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BC: What intrigued you about The Best Man?
Fehr: Work’s always intriguing [laughs], first and foremost. The cast with Luke Wilson, Dolph [Lundgren], I knew Scout Taylor Compton from earlier, so that would be a lot of fun. Ultimately, I get joy out of being on set and trying to create a character, have fun, and learn along the way. It’s funny; having been in the industry for almost 30 years, you take movies and television for granted. Not so much as an actor, but people don’t realize what it takes to complete something, whether it’s a masterpiece or not good enough to go straight to video. To get people together, have a script, gather all those people, and be able to tell a story and put it on film with everything, it is a miracle anything gets done. I realized that doing some of my own projects and you don’t know if it’s going to be around forever. I’m super appreciative. You always try to pick great projects with great people, but I love acting, the beat on set, collaborating with people and talking about it. You do your thing, and then you get your fingers crossed as to how it turns out in the end because you have no control over that.
How do you break down the set that Shane ran?
We shot this movie in ten days, which is bananas. It’s crazy. Given what we were working with, we’re in one location, which is a casino, which makes it a lot easier. Given that you’re shooting in ten days, it’s run, run, run, and you got to know your lines and be on your marks because there’s not enough time to “play around with the scene.” You got to shoot it and get out. We knew that going in, and that didn’t surprise anyone. What you try to do is not that it’s chaos, it was well run, and no one’s run around like a chicken with their head cut off. There is a sense of urgency to getting what you need to get done for that day. What I tried to do is, with that sense of urgency, let that play into the character, scenes, and everything else while hoping that works.
How do stunts work in this indie action film? Does it become more simplified? Is there much time to rehearse?
On this one, there were no rehearsals beforehand. The stunt coordinators got it all figured out, and you learn it on the day right before you shoot the scene. I’ve done at least one fight movie where I fought quite a lot and then on night shift, there is a couple of scenes where we fought. I had some MMA matches as well. The way I found that was effective to learn to fight scenes on short notice is basically like a phone number, you learn three moves at a time. You learn the first three moves; you get those down. This is what we’re doing, and this is the dance. When you get those, you learn the next three. When you get that, you put them together. Once you have got the six, we’re going to add another three. You figured that out and tack it on. Learning it kind of three moves at a time simplifies it a little bit. Sometimes it’s four depending on how it’s choreographed. Essentially learning it in bits and pieces and then putting those together helps.
There’s a reason the phone number is divided up that way. If you just put ten digits together, the brain doesn’t compute it the same way as, going three, three, and four. That’s the way I approach to fight scenes on short notice. We learned them on the day. There wasn’t a lot of prep for this, unfortunately, to go over any of that stuff, which is the norm these days for movies. Back in the day, using film was so expensive that everyone had to be prepared. Everyone got their rehearsal, the sound got the rehearsal, everybody. Everything was set up in such a way. As great as digital is press the button, it doesn’t matter. You’re not wasting any film or anything. What it’s done a little bit is everyone goes like, “We don’t have to rehearse. We don’t have to be as prepared, because we’re putting it on a hard drive and not this expensive film that you have to go expose and figure out. A little off-topic is the fact that digital has changed the way sets run a lot of times and what producers expect. Like I said if you asked anybody 15 years ago to shoot a movie in ten days, they would have laughed. It would have been ridiculous. Now it’s becoming the norm.
What did Dolph Lundgren bring to the set as an action star presence?
I let the stunt coordinators with this amount of time do their thing since we’re not having rehearsals knowing you got to get the scene done. These coordinators figured it out so unless something feels wrong or off, you go with that plan and make a few suggestions here and there based on some ideas. With a guy like Dolph, he’s done a lot of them, and he’s got his ideas as well. What’s funny is, we have these group scenes together, but Dolph and I never interact in the movie, and I don’t say a word to him. We only get together at the conclusion of the whole thing. I didn’t get to spend a ton of time with Dolph or even Luke. We shot those scenes over the course of two days, then the rest of my time was spent with Scout Taylor Compton, and we’re a couple in this film. That was a lot of fun because we spent a lot of time together in between setups, dinners, and lunches talking about what we could do. She was collaborative, which is what you want with an acting partner. It was good that we got along so well, and we buoyed each other in the chaos of it all.
