The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Brendan Fraser: Producer extraordinaire

July 14, 2008 |  5:47 pm

Brendan It used to be that actors just wanted to really be directors. And to be fair, more often than not, it turned out to be a good career move, giving us a whole wonderful body of work by Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, George Clooney--and now "The Visitor's" Tom McCarthy.

But now actors want to be de facto producers too. Will it that turn out to be just as much of a good thing? I'm not so sure. Everyone's heard the horror stories about Edward Norton, who seems to spend more time in editing rooms than he does on sound stages, as he did on the recent "Incredible Hulk."  But now other actors are wanting to get in on the action too.

The latest entry in the "I Just Want to Produce" sweepstakes is the estimable Brendan Fraser, who made his producing debut on the newly released "Journey to the Center of the Earth." To hear him tell it to the Onion's AV Club, he really earned his producer's stripes. He didn't just take the credit and run. He read the source material, buying the last copy of the book Borders had. He figured out how to fix the story. And then he rolled up his sleeves and, well, I'll let him explain:

The Onion: "So you were actively involved in retooling the script?"

Brendan Fraser: "Yes. I went to [producer] Cary Granat ... and said, 'Look, [the director] has all the setpieces pre-visualized, and they're great, I've seen the artwork and everything like that. All you need to do is just change the words, and that's relatively inexpensive.' Some people look beyond their nose and say, 'It's just writing.' Yeah well, you know, [whispers] It's the best part. All we have to do is change the screenplay around a bit, restructure it, it's a quick thing. It's a cheap fix, in other words."

Ah, words. In Hollywood, they're the cheapest fix of all.

Photo of Brendan Fraser in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" from Warner Bros.