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Wednesday, July 6, 2005


Just hours before the film's premiere at Liberty Island in New York, a giddy cast of the Fantastic Four -- Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd and Julian McMahon -- conducted one last press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Following is an edited transcription of the press conference.

Question: Since everybody's power in the film is an extension of their personality, if you have a special power, what would it be and how would you use it?

Alba: To be honest with you, I am also running late, so mine would be the ability to stop time. I'd stop everything,

McMahon: I would like to have all the powers that these guys possess, and I would like to CRUSH IT! (laughs) Sorry, that was the Doctor Doom coming out of me. You know, I've always wanted to fly. The whole commercial travel thing, I just don't like. You'd cut out the custom lines and check-in baggage kind of stuff. I don't know about the whole on-fire and flying thing, because that would be difficult to take luggage, but you'd have to ask Chris about that.

Chiklis: I guess I would be Obnoxious Man because that would be a further extension of my personality. I'm so chatty, I can talk a hungry dog off the meat wagon, I'd have the power to literally put nations to sleep with the ability to take for days on end.

Gruffudd: If there was a special power for patience...I don't know. (razzing from castmates).

Evans: I think to be able to see into the future. (more razzing).

Chiklis: Obviously, we've been waiting for this date for a long time, so there's been a lot of build-up and we're all really excited.

Alba: Yeah, we're just loopy. We've been doing so many interviews. We're so honest with you now. (laughs).

Chiklis: You have us so on sodium pen right now.

Question: Chris, you're a pretty modest guy in real life. What was it like cutting loose and playing someone who is pretty much the opposite of you?

Evans: It was fun. He's more energetic than anything else. He loves life, and I think his arrogance is more a by-product of that energy. I don't think you can play a cocky guy. You just kind of play his spirits, his energy, and that's fun. You come to work every day and play this guy who has all this energy and cracks jokes, and you can't help but take that home with you. It was great. It was fun. It just took a lot of juice because your energy level would start to take a nosedive around noon.

McMahon: I have to say he did it extraordinarily well.

Question: What has it been like for you with the Fantastic Four? There's been so much buzz and controversy. You've gone through reshoots. And how do you think it will stack up against War of the Worlds?

Chiklis: By the way, they weren't really reshoots.

Alba: Every movie has additional shot and so-called reshoots because when you see the final product, you're like, "Oh that might be nice to have." So there's no controversy on that end.

I think, from the beginning, we had a release date before we started shooting. And to make that date and to make the movie as good as we could possible make it on a schedule, was really I think the most difficult part. And that all fell on Tim Story's shoulders, who I think finished editing two weeks ago -- and didn't get a lot of sleep.

Chiklis: It's a big movie, though, to have that kind of hard date set.

Alba: And he created an environment that was so much like a family. We were really, really open to love each other and be a family and have ideas and be creative within the confines of a time schedule.

Chiklis: We all knew there was a tremendous amount of pressure to make this movie on a timeline, and, obviously, we were well aware of the history of this franchise and how many people loved it and would be anticipating it. We also knew there would be a lot of people ... there would be a lot of conjecture out there, out in the ether. And you can't really get preoccupied with that because people are talking without seeing, without knowing.

The reshoots were a perfect example of this. There was all this, "Ooooh, things are in trouble because they're doing reshoots." Well, they didn't know that it was like we needed a little connector shot for the green screen here so that we could make this transition smoother. It wasn't like we were redoing scenes and altering plotlines or anything. It was just little enhancements, thickening the broth and making it a little better.

So when you see these things, you just go, "Yeah, whatever. They'll see it when they see it and I think they're going to love it."

Alba: And, War of the Worlds is rated R, and we're not. So, you can take your kids to it. You don't need a babysitter.

McMahon: I'll take the kids and the babysitter. (laughs) Aside from the first two weeks, when I went through 14 different accents, 17 hairstyles and 18 different suits and, I won't even start... This movie has been an amazing journey for all us, although I can only speak for myself.

We've had so much support from the guys at Fox and so much support from the guys at Marvel and then obviously, as these guys have mentioned, we had just a wonderful atmosphere on set because of Tim. You know, the first couple weeks we were shooting and he was the nicest guy in the world, I thought he was having me on because I haven't worked with somebody like that before. He's like, "Yeah, that's great man, just go again." And I'm like, "I'll hit you if you say that again."

It's true. We really developed this atmosphere on the set of real camaraderie, real kind of friendships and real relationships. When you're sitting here now, and tonight's the night we kind of launching this whole thing that we've been working on for so long and working on so hard, it's gratifying to be sitting with these guys -- and Tim and Avi (Arad) in the back. It's a family movie made by guys who I feel now are part of my family.

Chiklis: You know what was really cool for me? That we were able to, with all this pressure and all conjecture and all this stuff going on, that we all had moments of epipheny and we would look at each other and go, "We're the Fantastic Four! This is so cool."

McMahon: I never did that. (laughs). I was just the loser on the outside. They're the Fantastic Four.

Question: Michael, you had the most elaborate costume of the whole cast. Can you talk about the makeup?

Chiklis: So much has been said about this costume and I almost feel like I'm the complainer of the group, and I don't want it to sound like that at all. It was something that was very scary for me. The first I day we put it on, it took 5 1/2 hours to put it on. We got it down to, eventually, to a little over 2 hours by the end of the film. But every day, it was approxiamtely 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours and it was very claustrophobic, very scary sensation for me at first. But as time went on, I knew what I was into, I knew how to cope with it.

