Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prolific "Inkheart" author wrote book for Fraser



Author Cornelia Funke’s “Inkheart” debuts on North American screens Friday with Brendan Fraser starring in the role the best-selling German apparently wrote with him in mind.

“I had no clue I would end up doing a trilogy of (“Inkheart”) books, but the story came alive from many sources,” Funke explained during a recent interview.

“I just started thinking about who can be a rather young, boyish father; who at times could get really silly with his daughter; who then becomes a ferocious robber and can get his daughter out of that lair of gangsters, and even show the craft of bookbinding at the same time.

“Naturally, he can’t look like a librarian; the craft takes some strength,” Funke continued. “Then there’s the most important thing: I needed a beautiful voice, where you’d believe that his voice could bring characters out of a book.”

Funke said she immediately thought of Fraser and spent the next 18 months writing with him in mind. The actor picks up the story from there:

“It’s not very often that you literally have a book handed to you and have someone say, 'Let’s make a movie about it,’ but that’s what happened.

“I got this book mailed to me with an inscription: ‘To Brendan, thank you for inspiring this character.’ “Right away,” Fraser said, “I feel my leg getting pulled like, ‘ What? Where’s Ashton Kutcher to punk me?’

“But then it continued, ‘I hope you get a chance to read it your children one day.’”
The rest is the not-so-easy history that included Fraser actually visiting Funke in Hamburg and meeting with director Iain Softley before actually signing on for the film. Funke earned a producer credit and Fraser stars as the silver-tongued Mortimer “Mo” Folchart, with Eliza Hope Bennett as his equally gifted daughter

“I’m not usually a fantasy reader but, when I read it, I really, really liked it because it had one foot in fantasy and another in the real world,” said Bennett, now almost 17. “Not only did Cornelia actually base the character on Brendan, but she actually dedicated the second book to him. It would be fun to do the sequel.”

(Find my review of “Inkheart” in Sun News online, where you’ll also find my give and take with the film’s Paul Bettany, and my review of “The Wrestler.”)

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