The ''Inglourious Basterds'' and ''Fish Tank'' star is the next big thing

Given his biography — born in Germany, raised in Ireland, now living in London and Los Angeles — it’s no wonder that Michael Fassbender can morph so seamlessly into so many different characters. Witness his turn as Spartan soldier Stelios in 2006’s 300 or as a hunger-striking Irish prisoner in the 2008 indie Hunger. But his character in Fish Tank, a regular bloke in his 30s, provided the actor with a unique challenge. ”There is something safe about having an accent or a costume to hide behind,” says Fassbender, 32. ”With this, I kind of played myself. I guess you’re more naked doing that.” In the rare instance when he does get recognized, it’s likely for his dapper — and quotable — British army lieutenant in Inglourious Basterds. Just how quotable? ”I was at a restaurant yesterday talking to the bartender,” says Fassbender, who’ll be seen as a henchman in this summer’s Jonah Hex. ”He was like, ‘Well, if this is it, old boy, you don’t mind if I go out speaking the King’s?’ That was very cool.” Just like the man himself.