Francia Raisa & Brendan Fehr Interview: Cutting Edge Fire & Ice

Francia Raisa & Brendan Fehr star in the newest chapter of The Cutting Edge series, The Cutting Edge: Fire & Ice.

The movie premieres on March 14 at 8pm EST on ABC Family. We had the chance to participate in a group interview with the two stars to find out more about their training, the movie and ice skating. Francia, I wanted to know now that Alex and James are partners, what happened to Zach (Matt Lanter) from Chasing the Dream?

Francia: Zach had an accident after the movie, and he was tired of figure skating so he was ready to retire. Alex wasn’t. She had just started skating. She had won the gold and still had that drive in her to continue figure skating. That got in the way of their relationship, so they just decided to part ways and he went on to live his life and she went on to try and figure skate. But it didn’t really work out because she didn’t have a partner, so she just started teaching, and then that’s when James comes in. Brendan, since Francia has already done one of these movies before, what was it like for you to be strapping on the skates?

Brendan: Part of it just came naturally. I played hockey my whole life, so obviously the ice skating, just the regular skating backward and side-to-side is pretty much the same. I was comfortable on skates, but then there’s a difference between skating and figure skating. When you’re asked to exhibit a little bit of grace out there, then that’s when all hell broke loose. Francia, how were you chosen for the Cutting Edge III?

Francia: I auditioned for the role shortly after I came back from a movie I did in Spain. When I went in, they had asked me if I figure skate. I said, “Coincidentally I do,” so I think that played a big part in getting the role, but I also had a long audition process that lasted a couple weeks. What was the inspiration to go ahead and make a sequel to it?

Francia: I really enjoyed doing the third film. I wanted to go back to Montreal and shoot again. I wanted to figure skate again. I was really intrigued by skating the first time I did it for the movie. Then, they told me a possible storyline, but I didn’t get a script, but I was really inspired by the third one and I said, why not. The third one was such a hit, let’s just do it again. The readers wanted to know what your other passions are besides acting and skating.

Brendan: I guess number one right now would be golfing. That would be my number one hobby. I try to do that as much as possible. That would be about it. The days are filled up, I guess, taking care of my daughter and just doing the regular stuff that everyone else does. When I’m not working, it would be golf for sure.

Francia: Mine is dancing. I’ve been a dancer for about 17 years and on my off time, that’s pretty much all I do is take classes and dance. What did you two like most about working with each other?

Brendan: I enjoy working with new people. I always enjoy finding out how new people work and what they do. We both have personalities where we said what we wanted to say. You talk about the scene and you say, “I’m trying to do this.” It was easy to communicate with her. You had to learn, obviously she’s more of a dancer than I did, so you get tips from her in terms of when we’re skating and all the choreography. It was a good relationship. She had already done the third film, so she knew her character and I was coming in new. And if we had differences, then obviously we worked those out with the director in terms of figuring out if I do this, and then you can do this, but that doesn’t work for me. It was an easy process that way, I think. She was relatively easy and enjoyable to work with, so that’s always what it comes down to: having fun and making sure you get the work done, but having fun while you’re doing it.

Francia: For me, I enjoyed that he was a hard worker. He was really into just making a good movie and working hard at making it as good as possible, I guess you can say. He worked really hard at the figure skating, even though he wasn’t, like he said, wasn’t a dancer, he was a hockey player and let me critique him a bit and just let me teach him how to be graceful. But, mostly I enjoyed watching him do ballet. That was the highlight of my experience with him, ballet lessons. And, like I said, other than that, he was just a hard worker and it’s important for me to find that in a costar.

Family Magazine: Mainly for Brendan, I have a question about having done this movie, did this pique your interest at all in watching the figure skating in the Olympics this past time? Were you more interested in watching them?

