A meeting with actor Brendan Fraser is a meeting of extremes. Extreme intensity, extreme depth and extreme stomach ache as your muscles relax after laughing so hard you could fall off your seat.

Having worked with stars ranging from Elizabeth Hurley to Bugs Bunny, Fraser has an almost unnatural ability to flick from a smile to a frown, a laugh to a stare — or, perhaps more intriguingly — from warm to cold.

"Bugs is probably one of the best I've worked with. He is such a cool guy," he says straight-faced. Slowly breaking into a grin, he continues: "But Daffy Duck [he pauses, trying not to laugh], he is not.

"He's so demanding... wants a bigger trailor... never satisfied."

But in the time it takes you to bring the giggles under control, Fraser is already stoney-faced and ready for the next question. You find yourself looking over your shoulder to see if you missed something far more serious happening behind you.

"Comedy isn't something I've ever really thought about, to be honest. I'm the least funny person I know and I think when you start to believe you're funny then it all goes wrong."

Complete with fully-animated hand gestures and expressions, comparable to a small child re-enacting battle scenes at the breakfast table, he says: "Once you think you're funny you automatically aren't — it's like the ground just opens up... Arggghhh... [he shouts] and swallows you and you fall into acid while being eaten by crocodiles."

Still making crocodile-like jaw-snapping motions with his fingers, Fraser takes us onto the set of Inkheart, which premiered in the Middle East on Sunday night.

Staring as if in a trance at the white tablecloth before him, Fraser doesn't lose focus as he reverts back to seriousness.

"We were like a big family. Iain Softly has an ability to host a film rather than direct it, which I think is incredible. He allows the talented people around him to do what they do and shapes, adds and takes away where necessary. He is such an amazing director and I learned a lot."

Fraser says working with Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent among others, was a priceless experience and the best way to improve his craft.

"Helen won the Oscar for The Queen while we were filming Inkheart and... [he pauses and considers his next statement] oh, I'm going to say it anyway, because it's what I think," he continues, shrugging his shoulders.

"She came on set with the Oscar in hand and I think she enjoyed celebrating with her Inkheart family more than making her acceptance speech.

"It was 7am, we got her a cake and she told us about how the airport staff had spotted the trophy in her hand luggage, taken it out to investigate and were debating whether it was real or not.

"Before we knew it, the sparkies and chippies on set were all spotted posing with the Oscar while another snapped a shot with a camera phone. It was great to experience that with her."

Inkheart is based on the first book of the Inkworld trilogy written in 2003.

"This whole experience has all been a bit of a dream really. I received a copy of this book through the post with a note from the author that read: 'Dear Brendan, thank you for inspiring this character for me.'"

Re-enacting the confused look on his face, he continues: "I was chasing jobs at the time, needed to pay the mortgage like most people and I thought it was a bit of joke. So I googled Cornelia and was shocked to find she was a prolific writer."

A later meeting with Funke saw Fraser give the author a few pointers about the film industry and the rest, as they say, is history.

With three young children of his own, Fraser says he'll always be a child at heart but doesn't believe movies should be made specifically for youngsters.

"You can't kid a kid. They know what you're doing and then it's ruined. Just make a movie with suitable content and let them decide. Kids are the ones who will walk out of a movie if they think it doesn't work. It's adults who will grit their teeth and make sure they get their money's worth.

"My children are my biggest investment. Who gives a monkey's about cars and stuff like that? I just want to be able to give them everything and make sure their well-being comes first.

"They haven't actually watched Inkheart or read the books because they are six, four and one. It's all Sponge Bob at the moment."

The son of a Canadian travel executive who frequently moved house, Brendan has lived in Ottawa, Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Rome and London — where his early exposure to theatre led him to Seattle's Cornish Institute.

Despite having starred in films such as George of the Jungle, Bedazzled, Looney Tunes, The Mummy series and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Fraser seems more comfortable praising others.

