Uh-oh. Brendan Fraser is alarmed.
He’s talking about his new movie, “Journey to the Center or the Earth,” and stops mid-sentence to help a reporter: “Are you being eaten by a plant here?”
The reporter is seated by a large potted plant whose leafy branches droop over her chair.
Suddenly, Fraser leaps up from a sofa and pretends to fight with the “garden-variety hotel plant,” re-enacting a scene from the Jules Verne-inspired 3D thrill ride in which his character — fearful geek-turned-fearless-explorer Trevor Anderson — fends off giant Venus Flytraps at the Earth’s core. There is also an angry T.rex or two, bugs you don’t want to know and other nasties.
Needless to say, this isn’t an ordinary interview for the star of the “Mummy” movies, “Gods and Monsters,” “George of the Jungle,” “Encino Man” and other films. Fraser’s unabashedly silly side surfaces as the 39-year-old actor nibbles on Gummi bears and talks about his affection for Jamie Oliver (“The Naked Chef”), a guy named Obama and catching piranha.
AP: If you journeyed to the center of the Earth, what five things would you take with you?
Fraser: A shovel ... ’cause you want to be able to get out. Some Gummi bears. Never underestimate a good sleeping bag. The Naked Chef. And a camera to prove that I was damn well there! A 3-D camera!
AP: Gummi bears?
Fraser: Yeah, ’cause I got to give Jamie Oliver something.
AP: What’s with the Naked Chef — are you a fan?
Fraser: He’s a good cook, and I like him.
AP: Who would you rather be marooned with at the Earth’s core? Donald Trump or Rosie O’Donnell?
Fraser: Rosie. I know Rosie. Rosie’s funny. ... Wait a minute, I might want Donald Trump. Scratch Rosie. Rosie can wait. Rosie can wait up top. It’s time we go with Donald. I’ve never met Donald, and I want to get to the bottom of the hair. I just want to know — is that a choice? Because if it is, I’d marry him for that. Because he rocks the comb-over.
AP: McCain or Obama?
Fraser: This has no political thing whatsoever, but I think I’d rather go with Obama. He seems like an interesting, sincere guy. So while we were starving and stuff, he could tell me things that I could relate to a little bit more generationally. ... He’d have some good ideas on how to get out of there.
AP: Iron Man, the Hulk or Indiana Jones?
Fraser: Indy. Come on. No brainer. Next. Oh, come on — Indy! He’s my hero. He’s the reason I became an actor.
Fraser: Oh, one of them — that and the imaginary friends (Fraser had a very active imagination as a kid). And also because I started seeing plays early as a kid (visiting) London. I found that pretty fascinating. “Everybody comes together and they sit in this big room, and we watch a show? You mean, they do this every night, or twice a day? Really?”
AP: What’s scarier: nearly getting swallowed by a T.rex or swatting back giant flying piranha?
Fraser: Piranha. I’m going to go with the piranha because the piranha was actually a football that was painted blue that was thrown at me so I’d have something to catch (while filming against a blank studio screen that makes it possible to add all the special effects in the editing room). So the physics of it allowed for my hands to just catch something and bounce backward. ... (A crew member who once played for the Canadian Football League) could throw a perfect tight spiral that came right at my head. I was like, “Ah!” — like that — but my gloves were wet and it actually glanced off my forehead a few times.
So I’d have to go with piranha. T.rex? That wasn’t so bad. That was just running on a treadmill that was painted blue. The worst part of that was my legs were longer and the motor wasn’t fast enough, and I could actually outrun the speed that they could get it up. So I would just wind up standing at the end of it when I’m meant to be running for my life.
AP: Is it tough to act when you can’t see the T.rex? What are you envisioning?
Fraser: A T.rex. What else? Come on! I’ll tell you how. I’m not setting you up, look: You just got to believe it. All right — you’re like, “Brendan, you believe in T.rexes?” Look, if it says in the script, it’s your job as an actor to believe in it. ... I just behave the way I used to that got me kicked out of class and sent to the principal’s office because my imaginary friends were always acting up. Now they pay me for it. I guess, for me, it’s just something that I can do.
AP: You also produced “Journey.” What was your reaction to the finished product?
Fraser: Immense satisfaction. Pride. We were so happy. It worked. It worked — it was a full-on Eureka. It was like Trevor saying, “They were wrong. Everyone said that it couldn’t be done. There’s no center of the Earth, you’re crazy.” ... You know, a lot of deep thinkers in time were told they were fools in their day.
AP: You’ve got another movie coming out this summer — “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” the first “Mummy” film since 2001’s “The Mummy Returns.” Are you expecting another blockbuster?
Fraser: You never know. Nobody sets out to make a dud. I’m hopeful. ... I’ve been waiting for seven years for the call. People go, “Why do we have to wait seven years for another ‘Mummy’ movie?” And I was like, “You tell me, DUUUDE.”