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Tuesday, February 28, 2006


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Continuum continues its series of reports from the set of X-Men: The Last Stand today with a question-and-answer session with associate producer David Gorder.

The interview occurred as Gorder was guiding a group of reporters around some sets, including the Worthington Laboratory, and a scene where Juggernaut is chasing Kitty Pryde. Both after a certain mutant, Kitty is phasing while Juggernaut is churning his way through the walls.

Following is an edited transcription, starting with some comments from Gorder.

Gorder: This movie is probably the biggest action-oriented X-Men movie out of the series. There's just, the action scenes are just incredible, like something you've never seen before. And so that's why it seems to you there's are all these little [set] pieces, because we have to film these action bits, a lot of it second unit with stunts, and then the main unit comes in and films with the principle actors.

But I've worked on all three X-Men films and this is unprecedented as far as the action. (Director) Brett Ratner is doing an incredible job of just making it visually exciting with huge stunts, and explosions and action. It's going to be something you're going to be thrilled when you see it, it's absolutely incredible. I've seen a few bits of the film come together so far and it's very impressive. Bryan Singer did a fantastic job and Brett has carried it to another level.

Question: How would you say it's different?

Gorder: It's bigger in scope. It's a bigger canvas that he has. We have more important characters we've been trying to get into the films all along like Beast and Juggernaut. So you're going to see those people, those characters, and obviously they're very action-oriented characters in the X-Men universe. So any of you that are familiar with X-Men know that Beast is acrobatic, and so you can imagine stunts we're going to do there. And of course Juggernaut is an unstoppable force, so you're going to see him in full action. And then of course we have Magneto bringing back his powers of magnetism, and you see him do some exciting things with his powers.

Question: Have you spoken with Bryan since production began?

Gorder: Yeah, I speak to him quite a bit. In fact I visited him on the set of Superman.

Question: Was he curious about the film?

Gorder: He's so immersed in Superman Returns that he's not really following what's going on. He and Brett are friends so they chat now and then, but they don't really talk about specifics of the movie. I think Bryan is happy that Brett is doing the film and is confident that he'll carry the movie further in the direction that Bryan already started. I'm really happy about that because I was worried that there might be a darker version, of somebody trying to go in a completely different direction of what was told before, but Brett has seamlessly taken what Bryan started and just taken it to another exciting level.

Question: So he feels comfortable with that?

Gorder: Oh yeah, Bryan is absolutely comfortable, I asked him what he thought about it. He's not opinionated, because Superman is so huge and he's so immersed in it. He just got back from Sydney shooting green screen, so his focus is not really on what we're doing up here.

I think he'll just be excited like everybody else, and he kind of wants to be that way. He wants to be like a fan, like everyone else, to be excited, he doesn't want anything given away. And you know, I don't think Brett would want to tell him anything specific about the film, he would just be giving away too much, and Bryan wants to see it just like a fan would see it. And he's happy that his family, his X-Men family, is continuing on with Brett and everybody seems to be excited about what they're doing.

Question: Did he have any sort of ideas story wise? And did Brett maybe incorporate some of the ideas?

Gorder: No, Brett started fresh with writers... we had different writers on this one. We wanted a fresh take and actually, Bryan's writers are doing Superman with him, so there you go. We couldn't, and Bryan, I think had some sort of outline or something in his head, but we wanted a whole new direction, a whole new team. Obviously we couldn't rely on Bryan to provide input because he was busy doing this other project. But we're very happy with how it's continuing on, it's going to be very exciting.

Question: Did you get to spend a lot of on the Superman set?

Gorder: I spent about three days on the Superman set, and it was pretty impressive. He has all the toys, let's just say that. He has all the most expensive camera equipment and toys you could possibly imagine.

Question: Bryan took a number of his X-Men crew with him to Superman and you had to get new blood here.

Gorder: Yeah, as many of them as he could, but ironically we have a lot of the same crew as we had on X-Men 2, and we're shooting at the same stages, so we're happy about having a lot of that crew. Bryan really likes the Vancouver film crews and we got most of them. Bryan took a lot of technical people from LA because they weren't available, those types of people on that level weren't available in Sydney. So, and that's the same case here, when you're doing certain stunts and visual effects the infrastructure here, in the film community, isn't big enough to have these ground breaking effects and things. So you do have to bring up crew from LA and experts in certain areas, particularly prosthetic makeup and visual effects. So he took what he could over there, and obviously we've brought a lot of prosthetic makeup artists up here to do the characters. Just because they just don't have those types of people up here like in the quantities that we need for this movie, or the caliber, or credits we need for this movie.

