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Mummy Hunk: Outnumbered and Loving It!

by Michael Ausiello

 

 

Not since Charlie's Angels cast David Doyle as a bosom buddy of Farrah, Kate and Jaclyn has an actor been placed in as heavenly a situation as Oded Fehr, the ladies' man among the female docs on the new CBS drama Presidio Med.

 

"I'm outnumbered in a very good way," he tells TV Guide Online, referring to the show's 5-to-1 gals-to-guys ratio. "Working with all these women is just lovely. The set is so relaxed. There's a really great atmosphere."

 

It's certainly a drastic change from Fehr's last TV gig: NBC's short-lived, male-driven cop thriller UC: Undercover. "There's a lot less testosterone flying around," admits The Mummy star. "Also, [Presidio] gives me the opportunity to play somebody who saves people who's a lover, not a fighter. It's something very different than what I've done before."

 

Producers recently added newcomer Paul Blackthorne to the estrogen-based ensemble, which features such heavyweights as Blythe Danner, Dana Delany and Anna Deavere Smith. Still, Presidio remains a woman's world and Fehr wouldn't have it any other way.

 

"I think it's almost like being in a family with only one male in it," he explains. "Or being a boy that grew up with three sisters. They all take care of me." Laughing, he adds: "My only fear is that I'm losing my butchness my toughness."

 

 

Fehr Game

by Sascha Bogin

 

Best known for his portrayal of Ardeth Bay in the wildly successful film The Mummy, Oded Fehr can now be seen weekly on the television show Presidio Med.

After serving three years in the Israeli Navy, Fehr moved to Berlin to study business. He ended up taking a drama class that ultimately led him to star in a play, and that's when he realized he was never happier than when he was acting. Fehr explains that he was always "the noisy kid in the family." His father and sister are both doctors of physics and his brother is "a genius." Fehr's father encouraged him to pursue his desire to act, and the rest, as they say, is the rest. He subsequently lived in England for a short time where he studied at the famed Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and appeared in several television features. But he decided that moving to the United States would best direct his career.

 

The move to America was an easy transition for Fehr. "You know how some people say that Israel is the 51st state? Well, living in the US is a lot like living in Israel. It feels like home here. There was more for me to adjust to when I lived in England." He adds, "There is a lot more to get used to in England in terms of humor and drinking habits. Everyone goes drinking right after work, and if you're not used to that, you're in for an interesting ride."

 

As an Israeli, the current situation of his homeland is an extremely difficult one for Fehr to watch. "It's very hard for me. I have no right to express political views because I'm not involved enough," he offers rather guiltily. "I can't make any accusations on either side." The majority of Fehr's family still lives in Israel. "I wish they didn't have to go through it. They live day to day through those hardships and all I deal with is what I hear about on the news." He says that Israel's predicament is "very complex. I'm only an observer. It's not fair of me as an Israeli who doesn't live there any more to pass any judgment." He speaks about a recent trip he made to Israel for a visit with his family. He speaks of a pain in not being able to show his wife the places where he played as a child (there is too much violence in those areas now). "What can I say," Fehr says in dejected tones, "I care. I worry. I'm saddened."

 

Due to his olive complexion and culturally unspecific facial features, Fehr has been able to play a variety of ethnicities. He enjoys this because it gives him more options as an actor. "I wouldn't have gotten the part [of an Arab] in The Mummy if I was some pasty Englishman," he jokes. In fact, Fehr is proud to say that when The Mummy was released in Israel, everyone thought that he was truly an Arab. "That made me feel pretty good," he laughs. In Presidio Med, he plays a doctor from Greece. He explains: "We chose Greek [as a nationality] because I obviously have an accent and it would be interesting to make him not American. If the character were made into an Israeli, there would have been an issue about why an Israeli doctor would leave his struggling homeland to work in America." Fehr adds in jest, "Plus, people typically don't know as much about Greek accents, so no one could say yea or nay to my version."

