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February 2012

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Truth or Fehr, Charmed Magazine 2005

Truth or Fehr

He came, he saw, he very nearly destroyed The Charmed Ones. ODED FEHR chats to
Ian Spelling about his role as Zankou, undoubtedly one of the most dangerous
demons the Halliwell sisters have ever encountered...

by Charmed Magazine - June 2005



Oded Fehr likes variety. Since graduating from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in
England a number of years ago, he's mixed it up as an actor. A Jew from Israel,
he's played Egyptians and other Arabs. He's best known for his role as the
Medjai warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, the blockbuster
action-horror films that starred Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo,
the last of whom squeezed in a Charmed guest shot, in "Murphy's Luck", between
the first and second films.

Fehr also memorably bared his butt in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, fought killer
zombies in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, provided the voice of Dr. Fate in several
episodes of the animated series Justice League, and starred as a regular in the
well-reviewed but short-lived television shows UC Undercover and Presidio Med.
Charmed executive producer Brad Kern always appreciated Fehr's work and wanted
to bring the actor onto Charmed during season six. However, it didn't come to
pass. Then as Kern developed the role of the seventh season big bad Zankou, he
thought of Fehr again, and this time everything fell into place.

Ian Spelling cought up with Fehr in the middle of the actor's seven episode
stint, following his appearances in "Witchness Protection", "Ordinary Witches",
"Extreme Makeover: World Edition", and "Charmageddon", and Fehr waxed
enthusiastic about his character, working with Charmed leading ladies Alyssa
Milano, Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan, and also about his upcoming projects.

Charmed Magazine: Brad Kern said that he wanted you on the show enough that he
convinced the holders of the purse strings at Charmed to pay you more than
they'd initially earmarked for whatever actor would play Zankou. That's got to
feel good, right?

It's a very long-running show and I guess every once in a while they end up
having to spend money in order to keep the show running, successful and all the
rest of it. It's very nice that they wanted me. I have to say it's been a very
positive experience so far. I didn't know what exactly to expect. I didn't
expect too much, to be totally frank with you, but I was very, very pleasantly
surprised. I've shot four episdes, I've got three more to shoot and I'm really
looking forward to it.

What intrigues you most about Zankou?

I really love Zankou as a character. He's obviously a villain, a bad guy, but
he's actually fighting the Avatars, which ends up being the right thing. And he
ends up fighting together with good against another evil, which is very cool. I
liked that. He's kind of bad and good at the same time. I'm not sure what's in
Zankou's future, but he's basically this demon who is very, very powerful, and
actually way too powerful, so much so that he was locked away by the rest of the
demons for thousands of years. So he's got kind of a historic feel to him. Even
so, he knows what's been going on (in the world) all through the years because
he's been able to sense everything from his prison. He knows that what the
Avatars are offering is bad for him, but he also knows it's bad for the good
guys, that it's not the dream world, the utopia they thought it would be. So
he'll be battling the sistes, but also fighting with them at some point. But I
have no clue how the Zankou arc will end. Brad hasn't told me. I have three more
episodes to go in the next couple of months. I'm not 100 percent sure if they
know yet where it's going to go. On TV they don't lock anything down too far in
advance in case, they want to change anything. If something works they usually
like to keep it going.

You've played the villain a few times in the past. Is it true what most actors
say, that playing bad is the most fun an actor can have?

It is fun, especially on this kind of a show. Charmed is far enough from reality
that you can play with it and have some fun. But I play everything straight. I
think it's the only way to go. As unbelievable as it is, it has to be believable
to you. That's my opinion. Otherwise you can't sell it. Otherwise it looks like
you're acting. And you never want to be doing that. You always want to be
believable, even if it's a bit larger than life. You have to sell things that
are not really there, like when you throw fireballs or materialize in and out.
But you still try to bring out the reality as much as you can in whatever it is
that you're doing.

How have you enjoyed working with the cast and crew?

I've worked with everybody, really. I've worked quite a bit with Brian Krause,
who's absolutely fantastic and really lovely. I've worked with Kerr Smith, who's
very nice. And the three girls were lovely, too. I've worked with some of the
actors playing the Elders and the Avatars. Really, I've worked with everyone and
it's been great. It's a really nice set to work on.

How much, if anything, did you know about Charmed before hooking up with the
show?

Not much. I'd seen the show in passing a couple of times. I don't watch much
television, to be frank with you. And I especially don't now that I have a
three-year-old.

In your previous genre projects, including The Mummy films and Resident Evil:
Apocalypse, you had the luxury of time. Those films were shot over the course of
several months or more. How amazing is what they pull off on Charmed considering
that they turn an episode around in eight days?

I like looking at the computer guy on the Charmed set. The director will look at
him and say, "Can we do that? Is that OK?" And the computer guy will say, "Sure,
we can do that." But the poor guys, they work night and day, night and day to
get the episodes done. They've been doing this a long time, everyone working on
Charmed, and they know the limitations, what they can and can't get done.
Everything - the set-ups, the stunts, all of it - is done really, really quick
and very, very well. They move quickly and they know what they're doing. They've
got it down to a T. They create great stuff very quickly, and it's incredible to
watch them do it.

You've done a fair amount of genre work in the past. Is that a fluke? Do you
happen to like fantasy fare? Or is it a bit of both?

It's a little bit of both, I think. Obviously, there's a huge fluke value in it
that I happened to be in the right place at the right time when they were
casting The Mummy. I got to meet (Mummy director) Steve Sommers. He liked me and
so within my first year of leaving drama school I was shooting The Mummy. That
made me a working actor. I do love adventure. I'd like to think I'm not bad at
action and all that. So it's really a little bit of both.

You've got a couple of other projects either in the can or about to start. Give
us some details about each one.

I've done an untitled film with Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, which we shot
in Kentucky. That's a lovely family film. It's three generations - a grandfather,
Kris Kristofferson, a son, Kurt Russell, and a granddaughter, Dakota Fanning.
Basically they're horse trainers who wanted to own horses. A horse gets injured
and the little girl believes in the horse and believes that the horse will be
able to race again, even though no none else believes in it. Eventually, she
gets the horse to race again. And I play a horse owner who helps her finance the
horse's racing, because the family has no money at all. Dakota is amazing, Kurt
is fantastic and Kris the nicest actor I've ever met. Then, in April, I'll start
filming a new series for Showtime that's called The Cell. It's a very edgy
series about a terrorist cell in Los Angeles. There's a Muslim African American
who's an FBI agent who infiltrates the cell. It's very cutting-edge, very
true-to-life and incredibly powerful. I am the bad guy, but the way the show is
written he's a guy you almost love to hate, or hate to love. He's a regular Joe.
He's friendly and nice, but he does these awful things. It's probably the
hardest role I could have chosen to play, to try to understand, to try to
portray that. I'm Israeli-Jewish. It's a very powerful show.

 

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