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February 2012

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Trailer Park: Oded Fehr, quickstopentertainment.com

Trailer Park: Oded Fehr

By Christopher Stipp



With Oded Fehr’s career in Hollywood working out in the exact opposite direction
that most other actors build their resumes, his stints in THE MUMMY pictures
thrusted him to the front of the line of big budget productions, Oded found
himself being quickly established within the acting community. He took his
notoriety and actually channeled it into smaller roles on television. This part
is important to understand because from Presidio Med, Charmed and even UC:
Undercover Oded two-stepped back into the thunderous actioneer, RESIDENT EVIL:
APOCALYPSE without so much as missing a beat.

Too many times in this business you talk to people who are vocal about being
film actors and nothing but or television actors that only sees television as a
way into film. Oded, I think, doesn’t see things that way. As evidenced by his
turn in Sleeper Cell on Showtime you can see Oded deliver a tightly packed
performance that is definitely an argument as to why film actors need to rethink
their stance on the issue.

I believe the other part of this duality about Oded, and this could be pure
speculation, is when he’s going to break from playing characters with obviously
“international” names like Prince Sadir, Kazim, Amahl Ali Akbar, Zankou, et al.
Hopefully you can see where this is leading when you understand that, as Carlos
Olivera in the newest RESIDENT EVIL installment, his newest role is yet another
step forward for the actor who is constantly looking for roles that will allow
him to be seen as an actor who can play roles of varying type.

I talked with Oded regarding the choices he makes with regard to work, whether
he’s had it up to here with productions set in the sand and what it’s like to be
a working actor with small children.


ODED FEHR: Hi…is this Christopher Stipp? This is Oded Fehr.

CHRISTOPHER STIPP: How are you doing?

FEHR: I’m very good, how are you?

CS: I’m doing fine. I couldn’t wait to talk to you.

FEHR: I appreciate that.

CS: I know you’ve already been through rounds and rounds and rounds of press and
all that…

FEHR: Yeah, but it’s not so bad.

CS: No?

FEHR: I like to talking about movies and the work.

CS: The only reason I bring that up is because I recently saw an interview with
Kevin Bacon talking about doing press and junkets and what he thought of junkets.
Being on the other side I’ve got to think that answering the same questions
again and again and again…

FEHR: The junket days are definitely hard. They are a little bit mind numbing
because you literally do answer the same questions over and over and I think it
gets to the point where the day you can sum up all the answers right off the bat
from the first one.

CS: I am absolutely fascinated by that only from your point of view. Obviously
in the back of your head you want a memorable, a nice conversation…is there
things you look for - hope that somebody brings up instead of the “What was it
like to work with” kind of questions?

FEHR: No, I was thinking about it myself; what would be the questions that would
be most interesting? It’s one of those things that when you are on your side,
you know your work really well and sometimes you are surprised by questions some
people ask you as far as your work because it’s not the first thing you think
of. It is the same with me. I don’t necessarily – I’m surprised by the questions
or I’m not surprised by the questions. As far as I’m concerned I always afraid
I’m boring people. Because I’m not really – I live a very simple life. I’m a
father first, husband and so on so I’m not nearly as interesting as others might

CS: Well, you are to me because I have two girls at home, one’s four and one’s
one so when I saw that you had two children of your own.

FEHR: Exactly the same ages.

CS: I was utterly fascinated from the point of view that your world must have
changed dramatically. You have a preconceived notion of what life will be like
when you say “I am going to be a father and having to balance”…Obviously, at the
end of the day, acting is work.

FEHR: It is very much that. The thing about me I think is I was always very
ready to have children and looked forward to having children and a family. My
wife and I got married and really found a wonderful life with each other and we
added it on with children and it never….you know how people always warn you
everything will be so different. Everything is upside down, life is completely
different and shocking but for it me it always felt as though it was very much a
natural progression of things. I love it. It’s the first and foremost most
important thing in my life.

