Last year had its share of comebacks and none was more surprising than the remarkable return of Brendan Fraser. Left on the acting scrapheap after barely being noticed in the ensemble cast of the Oscar-winning “Crash,” Fraser spent most of last summer promoting the surprise $100 million hit “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D” and the international blockbuster “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” which confirmed bad taste is a global epidemic with almost $400 million in the bank. Now, the 40-year-old actor is kicking of 2009 with another family fantasy flick, “Inkheart.”
Based on the bestselling novel by Cornelia Flunke, Fraser plays Mo, a man who has the power to make the characters and objects he reads in books come alive, or more specifically, travel from another dimension into our own. Years ago, he accidentally sent his wife into the book “Inkheart,” and has spent the last decade, with his teenage daughter in hand, scouring Europe trying to find another copy of the rare tome to “read” his wife back home. When a character he mistakenly brought out of the book, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), tracks him down hoping to return into the novel, Mo and his daughter find themselves entangled in their darkest adventure yet.
The title role in “Inkheart” came at an opportune time for Fraser. He says he”d hit a flat period after starring with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the box office bomb “Looney Tunes” when Flunke”s novel showed up on his doorstep.
Fraser recalls, “It was inscribed from the author and said something to the effect of ‘Dear Brendan, thank you for inspiring this character, Moe.” Me, what? Did someone pull my leg? Is it April Fools here?”
After some quick google research, Fraser discovered the book in his hands was incredibly popular around the world. Eventually, he and his family met the German author and her kin and a friendship was born. Later, when director Ian Softley (“The Wings of the Dove”) came on board the movie adaptation, Flunke personally requested Fraser play the leading role.
“First, it’s the height of flattery,” Fraser says. “I mean I don’t know how to say anything other than ‘Thank you and precedent setting.” Indeed, in my life, I mean I haven’t researched in so far as if it’s happened that way for anyone else.”
It”s unclear whether “Inkheart” will continue Fraser”s hit streak, but it has put him back on the industry’s radar. A few days after speaking to the press for this story, Fraser agreed to star with Harrison Ford in an untitled medical drama for CBS Films shooting this April. But, make no mistake Fraser has other projects in the can. In fact, the actor”s time couldn”t end without the expected inquiry into his role in the upcoming summer action flick “G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” From his reply, it sounds like Fraser has been inundated with such questions and didn”t realize what he was getting into when he agreed to appear in his former “Mummy” franchise director Stephen Sommers” new flick.
“It’s a cameo, bing, bang, sight gag, that’s it, in, out and no, I’m not Gung Ho! Everyone thinks I am. Look up the character, I’m not a refugee from the Village People, nothing against, I love the Village People, I’m not the guy who didn’t make the cut, okay? That’s it,” Fraser says.
The actor the elaborates on his interest noting, “I begged to be in it because I had a G.I. Joe [as a kid], and mine wound up in a tree, dangling from his parachute strings like all winter, because I threw him off the roof, I had to get it down with a rake in the spring, and I promptly strapped an M-80 to him and blew him up, but I glued him back together. You know, all you can do with your G.I. Joe.”
Then again, considering the bad buzz plaguing “Joe,” maybe a short cameo is the best-case scenario for an actor climbing the Hollywood mountain once more.
“Inkheart” is now playing nationwide.