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“The Big Tease” Cast Interview

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 8, 2000 — It doesn’t have Sylvester Stallone or a boxing ring, but “The Big Tease” is being touted as the next “Rocky.”

“Rocky” with curlers, that is.

It’s the story of a Scottish hairdresser named Crawford Mackenzie (Craig Ferguson), who heads to Los Angeles to compete in the World Freestyle Hairdressing Championship, in which international stylists vie for the Platinum Scissors Award. Armed with a documentary crew, Crawford touches down in the States, only to find that his pass isn’t to compete, but to participate as an audience member. Undaunted, the flamboyant Scot does whatever it takes to enter the championship, with the help of a Hollywood publicist named Candy (Frances Fisher).

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Its underdog theme poses similarity to the boxing picture, but hairdressing doesn’t sound like much of a macho theme. But to star and writer Ferguson, a Scottish actor currently seen on ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show,” the salon theme was a welcome contrast to other films in which his country was represented.

“We wanted a world which was a little different from what we’d seen in Scottish movies,” the actor says. “Before [it was] either grimy heroin addicts on the streets of Edinborough, or men running around with their faces painted blue. I wanted something, a movie that florists should enjoy. In fact, we should have that on the poster. ‘The Big Tease: A movie florists would enjoy.'”

The comedy’s quirkiness was captured by filming it documentary-style; Crawford spends much of the film talking directly to the camera, narrating his adventure to the filmmaker (Chris Langham). He stumbles into salons and offices, encountering hairdressers and Hollywood types who stare awkwardly at the camera and attempt to reject Crawford without making themselves look shabby.

“Sacha [Gervasi] and I, who wrote the script, it was our idea,” Ferguson says. “We had been big fans of Rob Reiner’s movie ‘This is Spinal Tap’ and … that felt like the right kind of genre to approach that thing. If you have a documentary style and a pompous and serious documentary maker like we had in the film, then it adds seriousness to the film, so you could undercut it with comedy.”

It’s also a film about celebrity, and the Tinseltown scene is represented with cameos from Drew Carey, Bruce Jenner and David Hasselhoff to hair stylists John Paul Mitchell and Jose Eber and models Kimora Lee and Veronica Webb.

“David Hasselhoff. … He’s got a sense of humor about himself,” Ferguson says admiringly. “He doesn’t really mind poking fun of himself.”

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“I always like movies about the innerworkings of Hollywood, about the business,” Fisher adds. “Anything that has to do with show business, like ‘All About Eve.’ I love going behind the scenes.”

Fisher plays Crawford’s ally in the film but was originally offered the role of Monique, the uptight president of the World International Hairdressing Federation (which eventually went to Mary McCormack). But after playing Kate Winslet’s money-grubbing mother in “Titanic,” Fisher didn’t want to play another unpleasant type.

“I just felt like Candy Harper was a more vibrant person,” Fisher says. “She took initiative; she was a good guy. I just wanted to be on the side of the good guys this time.”

The actress found she didn’t have to look far to research her character.

“I patterned her after my publicist,” Fisher says. “[She’s] a wonderful lady who believes in her clients and does everything she can to get the job done. And even down to the power suits that she wore … we had a lot of fun with it, and of course my publicist was very flattered.”

In contrast, Ferguson found he had to study the hairdressing craft in order to convincingly pull off a stylist’s natural flair. But even after classes, he admits he’s only good enough “for movie purposes.”

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“You know, how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear, but he couldn’t do that really, so it was a trick — an illusion.”

“The Big Tease” opens in New York and Los Angeles on Jan. 28.

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