Given the 10-day shoot, was there a particular aspect of production that took more time than expected, or was it ebb and flow to it?
As far as I know, it went as a 10-day shoot does, it’s run and gun. Action scenes always take a little bit longer than two people talking across the table. The scenes where you got two or three talking heads, that’s where you make up time for all the action sequences, because you’ve got to do safety meetings, so no one gets hurt. It’s impressive between the production, actors, and crew that it all got done in that amount of time.
Written by Taylor, Daniel Zirilli, and C. Alec Rossel, The Best Man also stars Nicky Whelan and Scott Martin. The film comes to theaters, on-demand and digital, on April 21st. (source)
The Best Man is a tight action-thriller that takes the single-location structure made iconic by the incredibly quotable Die Hard and brings it to a sunny resort. Directed and co-written by Shane Dax Taylor, The Best Man tells the story of a group of former Special Ops soldiers who must fight back once the wedding they’re attending is crashed and taken over by mercenaries. The film is Shane Dax Taylor’s first foray into action filmmaking and is in part a love letter to the iconic action films of the 1980s.
Much of the story of The Best Man is told through the journey of Bradley, played by Brendan Fehr. Fehr is a film and television actor with a long career that stretches back to his star-making turn as Michael Guerin in the WB series Roswell. A veteran of action projects, Fehr brings plenty of gravitas to his role, whether in fight sequences or alongside his co-stars, who include Luke Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, and Scout Taylor-Compton.
Screen Rant: It was your co-star Luke Wilson’s first action film, and your director’s first action film as well. Was there anything special about the environment on set because you were working with people who got the opportunity to explore something new?
Brendan Fehr: I suppose that would be a question for them. I’ve done some action stuff. It’s funny; you have certain expectations going into any project, whether it’s because of the script, the people, whoever’s directing it, or whoever you’re co-starring with, or starring with. I was looking forward to working with Luke and seeing how that went, but I think what everybody knew was, looking at the day out of days and how much time we had to shoot it, that it was going to be run and gun; both on the screen and in real life. It was a pretty short shoot, and with something like that, you’ve just got to be on point. You’ve got to be open to anything; things are kind of changing on the fly. Every set has a certain amount of chaos, which is why, I think, people enjoy it, as long as there’s not too much. You kind of just embrace the chaos of it all, and you use it in the scenes.
You’re also doing a lot of action work on your own in this. What was the hardest aspect of shooting this film? Was it those fight scenes, or was it more about trying to get everything done in the amount of time that you had?
Brendan Fehr: I try not to focus on time. When people are rushing or going, “We only have this,” [I’m like,] “That’s not my problem, it’s your problem. You figure it out. I’ll help if I can.” My job as an actor is obviously to create a character and establish relationships in the film. I’ve still got a producer/director ear, [thinking], like, “Oh, is that what you guys are doing? Okay, sure,” on every project, but I’ve learned to kind of let that go. I have a job there as an actor, and I’m not good enough to not focus on my own [work]. As much as I hear, [I] just kind of push it aside and go, “How do I bring this character to life?” Given all your resources, whether it’s another actor, the script, the time, the weather conditions, or whatever they may be at the time, [it’s] like, “What do I want to do? What do I want to accomplish in the scene, and with the character, and with the other actors and characters in the script?” In this one, most of my scenes are with Scout Taylor-Compton. We had done a small little project before that’s not out. I had a small role in it, and I could tell that she was open, collaborative, creative, and easy to work with. We were always talking about bringing this relationship to life and elevating it as much as we can, and making it fun for us. If the actors are having fun, a lot of times the audience will [while] watching them as well. We were always thinking and talking and throwing ideas against the wall as much as we could.
Was there something specific about your character Bradley that was the easiest to relate to?
