After appearing nude in Shame, the actor becomes an android in the blockbuster Prometheus. But the real aliens, he says, are in Hollywood.

On screen, he appears onboard a spaceship (in Prometheus), but in London, he prefers to travel by motorcycle. We left Michael Fassbender as a favourite for the Oscar nomination, having been chosen at various festivals as a glamourous new actor. But no. He smiles bitterly: “I admit, it was painful to be ignored for the nomination, as well as being banned from the more hypocritical Hollywood and the conservative press for the nudity in Shame. I felt somewhat hurt.”

In Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (in theatres September 14), he plays, alongside Charlize Theron, the android David with blond hair and an icy demeanour. “Becoming a robot was an experience that was both realistic and surreal at the same time. Sure, I had already done X-Men: First Class, but to live for months as an android was a real journey into science-fiction.”

On to the news. Still single? “Single. With some company. Right now, I’m focusing on work.”

Your short hair started a trend: immortalized in fashion magazines, imitated by Robert Pattinson, Channing Tatum, Chris Evans… “It’s comfortable, and it fools you into thinking that, strengthening it, you won’t lose it. Women are vain about different things, but men only have one concern: premature baldness.”

How was it working with Charlize Theron?
“Really good: Charlize is a strong woman, really self-confidant, and undoubtedly very beautiful. She’s a friend, and we had a lot of fun on the set of Prometheus. She made terrible jokes about my ‘revealing’ scenes – as she said with affectionate malice – in Shame. She says that, fortunately for us, now there’s more interest in male nudity than female, and pretty soon, Playboy will end up being full of men.”

Well, Steven Soderbergh is also convinced. He dedicated Magic Mike to the male striptease, and reversing roles, celebrated women who fight. In Knockout (Haywire), you get knocked out by the female lead. “First Gina Carano pretends to seduce me in a hotel room, and then she throws me around like a puppet. Soderbergh is really one of my favourite directors.”

What do you appreciate most in a woman? “A sense of humour, and the ability not to be jealous of every pretty woman I meet. I like independent women who aren’t obsessed or anxious about possession.”

Let’s get back to Prometheus and science-fiction. How do you get along with technology? “You mean like the social networks? I avoid them. I prefer to go out to the pub with friends, to take a turn on my bike, or take a nice walk.”

What can you not bear to part with? “With the life I have, I tend to periodically get rid of everything except a few books, some jackets I have sentimental feelings for, and my motorcycle helmet.”

What books, for example? “Shakespeare, and the books written by Peter O’Toole, my hero, my obsession. I would never have become an actor if I hadn’t seen Lawrence of Arabia.