The Shocking Abuse Allegations Against Michael Fassbender
The actor’s ex, Sunawin Andrews, alleged that he violently attacked her on at least two occasions, breaking her nose and dragging her with his car.
As Hollywood’s leading men fall prey to the reckoning over sexual misconduct, certain A-listers have managed to sidestep scrutiny.
But Twitter never forgets.
While the media gushes over Michael Fassbender’s secret Ibiza nuptials with Alicia Vikander and their new home in Lisbon, dark #MeToo-style allegations from the actor’s past have been relegated to social media.
In her March Vogue cover, Tomb Raider actress Vikander referenced her domestic bliss with Fassbender, telling the magazine, “I feel I’m more happy and content than I’ve ever been.”
Yet the newlywed Fassbender was a no-show at the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony. While other alleged abusers walked the red carpet in all black, triggering social media backlash over their perceived hypocrisy, Fassbender appears to have simply opted out. Vikander, who was a presenter at the ceremony, arrived, posed for photos, and did E! interviews alone. In keeping with the Time’s Up initiative, Vikander wore black.
Fassbender may have avoided the Golden Globes and a flurry of think pieces, but allegations of domestic abuse have silently trailed him in recent years.
The domestic abuse allegedly occurred in 2010, just two years before Fassbender made his X-Men debut as Magneto and gave an award-winning performance in the critically acclaimed Shame. A 2012 Hollywood Reporter article, “Fassbender on Fire,” chronicled the German-Irish actor’s meteoric rise, noting that, while “the projects started pouring in from top-flight directors” around 2009, it wasn’t until 2011 that Fassbender had his “real introduction to fame.” The 2012 profile continued, “One of the most gifted actors today, the star of Shame, A Dangerous Method and the upcoming Prometheus has the industry in awe.”
A 2016 Guardian profile goes one step further, positing that Fassbender’s career has been characterized entirely by personal and professional success. “Twice nominated for an Oscar, the 39-year-old stars in three new films between now and January alone, one of which he also produced,” Fassbender’s interviewer raved. “And all this with barely a misstep (he opted not even to watch the 2010 flop Jonah Hex), nor gossip column indiscretion. It is about as flawless a movie star career as would be possible to perfect.”
In the age of the internet, it seems entirely too bold to publicly declare any human being to be indiscretion-free, let alone Michael Fassbender. It only takes a simple Google search to find the TMZ bulletin that vividly chronicled Fassbender’s alleged abuse. While the 2010 report landed right before Fassbender’s mainstream success, it came after Inglourious Basterds—and was promptly ignored and seemingly forgotten by journalists, A-list directors, and Hollywood executives alike.
Fassbender has never commented on the accusations from his former girlfriend Sunawin “Leasi” Andrews, then a 36-year-old aspiring model and actress.
Nearly a decade later, it’s hard to pinpoint a single way in which these allegations negatively affected Fassbender’s career, or even find a single profile of the actor that mentions them. Fassbender, who has wrestled with the misogyny and violence of some of his troubled characters in print, has seemingly never been asked to comment on his own past.
The closest thing to an official comment comes courtesy of Fassbender’s parents. His mother, Adele, told the Daily Mail, “Anyone who knows Michael at all knows that it’s a complete fabrication.” The actor’s father, Josef, told The Irish Sun that, “I don’t know where she is getting this story from, Michael is the most gentle man you could ever meet.”
But a petition filed in court by Andrews and obtained by The Daily Beast tells a different story: one where Fassbender, on separate occasions, was alleged to have dragged her alongside a car and broke her nose.
Reached by phone, Andrews declined to comment on the story and referred a Daily Beast reporter to her court filings.
“You’ve got the paperwork. What more is there to say?” she said.
Fassbender’s representative did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
According to court filings, Andrews filed for a restraining order against Fassbender in Los Angeles County in March 2010, requesting the actor stay at least 100 yards away from her, and her then-18-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
She also sought attorneys’ fees, nearly $24,000 to pay her medical bills (allegedly arising from injuries she suffered at Fassbender’s hands), and requested Fassbender enroll in a 52-week batterer intervention program.