Brendan Fehr: Spoiler alert coming up. He states in the movie that the reason he went on the mission was because he never thought he would come back. That was really interesting; someone who has survived something they didn’t expect to or didn’t want. That’s a great jumping-off point to start pulling a character apart and figuring out what makes them work, and the stuff about them that doesn’t work, and why it doesn’t work.That gave me a lot of ‘ins’ to him. Obviously, Bradley’s in a darker place, especially at the beginning of the movie. My buddy Tim Busfield would be like, “‘Mood’ spelled backwards is ‘Doom’.”, It always sticks with me where I’m just like, “You can be in a dark place, but it’s still got to be filled.” It’s that thing of, like, when you’re acting bored, you don’t do nothing. When you’re bored, your mind is racing. You’re thinking about, “How can I not be bored? But I am bored.” There’s actually so much activity in a board person. This guy’s a little quiet and reserved in the beginning, and doesn’t want to say a lot, and would be the guy leaning against the wall in the bar, probably, at this point in his life. You still want to make that as active as possible, so you just focus on that. Then you watch the end product and you go, “Did I do it? How close did I get to my objective?”
I know your director loves things like Die Hard and early Sylvester Stallone action films. When you’re doing something like this, do you look back to other things in the genre, or are you more focused on your own work?
Brendan Fehr: Yeah, I think you’re certainly aware of that. I can come up with comps to my character in terms of other actors and characters in other movies, but you always want to be careful of not trying to copy something, because it’s going to feel like you’re copying something. [In] stealing inspiration from something, or even stealing some things from something, there has to be a point where you make it your own, or else it’s just going to look really inauthentic. I still watch movies. I still watch television. I am so inundated with other people’s performances and everything else that those will automatically creep out in a performance. That’s why a lot of things just kind of feel the same and done over and over again in a lot of movies these days; they’re just going like, “Let’s make that again.” It’s just like, “Well, we made it. Why don’t we try to make something different?” In this, my whole job [was] to just make that particular character as different as I can or as unique as I can, given the script and everything else. But you do look for inspiration; you ultimately want to go, like, “If we can be compared to that movie, [or] be in that class of a movie, that would be great.” That’s the goal, so you set out for goals that way. But then, it really is a miracle that any movie gets done. Given what it takes to put a movie together from start to finish, it seems impossible. It’s hard. It’s really hard. You put your best foot forward, and you have a lot of fun, and then you cross your fingers that people like it.
You’ve been a part of so many great projects; we love Roswell over here. Given the opportunity, is there something that you’ve done in the past that you would love to return to in some way?
Brendan Fehr: I’m kind of doing it now. Speaking of Roswell, me and my co-star Majandra Delfino really enjoyed working together. We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the years, but now we’re really, really good pals. We put together a project called Baron and Toluca. That was one where it wasn’t so much the concept of Roswell; we love that aspect of it, alien sci-fi and all that stuff, but it was more about finding a vehicle for us because me and her have such a great chemistry. It doesn’t come along every day, it’s not that easy with a lot of people, and so that’s something that we thought we could take advantage of. [With] Baron and Toluca, we shot the pilot, or the first two episodes, however you want to view it, and that was quite the experience. I love acting, but I also directed it, and I was like, “I would love to get more into that.” I’m not a control freak, but I do like to have some, and so I got a little bit more there. Then, you do get to make your own thing, and the only person to blame in the end is you. [Then], you’re not the actor going, “I don’t know, they edited it in a crappy way,” or “The director didn’t even know what he was doing.” [With] this one, I’m the idiot director. [I learned] a lot doing it, and it was a lot of fun. That’s something that was just really satisfying, and an opportunity that I would love to be able to have another crack at in some way, shape, or form.
Brendan Fehr: Action movies are always fun. You never exactly know how it is going to turn out. For me, obviously it has to do with the story and ‘The Best Man,’ and I’m the Best Man. So, I was like, “Oh, that’s cool. Let’s go.” Every kid dreams of being a hero of some sort and saving the day. As an adult, I think we still have those delusions of grandeur, I suppose, of being put in that situation. Fortunately in my career, I get to sometimes, not actually do that, but play out those fantasies. So, that’s always fun. Then you’re looking at the people that are involved as well and getting to work alongside Luke, and I knew Scout from earlier. It’s always just an opportunity to do something fun and learn, and with all the ingredients put in there, see what comes out on the other side.
MF: What was it like working with Hollywood legends like Luke Wilson and Dolph Lundgren?