"Eliza has extraordinary talent and I really believe this is just the beginning for her. Helen and Eliza had a wonderful connection and at times I often thought of Eliza as a young Mirren. I will never forget a mental snapshot in my mind from the set.

"At the end of a filming day, Eliza was on a buggy heading back to the hotel and she was holding Helen's Oscar. I looked across and thought to myself: You know kiddo, you better start practising that acceptance speech because one day that will be you."

Inkheart has all the right ingredients

People enjoy good books because as the words jump off the page it's easy to get lost in the moment and to allow your imagination to conjure up danger, heart-breaking romance, or two-headed animals.

But what if by reading that same book, you had the ability to bring the characters and all their mannerisms off the page and into the real world?

Enter Inkheart, a movie with all the right ingredients: high adventure, solid fantasy story-telling and, to top it all off, an A-list cast.

Inkheart, which enjoyed its regional premiere in the UAE at DIFF on Sunday night, stars Brendan Fraser, Eliza Bennett, Andy Serkis, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Sienna Guillory, Jim Broadbent and Rafi Gavron.

Directed by Iain Softley, this fantasy adventure based on the book by Cornelia Funke follows a young girl and her father who cause fictional characters to leap off the pages of a book and into reality.

But this special ability comes at a price: for every fictional character allowed to cross the divide, a real person must take their place in the strange two-dimensional world of ink.

With a largely British cast for this fast-paced and colourful adaptation, we witness doting father Mo Folchart (Fraser) admit to his daughter he is a Silvertongue and inadvertently sent his wife Teresa, Sienna Guillory, into the pages of a book called Inkheart.

Inkheart is a fun-filled journey throughout with a number of comedy moments, mainly courtesy of Helen Mirren as Elinor, and the action is enough to keep you guessing.

Andy Serkis plays a great baddie as Capricorn and Paul Bettany walks the thin line between good and bad as wanderer Dustfinger.

The film is easy to watch and interest is certainly sustained for 106 minutes, as long as you concentrate enough through the special effects which constantly vie for your attention.

Fraser and Bennett rock the red carpet

There may not have been the glitz and glamour of the previous night's red-carpet gala screenings, but Hollywood stars Brendan Fraser and Eliza Bennett still managed to cause a stir at the Middle East premiere of Inkheart.

Arriving on time at the shorter Madinat Souk Theatre entrance foyer, the pair spent more than 40 minutes talking at length to journalists and camera crews.

In between interviews, Fraser took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with fans, getting on his knees repeatedly to sign books and DVDs for the youngsters.

"He is so warm and friendly," said 16-year-old Bennett as she fondly looked over at her co-star. "Because we have a father and daughter relationship in the film I was a bit nervous and apprehensive about the role, but he was great. He was instantly warm and just gave me a big hug. He is also so funny — so child-like. We laughed all the time."

Inkheart is based on the fantasy novel by Cornelia Funke — the first book of the Inkworld trilogy.

"Filming Inkheart was such a good experience for me. There are lots of animals in the movie and in particular a ferret. We had 12 to choose from and we whittled it down to three. But they just never did what you wanted them to and they were absolutely disgusting. They were stinking."

The movie follows 12-year-old Meggie Folchart, whose life changes dramatically when she discovers her father, a bookbinder named Mo, can bring characters from the pages of a book to life when he reads aloud.

"I just hope to keep working — I've been really lucky. I don't think it's possible for child actors to become role models for other children because we are not perfect. It's so hard for children in the limelight because if they go off the rails everyone knows about it. If we put people up on a pedestal then eventually they are going to fall off."

To screams and cheers from a small but vocal audience, Fraser waved as he made his way into the theatre.

"I just hope people like it. It's always a bit of a worry when you start to make a movie because you wonder whether it's ever going to get off the ground. It's a bit like a trip to Cape Canaveral," he laughed and, looking up at the ceiling, added: "Is this rocket ever going to launch?"