Michael Fassbender Plots Movie About Celtic Warrior Cuchulain

Michael Fassbender has been very busy for the last couple years, but his schedule is looking very thin for 2012. The actor has only one role booked that we know of: a supporting part in his Hunger and Shame director Steve McQueen's new movie Twelve Years a Slave. He'll be in the sequel to X-Men: First Class, but that is yet to be written and greenlit.

But Fassbender hasn't been resting on his laurels. (Not entirely, anyway, even if after the last couple years he deserves a break.) The actor is plotting a film about Cuchulain, or more properly Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn, the legendary Celtic warrior hero. He and screenwriter Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies) are developing the film, with Fassbender planning to play the central role.

Variety says the film will follow the old Irish legends in the Ulster Cycle, a set of interlinked stories that "relates the story of the Ulaid tribe headed by King Conchobar, and particularly its conflict with the rival Connachta tribe led by Queen Medb."

Conchobar's nephew is Cúchulainn, which might require some explanation, depending on where you're from. Growing up in the States, the figure isn't one with which I have great familiarity. (My best association with the name, for instance, is the Pogues song 'The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn.')

In the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge ( aka The Cattle Raid of Cooley or just The Táin), Cúchulainn is a teenager who defends Ulster when Medb's forces attack. The reason for the attack is particularly prosaic: Medb discovers that her husband's only advantage over her in wealth is a fertile bull, so she conspires to get another bull from Ulster. When the deal goes bad, it's war! And you think we fight over silly stuff today.

Anyway, when Medb attacks most of the men of Ulster are taken ill thanks to a supernatural curse. Cúchulainn fights off waves of attackers, though the bull is taken anyway. That's only the first act of a story cycle that includes more supernatural weirdness, sickness, fighting and death.

Clearly Fassbender won't play the teenage Cúchulainn, but given that the war raged for some time, there might be leeway to cast the hero as an older warrior.