 

On the topic of ethnic ambiguity, he thinks that Vin Diesel's refusal to adhere to one racial identity is right on track. "Every actor has something that works for or against them. For some of us, it's how we look. Luckily in Hollywood right now, people are finally embracing interracial people and relationships, which is how it should be."

 

 

 

Parents' divorce, army stint made 'Presidio Med' hunk self-reliant

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service

 

PASADENA, Calif. - Actor Oded Fehr may have haunted audiences with his portrayal of the dashing warrior Ardeth Bey in "The Mummy," and "The Mummy Returns," but after the second film, he didn't work for 10 months.

 

Not that he wasn't asked.

 

But the Israeli-born Fehr (whose grandparents emigrated from Germany) didn't want to be stereotyped as an "ethnic" actor.

 

" 'The Mummy' was an incredible move forward for me on one hand, but on the other hand, I was always associated after that with the guy with the long hair and Arab accent and all that," he said recently, over lunch in a hotel restaurant here.

 

"I did 'Deuce Bigelow,' which was fun to do, but still, it was kind of ethnic. I think it was hard in the movie industry to get away from that."

 

He kept refusing parts, even though there were threats of a strike, and it's always perilous for an actor to refuse work.

 

Fehr, who was voted People Magazine's "sexiest import," needn't have worried.

 

His next role was the lead on NBC's "UC: Undercover."

 

And on Sept. 24, he co-stars on CBS' new "Presidio Med," in which he portrays a Greek surgeon in hot pursuit of a comely cancer specialist, played by Dana Delany.

 

Though he had heard the name before, Fehr says he wasn't sure who Delany was. Having grown up in Israel, he never saw her award-winning TV show, "China Beach."

 

"I'm not very good with names and faces, and I was never one of these guys who followed somebody's career and said, 'Oh, I want to be like that.' I never dreamt of that. I just enjoyed doing the work. I never thought I'd be a movie star or TV star. It wasn't necessarily my aspiration. I say [to friends], 'Oh, I play Dana Delany's lover.' People were saying, 'You touch that woman...she's the love of my life!' "

 

The actor, who came to the U.S. by way of England and Germany, says he's always been self-reliant and thinks his parents' divorce when he was 15 contributed to that.

 

"It changed me in the sense my parents are both wonderful people, very loving and supportive parents. So even though they were divorcing, there was never a question in my mind that they loved me as well as my brother and sister. I think the way it changed me, it made me very independent, because I think it was hard for them to be there 100 percent as parents...They were going through so much themselves that they kind of let me be on my own."

 

After high school, Fehr had his compulsory stint in the Israeli Army. "That was a big learning curve from being a high school student and free kid who does what he wants and is not as responsible - though I was a little more responsible than others - going into the Army. And all of a sudden, you're responsible for other people's lives, and you're in charge of maybe five or six soldiers or whatever... .It teaches you a lot.

 

"It teaches you a lot of skills in command, communication, responsibility, organization. It's like going to college for three years, a different kind of college."

 

He took his time deciding what he wanted to do, at first planning to follow in his father's footsteps in marketing and telecommunications. But a brief stint at a Frankfurt playhouse changed his mind.

 

Fehr, 31, studied at Bristol Old Vic in England and was out of school only six weeks when he was cast in "The Mummy."

 

"All of a sudden, I became a working actor who's been working relatively regularly. It opened a lot of doors for me and gave me the opportunity to say yes or no to things."

 

It also brought him to the U.S., where he met his wife, Rhonda Tollefson, who had been Sean Connery's production partner for 10 years. Married for nearly two years, the couple is expecting their first child.

 

Fehr says he's not worried should his acting streak run out. "I always managed to find my way, and I know I can do many different things. If, God forbid, this doesn't work out for some reason, I'll do something else...I'm relatively easy to please.

 

"Having a lot of money is very nice but being happy is not necessarily something that has to do with money."

 

 

CBS.com: You're the cute one on the show.
Oded Fehr: Am I? No, Ithere's so many cute women on the show!

CBS.com: What's it like being on the set with all these really smart women?
Oded Fehr: It is really amazing, I have to say. I love these women. They're all so fantastic, and not only are they all great actresses and look wonderful, they're so intelligent and smart and intellectual. They're wonderful, wonderful women.