Brendan: I would probably yes, a little bit more. The Olympics were in my home town, Vancouver, so they obviously had that going for it in terms of me watching. Obviously, hockey was the big match we were looking for – hockey and curling. But I looked at figure skating with a whole new appreciation. We know how exceptional triple axels and quadruples are, and stringing those moves together, but it was actually just the little technical things like the foot work and the fingers, looking at the fingers of the people and how they’re holding their hands. You go out there and skate, but the amount of trouble I had with just simply getting my hands and fingers in the correct position without looking too lazy or too stiff was amazingly challenging. So, yes, looking at all these skaters—it was really the little stuff that stood out for me because like I said before, all the jumps, they’re clearly amazing and really hard to do. But it was just that little technical stuff that I think most people who have never done it might think he’s putting his skates, he’s crossing them over and chip chop along the ice or whatever else. But that was the stuff that took a surprising amount of work, so I definitely did appreciate the figure skating much more this time, having tried and failed at it miserably.

SO-M: What did you all have to do to train for this movie to prepare for the ice skating?

Francia: We trained about three or four times a week for figure skating and partner skating—we had to do lifts any time we could. Like I said before, my favorite part were the ballet lessons where Brendan failed miserably.

Brendan: Skating, we would do anywhere between two and four times a week. We would throw in a lift session in there once or twice if we could, just in terms of doing lifts on dry land and getting used to those. And because Francia has taken dance before, we did ballet together as well. I also went a few times on my own just because I was a little behind in the flexibility department—

Francia: I got in trouble by the teacher, too.

Brendan: The ballet was actually possibly my favorite. We just had a blast in there.

Francia: Yes, because we kept getting in trouble, both of us. Even through I’m a dancer and I knew what I was doing, I still got in trouble and got yelled at.

Brendan: We had this hard core teacher who I believe was Eastern European. There were no soft spoken kind words in that room. She was there to mold you and to break you, which was was great. We all loved each other, and it was a lot of fun. That was probably a whole movie unto itself, I think.

SO-M: Do you all have a favorite scene from the movie?

Brendan: Favorite scene.

Francia: Would it be the poker? No.

Brendan: That’s more of a montage than a scene, but it was an enjoyable—

Francia: We had a scene afterwards when my mom walked in and we were undressed—

Brendan: Yes, that was fun to do.

Francia: You know what, it was fun for me to see you trying to put your clothes and you kept tripping. I think that was fun for me.

Brendan: Yes, that was enjoyable. I think some of the ones that are more enjoyable to do aren’t necessarily the most enjoyable to watch. But, I think that would have been one. For me the drunk scene is always kind of fun – in this case, when I show up at her door. That’s always interesting to see what you can and can’t get away with as an actor. But I think the movie as a whole, having seen it, was pleasantly surprising. I quite enjoyed it. I’m proud of it. But, probably the poker scene stands out the most, I suppose.

Francia: Yes, it was fun.

Media Blvd: I wanted to ask you both this trend with what ABC Family is doing taking a popular film franchise and turning it into a TV movies that keep going, what do you think about that? It’s different than the direct to DVD market that I guess other movies have gone through. Do you think that gives you just as actors, is that more choices or more potential roles doing something like that?

Brendan: I think so. There’s a place for it. You’re always looking for something original that hasn’t been done before. We have those, but just like there’s a gazillion different types of genres from horror to comedy to whatever else. I think there’s also, there’s different ways to get material out there and to take a successful franchise. I think that’s one way of doing it. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong. Some people like it, some people don’t. And sometimes you don’t want to remake or add upon a classic and I understand that as well. But I think there’s a time and a place for it and when it’s done right, it gives people jobs and an opportunity to whether it’s provide for their family or to get out there or to launch a career or to kick start one or to help a network get some original programming, I think it has a bunch of positives there.

It’s not something I’d like to see done with every successful film. Like I said, some need to be just left alone and as they are. But, yes, there’s absolutely a time and a place for it. I appreciate that I got this opportunity, so obviously nothing but positive stuff came at it from my end. But I could see the time when it’s like no, no, let’s not do this. I think it’s a smart thing. It obviously has been very successful for them, so that would be my particular take on it.

