Julian McMahon in Fantastic Four

Julian McMahon in Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four/Julian McMahon Interview

by Paul Fischer in Sydney,Australia.

Julian McMahon has played his share of bad guys, but on the phone from NewYork, promoting his first truly big Hollywood film, the Australian actor hasa philosophical approach about playing villains, such as Victor von Doom inFantastic Four. "You know everyone always says the villains are the fun onesto play, and there is definitely a part of me that agrees with that,"McMahon explains, while also conceding he had been a comic book fan and afan of this particular comic since childhood. "To me it was just taking ona great character, having been a comic book and cartoon fan of The FantasticFour, knowing about Victor Von Doom since I was a 5 or 6 year old kid, so itwas kind of more about taking on that kind of responsibility then it wastaking on a villain. That said, getting there, being the villain andplaying the bad guy is always fun."

Julian McMahon says that he approaches playingthe villain both as a bad guy and as characters with certain, redemptivequalities, "because I do look at them as a villain, because you have amission that you need to accomplish by the end of the movie. I also look atthem as people and calculate very thoroughly how I can manipulate theaudience in a way that they will attach themselves to the character. I feellike it is important to me to show the audience different sides of thepersonality, so it is not just a bad guy, but this guy who is multi layered.At the end of the movie Id like to have the audience a little conflicted asto whether they want him to die."

In this perpetual age of big-screen comic book movies that hit our theatres,Julian McMahon has no doubt as to why comic book films have become so popular."First I think we have this extraordinary wealth of character and thesedifferent worlds from these comic books and I also feel that it is one ofthose no brainers that once you saw X Men or something, you kind of go okaywe should have been in this years ago. But I also think that they arefascinating characters, and worlds. I mean some of my favourite movies overtime have been things like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Mad Max, which kind ofallow you to go into a different world, and follow a different existence."

Julian McMahon agrees that shooting a comic book film reminds him of why he wasdrawn to acting to begin with. "I think it is part of the fantasy, growingup as a kid, watching cartoons and reading comic books that you develop thatkind of mind set of: okay now I will be able to fly or when will I be ableto do this? Then you kind of forget about it, or at least I did and then itwas the introduction of this movie coming back into my life that I kind ofstarted to get back to that kind of stuff of like, this is what I dreamedabout when I was a kid and this is like I spent many, many, many afternoonstrying to jump off the deck at my parents house, hoping I would fly.Finally, you just realise the place and kind of relevance it has in yourlife."Julian Dana William McMahon was born on 27 July, 1968 in Sydney, Australiato Sir William and Lady Sonia McMahon, the second of their three children.Since his father was the prime minister of Australia in the 1970s, Julian McMahonwas no stranger to the public eye in his early years. He briefly attendedthe University of Sydney to study law, but quickly grew bored with it andbegan modelling and appearing in commercials. He said he had an initiallyshallow reason for drifting into first modelling, then acting. "Initiallyacting was just another vehicle for me to stay away from going to collegeand studying and to maybe be able to travel around the world and dodifferent things," Julian McMahon concedes. "It was almost an escapist kind ofattitude that I had of getting away from stuff that I didnt feel like Iwanted to do, then after doing it for a number of years I developed such apassion for it that it actually became something I realised I wanted tocontinue doing and hopefully do for as long as I could." At first, hisparents were not exactly thrilled that he embarked on such a riskyprofession, Julian McMahon recalls. "I dont think that it was in anybodys eyes thewisest choice, and nor was it kind of a choice that was then kind of groomedtowards. But for me, it was such a long time ago and my mother has been verysupportive of this career choice and 100% behind me. Not just that but shehas actually become an avid fan of the stuff that I do, which has beenreally cool."

Julian McMahon admits that it remains a challenge for him to make the comfortabletransition from television to movies. "It is consistently a challenge and Ithink that it remains so throughout your career. I mean people are alwayssaying: that guys just on daytime TV so there is no way he is going to donight time, or he is on night time, so there is no way he would be in movies It is just the way the psyche works and so you just have to work and fightagainst that and prove them wrong I guess."

It wasn't long before Julian McMahon won the lead in the primetime drama, 'ThePower, The Passion', and by the time he moved on to his second series, 'Homeand Away', he quit university to pursue an acting career. He also performedon stage in "Love Letters" in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as a musicalversion of "Home and Away" in England.

After moving to the United States, the young actor found it difficult tobreak into Hollywood because of his Australian accent, but quickly overcamethe problem and won the role of Ian Rain on the daytime drama "Another World. During the two years he spent on that soap, he also guest-starred on thesitcom "Will & Grace" and appeared in the feature film "Wet and Wild Summer"

Leaving "Another World", Julian McMahon took on another television role in "Profiler as John Grant, a detective with the Atlanta Police Department who joinedthe FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force. During the four year run of "Profiler",Julian also starred in the movies "In Quiet Night" and "Magenta". When Profiler" was abruptly cancelled, he quickly moved on to the WB's primetimedrama "Charmed" as Cole Turner.

