Interview with Oded Fehr
Israeli star of The Mummy
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.