Kris Arnold – (The Beaver – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to Kris Arnold about his involvement in Mel Gibson’s new movie, ‘The Beaver’. Here, Kris talks about the film, what kind of animal hand puppet he would like to have and how he got into acting….

Hey Kris. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘The Beaver’ is out in UK cinemas on 17th June 2011. What’s the general premise around the film?

Mel Gibson plays a very depressed man. His life is crumbling all around him. He doesn’t see any hope until he stumbles upon a beaver puppet in a dumpster. The only way he can breakthrough his depression is when he talks to himself through the beaver puppet with a cockney accent. I’ve talked to myself around the house in trying times in a cockney accent too, just to jar myself back to reality.

I’ve just watched the trailer – it’s one of the strangest ideas for a film I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure whether to laugh because of Mel’s British accent or to take it as a serious family drama which tackles the subject of mental illness – what made you want to become part of this project?

I’d probably do any project with an Academy-Award winner. ‘The Beaver’ has two and was cast by one of the best casting directors in New York City (and beyond) Avy Kaufman.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

Jodie Foster plays Mel Gibson’s wife and they have a dramatic scene in a restaurant for their twentieth wedding anniversary…I play their waiter, but no one will ever see me (including me), because my part in the scene was cut from the final version.

The film stars Mel Gibson, Cherry Jones, Jodie Foster and Anton ‘Chekov’ Yelchin – what was it like working on-set with them? Obviously it must have been difficult for Jodie as she was both acting and directing at the same time…

I only worked with Mel and Jodie, and they were both highly prepared and focused on the challenging scene. Luckily, they were both very personable beforehand, in the hair and makeup trailer, so I was completely comfortable stepping onto the set with them.

An IMDB review by Bruno Youn has stated – “The Beaver is a melancholic, fascinating and moving film with great performances, solid direction and a well written story, but it’s definitely not for everyone!” – would you agree with this?

Yes. There was a significant buzz about the script in Hollywood, and it was the most compelling script I’d ever read. I think a lot of people are like “a beaver puppet…wtf” but if you picked up the script, you couldn’t put it down.

If you could choose an animal to have as a hand puppet what would it be and why?

The Bieber (aka Justin Bieber)…no I’m joking. I’d say a vampire eagle, and maybe I’d create a spoof called ‘The Raptor Diaries’.

Let’s talk a bit about you Kris – what made you want to get into acting in the first place?

I think I’ve wanted to perform since my earliest memories, but I never really got the nerve to listen to the voice in my head until college.

What does a Kris Arnold day usually consist of?

As an actor, there’s so much more business to conduct than one would imagine. You’re constantly on the hunt for auditions and networking opportunities and you are forever marketing yourself to casting directors, but I always find time to do some writing and produce my own projects. You are you own boss, so you have to keep focused or you could waste a lot of time.

We should point out that you’ve been on ‘America’s Most Wanted’ playing a number of different criminals – do you like playing ‘real life’ criminals in re-enactments of crimes? Or is it hard / scary?

Well, I never met the actual criminals, so it was no different from reading any other script and interpreting the character. But it is the one time you feel like you are making a direct impact, because the actual bad guys usually get caught thanks to AMW. I hear they are going off the air though which is a shame.

What has been your favourite moment or experience of your career thus far?

There was a JFK period piece a few years ago called ‘An American Affair’, and I had some scenes with Gretchen Mol. That was very enjoyable work. It was the first time I’d been to a premiere and the first time I saw myself on the big screen in a real theatre, it was overwhelming. I understand now why some people have a hard time watching themselves in films.

What is coming up for you in 2011?

I just finished directing a music video for a rap artist named Yusef and I’ve written a film called “Farmhouse” that I will direct and star in this fall.

Thanks for the interview!

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