Brendan Fraser transitions effortlessly between independent films Extraordinary Measures, Crash and Gods and Monsters to action-packed blockbusters Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The Mummy franchise.
In his latest movie, Furry Vengeance a family comedy, he portrays Dan Sanders, a man overseeing the construction of a supposedly ‘eco-friendly’ housing development in Oregon. Dan believes his biggest problem will be helping his city-loving wife, Tammy (Brooke Shields), and nature-phobic teenaged son, Tyler (Matt Prokop), adjust to their new surroundings. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize his most challenging conflict will come from the local animals who discover he is about to destroy their habitat.
Is your character Dan a bad guy?
Dan means really well. He just wants to please his boss, who runs Lyman Industries, a massive, faceless corporation that owns pretty much everything. But he can’t get anything right.
Lyman Industries has a master plan to raze a forest and put in a new housing development. The cuddly forest animals’ revolt and they want revenge. And Dan has a bull’s eye painted on his forehead.
How physical was this shoot for you?
Sometimes making this move was more like one of those Survivor reality TV shows. It was, ‘Okay, Brendan, today you’re going to be put in a harness, hung upside down and special effects is going to drop a hundred gallons of goop on top of you while you’re in a Port-A-Potty.’ Or, ‘We’re going to hose you down and then you’ll run a block in your (underwear). And we need to you wear this pink outfit.’
From the beginning to end, the jokes in this movie just keep coming. When in doubt, we smash into something and pratfalls are always good for a laugh. Slapstick has worked forever.
What was Brooke Shields like to work with?
She’s got a great deadpan sense of humor. And she loves to debunk the ‘Brooke Shields’ persona. Brooke knows never to push the joke, but she’s game for anything. She didn’t have a problem gobbling like a chick or getting hit in the face with a bunny rabbit made of hamburger.
I heard you worked closely with director Roger Kumble.
I was entrusted with the privilege of being an executive producer on this. It allowed me to have a strong sense of collaboration with everyone involved in the process of putting together the picture from preproduction through post-production.
What was it like working with Roger?
Roger Kumble is a mathematician at comedy. He’s a walking almanac of knowledge when it comes to ‘show me the funny.’ He dissects a joke perfectly.
The initial script was more of a darkly funny horror film and Roger made sure we didn’t lose sight of telling jokes. We really had to run at it and be fearless. And have a lot of ice packs standing by, in my case. This is a picture that has repeat viewing emblazoned all over it
The movie was filmed on the Red digital camera, what’s that?
The Red camera is a powerful computer processor that happens to be a camera that emulates the qualities of stock film. You can have a much longer continuous take than you can with film. That meant Roger wouldn’t stop directing, he didn’t have to call, ‘Cut.’
He would be out there playing every part in the movie while he was directing it. It was hot. Killer bees and mosquitoes were attacking us. We were all miserable, but Roger was in his element. He is the most energetic director that I’ve ever worked with.
Would you consider this a message film?
We never condescend or talk down to our audience. But we do entertain everyone. We’ve made it very inclusive. Parents aren’t going to be looking at their watches while the kids enjoy the movie. The movie makes fun of itself. It breaks the fourth wall, so to speak. And there’s no gag that we won’t go after.
There are plenty of pratfalls and furry forest creatures with all kinds of bodily functions, but there’s a nice little environmental message tucked into all of this too. It’s just not in a way that’s wagging its finger at you, making you feel like you need to eat your vegetables.
What has been the reaction to the movie?
It’s great fun to kids to see this movie, but at the same time they are actually quite indignant about their forest, those animals live there. They’re rooting for the furry guys all the way through it.
That’s a rule; you just don’t mess with Nature in movies and if you do there are consequences.