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Interview: Actor Craig Fairbrass talks ‘Vikingdom’

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Vikingdom,” which releases to DVD on Jan. 21, is a fantasy action film that blends Viking and Norse mythology. It tells the story of forgotten king Eirick (Dominic Purcell), who must stop Thor (Conan Stevens) and his army from taking over the world.

Recently, the Chico Movie Examiner conducted an over-the-phone interview with one of the film’s stars, Craig Fairbrass, who plays Sven, one of the warriors recruited by Eirick. Many may know Fairbrass from films such as “Cliffhanger” and “The Bank Job.”

Fairbrass talked about the film; training for his role; and more. Check it out below.

David Wangberg: When we meet your character, before he goes into battle, he tells Eirick that he’s a Viking first and foremost. Now you’re an actor, but you’re also a father and a husband, and you probably have other roles outside of those. Which one do you consider yourself first and foremost?

Craig Fairbrass: Father and a husband.

DW: When it comes to taking on roles, would your family come first if a role required you to be away for a long period of time?

CF: I was really lucky, because I had another ticket in my contract that allowed my wife [to be nearby]. The people who made the film in Malaysia were very gracious and kind to me, and Patrick Ewald, who had to be away for a long time. It wouldn’t be fair for him not to see his wife all that time.

So, my wife came in midway, at the 10 day break, and we went to Langkawi Island, which was amazing. It worked out very well.

DW: The villain in this movie is Thor. He’s been portrayed a lot recently in the Marvel films, and this is a very artistic sword and sandal epic. Which other character from mythology would you like to see get a modern day treatment or a highly artistic treatment like “Vikingdom?”

CF: Oh, that’s a tough question. To be honest with you, and you’re going to be really shocked when I say this, I can’t watch those films.

DW: [laughs]

CF: I just can’t watch them. I just watched [“Man of Steel”] on the plane coming back. It was fantastic, but the last 14 minutes was the same old thing that you get in these films. People were being punched through buildings. I just think they’re s***. I’m sorry, but I love more [edgy], independent films.

DW: So, have you watched “Vikingdom” yet?

CF: I’m not talking about “Vikingdom.” “Vikingdom” is a fun film. It’s not like the great big, giant, special-effects laden [films]. I watched “Iron Man 3” the other night, and my chin was on the floor. “Vikingdom” is a different type of movie, because it’s rooted in reality. The characters are more real; they’re not these superhuman people who can fly and do things. It’s totally different. I was quite the fan of “The Incredible Hulk,” when I was a kid, but even then, these films – I just can’t get through them.

DW: [laughs] Well, I’m going to ask you a couple of other questions that are related to a bigger budgeted thing, if that’s OK.

CF: Of course.

DW: As I was watching this, I kept on thinking about what could be that great epic battle. With franchises, you have “Alien vs. Predator”; “Freddy vs. Jason”; and you have “Batman vs. Superman” coming up soon. Which two mythological characters would you like to see take on each other in a big, epic battle?

CF: I have no idea, mate. I’m so sorry. It’s not me. I’m just not into that; I’m really not. I don’t want to lie to you and make something up, because it’s wrong to do that. I’m just trying to be truthful. I have no idea battle it out; I really don’t.

DW: There’s a scene on the ship where one of the characters tells everyone that he would die with honor than live as a coward. I’m paraphrasing that, by the way.

CF: That’s an old saying. He’d rather live one day as a lion than one thousand years as a lamb. It’s a classic saying, and I suppose those guys who were Vikings would rather die with honor than have a life of non-honor, I guess you would say. Are you saying what would I do?

DW: Yeah, put yourself in that situation. How would you perceive it?

CF: I don’t know. I would hate the thought of dying full stop; I’ve got to be honest with you. I lost my dad last year, and it was the biggest shock and the most devastating thing that ever happened to me. The whole thought of death has become very much close to me, and it’s made me really realize how lucky I am and how much I value life. And each day that I get, I really do [value life]. It’s a bit deep, I’m sorry. It’s not about the film, but you asked me a question, and that was the only thing I could come up with.

DW: That’s perfectly fine. I was trying to relate that question to that part in the scene and to you and have you think about your life ahead of time.

CF: Yeah.

DW: Now, is this your first epic warrior kind of film?

CF: It is; it really is. I was grateful for the opportunity. As a kid, all I wanted to do was be in a Viking film. This one came along. It’s not your usual type of Viking film; it’s not dark and gritty. It’s more of a fantasy. It’s a mixture [of genres], and it’s a fun film, and I hope that audiences will look at it that way. It’s got a group of people – like “The Magnificent Seven” – led by Dominic [Cooper], who are going after the main bad guy. The director did a great job. This was a film that was made in Malaysia, and the people were very gracious to us. And hopefully, the film does what it was meant to do.

DW: Since you aren’t really a big fan of the big blockbuster type of films, what was it that drew you to this one?

CF: No, I am. I am a massive fan – just not the superhero movies.

DW: Oh, OK.

CF: I’m talking about something like “Die Hard.” I didn’t like [“A Good Day to Die Hard”]; I thought it was s***. But I’m a massive fan. I mean, I was in “Cliffhanger” years ago, so I’m a massive fan of the big event movies – the good ones – but there’s a lot of crap that’s made in between the good ones. It’s just the superhuman films that I can’t get my head around. I guess if you’re a fan of them, then you love them.

DW: Now, you’re kind of a big guy in real life. Was there anything that you had to do – aside from the battle training – that was different from what you’ve done before?

CF: No. The only problem is that it was 110 degrees every day. And there was humidity, so you couldn’t breathe. Any physicality that you did, you were dying on the spot, literally. I’m lucky that I don’t smoke. A lot of the actors did smoke. It was just difficult, because it was so close and so humid and the heat was unbearable. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You step outside the hotel, and you’re soaking wet within 10 minutes.

DW: You don’t have to give the actors’ names, but for the ones who did smoke, was it harder for them than for the ones who didn’t smoke?

CF: I think so. I mean, I found it difficult, when you’re doing that stuff. In movies, it’s repetitive. It’s not done just once. You’re doing it multiple times from multiple angles. For the likes of Jon Foo, who’s very, very fit, it was nothing. He was like a little spring jumping about. [laughs] For the older guys, it was a bit difficult.

DW: Every one of these films has a big, heroic speech at the end of it. Dominic gives one here. If you were to give a big, heroic speech, what do you think you might tell the people?

CF: Well, it all depends on what context the film is in. It’s difficult. It depends on what the movie is; what the subject matter is; what the movie is about; and what the message is about. Has the guy been through turmoil? Has he been hurt? Is he a tough guy? It all depends on what the material is. You just try to make it as believable as possible, and I think Dominic did an amazing job in this film. He’s a great actor.

DW: Did you want to promote any upcoming projects?

CF: Well, I’ve got a really good action movie coming out on iTunes on Feb. 7 called “The Outsider.” It has me, Jason Patric, James Caan, and Shannon Elizabeth. It’s about a British mercenary who comes to Los Angeles to cause trouble looking for his daughter. Check it out if you get the chance.

DW: Definitely. I think that was one of the films they sent me as a possible review.

CF: Yeah, it’s quite enjoyable. I hope you like it.

EDIT: When first published, Patrick Ewald was originally identified at Patrick Murray. And the story originally read that Craig went to Ireland, not Langkawi Island. The Chico Movie Examiner apologizes for the errors.

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