Exclusive: Craig Fairbrass on landing the Cliffhanger auditions

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 As Villain arrives in the UK, Craig Fairbrass looks back with us at how he landed his role in the 1993 action hit Cliffhanger.

 Heading into UK cinemas tomorrow is Villain, an impressive new British film starring Craig Fairbrass. He’s built up a sizeable number of credits in action cinema of late too, but of course he was also part of the ensemble for 1993’s hit movie Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone.

It was a huge achievement for Fairbrass to land the role, having primarily been known for British television work to that point (aside from appearing, notably, opposite Denzel Washington in For Queen & Country). And ahead of the release of Villain, he told us about how he landed the Cliffhanger role.

“I was under no illusions, it was a small part in a big film!”, he recalled.

“When they cast a film in Hollywood they’ll see the world and its mother… They’ve got a million 10 x 8 pictures of every actor, so to even get in the room and to be seen by a casting director, you’ve got to jump through hoops”.

“I did Prime Suspect, and then an agent saw me in that show and said ‘I like the look of the big guy, he should come out (to LA)’. So I did some meetings. There was another film I got very close to, it got to the offer stage but didn’t work out. I was a little bit depressed, but just as I was going to come home, I got a meeting with Mindy Marin, who’s still a massive big deal now – she casts a lot of the blockbusters in Hollywood”.

And that’s where things started moving.

“I was excited to meet [Cliffhanger’s director] Renny Harlin, because I’m a massive Die Hard fan, and I auditioned a couple of times. They said that I was in the mix, but sometimes these opportunities just dissolve away, so I went back to London. Then they said to me you’re in the ‘last, final’ group, but we need you to do one more audition”.

Fairbrass pushed back. He queried just what else he needed to do after the auditions he’d already done.

“But I did the audition, and the final say was with Stallone himself… And as luck would have it, God must’ve been looking down on me… You know, I’d been through the mill, but he picked me. It was six months in LA and it was an experience I’ll never, ever forget”.

He loved his time on the movie, too. And he’s well aware of just how often the film comes around, too. “The film’s still on once a week now, to remind me of how young I was!”, he laughs. “And I wish I could go back and shoot every scene again!”

Fairbrass has been acting constantly for over 25 years since, and he’s very proud of his new movie. “Here we are now, with Villain… which you know, I think is a very tidy, dark, beautiful, brutal tale. I love it”.

It’s released in the UK on February 28th.

With thanks to Jake Godfrey.

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