While filming "Charmed", Julian also took on roles in the Jeff Daniels movie"Chasing Sleep" and the USA cable movie "Another Day". During his two and ahalf-season stay on "Charmed", Julian McMahon gained legions of fans due to hiswide-ranging portrayal of Cole. When he left "Charmed" in December of 2003to pursue other acting opportunities, he took on a pilot for a new FX dramaabout two plastic surgeons. "Nip/Tuck" was picked up by FX for a twelveepisode first season run, where Julian would play Dr. Christian Troy.Julian McMahon says that following his departure from Charmed, he was initiallyreticent to return to series television -until he read the pilot. "Goingback into prime time television was not my first choice, but the script thatcame along was so good and also it was the fact that it was on a cablenetwork where we got the opportunity to do things that you cant do onnetwork TV. Also it was great that I would only work for six months of theyear and then have at least six months off, so it gave me the opportunity todo different things." Christian Troy may be misogynistic at times, butJulian McMahon says there remain facets of nip/tuck character that he can relate to "I can relate to him because I can identify with the kind of journeys thathe went through. I always felt like Christian made many mistakes in lifeand had to kind of figure out how to get the best out of them and I feellike Ive had a similar kind of past. I think that we all make mistakes inlife and I am definitely one who kind of figures out who you are anddifferent aspects of who you are and what life means to you. Ive alwayskind of felt like Christian was that kind of guy, but more than anythingelse, he is also fun guy to play."

Julian McMahon refutes the perception of Christian as being a bad boy, and feelsthat the character has grown in leaps and bounds since the series debut. "Ifyou actually go back and look at it and it continues through the thirdseason, Christian is the only character who continually evaluates hissituation, what he has done, what he has done wrong, everybody elsesposition in it, tries to do something about it and tries to make it betterby maybe making himself better, maybe by trying to help other people. Buthis choices are not always the right ones, which is what I like about him.He is a flawed guy who calculates his choices which are not always great."Julian McMahon has just started shooting the third season of the show andpromises a great ride ahead for its loyal fans. "The scripts are pretty outof control," Julian McMahon says, laughingly. "I didnt think we could get anymoredeeper, darker and more horrific then we did in the first and second seasons but the third season has proved me wrong."

Julian McMahon is currently single, but has been married twice, first to actressDannii Minogue, and second to actress Brooke Burns, with whom he shares adaughter. The actor admits that while fatherhood has settled him down, itsa struggling balancing some semblance of a private life with his long hourson the set. "I think definitely, without a doubt fatherhood is accompaniedwith the amount of hours I have to put in with my work. For instance on NipTuck I usually shoot anywhere from 14 to 20 hour days while on The FantasticFour I would go in from anywhere to 3 to 10 hour makeup and then shoot a 12to 14 hour day. So when the weekend comes and this aint going on you go Iam going home and going to bed, or I am going home and spending the weekendwith my kid because I didnt get to see her as much as I wanted tothroughout the week. So it is part and parcel of both of those things thatkind of just make you realise that you have to make certain priorities inyour life and kind of work out the schedule that works best for you."

As for his future, it may or may not include stepping into the shoes of oneJames Bond 007. "I think there is a bunch of people who are in considerationwith the Broccolis and Sony. I think that they have to define exactly whatthey want to do with the character, as there were talks of it going youngerand talks of it staying the same age or going slightly younger, so I thinkit just depends on what they want to do. James Bond is this wonderfullyiconic kind of character that we have all been watching for forty years andthey are big shoes to fill and an extraordinary one." Even if he wereoffered the role, McMahon isnt positive he would want the gig. "I wouldreally have to kind of evaluate the way that I would look at the characterand see what they want to do with it, wanting to make sure that we kind metat some place were we all felt comfortable doing the same thing."

Julian McMahon has also completed work on an independent film, Prisoner, "that Ishot down in Nashville. I play a guy called Derek Plato whose is this filmmaker who has put out a couple of films which have had extraordinaryinfluence throughout the United States and the rest of the world. He hasgotten great accolades, been nominated for Oscars but he is kind of anarrogant kind of guy. Then he gets imprisoned by this character whobasically forces him to look inside of himself and examine why he is theperson that he is. It was an absolutely fascinating script to read andhopefully I did a decent enough job to do it justice and hopefully it willbe a great movie because it really was beautifully written. On the whole ifyou are person who likes Nip Tuck you will like this movie it has all ofthat. It is just weird, a little edgy, dark, deep and heavy."

Julian McMahon is reaching the top in a career that has been consistent for over adecade. Having grown up in the public eye, has prepared the actor forimpending public fame. "I think there certainly has to be something alongthat with some kind of comfortability for me, but at the same time it isnothing like I had ever done in Australia or in my youth you know what Imean. So it is kind of a skill that Ive realised, you know selling themovies, selling the TV show and doing all that stuff is to me as importantas it is to make the movie. Because you know if you dont sell the damnthing there is no point in making it, so for me it was something that I hadto learn, just like I have to learn to be an actor, just like I had to studyto do what I am doing."

Julian McMahon says that he tries to keep grounded, "by the way you live your life. Ihave a 5 year old daughter, and I spend a lot of time at home, it is sadprobably the way that people look at me not being out and about raising helland all that kind of stuff. I lead a pretty conservative life and nice andrelaxed when I am not doing what I am doing." And the actor, who has givenup his Aussie accent, does hope to eventually work in the country thatstarted it all for him. "I would love to work in Australia, and in fact Iwas going to a couple of years ago but there were scheduling problems. Obviously I have been working in America for a long time so getting theAussie accent I would have to have a couple of cans of Aussie beer."


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