“Six Feet Under” grad Peter Krause digs himself into another grave situation in his latest role.
In “Civic Duty,” which opened Friday, Krause plays a seemingly “model American” — until a Muslim neighbor (Khaled Abol Naga) moves in next door. The housewarming gift Krause delivers to his new neighbor: paranoia.
“It’s difficult for me actually to watch the movie,” the actor admits. “It was a hard character to play. He’s not the kind of guy who has the ‘Buy American’ bumper sticker on his car. He’s the guy who wants to be left alone. He’s the guy who doesn’t want to participate in the country.”
He’s also the guy who just lost his job and is swept away in the media frenzy on the war on terrorism.
“It was a risky choice,” Krause says of choosing the role, “but the extreme paranoia in a post-9/11 world was one of the factors. Obviously, this one particular guy takes things too far.”
The popular actor, who nabbed a Screen Actors Guild award for his role as Nate Fisher on Showtime’s “Six Feet Under” before it was laid to rest in 2005, says he was surprised by the emotional intensity of “Civic Duty.”
“I wanted to do something that reflected what was going on in America,” he says. “Nobody was really addressing the mental state of the average American. I appreciated what Oliver Stone did in ‘World Trade Center’ by placing us into the actual rubble of the center and I think this is a film about being tapped underneath the psychological rubble of not just 9/11 but all the things that led up to it.”
Krause goes to extremes in the film — shadowing his neighbor, sifting through his garbage, reporting the man to the FBI. All the while, his wife looks on in horror.
“It becomes really ugly and absurd,” he says. “Rather than a nation that says, ‘Show me your weapons of mass destruction,’ it’s one man with a gun to another man’s head saying, ‘show me the truth!’ Suddenly, it’s insanity.”
Needless to say, stepping out of the role’s intensity when the film wrapped was “a welcome relief.” For that, Krause trekked back home to the North Bay, where he’s lived for the last two years. He says he enjoys living in the country and often reflects on life after the death of “Six Feet Under.”
“I think the underlying message I got from the show was ‘live your life; live your life to the fullest,’” he says. “We’re all headed to the same place. We’re all going to die, so there’s no reason to hold off living your life exactly as you wish to live it.”