McMahon takes evil to new level in `Four'

July 11, 2005|By Maria Elena Fernandez | Maria Elena Fernandez,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Tim Story was looking for an actor to play the father of all villains, industrialist Victor Von Doom, who turns into the steely-eyed Dr. Doom. In walked Julian McMahon, and within minutes the Fantastic Four director was convinced he had found his antihero.

"You have to see this Julian McMahon," Story kept telling everyone, believing he had just discovered "new talent."

New talent?

The actor who drove him to mad effusion is one of the two stars of Nip/Tuck, FX's dark comedy/soap opera.

"When I started throwing his name out, especially to women, they were like, `Oh, my God, yeah!'" Story said. "Everybody was on [to] Nip/Tuck except for me. It was kind of better that way because then you're just watching the actor in the room with you. But it was great to know there's already a following there. I just knew him from walking in the door and thinking this guy is Victor Von Doom. He's that gentleman, he's that good-looking, he's that ladies' man, that powerful."

McMahon, 36, who was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for his portrayal of Nip/Tuck's Christian Troy, likes that Story cast him for his first big commercial film solely on the merits of his ability to personify Dr. Doom, even though he's grateful for the fame and popularity his small-screen alter ego has brought him.

The Australian actor, who starred on The Profiler and Charmed before landing the role of boy-man Christian, says he was taken aback when he got the call, six months after the audition, that Story wanted him to play the insanely jealous, extremely intelligent Von Doom.

"That didn't sound right," McMahon said. "Because the Dr. Doom that I remembered as a child was covered with a mask, was just evil, pondering, mischievous and a never-will-die villain."

And how exactly is that not like McMahon? This is the actor who scowled intensely when he tracked down killers on The Profiler, played a half-demon with sinful aplomb on Charmed and wanted to portray the pathos-ridden, sexually maniacal plastic surgeon so badly that he filmed an audition tape in his kitchen and mailed it in because the Nip/Tuck casting director wouldn't even put him on a list.

"Don't push me," McMahon said with a smile, relaxing at the 101 Cafe in Hollywood with a Coca-Cola before heading to the Nip/Tuck set. Then he explained that he wanted to play one of his favorite comic book antiheroes for the same reason he was so attracted to Christian Troy.

"Nobody's just a good guy. Nobody's just a bad guy. Nobody's just anything," he said. "We're all everything. We could be fantastic, wonderful, deep human beings one moment and shallow, horrible nasty people the next. That's what interests me as a person and actor. Even if I play a small role on something, I want to take you on that trip a little bit. I want you to see all sides of that person. Christian is the ultimate of that, and that's why me and the character fit so well."

What McMahon never wanted to be was the lawyer he set out to be in college. The son of former Australian Prime Minister William McMahon and the glamorous Lady Sonia McMahon, he left Australia as a teenager to model around the globe and find himself. Along the way, he married and divorced twice. He shares custody of his 5-year-old daughter, Madison, with ex-wife Brooke Burns.

As for the career he was not sure he was cut out for until he landed his first prime-time role, in The Profiler in 1996, McMahon admits there seems to be a pattern emerging: The toddler who was raised running around the halls of Parliament has turned out to be awfully good at playing bad. Even in Prisoner, an independent film directed by David Alford that wrapped in Nashville, Tenn., in June, McMahon portrays a man who evolves into a "wonderful human being after he is forced to face his demons (while behind bars)," he said.

"Whatever you do, you'll be put in a category," McMahon said. "If you're Gary Oldman doing 20 characters, then you're put in the `He does lots of characters' category. As human beings, we have to slot you somewhere, and this is what happens. But if I wanted to step out of this category - which I'm not saying I do or I don't - then I have to find the role to do that."

One option might be the next James Bond, a role for which McMahon is happily still a contender. But for now, the actor is focused on the just-opened Fantastic Four, which also features Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic; Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman; Chris Evans as the Human Torch; and Michael Chiklis as the Thing.

For two-thirds of Fantastic Four, McMahon endured hours of makeup and prosthetic applications on his face and hands to make Dr. Doom's disfigured, sinister appearance as realistic as possible.

"I wanted to play a villain we hadn't seen before, and the script gave me the ability to do that because he started out as a billionaire magnate who pretty much runs the planet," McMahon said. "It's fun because it's totally out of the norm."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.