And acting is definitely a job. It’s the most wonderful job. I’m the luckiest
person on earth to have such a great job and to be able to sustain our life with
it… It’s definitely a job. It’s one of those things…no body can touch me. If
somebody doesn’t want me for a certain role or if somebody doesn’t like the work
I do it doesn’t really affect me as far as who I am – it just affects me as I
just had a bad day at work. Do you know what I mean?

CS: Absolutely. I looked at the shoot you did for the latest RESIDENT EVIL. I
thought it said something about 55 days or something to that affect. Almost two
months. Does that come into the picture now? All these years now of not having
children and now you do…or is it “This is what I have to do to be a working

FEHR: You know what? The thing about RESIDENT EVIL was that it was a wonderful
shoot for me because we shot most of it in Mexicali which is four hours away. It
all definitely, definitely comes into play with my family and I like to bring my
family with me whenever I can. I just shot a movie up in Vancouver and spent
three and a half weeks away from the family which is extremely difficult but
then they came up for the final two weeks. I always have them come join me
whenever possible. But, as far as RESIDENT EVIL was concerned, it was great, I
used to drive home. Any time I would have at least 24 hours, I would drive home
four hours just to see them and drive four hours back. But it was totally worth
it. My daughter was only a month and a half old. We went through quite a lot to
have her in the sense that my wife was on bed rest for a few months and actually
hospitalized for seven weeks. It was really hard.

CS: Oh my…

FEHR: But we have a beautiful baby girl. It was totally worth it. It was great.
I had a wonderful time in all aspects of RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION.

CS: One of the first really big questions I have is after looking at the stuff
you’ve done for the MUMMY and now RESIDENT EVIL…the kinds of shoots that they
were, I’m just curious - are you just sick of filming in the sand?


FEHR: Ha ha, no. I do love it. I’m naturally drawn more to heat than cold. I
have a much better time being in 125 degrees than being in zero degrees. I
really enjoy it. Personally I think it just looks so fantastic. It looks amazing,
that kind of natural beauty you get with dunes, the rolling sand hills, it just
the earth colors is extremely beautiful. Very sexy, very adventure like. I think
Milla looks better than she ever looked in anything I’ve seen her in. It’s just
very exciting and a lot more adventure like.

CS: Right, in fact you are leading right into the second thing I was going to
bring up. You mentioned the word adventure-like and these movies just lend
themselves to feeling sort of epic and I’m just curious from your side of things
if there were things you have to do as an actor sort of embody that largess,
that bombast of an adventure movie that you need to do. This is not a tiny role.
You really have to play it up as it is.

FEHR: Yeah, I mean you try to do everything you can as far as building up the
emotional depth of the character in these kinds of movies is not nearly as much
work as you would do in a show like Sleeper Cell or Hamlet. But this movie is a
lot more passion driven. I certainly spent three months or so working out,
trying to build up more, trying to look like someone who is a hired killer, a
fighter kind of thing, you know, soldier for hire. Definitely attempted at the
same time to loose a lot of fat. Get that lean look – lean and hungry look of
someone who is living in a post-apocalyptic world. You try to do a lot more
physical stuff in these kinds of movies.

CS: Does anything surprise you anymore as to what these writers are coming up
with as far as premises for these movies? Does anything go “Oh God…” You say the
words post-apocalyptic, a lot of snobs, for lack of a better word would turn up
their nose…

FEHR: I can’t see anybody turning up their nose or doing any of that with this
kind of movie anyway in the sense that this is very much a genre of movie that
snobs I don’t think would even look at. It’s the third installment in a genre of
a move that was created from a video game and, truthfully, I think it was very
well done.

The only other ones that might come close even though I think this is more
truthful to the game is Laura Croft. And the thing about this one I believe is
that the script is better than the last two, definitely the location, the
details. I other two were great it’s just a nice progression, a nice build up
from one movie to the next and I definitely think this is the best of all three.
It has a lot more of that adventure feel just because of where it’s shot and all
the other characters that have been added to it. It has a MAD MAX kind of feel
in the sense of what’s left of the world. I think it’s one of those things
that’s in all our minds. Are we going to bring this world to an end one day and
only a few of us will survive.

