“I missed playing Rick and that last seven years I’ve been waiting for the call,” jokes Brendan Fraser of his return to the Mummy franchise. The new action flick, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, finds Fraser’s Rick O’Connell living a quiet retired life with his wife Evelyn. Their son Alex has left the nest and is following in the footsteps of his famous parents. When the twenty-something gets in over his head, there’s only one thing to do … call mom and dad.
Hollywood.com met up with Fraser in L.A. to find out what it was like reprising the role of O’Connell, working with a new leading lady and more.
Hollywood.com: Why was it important to you to get back into these shoes and revisit this?
Why was it important? Because I wanted to do this, honestly, it's true. It's just really great stuff, fun stuff. Making these movies, they call it an action pic but it's actually, I am enjoying myself out there. And I wanted to see where these characters would go, knowing that they would be set in another archaeologically rich nation, in China.
I saw the script, out of habit, I'd worked with my friend Rachel on two pictures, you know you read the dialogue, you can hear her voice – I had an idea of what her choices are going to be. When I heard that she decided to step aside, I would feel her absence no matter who stepped into the role. Screen testing, reading, meeting other actresses underlined in a way that a role is a role. You just step in and you do it, bring something new to it, and in this case what this picture has done is bring Maria Bello into that character [and] has allowed for a type of re-invention of the librarian cum expeditioner-ess to take – I think, to have a different run at what the dynamic of that couple is now.
HW: We've seen you working in film for 20 years and now and here you are playing the part of the dad of a twenty-something year old, was that a change for you?
No, I think it's good because it allowed for that dynamic of what Rob [Cohen] called the “old-bull” and the “young-bull” - knocking skulls and having that tension that families can usually identify with and you need to have that in the midst of all of this huge imagery and cinematographical pyrotechnics.
In the case of this picture, Rob, knowing that he had so much experience, and that he, as I learned, was an archaeologist or at least was a student of it when he was a young man at Harvard with a particular interest in Chinese history and he is a practicing Buddhist, so putting together everything that is his life's passion I think shows when I watch the picture because it's everything that he cares about all in one. And Stephen, the godfather of this generation of the Mummy, forgetting that these pictures had been made back in the '30s [laughs], – he's enthusiastic like you wouldn't believe. He is a Midwestern boy from Minnesota, son of a pediatrician, family guy. My favorite moments working with Stephen on the other two pictures was on the first one, two of them actually, he set up some big shot with columns and things are gonna fall down and he's like, “Ready and DON”T SUCK! ACTION!” Things are crashing around us and you run like your pants are on fire so you don't have to do it again. And when things were getting a little bit, sticky, he'd say, “Oh man, the next movie I make is going to be like two chicks sitting on a beach on towels talking, that's it, that's all they're going to do. No more of this action stuff.”
HW: Did you have any injuries on this one?
Not on this one, ha-ha! [laughs] No, I went into it strong and I did not limp across the finish line. It took me three times but I figured it out.
HW: Kids must love you after George of the Jungle and the Mummy series.
I love kids, my kids, I like going to their schools and stuff. Before I had them, every now and then I'd look down in an airport and one of them would be stuck to my leg like burrs on your sock and you go walking in tall grass. Their mothers are normally near by [laughs].
HW: Would you consider doing a fourth Mummy?
Ask me in a little while and see if I have enough fluid left in my knees [laughs]. I'm open to it, it was good fun. There's a nod and a wink in these movies all the time. I think that's probably why people like them because we were never taking ourselves too seriously while we were making it in terms of "This is an horror film," No, this is a comedy, but there is a scare. It's just sort of a Boo scare, amusement park style, funhouse kind of thing.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens in theaters Aug. 1, 2008