FIDO directed by Andrew Currie, written by Currie, Robert Chomiak and Dennis Heaton, with Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly and Dylan Baker. A TVA Films release. 91 minutes. Rating: NNNN
Carrie-Anne Moss, who's gone from ass-kicking Matrix action figure to respected actor opposite Judi Dench (Chocolat) and Guy Pearce (Memento), looks stunning.
Motherhood's given her a new softness, and the stylist-chosen designer ensemble right down to a pair of killer metallic stilettos is disarming. So is her entourage of four, who sit silently but devotedly in a hotel room during the Toronto Film Festival.
We're here to talk about her role as a social-climbing mom who bonds with a zombie in Fido, Andrew Currie's indie Canadian horror comedy. But for several precious minutes, Moss is taken with my jean purse and comes up with ways of refashioning it into a designer diaper bag.
She must have been touched, I attempt to segue, when writer/director Currie rewrote her role to accommodate her own pregnancy?
"Well, I kinda suggested it, and it really works for the movie," says Moss. "I wouldn't have mentioned it if I hadn't thought it would add to the film, but in this business how you look is so important. When you're pregnant, you just have to embrace it, so I asked to write it in because" here she pantomimes stuffing her face "you don't want to be pigging out at craft services every five minutes, then complaining about not fitting into your clothes."
That move took moxie, something Moss has had since her childhood in Vancouver.
"When I was seven, my mom would come home every day and I would have the phone book open to talent agencies and I would have them highlighted," she smiles. Moss's mom, though, wouldn't let her attend auditions until she could drive to them herself, and Moss still respects that early decision.
Surprisingly, she's proud to call the trashy Aaron Spelling series Models Inc., and not The Matrix, her real industry breakthrough.
"The validation of getting a job at that time, in 1994, was huge," she says. "When I watched the Spelling tribute on the Emmys this year, I felt a lot of emotion. He really was generous. When I got the show, I had no money I was down to my last $30. He lent me $10,000 dollars cuz I needed to get an apartment."
Just as we head into a talk about Fido, an American publicist interrupts. Last question.
I ask about her well-intentioned but discouraging high school guidance counsellor, and Moss comes through with her signature ballsy attitude.
"I told him I wanted to be an actor, and he said, "Well, you need to have something to fall back on.' My response was, "No, I don't. Screw you. I'll make it.'
"He was just doing his job, but in my life it's those people who have doubted me who have given me some of my best gifts. Yes, you want people saying, "You're wonderful! You can do it!' That's nice, but it's good to have someone there to kick you in the butt. That's what drives me."
FIDO (Andrew Currie) Rating: NNNN
In a world where zombies have been brought to life to work as menial servants (the opening scene hilariously explains it all), young Timmy (K'Sun Ray) longs for his emotionless father (Dylan Baker) to pay attention to him, as his mother, a perfectly cast Carrie-Anne Moss, yearns to be loved. When zombie Fido (Billy Connolly) enters their life, anything is suddenly possible. Though comparisons to Shawn Of The Dead are bound to arise, Currie's zombie comedy is in a class by itself. Skewering the 50s-ideal, Lassie-type films and B-movie horror, Currie and co-writer Rob Chomiak have written a film that is both deliriously funny and thought-provoking. A must-see.