Actor Oded Fehr first caught the attention of moviegoers with his portrayal of the mysterious warrior, Ardeth Bay, in the hit action thriller “The Mummy.” He later reprised his role in the even more successful sequel, “The Mummy Returns.” Fehr is now starring in the third installment of the Resident Evil franchised number one film in last weekend’s box office, “Resident Evil: Extinction,” reprising his role of â€˜Carlos.â€™ Fehr was seen before his current film opposite Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning in DreamWorks’ “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.”
On the small screen, Fehr starred as â€˜Farik,â€™ the leader of an underground terrorist group in Showtimeâ€™s compelling drama series “Sleeper Cell.” The show received nominations for an Emmy, Golden Globe, and TCA Award as well as being named one of the American Film Instituteâ€™s top ten TV programs of the year. Variety called Fehr â€œmagneticâ€ and The Hollywood Reporter said he is â€œmasterfulâ€ in his portrayal. His other television credits include leading roles on NBCâ€™s “UC: Undercover” and the CBS drama “Presidio Med” with Blythe Danner and Dana Delany.
Born in Israel, Fehr relocated to Germany to pursue a career in business with his father. On a whim, he decided to sign up for a drama class and went on to star in a production of David Mametâ€™s “Sexual Perversity” in Chicago. Foregoing his business career, Fehr spent the next three years enrolled at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol England. He then went on to Londonâ€™s Court Yard Theatre where he graced the stage as Don Juan in their production of “Don Juan Comes Back from the War.”
Our intrepid online interviewer and reporter, Linda Craddock sat down with Oded right before the premiere of “Resident Evil: Extinction” and talked with him about the film and his career. Here is their conversation together for you to enjoy.
Linda Craddock (SoSF): Hello Oded and welcome to Slice of SciFi, how are you today?
Oded Fehr (OF): Hi Linda, I’m doing fine and happy to be here with you today.
SoSF: With the premiere of â€œResident Evil: Extinctionâ€ coming on the 21st, what can you tell us about this particular installment that differs from the 1st two and what director Russell Mulcahy wanted to accomplish with #3?
OF: Well, the first two were much smaller movies to start off with. The first one takes place in these underground chambers. The second one takes place within one city thatâ€™s darker and is mostly shot at night. This third one is a huge movie. It takes place in a post apocalyptic world where there are very, very few humans who survive the undead and they reclaim parts of the earth. Itâ€™s a lot sexier and more action, more of an adventure cool movie, totally different feel from the last two movies. Much bigger cast of characters, fantastic actors and personally I think the third script is the best of all three. With Mulcahy, his vision was, I think, to create the sense of adventure and action. He hasnâ€™t done any big movies like this lately and he did a great job. It looks great itâ€™s very, very bright, definitely the best of all three.
SoSF: It doesnâ€™t exactly pick up where â€œApocalypseâ€ left off it starts the same concept from a different perspective.
OF: Yeah, basically we are a few years from where we left off in â€œApocalypseâ€. I think they wanted to do a third one, and itâ€™s always the last one, I think with a complete different feel so itâ€™s very different from the last two.
SoSF: Talk about your reprised role with the project.
OF: I play the part of character â€œCarlos Oliveraâ€. Heâ€™s a very cool character. He doesnâ€™t have any super strength, not a super hero kind of thing. Heâ€™s just fun to play, itsâ€™ a great character.
SoSF: So at what point, was it during the shooting of â€œApocalypseâ€, when did you know you were going to get the call for the role of â€œCarlos Oliveraâ€ in Extinction?
OF: I didnâ€™t know they were going to do a third movie, didnâ€™t know my character wasnâ€™t dying in the second one but I knew if there were going to be a third one I would probably have the opportunity to join them. After I read the script I really got excited about it.
SoSF: Can we look forward to new sinister creatures besides the well-known zombies or the undead?
OF: The undead are new and improved in this one. Theyâ€™re much faster and smarter than the last movie, which makes it much harder to avoid them. Youâ€™ll also find thereâ€™s an additional creature towards the end of the movie. Forgive me but I canâ€™t remember what heâ€™s paralleling in the game. The creature actually exists in the game but I canâ€™t remember which one it is.
SoSF: Tell us about the location for the film?
OF: We shot in Mexicali Mexico and Mexico City. Mexicali was, well I loved it. It was a great time because it was only about 4 Â½ hours away from home to drive so it didnâ€™t seem that far away but on the other hand its Mexico and it was great, great food. It is a small little town. It was nothing interesting or fascinating about the town but I can tell you that the people there were lovely and we shot in the dunes, just south of the border where they have these great big dunes and itâ€™s beautiful, very majestic. The only problem was we were shooting in 125ËšF. We once installed like a chicken thermometer in the van and it was 136ËšF, so it was crazy, absolutely crazy. We were drinking water all the time. If you werenâ€™t shooting, you had some kind of drink in your hand.
SoSF: I understand Milla is again, remarkable with her physicality in the movie, the stunts, with her action scenes?
OF: She is remarkable. She works her butt off I didnâ€™t know what to expect. I had worked with her in the second movie and I love her. Sheâ€™s a great person, really very, very sweet and very giving as an actress. No ego issues or anything like that and she works her butt off. She works hard on everything and sheâ€™s well prepared and she looks unbelievable. Sheâ€™s so photogenic itâ€™s not even funny. Sheâ€™s great in this role, sheâ€™s such a pro in it’s wonderful.
SoSF: To your knowledge, can we looking for additional installments of the Resident Evil saga?
OF: From what I understand this is supposed to be the last one but you never know. People really love it and it makes a whole load of money and they say â€œyou know, we should make another oneâ€.
SoSF: You appeared in â€œDreamerâ€ with Kurt Russell in â€™05. What was it about the project that appealed to you?
OF: I just loved the script. It was a least a 3-star movie. I donâ€™t get to appear in movies my children would be able to see. Basically it was a real sweet story. It wasnâ€™t a big role, but they offered it to me and I kind of felt I wanted to do it. Of course working with Kurt Russell and Kris Kristofferson was amazing.
SoSF: You are well known for your role in the two Universal pictures â€œThe Mummyâ€ and â€œThe Mummy Returnsâ€ with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. What would you say was one of the more memorable moments from either movie for you as an actor.
OF: Well, the first movie, I think the most memorable Stephen Sommers, the director and tested me and heâ€™s changing the ending, letting my character live and his exact words I think were â€œhey why should â€œArdeth die. You know, everybody loves â€œArdeth, why kill â€œArdethâ€ so the reason it was remarkable for me was because within 5 days of shooting Iâ€™m thinking theyâ€™re going to kick me off the movie and re-shoot the scenes so it came as a complete surprise to me when they decided to change the ending. That was fantastic. The second movie, a lot of horse riding. It was one of the best experiences Iâ€™ve had till today as far as having action from a movie. I literally spent a month and a half on horseback. It was wonderful , the whole time riding in the desert dunes, it was just wonderful.
SoSF: I read somewhere while filming â€œThe Mummyâ€ you guys encountered ferocious wind storms.
OF: It was really weird. It was the second movie. We were shooting on a really big set and all of a sudden out of no where this rainstorm came in and it was crazy. They had to evacuate us with the medical helicopters that have always been standing by. They evacuated the entire crew with medical helicopters we had standing by and the rain-washed away the set. It wasnâ€™t anything too complicated but it did definitely wash away the set. It was very strange In May, I think or June, it was a very untimely kind of rainstorm.
SoSF: A lot of your fans remember that character, â€œArdeth,â€ because of the long hair and I know you made a comment about cutting your hair and enjoying the anonymity because people donâ€™t associate that character with other characters since youâ€™ve cut your hair.
OF: I think a lot of people do know Iâ€™m from â€œThe Mummyâ€ in the fact that the way I looked when I shot â€œThe Mummyâ€ is very unique. You walk around with that beard and that hair, it kind of difficult to be unnoticed. So I like this life much better. I walk around with my kids, and I appreciate people coming up and its lovely to hear but I really enjoy this thing, a regular job kind of thing.
SoSF: You mentioned â€œSleeper Cellâ€, Showtimeâ€™s original series, and it appeared on air after the tragedy of 9/11. What were some of your concerns going into this project and what did you want the audience to take away from the story and in particular your role?
OF: My concerns were I knew that the minute people saw the show people might think that weâ€™re painting terrorists in a good light and I didnâ€™t want anything like that or being sympathetic towards terrorists. I think that anybody who sees the show sees that itâ€™s very patriotic and optimistic that we have an FBI agent infiltrating the cell from extremely optimistic and patriotic point of view. That being said I think the writers did an amazing job at keeping the show as real as dramatically possible. I think true, real life terrorists sleeper cells lead a life that is too boring for the screen that you have to dramatize it in some ways. They tried to keep it as real as possible and as close to the truth as possible and use only things that have happened or the fact that they might have happened. I really think people took from the show what we wanted them to take what the writers wanted them to take, how real it is and yet entertaining and maybe in some ways, it brings some people who have no clue about the subject matter, about terrorists, about what the “Sleeper Cell” teaches them just a little bit. It s not supposed to be a educational show but maybe it teaches them a little bit more, you know regarding fear of flying and all that. Our audiences are much smarter now because of the show and hopefully â€œSleeper Cellâ€ had something to do with that.
SoSF: So you would say that your first reaction when presented with the storyline was a sense of maybe appreciation for the way the writers depicted this terrorist..
OF: My first reaction was very negative because I hadnâ€™t read the script yet and basically all I heard is I am being offered this terrorist role and I said I donâ€™t want to play a terrorist my representative said Oded, just read the script and I read the script and the minute I read the script. The minute I read the script, I fell in love with the story. Iâ€™ve never read anything that wasnâ€™t, — let me put it this way — every script Iâ€™ve read before that had anything to do with terrorist or anything like that was always Hollywood type characters, but this script was so true to life. Peopleâ€™s impression of what terrorists are like, the theme in the underground and the first episode, it was so true to life and I just loved it because I grew up in the Middle East, and I know a little more than most people and Iâ€™ve had people come to me with all kinds of questions of what it would be like and itâ€™s never what they think so I loved it and the fact that they managed to keep it going for two seasons was fantastic.
SoSF: Was there a lot of effort on your part, based on your knowledge with the research for the role?
OF: What I did for research on the role was more or less the American side of things and culturally, the Muslim side of it but I didnâ€™t research it from a terrorist side all the quotes they used in the show they actually explained their point of view, their behavior. I never knew any of that. I never knew how American got involved, the bombing in Lebanon, all of that, I never knew what weight that had, the American side of the conflict, so for me that was a lot of research. What were truly amazing to me were the writers. The writers, again, their research, their ability to write the smallest detail how we do the prayers, what time we do the prayers, the behavior between the men and the women and all that there was amazing.
SoSF: Describe some of the feedback you have received from fans while filming this project?
OF: I received nothing but wonderful feedback. That was the thing I worried about. You are always afraid that people won’t separate you from the character you play on TV. For instance all the actors on “ER” still get confused for real doctors. But, I actually received nothing but favorable reactions.
OF: Yeah, that was the one thing I was worried about being associated with a terrorist. But I actually received some wonderful reactions from people. They really appreciated the show.
SoSF: You appeared in 5 episodes of the TV series â€œJustice Leagueâ€, 7 episodes of â€œCharmed. Describe your role in each of these projects and talk a little about experience on set.
OF: Doing the Justice League was a lot of fun. I was offered the role of the character â€œDr. Fateâ€ and it was wonderful. That was a great experience. Using your voice instead of your entire being to act it was so many different mediums and I really love the role of making a living. Itâ€™s almost as if thereâ€™s no pressure. You come in and everybody sits in this room you sit in a circle and you just run the lines and you create amazing vision. It was a lovely, lovely, experience and I loved the character and I was a huge comic book fan so I really enjoy being a part of that. It was a lot of fun. The other one was â€œCharmedâ€ that you mentioned?
OF: â€œCharmedâ€ again, was wonderful job for me because I was in between doing the pilot of â€œSleeper Cellâ€ and we knew the pilot got picked up and we were doing the show but I didnâ€™t know but I didnâ€™t have anything in the mean time and there was six months in between and all of a sudden the people from â€œCharmedâ€ called and it was one of those things, one of those offers that I couldnâ€™t refuse and I didnâ€™t think it would be something that would be much of a highlight for me. Iâ€™d never seen the show. So I said ok, a WB show, three girls are witches, and it ended up being one of the best experiences Iâ€™ve had with the acting for me because the casting was such a, well you were so allowed to be bigger than life and it was very freeing from that point of view and I loved it. Everybody on the show was great, and I loved the crew on that show, just a great crew, very professional, they’ve been doing this a long time. In the beginning it was very good, very fast, very easy going and the directors were great. It was just a lot of fun. The girls were lovely and it ended up being just a great, great, experience and I am really happy I did it.
SoSF: Tell us something about Oded that most people donâ€™t know.
OF: (laughter) Well, first and foremost I have to say that Iâ€™m a father and a husband and very, very much a family guy. I donâ€™t involve myself with Hollywood very much. I donâ€™t think youâ€™ll see me at any parties, I rarely go to premieres, especially now that we have the kids. Iâ€™m very home-bodied, I love being with my family, love being with my kids and Iâ€™m not nearly as interesting as the characters I play (laughter).
SoSF: Oded, thank you for coordinating this interview based on your schedule and continued success to you. I am very grateful to you and Slice of SciFi fans will be thrilled.
OF: Thank you. It was my pleasure.