Michael Fassbender is remembering his days as an altar boy at Prince of Peace Church in Fossa, near Killarney. “I was head altar boy, actually, and I was quite good at it,” he says when we meet in London. “I was always interested in religion. But to be honest, when I was a small boy I did find going to church kind of boring. So when I became an altar boy I had stuff to do during Mass, which made it more interesting. And who knows, but maybe, in some ways, I got the first idea of being on stage there.”

He recalls that, at the time, “There were four of us, and we’d each have a month when we’d have the keys of the church, meaning that we would be the ones to open it in the morning and lock it up at night, which seems a crazy responsibility for a 12-year-old. But that’s the way it was.

“I remember one time I actually slept in when there were these priests over visiting from America who were going to do a service in the church. And the first I knew of it was when Danny O’Brien, who was the other altar boy at the service, came running across the field to our house, and he knocked on the door.

“‘Michael! The priests are waiting!’

“‘What? Oh, no!’

“And I ended up running back across the field with the keys and all the congregation were there with these two American priests, and I could see they were thinking, ‘OK – this is Ireland, huh?’”

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