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In case you haven’t heard the news, Craig Fairbrass is a cinematic badass. When it comes to delivering tough-as-nails action, nobody does it quite like Fairbrass. “The Outsider,” which co-stars Jason Patric and James Caan, recently arrived on home video in the United States. However, that’s not the only motion picture the guy has available at the moment. A quick search on IMDb turns up a number of recent and upcoming projects, which makes he decision to talk to us a little surprising.
Although he plays a tough guy on-screen, Fairbrass is actually very kind and incredibly personable. If you’re at all curious about “The Outsider” or his work as an action star, then take a moment to peruse our interview.
Tell me a little bit about your new film ‘The Outsider’? How did the project come about?
I worked with Brian J Miller on “House of the Rising Sun.” He liked what I did as an actor in his film and then he watched the UK gangster film “Rise of the Foot Soldier” — he was blown away and suggested we should find a project for me. We met a couple a months later in LA had a few beers and bounced some ideas about — Brian really wanted that level of disturbing violence in a US ACTION film so we came up with the fish outta water premise of “The Outsider” to slot nicely in for the home entertainment market, but my hands were tied when it came to the getting that level of stylized violence in the film.
According to IMDb, this is one of the first movies you’ve written. Do you enjoy the writing process?
We developed the story together but it was Brian who wrote the screenplay, the first draft was a lot bigger. we both knew we were making a low budget straight to dvd film so we had to brutally trim and get rid of a lot of the action.
I’ve spent many years developing my own script “Gunned Down” and being a perfectionist and loving a certain style of film, have been very lucky to work with some good people developing it to the point it is now, but I wont lie good writing is tough — its definitely best to stick with a genre you know.
Tell me about production on ‘The Outsider.’ How long did it take to shoot the flick? What was your budget?
Okay you asked! TWO WEEKS! Yep you heard it right — two FUCKIN’ WEEKS! That’s how long they spend on one action scene in the big movies! Okay I’m exaggerating, but you get what I’m saying!!?? And the budget was low!
Director Brian Miller has a strong track record for delivering quality low-budget action flicks. What was it like working with him again after “House of the Rising Sun”?
It was real pleasure working with Brian, I love the guy — we have become good fiends. Brian’s an amazing positive guy — very bright and very film literate and a great director. He worked like a dog on the film — was over seeing everything and doing many jobs — as the producers never once showed up. We did the best we could in the circumstances.
Was it important to make Lex a sympathetic character?
We tried very hard to make Lex sympathetic. I always have to find a weakness in the character, something to make them more interesting, but again time was an issue.
A lot of movies like “The Outsider” are unfairly lumped into the same category as “Taken.” What sets this film apart from the herd?
Obviously “Taken” was a solid template, but it was a big expensive film. I just like the family in jeopardy idea, it just gives you so much ammunition — people will kill for a loved one and audiences love that!
Since Hollywood is becoming extremely homogenized these days, do you think the old-school action genre is still alive and well?
Yeah i really do. I think certain audiences have had enough of chop suey fighting. I mean let’s be honest it’s not real — sure it works in a certain style of film, but I wanna go back to gritty basics: Lee Marvin’s “Point Blank” (my homage – Lex Walker) Charles Bronson and the main man John Wayne. Real men and above all Stallone, he’s stuck with a style of fighting I really love and would never change it.
What’s the most difficult aspect of putting a movie like “The Outsider” together? What problems did you face making the flick?
Money and time, to be really honest. It was nightmare from the first day I arrived in Baton Rouge for prep. We lost our fight arranger a week before, so that was a major blow seeing as it was an action film. Then money was cut from the budget, then our guns didn’t arrive. When they did, they were damaged and were old models that kept jamming! Then our special effects guys bullet hit effect broke down. We had crew members throwing sweenies (bullet hits)!
Then to top it all off: They lost all the film footage from B camera. It was killing me, but Brian and myself had a great bond. We worked well together and decided to stay positive to do our best and not be fazed. Brian brought in a buddy, marine stunt coordinator Don Abbatiello. He’s a great guy and really helped and we all did our best with what there was to work with FA. Fuck it was hard, especially in the time we had — we were seriously up against it. It was so rushed it was frightening! Looking back it should have looked like a student graduation film, but I enjoyed every second of working on the film and gave it my best. That’s all you can do.
Are reviewers a little too hard on action movies these days? Do you think a lot of people miss the point of a flick like “The Outsider”?
I’m still trying to recover from the shock of whoever made the mad decision to give the film a theatrical platform. They must have been drunk! We all knew what we were signing on for: a low budget direct-to-DVD action film. For it and me to be judged up there against big budget cinematic movies was madness! Talk about being prepped to be shot down! I could not believe the amount of reviews. Then i realized they put it in some theaters — madness! You know it’s funny its such a subjective business: There will always be the knockers and there is always the people who like you that go with the territory. But I really consider myself fortunate to be still chasing the dream!
Do you think there are any misconceptions about direct-to-video movies?
Only when they are perceived wrong. As I said this was a small low budget film we never had any deluded expectations of it being anything else.
What’s your favorite part of working on action/thrillers? Do you worry about getting typecast as an action guy?
I’ve never worried about being typecast — I’ve only ever worried about being not cast! I’m doing what I always set out to do as an actor, and that is to work in independent feature films in the UK and US.
What was it like working with James Caan and Jason Patric?
Working with these guys was a real pleasure and a honor. I was so impressed with Jason Patric; he really is a great guy and is genuinely down to earth and normal. Plus, [he's] a seriously good actor. James Caan the legend was just that.
You’re currently working on a flick called “Breakdown.” Tell me a little bit about that project.
Yeah we’re are filming now. This is more me, a very dark and gritty stylized project. I’m working with an amazing writer/director named Jonnie Malachi. The guys a genius he wrote the script bespoke for me. It’s a quality project that really is something special; reaction from the industry has been unbelievable. And to top it all: My son Luke is producing and he’s hard!
What other movies are looming no the horizon?
“Gunned Down” has just been announced at Berlin and we are looking to shoot early spring/summer this is a brutal revenge thriller kinda “Heat” meets “Point Blank” set in Marbella Spain and London.
What’s the one thing that people should always expect from a Craig Fairbrass movie?
If I’m involved in a producing capacity, they will always be gritty, dark and powerful. If there is violence it will be visceral and real. And above all it must have a quality gripping story. Wait for “Breakdown” and “Gunned Down” for a true taste of Fairbrass.
Huge thanks to Craig Fairbrass for taking the time to chat with me about “The Outsider” and his upcoming projects. Be sure to pick up a copy of the aforementioned flick when it hits DVD in the US on March 11.