In her petition, she listed the “date of most recent abuse” as Nov. 18, 2009. But in her narrative of the encounter, she wrote that she visited a hospital on Nov. 29. (Her medical bills, submitted in the filings, note a Nov. 29 date of service. It’s unclear whether Nov. 18 was a clerical error on her part, or if she sought medical attention 11 days later.)
One disturbing episode allegedly occurred when Fassbender, Andrews, and two friends dined at a restaurant. According to Andrews, Fassbender became enraged when one of her ex-boyfriends approached their table to say hello.
“Michael was drinking and became angry,” Andrews wrote, adding that, when it was time to leave, her worried friends followed them home. “Michael was driving my car dangerously fast and screaming at me. I begged him to stop the car in fear of an accident or for my children who were home asleep,” Andrews continued. “As we got closer to my house I put my car in stop. Got out walked around the car to pull key from ignition. Michael drove of[f] dragging me along from the car.”
Andrews claimed that Fassbender “stopped after he realized I could not walk and got out of car. He picked me up and put me in car as my friends pulled up behind us. They stayed the night to help calm things.” She woke on Nov. 29 “in a deep sweat and pain with vaginal bleeding,” her petition states. “I went to the hospital and had a twisted left ankle, blown out left knee cap and a bursted ovarian cyst,” Andrews continued. “Lots of internal bleeding.”
One former friend at dinner that night, who didn’t want to be named and declined comment, said she didn’t witness the alleged car-dragging incident.
“I was with her that night. I know that they had a fight but I didn’t witness anything he did to her,” the onetime pal said when reached by phone, adding, “When we got to the house, they were not fighting anymore.”
Andrews detailed a second alleged incident at a film festival in July 2009. While she doesn’t name the event, Andrews was most likely referring to the Ischia Global Film & Music Fest 2009 in Ischia, Italy.
The actress claimed in her petition that Fassbender attacked her after a night of boozing at a festival “ceremony,” court papers reveal.
Andrews alleged she went to bed but Fassbender continued partying until the wee hours before returning to their hotel. “He entered the room with a friend at about 5 a.m. drunk and they tried to get into bed with me,” Andrews noted in her petition, adding that she checked into another room, apparently to catch some sleep away from them.
The next morning, Andrews returned to wake Fassbender for a panel. According to the schedule of events for the 2009 festival, Fassbender was slated to appear at a 10 a.m. Movie Educational Seminar on Thursday, July 16—the morning after an 11 p.m. Dinner Party with Award Ceremony “to follow.”
Fassbender was allegedly a mess when Andrews found him.
“He was sleeping in urine,” she wrote in her court filing. “I woke him and he began to be violent and threw me over a chair, breaking my nose.”
According to the court record, a judge granted a temporary restraining order that called for Fassbender to move out of the couple’s Bel Air home, which she said was leased in her name. The court made the ruling based on Andrews’ claims that Fassbender was currently out of the country and therefore not living there, records show.
“Michael is currently shooting films and is to return to the USA in the next weeks,” Andrews wrote in the petition. “I currently live alone with my two children where this is his only US address. I am still recovering from my injuries and am afraid for my safety. I pay all bills and lived there before him.”
Of course, Fassbender isn’t the first actor not to be derailed by allegations of domestic abuse. The entertainment industry is riddled with accused and even admitted abusers. Still, perhaps because he was just on the cusp of fame, Fassbender’s case made surprisingly few waves. Aside from a short TMZ piece, there was a 2010 article in the Irish Mail on Sunday digging into Fassbender’s accuser.
After hailing Fassbender’s streak of high-profile roles, the article wasted no time impugning Andrews’ credibility.
The Irish Mail declared that Fassbender’s “status as Ireland’s hottest young star was placed in jeopardy” by Andrews’ “string of lurid allegations.”
“Leasi, a model, claimed that the Killarney man attacked her in a drunken rage after a film festival, breaking her nose and causing her to fear for her two young children,” the article stated.
The report went on to attack Andrews, smearing details of her “seedy past” across the page.
“However the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal that the woman who is threatening the 32-year-old Irishman’s reputation and, indeed, his very livelihood, is herself a woman with a troubled and somewhat seedy past. The model has had a string of lovers including an internet porn baron and a married man; she has children by different fathers, her first as an 18-year-old; and her early years were spent posing for ‘erotic’ lesbian pictures.”