BF: I mean, they definitely have their different process. Actually, it was funny, I was thinking about this today. I don’t think I say anything to Dolph in the entire movie. I don’t think I actually talk to him. We do all hug in a group setting. I have scenes with him, but I actually don’t think I ever chat with him the entire movie, which is interesting. So, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with either of them. It was a very quick shoot. It was kind of in and out. The movie’s a little bit of a run and gun, and so was the actual filming of it. But it’s one of those things where you realize everybody has just a different process. Having done this for 30 years, you’re always just kind of observing what’s their process. Do they like to talk a lot before the scene? Do they like to do this? Okay, that person goes off into the corner and they do this, and they got their scene. So for me, if the opportunity obviously presents itself, then you ask questions and you kind of get into it, but you don’t want to really talk about acting necessarily when you’re acting. You don’t know if that’s going to throw the other person off. So, it’s just more about observing and you kind of pick and choose what you think works for you or, “Oh, that’s interesting how they go from that to that.” Some people transform, some people want to stay in character. So, you never stop learning in this business.
MF: A lot of your scenes are with Scout Taylor-Compton, and you mentioned that you knew her previously, did that make it easier to perform the action sequences with her?
BF: Yeah. I had kind of a cameo in a movie that’s not out yet that she stars in. I actually play the father of her boyfriend or love interest, which is hilarious. Now we’re playing a couple of sorts. So, we had briefly met on that movie, and I really got along with her in the short time I was there. So, when I knew she was on this and then the role she was playing, I thought that would be a lot of fun. But with this one I saw the way she worked and she took it seriously and just very collaborative. So, ultimately we spent this entire movie together. All our days, the long days, it was a lot of me and her. She’s always looking to, how do we make this scene better? How do we elevate it? What can we do that’s fun? I’m very much the same way. When you have a partner throughout a movie that you spend a lot of time with, you hope that you do get along naturally. Sometimes you don’t, and that’s just the way it works. But this one, we were really open with each other. So, it’s that kind of creative spirit that I think I’m looking for in any project I do. We worked really well together in that respect.
MF: You play a Special Ops soldier, but he’s not invincible, he gets hurt a lot in this movie and does not win every fight. Do you think that added the realism of the film?
BF: Yeah. Obviously it opens up the movie establishing that, in this case, these are men that have seen a lot and been through a lot. That can go a couple different ways. That can bond people, or it could be, even though you’re bonded, there’s trauma there but you don’t necessarily have the capacity to deal with. My character, Bradley, goes off on the ranch, kind of lives alone, doing his own thing. Dolph’s character travels the beaches all around the world, kind of living it up with what appears to be a little bit of an alcohol problem. Then Luke falls in love with the person that we rescue. So, everyone’s kind of got their different coping mechanism with it, which you hoped those establish the characters a little bit early on, giving them their own journey and then obviously being thrown back into it with the ambush at the wedding. So, yeah, it was just a great way, I thought, to, in an action way, give them their own sense of where that led them. Then they’re all thrown back together again in what’s going to happen from there.
MF: Finally, can you talk about the weapons training you had for the film, and the attention to safety on set?
BF: Safety’s always a priority. I’ve worked with a bunch of experts in guns and armor throughout my career, and I go through my own checklists. So, everyone’s extra careful. It’s not like I’m a massive gun guy, but you’re always looking to make it as realistic as possible. So, you ask the armorer and other people around who have that experience, but I’ve been doing this long enough that I kind of know most everything I do. Then as far as the fights, again, I’ve done a couple fighting movies. So, I enjoy doing those kinds of things. It’s fun and you learn it on the day. It’s a real run and gun thing, like I said. So it’s just like, “Okay, this is what we’re doing.” The fight scene in the hotel that I have, there’s a couple of pieces to it. I always say that I learn it three moves at a time. So, you practice the first three moves and you go through that. It’s like a phone number, you get that sequence down. Okay, now the next three moves are this. Okay, now you put that together. So, now you got the first six down and once you got that, you move on to the next three. That’s a really good way to quickly learn something so that everyone’s in sync, no one gets hurt, and you look like someone who knows what they’re doing. (source)
In the movie Brendan plays Bradley, the best man at a wedding who has to contend with some unwelcome visitors.
We’re going to be talking about your new film The Best Man. What made you interested in the project?
