Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brendan Fraser - SciFi Weekly: The Mummy 3 Interviews

From the SciFi Channel's SciFi Weekly:

(Please follow the link for the complete interview.)

Maria Bello and director Rob Cohen join Brendan Fraser for another Mummy adventure

By Cindy White

In the seven years since the second film in the revitalized Mummy franchise hit the big screen, Brendan Fraser was continually asked when he'd follow it up with a third installment. But it took a while to find a way to do it that honored the previous films and still provided audiences with a story that felt fresh and original. It wasn't until the producers hit upon the idea of moving the action from Egypt to China that everything started falling into place.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor takes place 13 years after the events of The Mummy Returns and finds married couple Rick (Fraser) and Evelyn O'Connell (Maria Bello) living a peaceful, if somewhat boring, life after retiring from the world of exploration and adventure. They eventually reconnect with their son Alex (Luke Ford)—now 21 years old and an adventurer in his own right—in China when they're sent on a mission to deliver an artifact to the Shanghai Museum. What they don't know is that Alex has become inadvertently involved in a plot to free an ancient, ruthless Chinese emperor (Jet Li) from a curse that sealed him forever in a terra cotta prison.

Besides the change in venue on screen, there were also a few off-screen personnel changes that distinguish the third film from the previous ones. Stephen Sommers, who directed the first two Mummy films, transitioned into a producing role this time, handing over the reins to director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious). Also, Bello was brought on to replace Rachel Weisz, who chose not to return to the role of Evie in the third.

SCI FI Weekly had the opportunity to chat with Fraser, Bello and Cohen at the press junket for the new film about shooting on location in China and what's in store for the O'Connells this time around. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens Aug 1.

Maria, were you a fan of this franchise? Did you go back and watch the previous films?

Bello: I didn't go back and look at them, not for any reason except that I'd already seen them, because I love action movies. [I have] my whole life. I mean, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I mean, that's one of the reasons I got into acting. And, surprisingly, I've become known as this dramatic actress, but people would ask me throughout the years, "What role do you really want to do?" And I'd say, "Indiana Jones. I want to be an action hero." And it was a month before my 40th birthday, and I finally gave up. I thought, "You know, I've gotten everything I've always wanted. I've done these great roles, worked with amazing people, but I guess I'm not going to get that one, because how many roles are there for a 40-year-old action star?" And two weeks later, Rob Cohen called me and said he really wanted me to do this role. And I was thrilled. And I read the script and I realized the character was so different from the Rachel Weisz character. He always said, "If Rachel in those films was like Audrey Hepburn, this character was Katharine Hepburn," a little older and more sophisticated.

Rob, you have said you have a love of China and Chinese culture. So what did it mean for you to get offered this film, knowing you would be filming there?

Cohen: It was such a joy. It was such a gift from the movie gods. And it came as such an unusual and surprising package for me, because I've always said, "I don't do sequels. I'm never doing sequels, even to my own movies." And then suddenly comes a sequel. It's very much like life. When you say, "No, no, no. Never, never, never," you're sure something's going to happen. ... And here came one through the back door, that was just the greatest joy I've ever had as a filmmaker.

Brendan, was it fun, chasing mummies again?

Fraser: Yes. It's what I do! Actually, they chase me. I'm like, "Leave me alone already, will you?"

The last time you did this was 2001, so a lot of time has passed between then and now. Was it weird to get back into the role?

Fraser: No! I wanted to play Rick. I was missing it. I've been waiting for the call from the studio since then. I love it. You get to do so much fun stuff, as an actor. You get to go to great places. They strap you into harnesses and throw you around. You have to look like you really know how to take care of business and beat people up, when you're actually really a wimp. They're great fun movies. There's real appeal.

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