERGUSON: “Carrots AND a big hat!”

The Snowman. Directed by Tomas Alfredson. Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and Chloe Savigny. Opens in wide release Friday, October 20.