This is the biggest production ever filmed in Canada. Used to be X2, now it's X3, maybe X4 will be even bigger.

Question: Because of that, some of the crew might be with Bryan, how do you think that will play a part in this film?

Gorder: It won't have any impact whatsoever. Because, Bryan didn't take key crew that we have. Bryan has his crew like Tom Sigel and Louise Mingenbach that always work on his films, but we hired Judianna Makovsky and Ed Verreaux, so we've got a whole new team that is just as good that's working with Brett. So it's really, Bryan's artists understand Bryan's filmmaking, and the artists we hired to do this are working well with Brett, and they understand what Brett wants out of the film. So there will be no impact whatsoever. Dante Spinotte, our director of photography is in the same category as Tom Sigel, so we have the same level of talent, we just hired new people. It's kind of interesting and good because it gives something fresh to the film and adds to it.

Question: While working within the same universe...

Gorder: Exactly, and we look at X-Men 1 and 2 constantly as reference, and we want to make sure that we match what was done before. Because why, if it ain't broke, why fix it. We want to match it and keep continuity so the fans will be pleased and not confused when they're reminded of little bits from the past. Of course we would have loved to have reinvented the wheel completely, with costumes and certain angles like that, but then you ask yourself "why spend the money", is it really that necessary. Let's spend the money creating bigger, or more groundbreaking visual effects. Because the costumes you know, yeah, it would be nice to see them in different costumes, but it's more important to the fans to see big effects and to see the characters in real hard core action. So that's what we're really focused on in this film, and I think Brett's delivering it.

Question: How does the budget of X-Men 3 compare to 2 and 1?

Gorder: Well, obviously, we're getting a little bit bigger canvas to work on. So, we normally don't talk about budget, but it is an expensive undertaking, as you can imagine, as any film of this size is, and with the cast we have and the stunt performers we need to make it exciting and thrilling. So, yeah, exponentially every time you do a sequel if you want to make it better, you're provided a little bit more financing and money to do the things that you need to do to make it cooler, because if you weren't, you can't really go back. People see things, and they want to see the next level, the next advancement in technology, the next advancement in effects, so we're happy about that. We're very happy that we can have a little more to play with and make things a little more exciting and interesting for everyone.

Question: Is there any particular part of the production so far that has impressed you?

Gorder: The whole production, just the undertaking has impressed me. Everyday I'm impressed. We have two huge units going, the second unit is almost like a whole separate movie in itself, just the undertaking, you can see out there with just the trailers and stuff, it looks like the main unit of an ordinary movie. So, just the level of expertise, the crew that we've hired, Brett's knowledge of big movie making and green screen work. We've built a section of the Golden Gate Bridge and we have four story green screens all around it, which is just mind blowing, and when you see production on that scale, and scaffolding, and green screens four stories high, it's pretty mind blowing.

Question: Are you planting seeds for an X-Men 4 in this film?

Gorder: Sort of, yeah, you know, as much as we did in X2, many people missed the fact that there was a sort of an outline of a Phoenix in the water. We do sort of the same thing in this one. You could go there if you wanted to. But it doesn't rule out anything, it doesn't set up anything specifically like saying well you're going to tell this story in X-Men 4. It just sets it up like they could come back, or they could be. Certain characters could come back and continue their story arcs.

Question: What about, I know Fantastic Four you had a nod to X-Men 2, with a photo I think, do you have something like this in this film?

Gorder: Yeah, we have an Easter egg, which never actually made it into the movie I don't think.

Question: Oh it didn't?

Question: There was a deleted scene

Gorder: Yeah, yeah, it was a photograph of Stryker in a picture with Dr. Doom and Senator Kelly. We don't really in this one, because we don't really have that opportunity and the X-Men universe is a little more serious than Fantastic Four. So there's a scene where some kids are playing a video game, and I didn't want to use a Marvel game because it takes you out of the serious world of the X-Men. The essence of X-Men is about disenfranchisement, or racism, or classism, things like that, so if you put another comic book movie in it, or a reference to it, and it's not serious, it takes away from the seriousness of the story, and the underlying issues of racism, and not being comfortable in your own skin, and that sort of thing. Fantastic Four is a completely 180 opposite of X-Men, in that they are celebrity superheroes and it's very light and family oriented.

Question: Would you do an X-Men spin-off? Wolverine?

Gorder: Yes, there's two in development. There's Wolverine in development, and Magneto in development, young Magneto. As far as whether I'd work on them or not, I'd love to. They're probably not going to happen until maybe next year sometime. There's still development to go on them

Question: And so it is possible Hugh Jackman would do it?

