Interview mit Fran Kranz

The new TV show "Dollhouse" will start on February 13th on FOX. myFanbase already got the opportunity to do an interview with Fran Kranz, who plays programmer Topher Brink on "Dollhouse". Get to know the person behind the role, what he thinks about the show, the set and what a typical day on set looks like.


The interview is © myFanbase 2009. Please do not copy it to other websites or message boards.

1. What was it about "Dollhouse" that made you audition for a role in the show?

I knew "Dollhouse" was a big project to audition for and I was excited about it. I was just coming of the television show "Welcome to the Captain" that had been cancelled so I was eager to work and when I read the material I became even more excited because it was original, mysterious, and very captivating. I didn't know Joss Whedon's work when I read for it but after I got the part I watched "Firefly" and "Serenity" and was immediately a huge Whedon fan. If anything I became a bit of a nerd about the whole thing and even though I had already met him before I found myself star struck later.

2. How do we imagine a typical day on set?

The "Dollhouse" set is the friendliest and most fun set I've ever worked on. Joss is very loyal and a lot of the crew and cast had worked with him before. So the process of trying to build an ensemble and creative but cooperative environment was already underway at day one. We also were all very excited and proud of the work we were doing. But for me, specifically, I spend most of my time in the Dollhouse so a typical day was really amazing because I spent all my time on this beautiful set. Filming can take a long time because of all the work that goes into lighting and setting up the correct shot but with good people and a beautiful environment the time flies and you just have fun.

3. The set of "Dollhouse" is very impressive and looks like a Spa. Which part of it do you like most and why?

The set is breathtaking. The first time I walked in I was absolutely amazed and still can't wipe the smile off my face when I'm in there. I love showing it off to family and friends and I love watching people walk on it for the first time. A lot of the time sets appear smaller and more simple in real life than they do on film but the Dollhouse is exactly the opposite. While it looks beautiful on film in person it is even bigger more detailed and more beautiful. My favorite part has to be my office though. It mixes the beautiful style of the spa but it is the youthful programmer's area and he has decorated just like a dorm room or even a child's playroom. There are toys, video games, dartboards, candy, but there is also all the technology and computers and monitors. On top of this the architecture remains the same with the dark wood and serene color tones but the wall facing the main area is all glass like a giant observation window to keep track of what the dolls do at all times. So in a sense Topher's lab is a great home for contradictions or paradoxes. It combines the coldness and impersonal intelligence of technology with the playfulness and comfort of youth. Also, it mixes the serenity and security of a spa while being invasive with the window that leaves you feeling insecure and watched.

4. You now work with Joss Whedon, a man who had a huge impact on television in the late 90's. Who else would you like to work with - dead or alive?

First of all, Joss is the best to work with and I hope to continue to work with him. But certain film directors definitely inspire me more than others with their original style that is all too rare in today's creative world. Working with directors like Terrence Malick, Danny Boyle, Roman Polanski, and Martin Scorsese would be a dream come true. And if he were alive, Kubrick. But if I could work with one dead person above all it would have to be William Shakespeare. It was his plays and the challenge of performing them that made me fall in love with acting. To be a part of the ensemble and perform at the Globe or the Rose back then would be the ultimate theatrical dream.

5. How is working with Eliza and Joss who already knew each other before?

Fantastic. Having a good personal and professional relationship in front of you as an example of how they both like to work in a kind of mutualism helps you behave and figure out how to have a successful relationship with the people you work with yourself. They are such hard workers and so smart but also creative and fun people and how they find that balance is admirable and is the example to follow on set. It also is wonderfully comfortable to have people who know each other previously. So often on film or television it takes a while for people to get to know each other but so much important work has to be done simultaneously. With Eliza and Joss this was not the case. We all got moving at a great productive speed immediately with their leadership and comradery already intact.

6. During the last few weeks there were a lot of negative rumors about the show. How did you experience the creative difficulties as an insider?

Honestly, as an actor you are just one part of the machine so you don't have to opportunity or the responsibility to sit around and say "woe is me" or sulk. You just do your part as best you can and stay focused. It is after all totally out of my control. On the other hand though, we did not let it get to us. The set or the mood of the cast and crew was always positive. We saw reshooting a pilot as just another episode and the opportunity to play the characters and tell the story with a richer and better sense of who they are and what the story is. Any bumps in the road we saw as positive opportunities.

7. Tell us a bit about your character Topher Brink. How much of yourself is in Topher?

I see quite a bit of similarities in Topher and I. We both love to have fun and love our profession. Unfortunately I just act and he plays with people's brains. So he is morally questionable maybe even bad whereas I don't know how to mess with brains and lives so I'm pretty safe off knowing I'm a good guy. But seriously we both think we are good at what we do. You need confidence as an actor and Topher sees himself as an artist. His canvas is the blank slate after he removes the original personality. The next step is to paint a new personality for the task at hand. He sees it as an art and artist while they must be humble and empathetic to see the human condition they must have confidence and ego to produce and believe in their productions.

8. Do you have any other projects apart from "Dollhouse" that you can tell us about?

I am about to start working on one of Joss' movies call "Cabin in the Woods". Drew Goddard is directing it and Joss and Drew wrote it. It appears to be your conventional slasher horror movie but not everything is as it seems. It's a great opportunity and should be a lot of fun.

9. You've done both TV and cinema. What is more exciting? Seeing a show develop over a long period of time or working on a big project like for example "The Village?"

They are both equally exciting and equally rewarding. Working on "The Village" was thrilling and epic in scale but at the same time walking into the "Dollhouse" is equally thrilling and grand. You have to treat the project you are working on as great and the material as such too in order to do your best work so in that sense you have to find them all rewarding to be proud of your own independent work in the project as whole. The real difference I would say is in the theater. I consider television and film a similar process although it is exciting to play the life of a character over a series as opposed to 90 to 120 minutes in film, the theater is the ultimate reward because there is a personal connection to the audience. When someone tells me that I was good in a tv show or a film I appreciate it and am proud but if someone says that about a play I did I am far more proud and feel a real connection with that person because I was doing it for them. They were in the audience and I was playing to them and my performance developed and moved around them and how they reacted. It was a real relationship that the tv screen and the movie screen take away.

10. myFanbase is an online magazine about TV shows. Do you have a favorite show?

Right now my favorite shows are "The Wire" and "Battlestar Galactica". Just amazing writing acting and oringal story telling. But I loved "Twin Peaks" and "The Simpsons" in their time. But of course my real favorite show is "Dollhouse". Just wait and see, it's the best.

Catherine Bühnsack - myFanbase