CS: When you were reading the script for the third one – and I’m really curious
to know - that when you are reading a script, even before one frame is shot, was
it detailed enough that you could actually see how these individual parts evolve
or have evolved since the last film or is there a lot of imagination you have to
posses to try and envision if the movie is going to be schlocky?

FEHR: I think one of the hardest things for any actor, actually, not in my case
with this one, if an actor is reading a script and is going to read for a
certain part – your interpretation of what it is and the director’s
interpretation could be two totally different things. That being said, reading
this one after shooting the second one and seeing the first one you kind of have
an idea of what it is that we’re talking about. And it was very clear in the
script the vision, the totally different style from the last ones in the sense
of the location, where it’s taking place and what the world looks like now. The
fact is that the movie happens mostly in daytime, outdoors. The other movies
were very much in the dark and felt very closed. So all of that is very
different. It read much bigger obviously, bigger sceneries, bigger everything.

You can tell but you never have that 100% vision of the director. You don’t know
where he’s going to take it or how he’s going to take it to shoot certain
things. Even when you are shooting it you can’t 100% tell what it’s going to
look like. You can see with your own eyes and every once in a while you look in
a monitor but you still have no idea what it will look like after somebody adds
the special effects to it. That’s where it takes me a few times to watch the
movie and actually enjoy the story line because what I do the first few times is
just go, “Oh my gosh, that is what it looks like, or wow they did that, the
girls look fantastic, oh they added”…..And that’s how you watch the whole thing
and you go through it and what your remember is so different.

CS: It’s funny you bring that up. Some people don’t like to – it’s an odd thing
– I encounter some people like to watch what they do, some people say I’ve
filmed it and move on and feel very uncomfortable looking at it. But it doesn’t
seem like you have a problem with that.

FEHR: I don’t particularly enjoy watching myself. It’s probably the same feeling
you must have when you leave a message on your phone. You hear your voice and
say oh my gosh, do I really sound like that? 10 times worse.

CS: But you’re a nice looking guy, aesthetically speaking…

FEHR: You’re part of a project – and I’m interested in directing one day and I
am fascinated by seeing how the complete picture comes together.

CS: Funny you bring that up that you wanted to direct. You mentioned that the
MUMMY mostly made your career what it is but most people work in the opposite
direction with actors eventually leading to the big time, big budget role. But
right out the gate you’ve done the big budget movie. What have you done to try
and get the kind of roles like Sleeper Cell to demonstrate your range and that
you are not just a big action go-to guy?

FEHR: I wish I could tell you that it’s as easy as oh this is what I want to do
and this is what I’m going to do. It never is. The business has become very
difficult out there. It’s much harder to get work. You can tell. Huge stars are
doing TV shows and you never expect them doing. A very small percentage of
actors are in a position that they can shoot exactly what they want to do and
even they don’t get the opportunity unless they develop it themselves. So I
can’t say that I just chose what I want. On the other hand, I do say no a lot.
If there is something that I like, something that I read that I enjoy, for me,
99% of the time it’s the script. If it is something I enjoy - no matter what
genre it is in. I’m happy to do it. I do try to do as many different things as I
possibly can. DEUCE BIGALOW is a comedy and I’d love to do more comedy and
always keep my eye out for a nice comedy to be a part of. Many times I’ll do
tiny roles like in DREAMER for the opportunity to work with people like Kurt
Russell and Kris Kristofferson. So you just try to not do actual crap. (Laughs)
But sometimes you just can’t help it for whatever reason. Most of the time you
try to do things you enjoy reading.

