Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Michael Cera Having Very Good Year Playing Very Bad Characters

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Michael Cera Having Very Good Year Playing Very Bad Characters

Article excerpt

Michael Cera delights in good bad-guy roles

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TORONTO - Michael Cera has had a very good year portraying some very bad people.

Thus far, the Brampton, Ont., native has played a cocaine-huffing caricature of himself in "This is the End," a malevolent creep in Sebastian Silva's "Magic Magic" and, in his second Silva collaboration "Crystal Fairy," the typically mild-mannered actor is cast as an insensitive, drug-addled traveller trying the patience of his infinitely tolerant Chilean hosts.

Some critics have delighted in watching Cera transform himself from the usual humble mumbler with hands-thrust-sheepishly-in-pockets to these ugly new creatures. Cera, however, found it more difficult to appreciate.

"My character, he's really annoying. When I watch the movie, I really squirm watching how annoying he is," Cera said down the line from New York of his latest role in "Crystal Fairy."

"But that's just because he's an annoying person, (and) I don't really fault him for that. It's the kind of person that you spend time with and you're annoyed with him in the beginning and you come to rely on him being annoying. And he doesn't let you down."

Perhaps it helps that Cera's Jamie has a perfect foil in Gaby Hoffmann's titular bohemian flower child, a fellow tourist in Chile and a naturalistic free spirit who spouts off hippy-dippy philosophy.

Jamie meets Crystal Fairy at a party and disingenuously invites her on a road trip he's taking with a group of impossibly good-natured Chileans (played by Silva and his real-life brothers) with the goal of locating a rare, mythical hallucinogen.

When Crystal Fairy actually takes Jamie up on his offer to tag along, he's mortified -- first by her forwardness, and then by her behaviour. That's the source of all the freewheeling film's tension, Cera pointed out.

"She kind of starts directing the trip in a way and imparting her own role on how to do things, and he thinks she should just act like a thankful guest," Cera said.

A gossamer adventure, "Crystal Fairy" had humble roots. The project was born from delays on "Magic Magic" with dialogue that was mostly improvised and a brief shooting schedule. But Cera's deep connection with Silva and his family helped.

He lived with them for three months in Chile, and actually still keeps in touch with Silva's parents.

"They were incredibly kind and so gracious and they were really taking care of me in every way. And they were helping me learn Spanish," said the 25-year-old. "I was only speaking Spanish when I was there. So to them, I was this cave man version of myself.

"By the time I left there, I felt like I integrated with them," he added. "I feel like they're a second family."

While Cera seems to have little in common with the domineering, painfully un-self aware Jamie, some material in the film was derived from his fish-out-of-water stint in the South American country. …

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