Gorder: Oh absolutely, absolutely they would have Hugh. Now Magneto, obviously his story is after World War 2, so there would be a younger actor. Whether or not Ian would be in a Magneto movie, I don't know, I haven't seen the script.

Question: I was curious, the last movie was semi based on the comic series "God Loves, Man Kills", does this one have any correlating story?

Gorder: Well, there's a lot of reference from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. There's some characters, like Dr. Rao, is a character in this movie. That's from the Astonishing X-Men, also Phoenix Rising, and the Phoenix comics. There will be some references to that. Most of all, no, it's kind of an original story. We've just taken bits and pieces that we like from Joss' story line, and the Phoenix story line.

Question: Do you have a favorite scene in this movie?

Gorder: I have a couple of them. They're pretty great.

Question: That you can talk about?

Gorder: I can't really talk about my favorite scene. But all I'll say is you are just going to go "Wow" when you see it. It is really amazing. So you can imagine how popular the Phoenix character is in the X-Men universe, and how popular Juggernaut is, and Beast, and we've maximized the scenes that those characters are in and made them very dynamic and interesting. So I think people are just going to be really, really surprised at how cool these particular scenes are in the film, and how we've incorporated their story lines into the overall bigger picture of the X-Men story.

Question: Tell us about your new actors, the new characters.

Gorder: Kitty's played by Ellen Page, she's amazing. Brett calls her the female Edward Norton. She's in a small indie movie called Hard Candy, and she's just an incredible actress, and we're very excited for her to play Kitty.

Question: She's getting a lot of screen time?

Gorder: Yeah, she's blown away. She has a lot of screen time with Bobby; there's a B story line there that involves Bobby.

And Vinnie Jones, of course, is a renowned soccer player from England, and he's perfect for Juggernaut. He has a suit on that we've made for him, and the costume and the helmet are incredible, very faithful to the comic. Vinnie has the right personality for the character. He's an amazing actor to work with and people are going to really fall in love with Juggernaut as a bad guy, as part of the Brotherhood, so we're happy with that too.

And then we have Ben Foster, plays Angel, and he's doing an incredible job. When you see when Angel is revealed in the story, I think everyone will be really surprised and happy that he was chosen because he's spot-on as anything you could imagine Angel to be like.

And then who else do we have?

Question: Kelsey.

Gorder: Kelsey (Grammer) is just mind blowing, Kelsey blows my mind. He is so Beast, that I almost don't even want to see him out of his makeup. I like him so much and his character so much as Beast and that when I see him as Kelsey I keep thinking it was Frasier, but when you see him in the Beast makeup you're thinking, "Well as soon as he talks it will sound like Frasier with Beast makeup on." Not at all. He has totally encapsulated the character of Beast, better than anyone I could of ever of imagined. I remember when he was cast, I was like, "Hmmm, I wonder how the fans are going to react to this?" It is very interesting casting, and I saw his casting tape, and it just blew me and everybody else away. It was the best choice they could have made, and you're going to be so surprised with his look. They did an incredible job with his makeup, it's absolutely fantastic looking.

Question: Which version of the Beast does it follow? The cat like?

Gorder: No we wanted to stay away from the cat-like Beast, just because it makes the character a little bit too unbelievable, it doesn't quite fit into that world. It's a little bit more about the hair, it took us a long time to get the hair color right, and the texture of the hair right.

But they've done such an amazing job that I think everybody's going to want to be Beast. He's going to be the favorite character. And it's very gratifying, because we've tried to get him into every movie that we've done, and due to various story reasons or cost cutting, or budget cutting, we couldn't fit him into the first two, but in this one, we finally got him. We made the absolute right choice, he is perfect in the part, he loves playing the part, and he is so enthusiastic to be taking a character, having a comic-book character and developing it as his own, and I think he's somebody that we're going to want to see back in future sequels.

I mean you could almost do a Beast sequel on its own, because he's got such an interesting story. He's got a lot emotional pathos to his character. He was a football star before he was turned into Beast, and then he was a handsome guy and he's not so handsome now that he has blue fur and blue skin. I think a lot of people are going to relate to that on some level, whether it be that in your youth you were handsome and you were a star and all the sudden you were blue or you're older. They'll draw parallels between that in their own life, and Kelsey's the perfect person to pull that off, because you will care about Beast, and you will care about his dilemma, but you'll also think it's very cool that he's Beast, and probably not want to see him as Kelsey Grammer again, like bring Beast back.

It's the same thing like Michael Chiklis and the Thing, people don't really want to see Ben Grimm anymore, they just want to see the Thing, because it's such an emotional character, and it's an endearing character to most of the fans. And that's the same way as Beast. So Kelsey's amazing, and I hope they do do a separate movie on Beast, it would be a really good movie.

