Interview with Fran Kranz
A little bit more than a week ago the last episode of "Dollhouse" aired on FOX. We had once again the opportunity to get an interview with Fran Kranz who tells us a little bit about his experiences on set and how his reaction was when he heard of the cancellation of "Dollhouse".
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1. When and why did you decide to become an actor?
I think I was always attracted to the idea from a very young age. I had leading roles in plays in 3rd and 4th grade. I even have this memory of telling my mom on a plane flight one time, "I'm going to be an actor." And she said, "Okay." I think it was totally out of the blue and probably a little strange at my age but even then I think she took it relatively seriously or at least was appropriately concerned. But around 8th and 9th grade teachers were asking me to audition for plays more seriously. That was probably because I acted out and got in a lot of trouble. But I guess all that mischief paid off? I started getting cast and by 11th grade I was hooked. I was playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and the High School theater director Ted Walch showed me a tape of Alec Guinness playing Fagan in Oliver. It was about as real as an epiphany as I'll ever have. I saw what acting could be. It's full artistic potential. I saw Obi Wan Kenobi totally transformed and unrecognizable. That's when I knew I wanted to do it and more importantly that it was a great thing to do.
2. The cancellation of "Dollhouse" was maybe no surprise for you and the rest of the cast and crew of the show regarding the ratings. But how was the atmosphere on set when Joss announced the bad news and confirmed the cancellation?
Honestly, hearing the news was no surprise. It was disappointing but no surprise. We were always barely staying afloat and we knew that. It's what often made the show fun and made that cast and crew become so close. We knew we were making something great but we also knew what a privileged or lucky opportunity we had so it was something special and something no one took for granted. But yeah, anytime you hear your job is over but also get back to work it's a little strange. I think I probably ate a lot of junk food at craft service that day.
3. How do you and the whole team fell about the decisions? Are you disappointed regarding the cancellation or are you thankful for getting a second season with another 13 episodes to dive deeper into the world of the Dollhouse?
I can't speak for everyone but I believe we were all thankful. Like I said we knew it was good but we knew we were a long shot. It was so fun to get back on set and see everyone each day was a gift as cliché as that sounds. In a weird way the cancellation only made that sentiment and our bond stronger. I have friends for life and also a show that I'm proud of.
4. Several people on Twitter posted that Tim Minear was rewriting his episode. Does this mean that the show ends with a big bang? Do you believe that the fans of the show will be content with how it ends?
They don't let me in the writing room, or the writers' heads for that matter. So I didn't know Tim was rewriting specifically but I did hear rumors of rewrites because of the cancellation and they are always rewriting and doing different drafts right up until we are filming. "Dollhouse" was a work in progress in the best sense. Every writer had input despite who was scripting the episode. Tim's episode is amazing because Tim is amazing. As far as audience reactions I think it's tough to say. Audiences don't want the show to end. At least our audience. There will be holes or things left unanswered at least because we didn't have enough time to finish what we started. We created a mythology and a world and to bring it to a close in the second half of the season was impossible. So we did what we could. I think it's great. Ultimately it has closure and great twists both sad and scary. But do we get to see where Topher grew up and him reunite with his dog? No. I shouldn't have said that.
5. Topher always seems to be happy with his work and what he is able to do with his questionable technologies. But in "Epitaph One" we saw a different Topher, one who desperately regrets what happened on his own authority. What do you think made him reconsider his way of treating people? Are we going to see more of that in this season? His storyline with Whiskey in the season opener already pointed a little bit in this direction.
Absolutely we will see the things happen that ultimately lead Topher to madness. We won't see all of them because again we have press fast forward and skip over many of the years but we do get to see plenty of reason for the young man to lose his mind. His conscience began developing at the end of season one with Whiskey/Dr. Saunders finding out she was created by him. Wondering why she hates him is a great question for Topher because he essentially wonders the same. He didn't design her that way it just happened. I think Topher saw Saunders as his most beautiful and greatest creation. His most complete doll. For her to wind up being repulsed by him was quite a shock and quite upsetting. As he begins to reflect more on himself he starts to see his dolls less as toys and more as people, like in the episode Belonging with Priya. Ultimately I think Topher was still basically a child and undeveloped. His morals weren't around or were irrelevant because he was just a happy go lucky kid playing with matches. Season 2 is his moral growth spurt and it hurts real bad.
6. Does Topher have a life outside the Dollhouse? It was always criticized that Dr. Saunders stayed inside the Dollhouse all the time and it turned out that she was a doll. Are we ever going to see another part of his life?
