Just five years after making her debut in Small Faces, LAURA FRASER is making her first big budget movie. And, thanks to A Knight’s Tale, the Glasgow actress has overcome
her fear of the blockbuster.
Words: Miles Fielder
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irrce her big screen debut just the years ago in the gangland drama Small l'il('(’.\'. Laura liraser has made a do/en more leature lilms and hall as many teleyision appearances. Not bad lor the 25-year-old actress l‘rom (ilasgow. But with A lx'm'g/ri's ’lir/r'. l'raser rnakes her Ilollywood blockbtrster debut. ‘lt was quite intimidating] she say s. back in her home city to publicise the lilm. 'l was neryous at ﬁrst: "It's a big American lilm. this is really scary 3'" l‘rascr’s right. A late entry into the summer blockbuster release schedule. .-l Artie/11's 'lir/r' is a big
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lollows a iousting tournament through l—lth century liuropc as low class \Vllllitlll 'l‘hatchei‘ (Australian heartthrob Heath Ledger. who‘s being groomed as the new (iibsou) poses as a noble knight in order to win the tournament and change his destiny.
The big budget‘s tip there on screen: exhaustiye rounds ol' lance-shredding. armriur—batteririg jousting. layish leisure time in royal courts and a whole medieyal town meticulously recreated on location in Prague down to the last llztgolt ol‘ loaming ale. All ol which is ycry irnpressiye but. unusually lor a blocklurster. it‘s the character interaction that‘s the highlight ol' the lilm. 'l‘his
is where l‘ras'er comes in. Along with Ledger she plays one ol' the rnislits who band together to ‘change their stars’. ller character. Kate. is a widow who takes up her late husband's trade. blacksmither'y.
‘Women weren‘t allowed to haye skilled professions in the middle ages. unless they were widowedf she says. ‘So I imagined with her dead husband gone she takes it oyer and gets better and better at it. It‘s kind of trashy American gloss. il‘ you work hard you cart achieye your dream. which is nonsense really.’
Well. yes. but A Knight‘s ’Iir/e ayoids sickening sentimentality by not taking itselt' seriously. For a start. the ﬁlm’s opening joust is accompanied by Queen's anthemic ‘We Will Rock You‘. lilsewhere. the anachronistic soundtrack l'eatures l)ayid Bowie's '(‘rolden Year's'. seamlessly mixed by composer (‘arter Burwell with period music l'or a court dance. And the heroes‘ return to London. which mirrors the World (‘up loon team‘s homecoming. is heralded by Thin l.i/./y"s. yep. "l‘he Boys Are Back In Town‘.
When you read the script. didn't you think that. once put on ﬁlm. these anachronisrns would be . . . crap. I ask l’raser'.’ ‘I thought it was really silly.‘ she says. ‘But it‘s written quite well for what it is. and. personally. I really like Queen.’
The anachronisrns are not crap. as it turns out: they work remarkably well. liraser agrees that Helgeland has pulled off the trick. 'liyen though he‘s American he’s funny. “I get irony".' she says. mimicking the middle— aged American.
11 was llelgeland's sense of humour that made l‘raser's l‘ir'st blockbuster lilm role a rewarding experience. There‘s terrilic on-scr'een chemistry between l‘raser. Ledger and the other three companions: Mark Addy"s soft—hearted Roland. Alan Tudyk‘s hot-headed hooligan Wat and her boylriend Paul Bettany in a quite brilliant turn as the poet ‘(ieot‘l’ (‘haucert
"l‘hat's partly due to Brian getting us all otrt to Prague early tor rehearsals] says Fraser. 01' the cast's lirst script read through she says: ‘liyerybtxly was just pissed. which was really good because they‘re usually really awt'ul and embarrassing and intimidating and horrible and you think you‘re going to be tired. We went to a bar and there were no producers and we were all really embarrassing. but it didn‘t matter because we were pissed. We then did a few hours rehearsal each day and got to really know each other.’
It you want to know how matey the cast got with one another. stay till the end ol the lilm’s credits for the farting tournament. which l‘t‘itsc‘l' wins.
Since A Kare/11's 'Iirle. Fraser has nrade a much smaller lilm. Station Jim. It‘s a children‘s drama screening at the lidinburgh lnternational l‘ilm l‘estiyal in which she plays a Victorian schrxilteacher. ‘When I l'inished A ls'nr'g/rl's Tale 1 was just so clucky. I wanted a baby so much.‘ she says. ‘I thought. "I'll work with kids. that“ get rue oyer that". l htrng out with the kids all the time. People were saying. "'l‘hat’s really good ol you. Laura, spending time with the kids”. It didn‘t get me oyer it.‘
l‘raser says she's next making an American indie tilrn in Ireland called ('om'y ls/um/ Baby. ‘And. yeah. I get to play pregnant.‘
A Knights Tale is on general release from Fri 31 Aug. See review. Station Jim plays at the Film Festival, Filmhouse, 25 Aug, 2.30pm. See review in Festival magazine.