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Monday, October 21, 2002


By Rob Allstetter/The Comics Continuum

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Following is part two of an edited transcription of the X-Men 2 press conference on Friday.

(For part one, CLICK HERE.)

Answering questions were Kelly Hu (Lady Deathstrike), Brian Cox (Stryker), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Mystique), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Patrick Stewart (Professor Xavier), director Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Halle Berry (Storm), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), James Marsden (Cyclops), Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler), Anna Paquin (Rogue) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman).

Question: Do you find, with your Shakespearean backgrounds, this isn't such a huge leap at all?

Ian McKellen: Well, it's all just work, isn't it? (laughs) You take a job for different reasons, and different actors will have different reasons for being on this film. It just might be for money, it might just wanting to live away from home for a bit, or, if shooting's close by, living at home. There's all sorts of reasons.

Vancouver is a long way from my home and to be working with people I'd be likely to be working with in London. That's just the name of the business and perhaps the nature of Bryan's taste in actors. He likes a variety of people from different disciplines. A lot of foreigners in this film, actually.

For me, one connects X-Men with Lord of the Rings or with doing The Recruiting Officer or a play by Shakespeare is that I wouldn't want to do anything of them if the scripts … well, classic plays are tried and tested, and you know they're good. There's not much of a leap of faith.

But when you get a film script, it's more dangerous ground. Things are not as certain. But I'm attracted to X-Men because of what I was talking about earlier on and the moral basis of it, which I think, frankly, is a great bit more interesting than Spider-Man, which is actually the same story as Superman, you know. The nerd becomes a hero by putting together a fantasy frock in front of mirror - there's no where to go with that story. Except to repeat it next time.

That's why people like to go see Spider-Man, because it reminds them of their extreme youth. Our movie is about politics, about what it's like to live in the real world, even though it's called a fantasy.

So there isn't a great stretch between this and other things. What connects the sort of thing that we all do, I suspect here, is that the writing is good, and we have a story worth telling.

Bryan Singer: Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty are the two writers who have been working on the film the past year. They're really terrific and have completely comprehended, embraced and executed the history, depth and some of the politics - the tricky politics - of these characters, this universe. They've done quite an amazing job under tremendous adversity.

Question: Shawn Ashmore, can you tell us what's in store for you character this time out?

Shawn Ashmore: Well, I obviously can't get into too much detail. But, basically, Bobby gets brought into the fold a little bit. Obviously, he's still a student at the school. But I think mainly his role in the film is to be kind of brought in and join the group and kind of become a more important part of the whole adventure that happens, I guess.

So, without giving too much away, that's basically what happens with Bobby. He just kind of gets brought into the group a bit.

Question: For Anna, a lot of the focus in the first film was on your character. And in the comic book, Rogue has gone through a lot of evolutions, and we see her now as a strong, independent character. Are you taking steps in the film toward that - will we see you more comfortable in your own skin?

Anna Paquin: I think what's nice and interesting about the second movie that Rogue is in is that she's left behind a lot of the shy, timid sort of shutting everyone else out because she's been accepted into a group where she is not an outsider or going to be treated differently or poorly because of her mutant abilities. And so she is allowed to grow more and just get to do more stuff and be more part of the action. She doesn't need to be rescued. She's not the damsel in distress anymore. So it's kind of fun and there's a lot more actiony kind of stuff that I get to do - or stunts - which is fun. It's really great, actually, not having to be rescued for the whole movie.

Question: For Halle, the last movie was shot in Toronto. This one is on the West Coast. What are the major differences? Being closer to home, does it make it easier?

Halle Berry: It has for me, because out of the cast members, I think, I'm always the one who is jetting out of here to catch that last flight. As soon as I'm done, I'm on a plane and I'm back in L.A. That makes it really easy because it's only a two-hour flight. I feel a lot closer to home. I did feel really far away last time.

I've actually enjoyed this city a bit more. Maybe it's the smallness of it, the quaintness of it, the charm of it. It's a lot different than Toronto. I've actually gone out and done more things and really enjoyed it and explored it.

I personally like it better here.

Bryan Singer: We also spent a lot of time in the winter in Toronto. It was just very cold. And here, most of our principal photography and outdoor photography and a lot of time off in the in-between time the actors have had, has been during the summer here in the Vancouver. That's also helped make things a lot easier.

Halle Berry: I also grew going to Toronto a lot, living in Cleveland. So that was like no big whoop. This is a big whoop here. I just like it.

Question: For Rebecca, there were some horror stories about the blue makeup. Have they fixed any of that?

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos: They have. The process has gotten a lot better. We're not using the same kind of paint. We're not using the same kind of glue. They've completely changed the process and they've gotten down to under four hours now, which is huge for me.

I've still had a few 2 a.m. calls. We're still working on that. And the clean up is a lot better. I don't get sick like I did last time. I still have the blue in my ears. It doesn't come out.

Ian McKellen: My image of that last film was in November, I think at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, outside, everybody wrapped up - I'm sure you (Singer) had your thermals on, three pairs of socks, boots, furs, hats, gloves, scarves, everything against the cold - and this heroine…

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos: Chump… (laughs)

Ian McKellen: Never a complaint out of her in this situation when any complaint she made would have been understandable and acted up. And you were brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and a model. And I've tried to be better behaved since working with Rebecca.

Question: For Bryan, can you comment on Marvel's involvement? Were they watching over your shoulder or did they like where you were going and just leave you hands-on?

Bryan Singer: The second. Pretty much.

Question: They've been taken a more adult stance with the comics. Have they talked to you about it?

Bryan Singer: I think their feeling was that they are very pleased with the success of the first film and that the fact of the roll that Marvel Films have gotten going quite successfully. More during the developmental stages (was) their involvement.

I always had a tremendously great, supportive relationship. Avi (Arad) was always, "I trust you." Yeah, they have thoughts and ideas. They're much less involved now because I think they are focusing on other first films. We've got our thing going.

But, still, we're old friends, so we talk a bit. There's never any mandates or discussions beyond just support, ideas and "Wouldn't it be neat if…" and "Hey, we're thinking of doing this. Do you think it's cool?"

I think they're focusing on some of their other pictures, like Hulk or something, because it's a first film - in terms of their direct involvement. And, also, we're here. It's Vancouver. No one wants to get on a plane. We make out very independent X-Men.

Question: For Famke, what's up with you and Jon Favreau in films lately?

Janssen: What's up with me and Jon Favreau. We're friends. Actually after we did Love and Sex together, we became good friends and then he wrote the part for me in Made. Then he invited me to his show, Dinner for Five.

But we're just friends. I think he'll always want to cast me in something and I'll always want to work with him, so that's great?

Question: For Famke, what is going on with Jean in the film?

Janssen: She got a haircut. (laughs) Very important. I'm sure you saw that in the trailer.

It's basically kind of the things we touched upon in the first movie with the love triangle. And she has some issues with her powers that we kind of explore in the second one.

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