CBS.com: Have you ever seen any of Anna Deavere Smith's work onstage?
Oded Fehr: I have actually, I have. I've seen two of her one-man shows. I've seen them on tape; I haven't seen them live. She's amazing. Absolutely amazing woman. She's so intellectual, she's so smart, she's such an incredible actress; she's really a special person. The way she presented the riots, for example, here in Los Angeles. I didn't grow up here, so for me it was very new and fascinating. She didn't seem to take sides; she just told a story.

CBS.com: You were born in Israel, you lived in Europe, you served in the Israeli Navy and now you live in LA.
Oded Fehr: Yeah, the order is not exactly right. I grew up in Israel, I did my army service in the Navy for three years which everybody has to do and I left, moved to Germany for a couple years, then I was in England for five where I did my training, then I moved here to Los Angeles.

CBS.com: Where do you consider home?
Oded Fehr: Anywhere I put my hat! I don't have a hat. You know, right now it's here. I'm married, and my wife and I live here, and her family is here. When I lived in England I considered that home. Anywhere I feel comfortable and I stay long enough. I think the world is getting so much smaller these days, and there's so many wonderful places to be in. Last year when I was shooting in Vancouver I considered that place to be home. I get attached very quickly to many different places.

CBS.com: What made you decide to become an actor?
Oded Fehr: I think it was when I was about 23, I started a drama course at the English Theater in Frankfurt. And I, very shortly after, started doing amateur theater and pub theater in Frankfurt and I fell in love with it. I always loved performing and acting, but I always felt that it's not a respectable enough profession or not that it's not respectable. It's not a safe profession; it's too hard of a life and too unpredictable in order to have a family and things like that, the security. But I tried doing other things, and I was never as happy as when I was acting. My father, actually, was very supportive of me and he said "Well, if this is what you love, then do it," and I am very much a believer that you have to do what you love. That's the only way you have to achieve greatness, if you do something you love. Because if you do something you don't love, you'll always be average.

CBS.com: And you're obviously getting to do something you love.
Oded Fehr: Most definitely!

CBS.com: You've worked in the theater, in feature films, and in television. Do you have a preference between the three?
Oded Fehr: I think each one is challenging in its own way. I love theater--I absolutely love the theater, and I cannot wait to go back to the theater. I think as far as building a career, obviously movies and television will propel you a lot further and faster because of the fact that you'll reach so many people. And I love movies, I love television. The pace between the two is very different. TV is much, much faster, and therefore much more challenging. But then again you have a lot more time to get to know your character and to build it and to work on it. They're all fun, they're all different. The plus about TV, especially for me at this time, is I'm closer to home. My wife is pregnant, and we get to spend a lot of time together. It's almost kind of a nine-to-five job in a certain way. I get to drive to work and come home in the evening and have dinner with my wife. It's a wonderful thing.

CBS.com: Some say that feature films are like dating and TV is like being married.
Oded Fehr: Yes, that depends on if you get on a show that is successful and goes on for many years, then it is. They are all wonderful, and I have to say that at the end of the day, as actors, it's the best job in the world and we're the luckiest people to be doing this job. It's a wonderful, wonderful job.

CBS.com: What has been your favorite role so far?
Oded Fehr: You know, I think the role of Ardeth Bay, which I played in "The Mummy," will always be very special to me because it was the first role that really kind of broke me out and it was the first really job that I had. I left drama school shortly beforehand and so, that was a big step for me and that was something that will always be very special for me. Except for that I love everything else I do. I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it. I choose what I do very, very carefully and I take a long time choosing it. So I love all of the characters.

CBS.com: So, what is Nicholas Kokoris like?
Oded Fehr: He's a doctor, a general surgeon at the hospital at the Presidio in San Francisco. The show itself, PRESIDIO MED, concentrates on the outpatient clinic, which is adjacent to the hospital. Nicholas Kokoris is in love with the character played by Dana Delany, and he works with the doctors at the Presidio every time a patient needs a surgery of some kind. Mostly he is the one who performs those surgeries.