It was incredible uncomfortable, but then it started to get into this very sort of fascinating actor exercise. You had to learn how to manipulate the emotions of this mask. It's interesting ... Tim had this experience with me where he thought I might have been upset with him. Neutral, my face was this (non expressive). With the mask on, it was this (frowning). And I didn't realize this at first, that I could be miscontrued.

I've never been a mirror actor where I had to sit and do my lines in front of a mirror, not in my life. But with this one, I had to actually spend some time with a mirror, sort of getting to know another person. It was kind of a fascinating experience.

It is difficult to have glue in your mouth and in your nose and all over you every day. Tim did something also that I love him for. He knew what a difficult time I was going through, so he would shoot from the outside, the wide shots, and work his way in as the day went on. So, we'd get inside the feet, so we could take the feet off. And the feet were like 12 1/2-pound feet, so it'd be like, "Ohhhhh..." And then we'd get inside the legs, and the legs would come off. Relief was on the way as the day went on.

And he did something incredible. It was about a month into shooting and he put together a couple of scenes, and he showed it to all of us, so that we were able to get a taste of what we were doing it. And it really spurred us and got us psyched to continue. In a six-month shoot, you can't see the forrest through the trees at some point. And when you get to see small assembly like that, it got us all really, really excited and spurred us on forward. And that was genius.

Question: What was it like when you first saw yourself as The Thing?

Chiklis: I just went, "Wow! My kids are going to love this." I'm so glad they didn't go with the CGI. I'm so glad that this is a living, breathing being, that this comes off the page into real life. It was very, very exciting for me.

Question: With any actor who has successfully portrayed a super-hero, there's always that chance of being seen as a super-hero the rest of their careers. Was that a concern for any of you?

Gruffudd: Well, I've been reknowned for playing a character called Horatio Hornblower for the last seven years. (laughs) So the name Mr. Fantastic is not a bad name to have.

Chiklis: Personally, I consider this part of the body of work of my life. With me, it will be hard to typecast me as the orange-rock guy. I don't have any fear of that.

Evans: Obviously, I'm worried. This is one of my first things, so I definitely could fall into that little pigeon hole. But if this movie does well and they're making more of them, that would enable me to be pigeon-holed, hopefully it will also give me more control and navigate the choices that I make in the down time between these movies and choose projects that legitimize myself as an actor and should range and versatility. That came out a lot better than I thought it would. (laughs).

McMahon: You have to look at the positives out of this thing. You have a wonderful opportunity to work with Fox studio. For me particularly, I've worked in television most of my life and now I've got the opportunity to work in a movie. Very different feel. To work for Marvel, which has been bring out wonderful movies the last 10-15 years particularly. You kind of look at it as opening doors and never for a second did I think about it closing doors. It's been an extraordinary opportunity.

Alba: It's so wonderful to really get to dive into a character and be a chameleon and change and show different sides of my personality in a very specific way. And this has enabled me to do that.

McMahon: Plus, if you didn't notice, she's in every other movie coming out this summer. (laughs).

Chiklis: From Vic Mackey to The Thing, you see that we all have other parts of the puzzle. And Chris is going to explode. He's on to another movie right now and I'm working on another movie. So it's a positive situation.

Alba: I knew Sue was going to get married and have babies, so hopefully that's what I'll be doing soon -- in 12 years! (laughs).

Question: Assuming there is a sequel, what would you like to see for your character.

Chiklis: A zipper. (laughs). Zippers are good for men. You need them. Honestly, with some of the engineering, we'll work some bugs out. This was mainly about the exterior look of the character and the onus wasn't on the comfort of the human being inside it. I'd like to see a little bit of that altered. A zipper would be a phenomenal addition to that.

McMahon: Why a zipper, Chikie?

Chiklis: Do I have to spell it out for you? Taking 45 minutes to go potty is a struggle.

Question: But story-wise, what would you be interested in next go-round?

Alba: I'm interesting in seeing how they really deal with being super-heroes and having also to live their daily lives -- and having to balance that. It's not like a celebrity, where they're just famous and people want their autograph. People want them to save the day, to be larger than life and to be heroes. That's a lot of pressure. And they can't hide behind a mask.

And, I think, to do deal with the aspect of their everyday life, you know, going grocery shopping and solving the world's problems ... everything they do as scientists and as people, but also being super-heroes. I'd like to see where Tim's going to go with that next.

McMahon: I'd like to come back and kill them. (laughs)

Chiklis: This was an origin picture, similarly to Spider-Man 1, where they was a certain level of track we had to lay here for the audience. And similarly to Spider-Man 2, we're going to be able to go right into the story-telling, whatever that may be. I'm sure, like in the Spider-Man series, we'll stay true to the storyline that are well known and have been established from the comic books.

Alba: And I think Tim put some secrets in this movie that can later be revealed in the next movie.

Chiklis: So there will certainly be that familiarity of what's out there and what's been done, but obviously if we're going to do three of these -- or whatever the number is -- we'll have to encapsulate certain things. You're talking about a Marvel comic that's been out there longer than I've been alive -- and that's a long time.

The sky's the limit and that's what's wonderful about these comics. Now, technology is such that whatever you can imagine you can realize it on the screen. The wonderful thing about making this movie now as opposed to maybe 10 years ago or even five years ago, is that when the technology became available people sort of went technology crazy. Now, Fox and Marvel and Tim and everybody have been smart enough to make that marriage happen, the technical mix to make the dream come alive. As Jessica pointed out early, we knew from day one, this movie would live and die by the camaradarie and repoire of this family. That's what engages the audience. That's what makes the audience care who gets blown up in a special effect, if you know what I mean.

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