Francia: Like Brendan said, not every movie should be turned into a sequel and then some should just be left alone. But me myself, I was a big fan of the first Cutting Edge movie, so getting the opportunity to be a part of it and participate in it was almost like a dream come true, because I also did a sequel to Bring it On. I remember being ….if only I was old enough to do it and then I was able to, so making it is a girl’s dream come true. I guess I appreciate that ABC Family did do this. I think it’s smart for ABC Family to bring these TV movies to life. It’s good for the movie because there are fans for ABC Family. I think they’re very smart with that they’re doing and they’re picking the right movies to continue making, like the Cutting Edge. So I don’t think there’s a right or wrong to it, but this is definitely not one of those movies that they should have stopped at. It could have almost continued from the previous ones.

Media Blvd: Francia, where does this fit in with your production schedule for Secret Life? Did you do this on a hiatus?

Francia: Yes, I did it in a hiatus. I had, what was it, a three or four week hiatus in August of 2009. As soon as I got on hiatus, they flew me out to Montreal to start filming. But as I was filming Secret Life, I was training on the days off. So I was juggling both for that.

Media Blvd: Brendan, I can’t get you on the phone without somehow bringing Roswell up into this because of the background there. Is it coming up on ten years now that that show has been off the air. And then the fan boards, your message boards, all those places are still just really incredibly active. What do you think ten years later? Does that surprise you? Did you ever think it was going to be that way ten years form now back when you were doing that?

Brendan: It’s gone by so fast. Obviously, a lot has happened since then. I always knew going into it, that if you take a look at something like Star Trek or Star Wars, and I’m not comparing Roswell to those kind of huge iconic things, but any sci-fi property, it tends to grow a lot of legs if it’s done well. So in that respect, there are fans that are loyal and in the beginning, they didn’t always get projects or films or shows that were of the highest quality. So when people started putting money and time and technology into these types of programs, and making them as on the same kind of level of quality as other filmmaking, you can see that there was something there to hold onto.
So it’s waned a little bit in popularity having not been on television for ten years, but the fans are behind it. It doesn’t surprise me because that loyalty factor that’s always there with the sci-fi fans, it’s unlike anything else. It’s kind of nice to see that it’s brought some people together on those boards and people have made friends as a result of it. But, it was a great experience and I’m glad that people enjoyed it.

Media Blvd: Brendan, is there any word on Samurai Girl? Are they going to do anymore in that series or do you know yet?

Brendan: As far as I know, that’s done. We got six episodes and we had left it open for a possible television series or some sort of a follow-up. But, that is at its end as of right now.

JustJaredJr: Brendan, so you went from hockey in your personal life to figure skating with this movie. What was the level of difficulty for you?

Brendan: Pretty much as high as it gets, I suppose. Hockey is about getting low, lowering your center of gravity and getting wide so you can’t be knocked down or knocked off the puck. You don’t have to be graceful to be effective. Figure skating is just exactly the complete opposite. It’s get lean, get tall – and it’s not what I’m built to do. I don’t think I’ve done anything beautifully or gracefully in my entire life. That’s just not one of the skills or talents I was born with. Everything I do, it gets done, but not necessarily with an element of grace.

So the level of difficulty was pretty high and having absolutely no rhythm as well, as Francia can attest to, upped the stakes there for me. You do what you can. You work hard and you pointers and you get tips and you train and you do what you can. Then, the rest, you obviously leave up to editing and music and stunt doubles. But, you just have fun with it and you do the best you can with what you got and the time you have and then you hope the people in the editing room really like you and are interested in making you look good, which I think they actually did. I think I actually look like I know what I’m doing out there.

JustJaredJr: Francia, you mentioned you ice skated before. What’s the toughest trick or jump that you can still do on ice?

Francia: I was 11 years old and at that time, and I was fearless. They told me to do a jump and I was thinking, “Okay, I’m going to do the highest jump I can do. I’m going to try to do it three hundred million times.” I was so fearless and the older I got, I don’t know what happened, the more fear I grew, I guess. So, when it came back to going on the ice, I was able to do the mechanics, but I did not even want to attempt to try to do the actual things. I was pretty much at the beginner level, still at the kiddie level, but I can do mechanics of some other stuff like, what was it Brendan, toe loops and—

Brendan: Toe loops and axles. I still don’t know the difference between some of them. I know what a toe loop is, but I still don’t know the different between an axel and sow cow.