Question: Nightcrawler's not back. Do you address that?

Gorder: No we don't, and it's not really necessary in the story that we have. We would have liked to have had Nightcrawler back but, there's certain trade-offs that you take with a story, and Nightcrawler's an expensive character, prosthetic makeup-wise, and also visual effects-wise and so if you're going to have a character like Nightcrawler, you want to have a story arc that justifies that expense. And you also want to make the actor happy that he has a significant role to don the makeup and the effects, and do the stunt work and that type of thing.

So we just had so many other characters that we wanted to try to get in and introduce, that were new, that we will probably leave that open and bring him back in some other sequel.

Question: You mentioned Callisto and Multiple Man?

Gorder: Yes, they have smaller parts in the movie. They sort of just augment the Brotherhood. They're not really cameo characters, their roles are bigger than what Colossus was in X2. They're both part of the Brotherhood in this one.

Question: What non-mutant actors are involved in the film? Is it like Dr. Worthington?

Gorder: Dr. Rao is played by Shohreh Aghdashloo from House of Sand and Fog, a Persian woman, and she is amazing. Dr. Rao is a character from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. She works in this facility we're in now. So she's in, and then we have Bill Duke, who plays a government official; he's great. We have a number of other actors that are really terrific, supporting cast-wise.

Question: Did you look to local Vancouver?

Gorder: Oh absolutely, absolutely, we try to cast locally as much as we can, and we found a lot of good talent out of Vancouver, and Toronto as well. Ellen Page is from Toronto and Shawn Ashmore is from Toronto. Cameron Bright's in the movie as well, and he is from Vancouver Island.

Question: Do you follow all the rumors online?

Gorder: Yeah, well, the rumors tend to be sometimes annoying because people will want affirmation of whether it's true or not, and the cast is so big and so many things are happening so quickly that you don't want to say "Well. I don't know" and not be sure. So sometimes you just try to say "No, that's not true," and you try to put it to bed so it doesn't spread further. We try not to get too involved with what's rumored on the Internet, basically because we're too busy. Anybody that has time to read the Internet exhaustively, other than the studio who looks at it, we just don't do it. And if they ask us to deflect a rumor or discredit it then we would.

Question: Storm flies in this?

Gorder: Yeah, Storm will, you will see Storm in a bigger role, flying, and fighting, and we're very happy about that. And Halle (Berry) looks really cool doing it. Every character has a bigger, more exciting action-oriented part in this film, so you're going to see some moves from the characters that you haven't seen in the previous two movies that are really going to please the fans. Those fans that wanted to see Storm fly finally get to see that. And we get to see Magneto float a little more too, so we're excited about that.

Question: Do we see Kelsey scrap too?

Gorder: Oh yeah, we'll definitely see that. You want to use Beast's talents, which are he's acrobatic and he has skillful fighting moves, so we're going to exploit that as much as we can.

Question: What about Gambit? Was he in the film?

Gorder: There was a draft of a script long ago that had Gambit in it. Again he is one of the characters that, it's such a big, popular character that if you put him in the story you want to use him to the full advantage and give him the story arc that the fans will like. And the early draft that he was in, it was just too minor of a part and, I just think he's going to be saved. It's just too big of a character to just have a bit part in the movie. And he's got too good of a storyline to sort of short-change the audience on just a small part, so Gambit's not in the movie.

Question: What about Colossus?

Gorder: Colossus is back and it's Daniel Cudmore as Colossus and he has a bigger part, and again we'll see action from Colossus that will expand on his heroic scene in X2 where he busts through the wall and takes care of Stryker's guards, Stryker's men. But he's back and he's going to look really cool.

Question: Are you guys filming outside of Vancouver or any other cities?

Gorder: We've done some second unit work outside of British Columbia here, well, just outside of Vancouver. Element Lake is one of the locations we shot at. And we've done some second-unit work in San Francisco, some visual effects work in San Francisco. But basically, no, most of it's done here right in the city.

Question: Is the Cyclops character, is he back, because I know the actor is working with Bryan Singer on Superman?

Gorder: Yes, Cyclops is back, and we're very happy to have him back. We've completed his filming with Cyclops, but he is coming back to shoot one additional pick-up shot, so we're hoping to do that in the next couple of weeks.

Brett was very adamant about bringing back the original cast to the extent that we could and that they were available.

President McKenna, who was played by Cotter Smith in X-Men 2 was not available to us, so we recast the president.

