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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona • Page 329

Arizona Republici
Phoenix, Arizona
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instantly smitten. "I knew I could combine my personal and professional ambitions and have a friend to be with in her. Five years later she did me the honor of being my wife." That's typical of the reverential way in which he speaks of his wife. "He loves her so much," says Jenna Elfman, his Looney Tunes co-star. "It's very beautiful to watch a man's love for his wife be expressed so tenderly.

After the baby was born. I'd ask, 'How's she and he'd say, 'She's feeling very tired, but I've never seen her day soon. OK, so his latest co-star is Daffy Duck, not Michael Caine, but it isn't easy acting when there's no one really there, and FVaser likes a challenge. "Brendan happens to be able to stare at a fixed point without making it look like he's looking right through it," says Looney Tunes director Joe Dante. This is high praise for actors who work in front of a blank green screen, interacting with a character that will be drawn in later.

FVaser gives away some of the magic, tattling that in rehearsal they used Muppet-like puppets of Daffy, Bugs Bunny and others so everyone could get their bearings. "It sounds absurd, but that way we all know where the character is," FVaser says. And he says the secret for actors is, "If you believe it's there, then the audience will, too." Audiences and critics alike seem to believe in Eraser's talent, whether he's starring in George of the Jungle, The Mummy or a serious drama like Gods and Monsters. Even when reviewers aren't keen on a movie, FVaser's performance is noted favorably, and Dante says he believes it won't be long before FVaser wins an Oscar. look so beautiful' and she wasn't right there." Elfman says FVaser is just as thoughtful of others.

During filming, "he'd leave little silly gifts on my windshield so that when I got in my car there'd be this little trinket to make me giggle." On a movie set he's cordial and friendly but not a jokester. He's most likely to be found taking candid pictures, indulging his passion for pho Clockwise from top: Fraser with Daffy Duck in next month's Looney Tunes: Back in Action; with wife Afton; as George of the Jungle, with Leslie Mann; and co-starring with Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning drama Gods and Monsters tography and cameras, mainly Polaroids. "I'd be half-upside down, sitting in a car in a precarious position, and the camera would go off," Elfman says. "The I had the focus and drive, and I wanted to be a part of When I got to know him, I realized he's not so shy." Nonetheless, "shy" is the word that comes up in conversation with people who know FVaser, and I think the same thing when I first meet him. But as he gets comfortable, I realize the shyness is a natural reserve.

Lawrence says FVaser is the kind of guy who "could be sequestered for six months and be fine." That ability may stem from all the moving he did as a child; he often was "the new kid." Born in Indiana to Canadian-American parents, FVaser thanks to his father's job with the Canadian Tourism Commission lived in Amsterdam, London, Cincinnati, Detroit and Toronto. The moment he picked was always funny." The day they met, though, Elfman thought FVaser was aloof. "I was sitting on the front lawn of his house in the After the huge success of the two Mummy films in which he starred, most actors would have pursued mega-stardom and its accompanying millions, says FVaser's friend this business very much." movie," she says. "Up he walks, and he kind of glanced at me, not Bill Lawrence, executive producer of NBC's Scrubs. "But Brendan doesn't want to be the next action hero.

He says, 'Maybe I can use this to do something Superman would be both interesting and heroic, and FVaser is giving thought to playing him. "I'm not sure that film is going to get made, so stay tuned," he says. But he might like the role if the timing is right The problem? "The actor who plays hostilely but totally shyly. He just kept walking past me into the house. I thought, 'Uh-oh.

He didn't even say Then I thought, 'Oh, well, I'm just gonna take the and I went in and said and he was like, 'Hi. I'm so glad you're here family, including FVaser's three older brothers, finally settled in Seattle. A nomadic childhood has its benefits: "You become more resilient You work harder to communicate with people, whether you know the language or not It makes it easier to get on a plane and go somewhere." The downside is there's no place to call home. Which may be why FVaser has put down roots in Los Angeles. "It's where I feel the most comfortable," he says.

"I've been here since I was 23." He arrived in Hollywood just as TV pilot season was getting underway, and before he knew it he found himself cast in one. That pilot didn't fly, but he decided to stay. "I had the focus and drive, and I wanted to be a part of this business very much," Fraser says. "But before I even had the dream, I was living it I was lucky to also be able to balance myself with a personal relationship that far exceeded what I cared about professionally. So maybe it was a little heavier on the personal side." Jimmy Stewart couldn't have said it better, ca that role is forevermore identified as that character.

Is it right for me? I don't know." What is right for him is his family life in Los Angeles. While Hollywood peers are visiting strip clubs, entering rehab or conducting extramarital affairs, FVaser is a happily married homebody and a gushing new dad. "My heart is expanded nth-fold times 20 to the power of a million 10," he says, showing me on his cellphone a picture of his redheaded boy. But he's a practical dad as well one who, because he's had time off, can take Griffin to play dates or baby gym classes, or just hang out with him at home. FVaser met his wife, Afton Smith, soon after he arrived in LA after his 1990 graduation from Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts.

It was at a barbecue at Winona Ryder's house, and he was MMttnlMffinilW not- AbmbJ USA WEEKEND Oct. 24-26, 2003 7.

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