Number one work is always good (laughs). It’s always fun, you always want to be on set as an actor, that’s where you want to be. But ultimately, when I heard Luke Wilson was involved it was an opportunity to work with someone who’s done some really great stuff. There’s a bunch of different reasons you choose projects, from the director to the script, to the actors, and all that stuff. And if you get all three, great, but I’ve got a lot ahead of me, I feel like I’m still learning. You just try to hopefully work with people who are more experienced than you and have had “more success” and see why that is. You want to know how they go about the process, what their process is, and all that and see if you can just up your game a little bit.
Speaking of the people you work with, how did you find working with Director Shane Dax Taylor?
Shane was great. I didn’t know him before. We had a great working relationship. He knew what he needed, and what he wanted, he had no choice, or else the movie wouldn’t have gotten done (laughs). But he knew what he needed; an open guy, if you had any questions or concerns or any ideas he would definitely listen to them. I mean, you can always ask for a little more, but that was pretty good.
You play the character of Bradley, what was it about him that particularly stood out for you?
I think it’s the backstory for him, not to give anything away. But we start off the film with this special forces hostage rescue, and then we fast forward and where he ends up and why he ends up where he is, was a great kind of jumping off point for a character. There was a lot there to work with, just in terms of the psychology of him, and bringing that to the script in the story. As an actor, that’s what you’re looking for; the guns and the action and all that stuff, they’ll take care of themselves, it’s always gonna be exciting. As an actor going into it no one cares about the action if no one cares about the characters. Sometimes you can have some two dimensional characters in these action movies, because they think the action is going to take care of everything else. I come at it from a different way where the action will take care of itself, but the audience needs to care about these characters. That’s generally where my focus was and there was enough in the story that I thought made it interesting for me to play so that was a lot of fun to navigate that and bring as much of that interesting stuff about Bradley to the screen and to the relationship, especially with Scout Taylor-Compton who I spent a lot of time with.
I speak to a lot of fight choreographers and they regularly say action scenes should always tell a story with a beginning, middle and end where the fight scene should progress either the character or the story; would you say that’s true then when it comes to action?
I think good action scenes should do that. Definitely. That’s an interesting point. Yeah, me and my kids have just been watching the John Wick series because I’m gonna take them to go see it. I don’t know some of those action scenes just seem to be for the sake of action…
They are. It’s kind of like a video game.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, entertaining (laughs). Great but if you can tell a story through a fight, I mean, it becomes much more interesting. I love coordinators that think that way, it’s wonderful; they’re not just thinking about how do we make this exciting for the sake of excitement, but add an element of a story or add something to that. I don’t know if that comes either from the writing or the coordinator, or a combination of both, but you’re always looking to inject a little depth into whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re pouring a cup of coffee or smashing it over someone’s head (laughs) that’s what makes for great characters and great films.
Can you talk us through doing that fight scene with Andrey Ivchenko? He was one of my first ever interviews and is an awesome guy – a gentle giant.
Yeah, I’m not small, six feet, 195 pounds so I’m not a small guy. When we started to rehearse the fight, you look at him and you’re like “you’re a big guy” and then he grabs me and you’re like, “okay you’re bigger than I thought” (laughs). So, trying to throw Andrey around, it was a workout for sure but that was a lot of fun. We learned that on the day, that’s one of those situations where we’re like, alright, we’re gonna rehearse it. For me, the easiest way to rehearse the fight scene is kind of like a phone number. It’s like three steps at one time, like three digits at a time, and you’ll work your way through the first three, then once you got that down, you add another three, then you combine that and you do all six, and then you do the next three, and you figure out that. Working in that fashion, especially for when you’ve got to learn it on the day, just before you’re shooting, I find really helps. It keeps everyone safe and everyone feels comfortable hopefully. The only problem with that is, you don’t want the fight scene to be Doo! Doo! Doo!, You have to combine them, obviously, to make it as fluid as you can. That I found is one of the easiest ways to learn them because stuff can go a little bit wrong, you shoot the whole thing from start to finish and without a lot of rehearsal. If you don’t duck when you should duck you just might catch one across the nose (laughs). You always want to be careful and do it but that was a lot of fun with Andrey.
I liked how with the fight scenes in this movie, there was a desperation to them where nothing looked overly choreographed. It looked like people genuinely fighting for survival, which I thought was a nice touch.