The unabashedly victim-shaming article concluded, “Nor was it the only instance of domestic violence in Miss Andrews’s chequered past. Indeed, much of her history seems to suggest that, either she suffers from a persecution complex—or else she genuinely brings out the worst in men.”
When contacted again by The Daily Beast, Andrews said the negative reports were inaccurate and that she’d been targeted by a smear campaign. She was a swimsuit and lingerie model and film and TV actress, but never did X-rated work, she said.
According to one 2009 report, Andrews and Fassbender met when she visited her ex, producer Lawrence Bender, on the set of Inglourious Basterds in Germany. A 2006 article in the Seattle Weekly offered more details on the past that the Mail on Sunday alluded to.
In 2005, Andrews reportedly obtained a one-year restraining order against her then-boyfriend, Seth Warshavsky, otherwise known as “the Bill Gates of porn.” Andrews, who was 25 at the time, claimed “[Warshavsky] choked her during a limousine ride in Las Vegas last fall and has physically attacked her in front of her 6-year-old child.” According to court documents, Andrews accused Warshavsky of “stalking her home” and threatening “to have my baby’s father killed.” While Warshavsky insisted that the civil action was “just a frivolous restraining order in an attempt to extort money, and is in the process of being dropped,” the order was renewed for another year, according to the Seattle Weekly.
After domestic abuse allegations against Fassbender first broke, the Daily Mail asked, “Now, after an Affair with a Former Porn Model and Accusations of Domestic Violence, Has It All Gone Wrong?” The paper quoted a “senior movie industry figure” as saying that, “Make no mistake, this has been noted at the highest level.”
“Nobody knows the full facts of the case but it seems extremely out of character,” the source added. “Sure, he likes to have a drink now and again, but he is fundamentally a gentle guy. If he has a weakness, it is women.”
Fassbender’s camp called Andrews’ restraining order into question because she filed it while the actor was filming in the U.K. When asked to comment on Andrews’ restraining order, his “surprised” father responded, “Michael has been in England for the last six months. I don’t know how anything like that could have happened.”
Filming on Jane Eyre took place in the U.K. from March 2010 through May 2010. Andrews filed a request for dismissal on April 5, 2010—one day before a scheduled hearing on the matter.
At the time, the New York Daily News cited “sources” who claimed that, “Andrews still wants Fassbender, who has been filming in England, to keep his distance. But she feared her complaint could get the Irish-German star barred from returning to America.” One friend told the News, “She doesn’t want to hurt his career.” The insider also claimed Andrews didn’t want to damage Inglourious Basterds as an Oscars contender, as the film’s producer, Lawrence Bender, is the father of one of her children.
Court papers reveal that TMZ had requested a judge’s permission to livestream the April 6 hearing for Andrew’s protective order. Whether the court granted the outlet’s request is unknown.
The temporary restraining order expired when Andrews withdrew her petition the day before the hearing for a permanent protective order, records show. Court papers do not indicate why Andrews canceled her request.
In 2012, Fassbender and Andrews had a brief, well-publicized reunion after the Golden Globes. The former couple was spotted together at The Writer’s Room in Los Angeles, and Andrews was seen leaving the actor’s hotel the next day.
It was the last tabloid sighting of the former couple.
The Establishment picked the domestic violence allegations back up in 2016, questioning whether Fassbender’s race gave him a free pass.
The author, Becca Rose, noted Andrews’ 2012 reunion with Fassbender and the withdrawal of the restraining order complicates the story. But she said it’s the media’s job to look deeper into the disturbing allegations.
Andrews never publicly recanted her claims. Meanwhile, Fassbender has catapulted to success without having to answer to the allegations or “suffer any significant consequences,” The Establishment piece notes.
“Leasi Andrews gets a mention on his Wikipedia page, but only as an ex,” the article states. “To find anything on the abuse allegations, you have to hunt for it. It is, for all intents and purposes, like it never happened.”
On Fassbender’s current Wikipedia page, the actor’s “personal life” begins with a mention of ex Nicole Beharie in 2012, and ends with the actor’s recent marriage to Alicia Vikander.
Andrews has been completely erased.
Brandy Zadrozny contributed research to this article.