But as far as the X-Men, and the minor X-Men, even the kids that had no lines that were basically cameos in the back, we brought them back. Like Jubilee, and Artie, and the kids from X2.

And it actually was a great idea because you get to see these kids have gotten older. And Artie was like this big (holding out arm), and he's now taller than me, and they're going through puberty and stuff, which is exciting because X-Men is about the angst of puberty, a lot of the kids that are in the school. So it was really fun to see. Even Siren is back and she's like really tall now. It was nice that Brett brought the kids back and we tried to incorporate and give them little moments like they had before. There's a little moment with Jones changing the channel on the TV, again sort of in that vein.

It's nice to see those kids come back. It does feel like family, and like real school, especially when you're over at Royal Roads, where we shoot the school and the downstairs area of the school.

Question: I don't know if we're going to talk about costume designs, but is there any particular change to the costumes that they wear?

Gorder: They've been updated with some piping and some detailing. The battle suits have been updated. But as far as the regular clothes, Judianna Makovsky our costume designer, has taken it in a new direction. She's done some interesting things with the looks that are their non-battle suit looks. Storm wears some sexier clothing, and she looks great. She's experimented with some different fabrics and colors that normally we didn't use before, and she's just done a terrific job with outfitting the non-mutant characters and outside of the X-Men uniforms.

But, yes, they did update the X battle suit uniforms and new characters that have new uniforms, like Bobby his is enhanced a little because Bobby got a uniform at the end X2.

Question: Will we get to see him fully ice up this time?

Gorder: Right now I think yes (laughs), but I don't want to give that away.

Question: Is there any truth that a major character might be killed off?

Gorder: Well, right now we don't want to comment of characters being killed off, but let's just say that in the comic-book world, anything is possible as far as being killed off or resurrected. So yeah, I think that the fans will be pleased with the way that the characters are handled and the way that their story arcs are told. They will be very pleased.

Question: Is there a lot of physical action on the set or are there a lot of digital doubles?

Gorder: Well, we do digital cyber-scanning of all of the actors for some effects shots. Some visual effects, but as far as practical stunts we would never use the actors in any serious practical stunts. Putting them in a wire is one thing, like Storm and Magneto will do wire work where they're in a harness in a wire. But they both are characters that fly. But as far as anything going through walls or anything that's acrobatic or involves any kind of tumbling, that would be stunt doubles.

Question: Is Patrick Stewart's involvement equal to what it was in the prior two films?

Gorder: Yes, he's back. He's back and bigger than ever in this. We've wrapped him filming. If we bring him back it will be for additional shots or something. but for the most part he's been wrapped. He's back in London.

He's doing a play in London, so we front loaded the shooting schedule to shoot him out. He's producing and starring in a play in London. Most of his scenes were at the X-Mansion and then we shot him out quickly when we got back to Vancouver. He wrapped about two weeks ago.

Question: Is there going to be like a Burger King thing like with Fantastic Four?

Gorder: They have various fast-food partners. Burger King's an international partner. But as far as domestic, I don't think there's anything finalized yet. But that's not to say there won't be.

Question: They've already announced toys?

Gorder: Yes, yes, Burger King will be doing international premiums, but not domestic. Domestic has yet to be determined. 7-11, it looks like they're going to be a partner. They were involved before. Pepsi is a product placement deal with the film, but as far as getting a bigger promotion out of them, I'm not sure yet that's been finalized yet.

Question: The film seems very action heavy. Is there any sort of romantic thing happening between the characters?

Gorder: Yes, there is, but I won't reveal that. You know in the past movies there's been the love triangle between Wolverine, Jean, and Cyclops. There is some of that alluded to in this one, but then there's a romantic B storyline that's revealed in this one. Obviously it's not a huge storyline, but it's there. It's set up. It's basically set up for future sequels.

Question: How does Wolverine's role compare to the other films?

Gorder: Well, Wolverine's the star of the movie, so he plays a pretty big part. As far as being larger than in the other films, I think it's probably about the same.

Question: Will this one continue into the whole Weapon X theme?

Gorder: No, we pretty much touched on that in X2. You're reminded that's what he's interested in finding out about. There's no flashbacks or any of that. He has a whole different storyline that he's pursuing in this movie. It's more of an action-oriented storyline.

Question: Are you involved with the second Fantastic Four movie?

Gorder: I haven't been asked as of yet, but I would love to be and hopefully would be.

Question: Will there be any cameos from any other minor characters?

Gorder: Yeah, there will be. Most of them are characters that you know are very minor that you'd have to be a really hard ore fan to recognize their name.

Question: Like?

Gorder: I mean like Arclight is one. Again, that's a character that's called Arclight, but it's just a cameo character.

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