Brendan Fraser on archery, aliens and the return of The Mummy
The star of space comedy Escape from Planet Earth also tells Susanna Lazarus about channelling his inner superhero and why he's a big nerd at heart
You may know Brendan Fraser as the mega Hollywood movie star with a CV boasting blockbuster hits The Mummy Returns and George of the Jungle, plus the Oscar-winning Crash. But after our chat with him yesterday, we now know Fraser as so much more – a self-titled "lumberjack", an archer, a "big nerd" (we could go on). You never quite know what's going to come out of his mouth, as proven by his understanding of our second question (see below...)
In his new film, Escape from Planet Earth, he plays the delightfully-named Scorch Supernova, an alien space pilot-cum-hero from Planet Baab who gets trapped on a mission to Earth – aka the "Dark Planet" – by evil General Shanker (William Shatner). Hot on his heels is his brother Gary (Rob Corddry) who must step into Scorch's boots and travel through space to the rescue...
Here's what Brendan had to say about the movie – along with a delectable mishmash of unrelated matters...
Hi Brendan, how are things this morning?
I’ve been up for hours. Shovelling snow and chopping down trees. I’m a lumberjack. I’ve been up all night, I sleep all day.
Stop making us feel lazy. So, what first attracted you to the film?
Did you just say what size chest do I stomp on?
Errr... No! WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO THE FILM?
I knew it would give me a chance to stomp on my chest!
Scorch Supernova is a great name for a character and it was either that or the reject names like Burnout Wormhole. It’s fun. I get bragging rights with my kids who think I’m a big nerd anyway and I liked the dynamic of the relationship between the brothers – the brains and the braun. After their falling out they realise 'Maybe we are better together, we should try and settle our differences in time to save the Planet Baab'. I like the name Baab. Hey Baab.
So, d'you reckon you're more like Scorch or Gary?
I have an inner Gary. A little inner Gary who likes to geek out but he needs a firmware update every now and then. I am more of a Scorch. I pick up things, I like to make bonfires in my spare time, I’m clumsy, I’m slightly over-confident like he is, and I would like to think I’m also willing to admit my mistakes when I am wrong. There’s a moment of honesty for you.
Well, now we want to know what you "geek out" over...
For a big chunk of my life it was cameras – Polaroids in particular – and then everything turned to digital and I went "Waaah" and lost my interest in it because they stopped making Polaroid film properly. Recently, archery. Bows and arrows.
I was researching a role where there was a famous archer called William Tell and he used a cross bow. He had to get one shot that he couldn’t miss. Long story short, I picked up an English longbow and went out in the backyard, started firing at tree stumps, was horrible at it, lost a lot of expensive arrows and it kind of just started from there. Although I don’t think I have the guts to actually hunt anything and kill it. There’s bullseye targets and big bags of sawdust in the backyard.
You've made a film about aliens and you strike us as the sort of guy who might believe in them...
I need to put my eyes on it to see it. Then again, I also think it’s kind of arrogant to think that we’re alone here in this vast vastness that nobody can really quantify no matter how brainy they are. It’s just my humble view. So I guess I have to say that I would not be surprised at all – I don’t know if we’ll discover alternate life forms but I sure hope we do, or evidence of them at least. Everyone keeps going, “Hey, there’s water on Mars, there’s water on Mars!” Ok, well, hmm, are there bugs in it? Is there anybody in a canoe? I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. I’d like to hope for the best for humanity and I hope it doesn’t happen right at the last second, the aliens show up and go, “Hi, we’ve been meaning to introduce ourselves to you”. That would be out of Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.
So, you're in the recording studio about to play Scorch. How do you channel your inner superhero voice?
Take off my boots – you have to take your boots off – and I can’t have anything in my pockets. Coins, keys, whatever – take it all out. Take your belt off if you’re wearing one and wear a t-shirt, a black t-shirt. Get the line in your head, forget about it and belt it out like it’s the first and last time you ever will.
Just before we head off and try that, we just have to ask you the obvious. The Mummy. Your thoughts on the reboot?
I can’t wait to see it. That’ll be really cool. The Mummy itself – the one you saw that I did – was reworked source material so it’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel here. I’m interested to see what they will do. I hope it still maintains that sense of "we’re here to have fun". It’s not "we’re going to terrify you in a horror film kind of way". There’s an element of adventure to it, some romance, it’s got a fantastic epic quality to it and when the baddie is bad, he is indeed formidable and you root for the heroes. I’m hopeful they can maintain that quality of what we borrowed from doing the Mummys, from films like Lawrence of Arabia inspired by the late great Ray Harryhausen. But whatever it will be, I’m sure that it will likely be in 3D so I think that’s kind of cool. I can already see mummy heads flying out.
A terrifying prospect. Well, thank you for your time, Brendan Fraser. You lot, go and see his film. Escape from Planet Earth. Out in UK cinemas TODAY.