CBS.com: So, he's pretty handy around the Presidio.
Oded Fehr: He's very good with a knife!


 

jewish.co.uk meets Oded Fehr
 
The Israeli star of of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns talks about his role in the blockbuster series and how he made it on the big screen.
30 November 2001
  Jewish NewsNews SpecialsIndexNews Archive 


 Exclusive interview

Israeli actor Oded Fehr talks exclusively to jewish.co.uk

Chances are you'll recognise Israeli actor Oded Fehr from 1999 blockbuster The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns, released earlier in the year and due out on video/DVD in December. Here, he talks exclusively to jewish.co.uk about making the film, falling off horses, and life in the Israeli army.

What was filming in the desert like because you did more scenes than anyone else?

I had to stay in Morocco longer than anybody else. Most of the other actors stayed for two weeks, at the most. I was there for a bit longer than a month. They had a wrap party and I had to go to bed early because I had to head back into the desert in the morning. It was hard work but we achieved great things. I don't believe in curses but my God, it was as though somebody did not want us to film there. We would wake up in the morning, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, it would be absolutely beautiful. We would get on the film set, put on the make-up, everything would be ready. Then, just as we were about the film a sand storm would rise. Or suddenly it would be torrential rain, so heavy that there would be floods that were so fierce that we had to be helicoptered to safety. It was so weird. There was hail the size of ice cubes. If you had been standing under them you would have got hurt. But we still managed to film everything by staying longer and shooting weird hours.

Was it scary having to be air-lifted away from flash floods?

It was very scary. The helicopter looked as though it had been bombed in Vietnam. And then suddenly you were told you had to be flown in it. But it was fine and the pilots were great. There was no risk to our lives but we just had to get out of there. But it was a bit of an experience. What had been a little stream was turned into this huge river of mud. One of the village children got drowned. He didn't know how to swim and was killed when he was playing in the water.

Did you get any injuries?

No, but you get hurt when you do all this action. I never got hurt when I was in Morocco doing all the horse riding and my own stunts. But on the last day on the last shot I slid off my horse and landed on my bottom. I did not get hurt but it was very embarrassing. Especially since I was the only actor there and everyone rushed to see if I was ok.

What was your toughest scene?

The hardest physically was when I was in the bus doing the fighting. It was very demanding too because you were acting against nothing before the creatures are added by CGI. The problem was we were in this old metal bus and I had to throw myself about for two days and that was hard. I kept getting hurt all the time. Knocking my head or back on a piece of metal. You could hear my head going thud! I was all black and blue and it was very tiring as well. It was hard to keep it up because your body doesn't want to go on doing this. But it looks amazing so it was worth it. In the jungle scene when Brendan and I are running and he was so fast that I just had to try and keep up. In that scene there was no acting involved, just me trying to keep pace with Brendan. He was so unbelievably fast.

Did your time in the Israeli military toughen you up and in some way prepare you for action movies?

Not for the physical stuff. The things I learned from the army - and I think it was a lesson for life - was how to work in unison with other people. How to take responsibility. Things like that I learned in the army. Filming can be very exhausting but you get a lot of training for it. I trained for months before we started this movie. So I was more fit. But the fighting in the movie has nothing to do with reality. I did my military service from 1989 - 92 and I was never shot at or had to fire on anybody. I was very lucky. I was more involved in intelligence and counter-intelligence.

Has having had a life before acting been a help to you?

I think I value things more correctly. I hope I look at my life in a way that makes sense. I am not thinking that because people say I am great that I really am great. I am just doing a job, just like everybody else. The only difference is that a lot more people see what I do. Today I have a beautiful movie but five years from now - God forbid - I might not be doing anything at all. I might be unemployed and looking for a job. This is such a rollercoaster ride and I think it is good that I came into it at an older age and that I have travelled and done army service.

What is your career ambition?

I want to do well enough to get some recognition. I would hope to become an actor who is good enough to win Oscars. That is my goal, to do as much as I can. I feel very lucky to be doing what I am doing with my career.