With a second baby on the way any day now – his wife Jennifer Rowley is a week past her due date! – actor Brendan Fehr will soon have his hands full! The CSI star, who is already a very devoted dad to daughter James Olivia, talked to Celebrity Baby Scoop about his goals as a father, why he’ll never call his baby “princess,” and his new Lifetime movie, And Baby Will Fall premiering Sunday, January 23, 2011, at 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT on Lifetime Movie Network.
CBS: You’re getting ready to star in Lifetime’s thriller And Baby Will Fall. Tell us about the movie and what drew you to the role.
BF: “The movie’s based on a book called Never Tell a Lie. It’s about a husband and wife who are expecting after suffering a number of miscarriages. The wife is about 8-9 months into the pregnancy and they’re getting the room ready for the baby and getting ready for the arrival. There’s a woman played by Clea Duvall who comes to their garage sale. She’s a former classmate and then disappears shortly after. My character, David, becomes the prime suspect. He’s the last person to have seen her. I’ve reached that point in my career where I’m given the opportunity to play married couples, a guy with a kid, a father and a husband. I’m all those things in real life now. Television has different standards, like you can play a high school student until you’re 25. No one wants to see a 25-year old father even though you could easily be one. You just look too young. There are just these unwritten rules about what looks appropriate for what viewers want to see. So I’m getting up there in age where I’m getting the opportunities to play these roles and that’s new to me. It’s a challenge and it’s fun to pull off that more mature family role. I’ve felt like I’ve been in between ages; too old to play high school but too young to play a family man. So I’m glad I’ve graduated to being able to play a husband or a man with some world experience. This movie also filmed in my hometown of Vancouver. So I had an opportunity to go back home which was great. I was also encouraged by the fact that they brought in Anastasia Griffith. I know that she’s a solid actor and so I felt they were going for people that could pull off the role versus looking for a name to sell it.”
CBS: You have an almost three-old daughter, James Olivia. What is she like? What is she into?
BF: “Even though it’s our worst nightmare, she’s into being a princess. Our rule of thumb was we’ll try to stay away from pink and nothing that says princess on it and nothing that says diva on it. We do have a bunch of princess dresses like Cinderella that are worn every day and worn out, and dragged, and have to be rewashed over and over again. They serve as pajamas, morning wear, afternoon wear. It’s not just an evening gown; it’s an all day affair. The pink is out of control. We caved to that. We still have rules about the word princess though; we don’t call her princess and she doesn’t have any clothes that say princess.”
CBS: What kind of dad are you? Does she have you wrapped around her little finger?
BF: “Yes and no. It all depends, in some respects absolutely. She gets a lot of what she wants, but she has to ask politely for it. Like if she wants a piece of chocolate, she has to ask for it in a certain way. It’s just the small stuff. We do try to instill some discipline in her at an early age. When she starts to cry, that doesn’t tug at my heart strings. I can handle her crying because she’s not getting something she wants. It’s when she actually turns on the charm and asks really nicely without getting all upset that it’s very hard to say no. I think I’m a little bit of a tough love guy, but at the same time it’s going to be different if we have a boy. With girls, you do treat them a differently than if you had a boy. My wife’s a week overdue right now, so we’re about to have our second one any time now. I’ve made the distinction and I think the discipline would be very different with a boy. I would twist his ear and give him a punch in the arm to say “hey, don’t do that to other people, knock it off”. With boys you can do that. They tend to understand action better than when you’re just talking to them. With girls, you don’t do that. You can sit down and talk to them. They do better with emotion. I might have to change my tactics depending upon what the next one is. It will be interesting to see how my parenting style would change from one to the other if we had a boy. You do have to be a different parent. Overall, I’m liberal when it comes to stuff like them having fun jumping on a couch. We have one designated couch that we allow James to jump on. If they just want to let off some energy and have fun, I don’t worry about it, but when it comes to saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, not whining and those types of things, it’s not negotiable. If I say no, I mean it. There are no deals to be made. In some ways I’m liberal and in some ways, strict.”
CBS: What’s the best thing about being a dad?
BF: “I don’t think there’s just one thing. It’s just being a dad. That’s the best thing. The relationship you form. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her. With my work schedule, I have that flexibility. In between projects, you could have weeks or months for sure. It’s developing that relationship so that, later in life, she trusts me and she knows she can talk to me about stuff that maybe nowadays many daughters don’t talk to their dads about. If I could be that guy in her life that shows her that there are good guys out there and set a good example for future men that may enter her life, that’s what I want.”
CBS: How do you and your wife, Jennifer Rowley, keep the spark alive? Do you have date nights?
BF: “We don’t. It’s been tough. We’ve gotten really old really quick in some ways. We turn in at 9 or 9:30 and watch a couple of shows and then fall asleep, and that’s a pretty good night for us. We do talk. We communicate very well in terms of how we want to raise her and deal with day-to-day situations. I think we’re a pretty good team. In terms of romance, it’s definitely something that suffers. Obviously right now, she’s 9 1/2 months pregnant so there’s not too much romance. It’s not always going to be sparks, but we know it will turn around. Through the work and doing it all together, there’s definitely a deeper relationship that we’ve formed through this parenting thing. I don’t have any good advice for anyone. We haven’t failed miserably in that respect, but I don’t think we’re highly successful either. There are just some things you have to sacrifice for a little while anyways. When you’re working through raising a kid, plus we just moved, it’s hard, but we’re definitely closer than ever.”
CBS: Does she share your passion for ice hockey and other winter sports?
BF: “I love Winter. I love snow. I like curling and hockey. She doesn’t share my passion for sports. She’s not a super sporty person. She definitely knows more about it now than when we first met. She loves to go to hockey games live. She allows me to talk about it and express my enthusiasm and do what a good wife does and say, “that’s great honey, that’s exciting”, even though she doesn’t really care about it.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
BF: “Right after And Baby Will Fall, I went to Richmond, Virginia and worked on a movie called The Christmas Gift. It’s a romantic comedy for Christmas time and will, hopefully, be released next Christmas time. And immediately after that, I went to Toronto and shot a guest starring role on Nikita which will air the first two weeks in February. I had a great time on that and my character doesn’t die so you hope you have the opportunity of coming back.”
And Baby Will Fall premieres Sunday, January 23, 2011, at 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT on Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime’s sister network.