CS: I’d like to ask you – when I was going through your resume a lot of the
roles that you played with the exception of the work you did with UC Undercover,
your characters names have a very international, ethnic sort of ring to it, is
there any sort of frustration on your part, maybe there wasn’t or isn’t…

FEHR: There was a little bit in the beginning, obviously. The MUMMY was a
wonderful thing on one hand – a double edge sword because it was difficult for
anyone to see beyond the long hair, the beard, and the Arab accent. But that
being said not being in the TV world there is no – I just did a pilot for Fox
last season which I play a doctor…

Truthfully, it’s one of those things, you have to, whenever you sell anything
whether it’s a product or you as an actor you really have to stand with your
feet on the ground and be aware of what it is the people perceive your product
is to be. And if your biggest advertisement shows the product as an Arab
character it’s going to be hard for anyone to see you as anything else. You have
to think of yourself – when you see an actor do something that you really enjoy
you immediately think of him doing another 15 roles which are exactly the same.
Your natural inkling is not to put him in a completely different genre. It a
natural thing and you try to keep in mind. I’ve turned down many, many Arab
roles. When Sleeper Cell came first, I just read a description of being offered
a role of the head terrorist of a terrorist cell the first thing I said was “No,
I don’t want to do it” but my representative said “Just read the script” and
when I read the script there was no way I could turn it down. It was absolutely

CS: I think it was one of your best work. I absolutely agree.

FEHR: And I would have to agree with you. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It
was an amazing experience all around – working the directors we worked with, the
cast, the crew, the writers everything. It was almost a family working together
to achieve the same goal. It was great.

CS: And what did you bring away from that experience? Because it seemed that it
was you, just you, just your acting - it wasn’t this bombastic – it wasn’t this
large character we’ve come to know. What did it teach you about what you can do
with a tiny role?

FEHR: I think it is extremely difficult to say what exactly it is. You learn
about the acting aspect about what you can take away for the next time. It’s an
internal thing. All of a sudden when you are doing another character you just
find it easier to be natural with it.

All I know is that it was extremely important to me that this character be real
– somebody that could be your neighbor. I felt that I definitely did not want to
do some kind of Hollywood bad guy type of character. I wanted to do somebody who
is just somebody that you almost, had it not been for the things he did or does,
you’d really like the guy. And that’s what I was going for so therefore he had
to be extremely natural just very much driven by his ideals and beliefs and he’s
100% convinced that he was doing the right correct thing. So basically, that’s
what I was going for. I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to play somebody
for that length and depth that is so natural and I think I’ve learned a lot from

CS: One more question – going forward where I didn’t see anything else coming up
on your horizon but certainly as you are contemplating moving forward as a
working actor what are some of the things you are hoping to do with your next
project and the next one after that? Is there any career path that you want to
try to build on going forward?

FEHR: Well, I just shot a movie with Melissa George up in Vancouver, directed by
Amanda Gusack. It’s a very small independent movie for MGM and that was a lot of
fun. I’ve never done an independent before. I can’t tell you anything specific.

I do know that one of my dreams after leaving drama school was to do Shakespeare
on stage one day. I come from a very classical type of training and for me that
was the biggest challenge as a student actor entering drama school because I
knew practically nothing about Shakespeare any of that classical theatre and
really learn the language and all that. It was a huge challenge for me and still
would be a huge challenge. I would love to conquer that one day by doing some
sort of a Shakespeare play. Obviously the problem with that is the commitment it
so long that you have to be in a place in your career that you could be taken
away for practically a year. But I’d like to do anything – anything that’s good.
I really enjoy doing TV – great TV. I enjoy doing film. I don’t really have
anything specific. I just hope for great scripts. They are so scarce.

CS: I was just going to say, there are some people, some actors who say I’m just
a film actor or look at television in a different way – not that it’s a lesser
form but just something they do not want to do.

FEHR: It’s rare today that actors do that. There is a very small percentage of
actors who do film only. Television today – the quality of TV – the quality of
the story line, writing, the filming, the directing, all of it is so advanced –
is so close to film now. The challenge on TV nowadays, in my opinion, is as good
if not better than film it’s just that you have 8 days to shoot an episode
instead of five months to shoot an hour and a half which is a huge difference.

CS: Oded, thank you so much for your time.