Inkheart follows the adventures of Meggie (Eliza Bennett), a young girl whose dad (Brendan Fraser) can bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. But things turn bad and Meggie must set off on an incredible adventure after a villain (Andy Serkis) and his gang of bad guys from a children's fable kidnaps her father.
New Line Cinema recently opened up the set of Inkheart, the family-friendly film based on Cornelia Funke's popular novel, to a few Internet movie sites. Taking a break from filming, cast members Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Eliza Bennett, and Andy Serkis talked about life on the set of Inkheart and the appeal of Funke's story.
Were you a fan of the book before tackling the film?
Brendan Fraser: "I think that it's a good book because, for one thing, in this age when we have so many different formats of media distribution does anyone read aloud to their kids anymore? I hope that they do. I have three small boys and I'm normally reading about shapes and colors right now because they're really small. But we'll graduate to a book like Inkheart, for instance, which is meant to be read aloud. It's a story about a man who has an unusual ability to realize elements of the story that he reads aloud - for better or for worse. But that's the story within in the story. I think that as a work of literature it's a promotion of, and I think it advocates, literacy.
I think that it's something that can help people connect to one another again, and for that it's gotten immense popularity. That it becomes something that you put on the screen seems to follow naturally. I think that we have a good adaptation and I think that we have a good movie on our hands.
Eliza, this is quite a cast to be playing opposite.
Eliza Bennett: I mean, it's great. When I heard about the film the only [person] that I knew was going to be in it was Brendan [Fraser] because he said like three years ago that he was going to do this because he's friends with Cornelia [Funke]. So all I heard about was Brendan and I thought that he was so perfect for the role. So it was really, really exciting."
Is it true the author had you in mind, that you were an inspiration for her?
Brendan Fraser: That's what she told me. She'd be better at answering that question than I am, but I'm flattered that she said that. Shucks, what can you say? Yes is the answer. I'll leave it at that.
Paul, you've played traditional heroes and traditional villains in films. Your character Dustfinger sort of walks that line. Is that more interesting for you to play?
Paul Bettany: Well, what's interesting to me is that he's sort of an opportunist, but who desperately wants to go home. He didn't ask to be here and sort of every moment in the film that we see him he's just trying to get home, to what you realize later on in the film is his family. That's how I often feel when making films.
There is an inherent sadness to the character as it's written.
Paul Bettany: Yeah, and he doesn't state what he wants. You're like, 'What does he want?' And he's sort of intense and what is it he's after, and then you realize that he just wants to get home to his kids...
Brendan Fraser: It's about reuniting families.
Brendan, does being a father change how you approach material now? Do you pick something like Inkheart thinking that you'll be able to take your kids to this at some point?
Brendan Fraser: I think that the answer is that I like to work, to be frank. I think that you can make films that have broad appeal and satisfy a commercial appetite and at the same you can do more thoughtful pieces that might please your artistic sense. Or you can just get on with it, roll your sleeves up and get to work. Lets be frank, it's difficult to get films made nowadays and personally I've traveled three different continents just to keep myself busy. I'm not complaining, mind you, but the point is that I think with less and less material out there to choose from, you must be very selective what you can see and what you can do.
Andy, how would you describe your character?
Andy Serkis: "...What he loves about this world are the material gains. How he gets them is another thing and that is very dark and sinister, but I suppose that's the tension of the characters. He likes all these kind of fine suits and fine living, and he's just pleased to be out of it."
How does Inkheart compare in scale to some of the other big films you've done such as The Mummy films, The Da Vinci Code, and Master and Commander?
Paul Bettany: My experience is that all film sets usually feel mostly the same.
Brendan Fraser: That's true.
Paul Bettany: So, I know that big films, small films, they all sort of film the same, really, and this one is the same. Usually you can hear sort of whimpering from the producers with the more money that they're spending. You do sort of hear that, but this film set has been filled with so much joy and fun. I've said that on most movies that I've made and have usually lied. (Laughing) This actually is the first time that I'm telling the truth.
You've said that before, too.
Paul Bettany: Yeah, I've talked a lot of s**t about films, but this one actually really is fun. It's so much that it's a bit repulsive, the idea of us getting paid to be here.
Brendan, are you going right into Mummy 3 after this?
Brendan Fraser: I'm still waiting for the call on that.
Is there a possibility Mummy 3 will be with new characters and not your character or Rachel Weisz?
Brendan Fraser: No, the structure is the same, the same family structure. However it has a different setting and I actually might be stay tuned. What else can I tell you?