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February 2012

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Oded Alive - Fangoria Magazine 2001

Oded Alive

by Michael Sommers - Fangoria Magazine (2001)

When Israeli-born actor Oded Fehr was cast in The Mummy, his character, Ardeth
Bay, had very few lines and was slated to die before the end credits. "My agent
was very depressed," Fehr recalls. "He was like, 'Oh, god. Well, so you die. We
won't get the sequel'".

Not so fast. Several months into production, writer/director Stephen Sommers
approached Fehr with an enticing suggestion. "I was standing in line for
breakfast," Fehr says. "We were quite a way through [shooting] and very tired,
out in the old city of Hamunaptra. Suddenly Steve came up to me and said, 'Hey,
listen. Do you have a second? Why should Ardeth Bay die? He's a good guy! We
like Ardeh Bay! Let's have him live!'"

Even though there was no guarantee of a Mummy sequel at that point, Sommers
always included Fehr's character in the discussions of a second film. "I was so
nervous because that was like my first gig, you know," Fehr laughs. "And I said,
'No, listen - let me finish this one and then we'll talk about a sequel!'"

Keeping Ardeth Bay alive for a follow-up (contrived as it may have been) was
definitely smart, not just because he's a strong character but because Fehr's
got a burgeoning fan base: women, the gender less likely to buy tickets for a
horror/adventure film. "It's great," Fehr laughs. "I've been very lucky, because
the character I play is so romantic - a dark, mysterious, powerful guy, doesn't
talk much. He has a very Lawrence of Arabia feel. He got a great reaction."

One way the fans have responded, besides the obligatory marriage proposals, is
the creation of fan websites. To date there are over 40, with names like "Oded
Fehr Adoration Society," "Fehr Rocks" and "Oded Fehr Lovemaster." The actor
takes all this in stride, "Yeah, I've seen them," he says with a laugh. "Every
once in a while, I check to find out if there is anything else important
happening in my life. Because they seem to know everything! New releases of this
or new releases of that . . . I just go to the websites. It's nice. And I must
say, they seem to be very well-organized."

Fehr believes the fans will be even happier with The Mummy Returns, since Ardeth
Bay plays a more significant, pivotal part in the storyline. "The character is a
lot more involved from the beginning to the end of the movie," he says. Bay
certainly sees plenty of action, like fighting off a pack of soldier mummies in
the London streets or leading a battalion on horseback through the Egyptian

"I didn't know how to ride a horse in the first [Mummy]," Fehr reveals, "So I
concentrated quite strongly on this one. I rode in LA, I rode in Toronto, I rode
here in London. Everywhere I went I was riding, practicing. And when we were out
in Morocco, I stayed a whole month - about two weeks longer than any of the
other actors - to shoot the huge battle scene. I got to do a lot of riding and
did all my horse stunts. It's going to look great." 

Fehr was born and raised in Tel Aviv by European parents. Once he completed his
service in the Israeli Army, he moved to Germany, intending to enter the
business world with his father. The plan didn't last long; finding that scene "terribly
boring," he began studying acting and performing sketch comedy in Frankfurt bars.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to London, where he studied dramatic arts at
Bristol. A couple of plays and few brief spots on British TV later, Fehr found
himself at an audition for The Mummy. "It was funny, because when I met Stephen,
he was so excited about everything and looked so young to me," Fehr recalls, "I
thought, 'Oh damn, well, the director probably didn't show up. They sent his
assistant or something. What sort of film is this?'"

He eventually found out, and like his fellow actors, he was delighted when The
Mummy scored so big at the box office - but not necessarily surprised. "Steve
never seemed like he didn't know what he was doing," Fehr says. "He almost
always seemed like he had a complete clear picture of what he wanted. And he was
getting it."

But $400 million? "To tell you I thought it would go as far as that - I didn't
," the actor admits. "We were told it had to do like $200, $250 million to be a
success. Nobody went like, 'Oh my God, $400 million" Huge movie!'"

Since the first Mummy, Fehr has co-starred in the hit comedy Deuce Bigalow: Male
Gigolo and appeared in this year's Western Texas Rangers. Though he's had great
success with The Mummy, Fehr won't limit himself to genre films. "I want to do
as many different things as possible," he says. All the same, he's open to the
idea of a Mummy 3. "Yeah, oh yeah. Definetely. And if it's directed by Stepen,
even more so."