Friday, March 14, 2008

Sean Faris faces the public - Never Back Down Opens Today

Finally, Sean Faris' debut lead role in "Never Back Down" will been seen by the general public as the movie opens nationwide today. As for my long awaited feature on Faris, here it is:

Q&A: Sean Faris
March 12, 2008

Entertainment News Wire
HOLLYWOOD _ Sean Faris bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Cruise. When he was 10 years old, he even fooled his family's neighbor who said he looked like Cruise by replying, "Yeah, he's my dad. But I'm living here with my uncle because my dad travels all over the world." The story spread around the neighborhood until Faris' sister spilled the beans.

Resemblances aside, Faris can stand on his own two feet when it comes to acting. In the upcoming film "Never Back Down," he plays Jake Tyler, a conflicted Midwestern teenager whose anger at his father's death leads him to become a fighter. Djimon Hounsou ("Blood Diamond") plays mixed martial arts coach Jean Roqua, who formally introduces Jake to the world of MMA and teaches him how to choose his fights wisely.

Dressed in a ribbed gray sweater and jeans, and seated in a Beverly Hills hotel overlooking Rodeo Drive, Faris is clearly enthused about his first major lead role.

Q: So how are you doing?

A: I'm doing it!

Q: You broke your back halfway through filming. That's crazy! How'd you deal with it?

A: Yeah, it was rough. It really made filming the rest of the movie quite tough. Just the mental aspect of it and the painkillers did not help me with that at all. I got very depressed and I thought like a different person for a while. I mean, it didn't affect my acting. I was still me in the scenes. But it created a whole other challenge, a whole other obstacle to overcome.

Q: Seeing you wince in pain in some of the fight scenes was that real pain?

A: That was real. I was in pain for the entire last few months.

Q: Will that cause you not to do any more MMA-themed films?

A: I'll do it in a second. Just limit the number of takes. We shot so many angles many takes and that's the sacrifice we had to make. Only, next time I do a film, we'll hire a stunt guy. I'll try it a couple of times, and when it's hurting in comes the stunt guy who's getting paid to get hit. I'm getting paid to act.

Q: When you knew you got the role, what was your first reaction? When did reality finally set in that you had grueling work ahead of you to learn MMA?

A: Well, when I found out I was, like, butt naked in the shower. And I was like, "Yeah! Hoooo!" I was like, "I get to learn MMA." Then, when I got to work, I was like, "It's really hard."

Q: What attracts people to this type of sport?

A: It's new, it's different and has instant gratification. A fight lasts only 15 minutes. It has fewer rules. It's more action packed.

Q: Djimon Hounsou mentioned that MMA is like a chess game. Do you believe in that philosophy?

A: Yes. It's a chess game with blood. With MMA, one moment, one mistake, one moment of not thinking can change a whole ball game. The champion can be on top but doesn't think about the opponent's legs. Then homie can reach and grab around and create a leg lock. If you slip, the fight's over. It's all about the moves. It's not just skill, it's experience and knowledge.

Q: While you were training, what was your favorite move?

A: I loved the hanging arm throw. It just feels really cool. I love being in the hanging arm throw or doing the hanging arm throw.

Q: Working with Hounsou _ a two-time Academy Award nominee _ were you in awe?

A: At first it was like that, but then we did rehearsals together and it was just work. I appreciate that I worked with a great actor who gave me on- and off-camera responses. It makes the job easier, because you have a great actor working with you. Djimon also let me lead a lot and push him also. I really appreciated that.

Q: Did Djimon give you any pointers?

A: Acting pointers? No, except for: "Save it, Sean." It's because I'm the type of actor where I want to give my all every time. He said, "You're doing great. Just save it until the camera gets close to here (Faris holds his hands to his face)." I said, "OK, I got you dawg, I gotcha." You just don't want to use it all up.

Q: Are you one of those actors who gets stuck in an emotional mode even after shooting?

A: Sometimes it is hard to let go of your character. I'm not talking about those people that think of mom dying or what have you. I don't pull that b.s. I think of what's going on in that scene. I allow the scene to affect me. But when you do that, you open yourself up to those emotions yourself. When you're in the middle of a scene and your character is in a horrible bad mood, it's really hard sometimes to let that go. Usually you just go home and try to let it go during your personal time.

Q: What do you want to see the audience get out of this? And do you think you were able to portray a typical MMA fighter _ his heart and his passion for the sport?

A: The second question, "Yes." I don't think there is a typical MMA fighter, but I think Jake portrays an MMA fighter of today. Once he's trained, his values are pretty evident. Discipline and self-control are two important elements of an MMA fighter, I believe. As far as the audience, I hope they receive the message especially the younger audience that if you think this sport is cool, don't go mix it up in the streets and set it up as an underground club with your friends. Because it will be unregulated and you could get hurt. If you really want to do it, go take a class and go fight competition. I completely advocate that. It's a good way of letting things out of your system and letting your anger out if you have any. And I just hope they realize it's not a movie promoting fighting it's a movie promoting fighting for the right reasons: to defend yourself and the ones that you love.

Sean Faris with co-star Amber Heard. Heard plays Faris' love interest in the film.

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