Yeah, I am special forces in the movie so I’m going to have some expertise in fighting and Andrey being the henchmen he’s from that background and some sort of military background as well. But yeah, unless it’s specific to the movie or a certain style, I think people really appreciate a certain amount of messiness in a fight scene. I mean, we can all get on our phones or our computers and watch people posting for whatever reason street fights and all that stuff, and they definitely don’t look choreographed. Is this the way people throw punches? (laughs) This is crazy. No one knows how to fight and so you want to definitely look like you’re an expert at it. But at the same time, like you said, you don’t want it to look like it’s overly choreographed as much as you can. Making it a little messy always helps with that. I think we definitely made sure that we put as much of that without getting too crazy with it as we could.
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
Enjoyment, and entertainment. It’s one of those films that’s not a tearjerker. No one’s gonna cry, you’ll laugh a little bit. The world’s a tough place, not everything’s going your way. Go spend an hour and a half and just kill it with a few laughs and some entertainment. It could be worth your while. You never know. Escape for an hour and a half. A little self care.
Saban Films will release THE BEST MAN in theaters, on demand and digital April 21, 2023.
Aside from Fehr who plays Bradley, the film stars Nicky Whelan, Scout Taylor-Compton, Scott Martin, Dolph Lundgren, and Luke Wilson.
“Scout and Nicky were great,” he said. “I spend a lot of time with Scout and we play love interests and I am dragging her around everywhere. Scout is a great actress, collaborator and she really cares about the scene and what we are trying to accomplish. Scout was always throwing out ideas and I like to work the same way,” he elaborated.
On his experience in “The Best Man,” he said, “It was good, if you can’t have fun doing this then you are doing something wrong and you should be doing something else.”
“I always appreciate a little bit of the outsider aspect of him such as the reason he took the mission in the first place (because of what had happened with his family life). It was a great jumping off point for a complex character, and obviously, it’s an action movie,” he said about his character.
The movie will be released in theaters, on demand and digital April 21, 2023, via Saban Films. It was directed by Shane Dax Taylor with a screenplay by C. Alec Rossel and Shane Dax Taylor based on the original story by Daniel Zirilli.
The synopsis is: Luke Wilson and Dolph Lundgren star in this action thriller. When a team of ruthless mercenaries violently seize control of a remote resort hotel, former Special Ops soldiers attending their best friend’s wedding must rely only on their wits and training to combat the terrorists and save the hostages held for ransom.
“This film was an opportunity to work with Luke Wilson, and you get to observe him and see how he does it, and you pay attention on what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s just about meeting new people and trying new things,” Fehr said.
“The movie is me, Luke Wilson, and Dolph Lundgren running around a hotel shooting people up trying to save the day,” he added. ‘Roswell’ and ‘Bones’
Fehr opened up about being a part of “Roswell” and “Bones.” “Those were wonderful. ‘Roswell’ was my first big one, and ‘Bones’ later on had an incredible cast and crew. I love every project I am on. You are always going to learn something, even if it’s what not to do,” he said.
The digital age
On being an actor in the digital age, Fehr said, “It’s good, there are pros and cons to it. Anybody can make a movie now, in a sense, which allows for more voices and it will get a lot more people interested. On the other hand, I don’t think people are as prepared.”
“Back in the day, film was expensive so everybody had to be in their marks, and there was more of a craftmanship back then. We shot ‘Roswell’ on film, so we were on the tail end of things. That was my first experience and it will always be very special,” he explained.
“I focus on the acting part, and I leave the rest to everyone else,” he added.
Advice for young actors
For young and aspiring actors, Fehr said, “It’s all about being curious. It’s about reading books, watching shows, and talking to people that don’t think like you. There are instincts to being a good actor, and you can craft that with classes.”
“Ultimately, it’s about being curious and having some imagination, which is a muscle that you need to work out. Life experience plays a lot into that too,” he added.
On the title of the current chapter of his life, Fehr said, “Hopeful.”
He listed Jessica Chastain as his dream acting partner to someday work with in a project. “Jessica is just so good,” he admitted.
Fehr defined the word success as “being content with yourself.”
Photo/Video: ‘The Best Man’ Press Interviews (Vegas Film Critic + Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz )