Some actors who work long enough in the movie business end up having two of their movies released a week apart from each other. Such is the case with Brendan Fraser, who has two very different films released a week apart in the United States. On Feb. 15, 2013, the sci-fi animated film “Escape From Planet Earth” arrives in U.S. theaters in wide release. Fraser voices the macho astronaut character of Scorch Supernova in “Escape From Planet Earth.” Then on Feb. 22, 2013, the independent comedy thriller “Stand Off” has a limited release in U.S. theaters.
In “Stand Off” (which was originally titled “Whole Lotta Sole”), Fraser plays Joe Maguire, an American living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he runs an antiques shop while hiding from his past. Joe finds his life turned upside down when a local young man named Jimbo (played by Martin McCann) barricades himself in the antiques store after robbing a fish shop that’s owned by a mobster. And it turns out that Joe may be Jimbo’s long-lost father. I spoke with Fraser by telephone for this exclusive interview.
What do you think about the movie’s title changing from “Whole Lotta Sole” to “Stand Off”?
Well, it has a “whole lotta sole.” “Sole” a big play on words because there’s a big piece of fish in it at one point and an antique store and a madcap hostage crisis and revelations … and a pair of kids and a rather tense situation and some scary gangsters. And it’s set in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, of all places.
My character Joe hails from Boston, where he’s found himself in over his head, in trouble with his father-in-law, who happens to be a mobster. And he needs to get out of town, lay low for a little while. So he’s relocated quickly to run an antiques store. And, as in all well-structured comedies, all is not well.
American movie audiences don’t see a lot of movies set in Northern Ireland. What were your impressions of filming there?
You hit right on it, and I agree with you. This is a genre piece that is unique. I don’t know what to call it, other than “The Northern Ireland Film Subgenre Piece,” which means that there’s a dedication from a very closely knit group of filmmakers and support that go into making a movie. And the experience of that I had of it was unique, given that I was the token Yankee, as the piece calls for, and I was very happy and lucky to be a part of it.
Yaya DaCosta, who plays Joe’s love interest in “Stand Off,” is an American in real life, but in “Stand off,” she plays an African immigrant. So there was at least one other American co-star in the movie. What was it like working with her?
Yaya is fine if you really admire talent and beauty but also because Terry [George, the writer/director of “Stand Off”] feels very strong about the concern for African nations and the distribution of wealth and what we can do. Let’s not forget that “Hotel Rwanda” was his movie, as was last year’s [Oscar-winning] Best Short Live-Action Film called “The Shore,” which was personal too because it was a story from his own family. And it was shot in his backyard, which happens to be near the ocean with the tide that comes in and out. And a wonderful retreat for the cast and crew, I might add. We ate a lot of oysters.
You’re also a photographer. Did you find time to take any photos while in Belfast? And if so, what sights impressed you the most?
I did bring a camera along with me. I saw some castles, whose names escape me. I saw the [Giant’s] Causeway, which is a geological wonder. I also saw the inside of some ancient pubs.
How would you describe working with Martin McCann?
He’s a great guy. I can’t wait to see his career flourish. I didn’t realize who he was until I remembered I had seen him in the Steven Spielberg series “Band of Brothers” … His dialect was flawless. The thing about Marty is — I’m really happy for him — his character is a well-meaning, earnest, sincere, affable young man who wants to do the right thing, and will stop at nothing to make every best effort to — that’s Marty. Watch for him. I’m happy to have worked with him. He played my son.
This may be a coincidence, but in “Gimme Shelter” you also play a birth parent who meets a long-lost child. What can you saw about the movie?
I want to, however, I have to be deliberately vague — I hope you forgive me —because the finishing touches are still being put on it. It is a picture about growing to accept mistakes, acknowledge them, and move forward, even if it’s awkward — kind of like life.
What did your kids think of your animated film “Escape From Planet Earth”?
I’ve been saying for years, even before I had kids, “You can’t kid a kid.” They got a bang out of it. They thought it was funny.
How did they react when they heard your voice coming out of an animated character?
This generation is so adept in its knowledge of everything high-tech. They bought into the reality of it being entertainment and were excited for it and understood. [Harvey Weinstein] sent me a watermarked screener of the movie, and it showed B-roll of the actors recording in front of microphones, and they couple that with the animated characters, so in so far as it was pulling the veil back a little bit, it’s exciting for a kid to go, “Oh, that’s how it’s done!”
I recorded a voice for an animated feature over many sessions over several years … but the truth is that it comes vocally. And the inspiration to create the characters, I learned, is a collaboration with animators — hundreds of them, who are able to imagine what they want to do visually by what they hear.
You have several movies slated for release in 2013 and 2014. What can you say about any of your other upcoming movies?
I really hope that people give “Stand Off” a fair shake. The title may seem deceptive. I support it, but there’s more beneath the surface than what may be presented. I’d like to think of this picture as a love letter or a Valentine to St. Patrick.
For more info: "Stand Off" website