I don't think Topher cares much for the outside world. Or it didn't care for him. He's another kind of genius. Like geniuses are boring to Topher so finding peers or finding something really stimulating was next to impossible. With the Dollhouse he found a home and a family. It just took him a while to realize the latter was there. He had the opportunity to have connections even though it may have occurred to him too late and that guilt or regret may have been too painful considering where we find him in the not too distant future.
7. There have already been a lot of guest stars on "Dollhouse". Dichen Lachman seems to be a huge fan of Keith Carradine and that she got the opportunity to work with him. Who was your favorite one on set?
They were all my favorites! That's a tough and compromising question isn't it? Although it's hard to imagine I'd hurt too many feelings. I am watching "Deadwood" these days so Keith is lucky he doesn't have to deal with extra geekiness from me. I had enough over him about "Dexter", which Liza Lapira was on as well. We had so many great guest stars and so many great regulars. It was a gift to come to work each day. I will say I love "Firefly" so Alan and Summer were a special treat. But the real kicker probably was Ray Wise. I watched "Twin Peaks" as a child. I’m not sure what my parents were thinking allowing that to happen. My dad was a huge Lynch fan so when it came on despite the nightmares he was encouraging a family gathering. But in way the damage was done so bring on the demonic owls and Bob right? Anyway, Leland Palmer played amazingly well by Ray Wise scared the SHIT out of me. So to work with him years later was a dream come true. Or a nightmare to be correct.
8. Would you have liked to play all kind of characters like the actives? Which type of character would you find most challenging?
I was always jealous of Enver's role Victor. I aspire to be regarded as a diverse and versatile actor. Someone who can transform from role to role so I loved the idea of playing a doll. But after watching Enver, I realized I should not have been a doll because I'd look foolish next to the likes of him. He's the best actor I know. Crazy. His Topher was just surreal.
9. "Dollhouse" is a show that deals with a controversial subject – manipulating the human mind. What would you say if there was really a secret organization like the Dollhouse?
Well I'd be terrified. If the show makes a sad but true point it's that humanity abuses the technology they create. It's inevitable. So even if the early stages can be used for good the grown up version is the apocalypse. Period.
10. How much did your life change since you got the part of Topher?
It hasn't changed much. There are definitely the Whedon fans now and I have new friends and a great show to be proud of but I think those who know me personally would say not much has changed. And that's good.
11. You've been using Twitter for quite some time now. Why do you use Twitter and for whom? Who called your attention to it?
I'm not sure why I use twitter. A friend of mine turned me on to it and aside from telling people to watch "Dollhouse" on Fridays I don't know what else to tweet about. When the show is over I may be silent for a while. It does allow fans to say hi to me which is nice. And I try to respond or be easy to communicate with so that's a positive. I appreciate it I think as much as they enjoy it. I'm happy to talk because the show is cool and I admire good taste.
12. Did you already finish shooting "Cabin in the Woods"? Now that the premiere date for the movie was rescheduled and it will hit theatres in 3D at the same time, what do you think of this development? Can you tell us a little bit of your part in the movie?
I'm not sure how to comment on Cabin because it is just so darn secretive. I know it's pushed to 2011. I hear it's going to be 3D. The movie is awesome. I had the greatest time making it and think it was one of the best scripts I've ever read. My character is a male human being and there are others like him in the movie.
13. With playing parts on "Dollhouse" and "Cabin in the Woods" you also became part of the so-called Whedonverse. There is a huge fan base supporting the shows and projects of Joss Whedon and they also have high expectations. Do you feel some pressure now regarding your future projects?
Absolutely. When "Dollhouse" started a lot of people thought I was annoying (I'm sure many still do), they were comparing me to actors or characters I didn't know, they were demanding my head, etc. After a while though I noticed there were those that like me and loved Topher so that was nice in case both sides had to go to war. I think Comicon was when it truly hit me. It's a very special thing. And I do feel the pressure but in a great and humbling way. I want to do a good job. I want to realize the character fully and tell the story to the best of my abilities because the story and character are most likely genius because they came from the mind of one.
14. Do you already have plans for your career after "Dollhouse"?
I don't. Uh oh. I got Cabin coming out in twenty years but otherwise I'm in need of work. You casting? I bought a little place in Venice so that's nice. The Lakers are doing well. These are the things that will occupy my life.
15. Last time you told us that you liked shows like "The Wire" or "Battlestar Galactica". Are there any new shows you are watching?
I mentioned "Deadwood". That's pretty great. I love "Dexter". The last season was just ridiculous and amazing. I just watched a Canadian show called "Slings and Arrows" that if you have any interest in theater at all you will simply love. Otherwise I'm drawing a blank. Trying to read more. Just finished 2666 and Inherent Vice. Going to start The Magus and the Harry Potters shortly. Or at least that's the plan.
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