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6 Degrees Entertainment

Brendan Fraser   ('Inkheart') Brendan Fraser ('Inkheart')

It's been yet another fantastic year for Brendan Fraser, from another 'Mummy' movie to journeying to the 'Centre of The Earth' - and now as a father whose reading of literary works brings characters to life in 'Inkheart.'

Chatting one-on-one with us recently, Brendan actually knows he's been a busy bee. (Brendan) "Yep, when it rains, it pours. I've been actually able to space these things out."

You've had this one year in which three fantasy movies, essentially, have come out and I'm wondering, is it the kid in you that appeals to that genre? I mean, why do you go back to these kinds of films all the time? "They have immense appeal."

To you? "Yes, to me. And also, to the world at large. I mean, look. I've got kids. I'd love to be able to know that there's movies out there - that changes you. It just changes you. That there are films out there that I feel okay about taking them to. And I don't necessarily want to sugar coat things for them. I think you owe it to ease them into things, given that everything's - even from when I was a kid, confronts you so readily. I like the idea of being able to share an experience that transcends just going to the movies. So I did Journey to the Center of the Earth, right? It's great because - you know, it was an okay script."

"Our screen adaptation, you know, it was a little clunky, but we got through it. It's about three misfits who fall in a hole, go on a predicament of an adventure, and they get out. But it's in fantastic technology. It's brilliant, it's great. And it hadn't been done before. And it's an indication of where the industry is headed, and that's interesting for all sorts of like - you know, people get dollar signs in their eyes, and all that. Forget all that for a second. Look at it from the standpoint of, where were you when, with your son or your daughter? Or your grandkid? When you did something really great together. You'll remember it. You'll remember it."

"One of my favorite things to do is - Eric and I, Eric Brevig, who directed that, we went around the country, we went to France, we went everywhere. We were like tubthumpers for this film, and these projections. Because no one at the studio that he was originally with - it just was not behind it. That doesn't matter. I don't want to get sidetracked by saying that. But the point is, what we loved to do was watch the audience watch the film. You'd see little kids reaching out, trying to grab the glow birds. You'd see their off-duty fireman Dad nearly jump out of his skin when the T-Rex showed up. But you see them loving the experience. The experience of being there. And they'll remember that in years to come. And that means something to me."

With this one, what struck me about this one, that I love any film that encourages kids to read. And I was wondering as a parent whether that aspect of this film was something that appealed to you? Well, this is a book that, without taking you can't kid a kid. I know that, just from not only having them, but just from kind of being a big one myself, but also because I know what appeals when you make films for them. You can't condescend. You just can't. Just don't, and go for it. Make sure you believe in it, so that they will. Now, Cornelia's novel, as I'd read or as she had even told me as we came to know each other - do you know how we began to know each other? She sent me a copy of the novel. "Dear Brendan. Thank you for inspiring this character"."

Wow! "Precisely. Flattered. "I hope you can read this aloud to your kids one day. Sincerely, Cornelia Funke." I thought my leg was getting pulled, or I was getting wound up. I just - "Who is it?" I didn't know who she was from a bar of soap, you know? And so I looked her up. And my goodness, she's prolific. She has a huge following. Translated into 37 languages? And she said that she'd written this book using me as the touchstone for whatever that character was because he's a Silvertongue in the world of her imagination of this book. And when he reads aloud, things come to life, and vice versa."

"But, the book. Let's talk about it. Each chapter of that book, as I read it, is introduced by - I think this is fantastic - is introduced in a passage, a quote lifted from the greatest hits of literature from an obscure poem, an author who's contemporary. A lyric from a song and it thematically sets up what the chapter's about. But also, it stimulates the imagination in a way where you feel, "Wow. But that on the bucket list of what I should look for to read next." To hydrate your mind. If that's where you go. But it never, ever condescends, or does it in a way to have a young reader or their parent, who's reading aloud to them - and the jacket cover used to have, "Dare to read it aloud." The Chicken House publishers did that."

"Those are the ones out of the UK. It's Scholastic here in the US. And - because it's a book about reading aloud, and the power of the spoken word. It never wags its finger at its reader. It never says, "Take your vitamins and eat your vegetables." It never makes them feel as if they are being force-fed something. They're being treated to a fantasy world that's within the real world that we live in right now, that overlooks some of the technologies and rules and ways to solve problems that we just don't need to be a part of any more, to tell this story. Which is essentially about a family reuniting. And the heroine is a little girl called Meggie, who will one day - she doesn't know it yet - but one day, inherit the mantle of something quite incredible. That's why it's a trilogy."

Oh, really? "Yes. There's Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath."

Will those ever be made into films? "I can't imagine a producer that I know of who hasn't left the door open. It always comes down to the machinations of Hollywood, money, lalala. But we'll see how this performs. We don't know. I don't know the answer to that."

Do you think you've left 'The Mummy' behind? Is that sort of the end of that franchise? "I'll miss that character. Maybe Rick can go to be reincarnated into something else. But I really enjoyed playing that character. And if not, some version of it. That's what I'll say. I'm not done with that guy. I had a great - come on. That was great. That was just flat-out fun. Don't tell anybody, but I really enjoyed it. I had a great, great time. Big toys to play with. And on top of that, it's a crowd-pleaser. It never pretended to be anything it ever wasn't. It was a straight-ahead entertainment. You don't like it, then go watch something else, okay? Go sneak into Men in Black II, or whatever it is that's playing at the theatre next door. We never took it seriously. The first one, I remember Rachel was panicked. "Oh my God. They're going to confiscate our Screen Actors Guild cards." No, "Our Equity cards." Here, I'm doing bad impressions," he belly laughs.

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