Francia: Well, axel, I think I know the mechanics, but I can’t really do it. It’s more me standing up and doing it in place, rather than skating because then I got scared.

Brendan: The waltz jump, that’s the only one that I can distinguish for the most part—the toe loop and the waltz jump—

Francia: Believe it or not, Brendan was better at doing a toe loop than I was.

Brendan: Yes, I can do a toe loop—it doesn’t look good, but it’s a toe loop.

Francia: I fell on the toe loop. Francia, since you play the bad girl on Secret Life, what was it like having your costar be labeled the bad boy?

Francia: It was nice for a change. It was because I got to be the good girl, but I missed it a bit. But, I got to have my little attitude, too, so it wasn’t that different. It was nice to have someone actually fight back with me and argue with me like Brendan’s character did. But, they didn’t let my tough side down too much in this character, so I was able to fight back. I guess considering the fact that he’s a bad boy and I am good girl, I’d be the favorite, but I don’t know. It was just fun and he did a good job at it. Brendan, I wanted to know what would attract a non-figure skating fan to this film?

Brendan: You obviously sell it on figure skating. It’s in the franchise of the Cutting Edge and that’s obviously where you’re going to end up is that some sort of championship and that’s what we’re geared towards. But ultimately this one—its legs are truly the relationship between James and Alex’s character. The figure skating almost serves as a backdrop to these two coming together, learning about each other, coming from different backgrounds and just figuring that out. It’s more about the relationship between the two and there are some great moments and there are some funny moments and there are some down and sad moments.

I think that’s what I enjoyed the most. The figure skating element is definitely there, but I think you’ll get a lot more out of it. It’s more about the banter between us two and there’s some pretty good banter in there. I think it would be if you enjoy that male, female, those differences and then obviously the differences you find in a partnership or a team sport, if you can in any way relate to those things, I think this is something you would enjoy. There’s definitely some funny moments in terms of miscommunication. I think there are some enjoyable moments and most of them take place outside of the actual figure skating. You mentioned that it was tough getting into the figure skating. I just wanted to know about the scenes in the film where you’re learning to figure skate, how much of that is acting and how much of it is going to be real?

Francia: Our work is fairly real, but when it came to the stunts, the doubles took care of that.

Brendan: Yes, obviously, me and Francia are both okay, we can stand up on skates and skate backwards and do the turns. There’s a lot of general skating around the rink, getting prepared before doing jumps. That’s mostly us. We had done a lot of our training beforehand and got comfortable with that. Anything that has a significant element of skill involved is probably not us. Brendan, will we be seeing you on Bones again this season?

Brendan: I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening with my character, actually. I haven’t been told. It’s kind of the same situation I had with CSI in the sense that if the storyline happens to come about, they just give me a call a month in advance and say are you available and this is what we have going on. It comes out of the blue, so I haven’t been made aware of any future storylines, but I hope that would be the case. Hart Hanson has always told me that any time he can and any time it makes sense, he would love to have me on it. But it’s a two-hander. It’s definitely Bones and Booth and that’s what the show really is about, so it has to make sense to interject other characters in there. Hopefully they come across a storyline that makes sense, because I’d love to go back. With the movie title being Fire & Ice, what are your two personalities like? Which one of you is fire and which one of you is ice?

Francia: I think we have both elements in our personalities. We have each those qualities in our characters, I believe, right, Brendan?

Brendan: Yes, but technically she’s the fire—

Francia: And he’s the ice.

Brendan: I’m the ice. “The Iceman” is my nickname in the film, so that’s what it comes down to. We definitely both have a certain amount of fire and passion for what we do and we both have the ability to turn up the ice and ignore or show some attitude towards the other person. Yes, definitely both elements there. What’s coming up next for both of you, in terms of projects we should look our for?

Francia: I’m currently filming Secret Life, so the new season will be coming back in July and Secret Life is going to be taking up the rest of my year, so more of that coming.

Brendan: For me nothing that I know of yet. Right now, I’m just pounding the pavement like the other gazillion actors out there.