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SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2006


NEW YORK -- As the new mutant on the block, Dania Ramirez was probably more emotional than most of her castmates after seeing X-Men: The Last Stand.

"I couldn't be more excited," the actress who plays Callisto said Friday at the film's press junket. "For me, because I was new and there was such a huge cast and there are such huge actors in this movie, I was so happy that I was still in it.

"I saw it and I called my manager right after and I was like, 'I'm still in the movie!' A lot of times you never know what the finished product is going to be. A lot of people get taken out, and words get taken out. I was like, 'Wow, I'm in this movie!'"

Ramirez's Callisto is a new -- but prominent -- member of Magneto's Brotherhood. Her character is described as "a proud, pugnacious mutant who combines super speed with the ability to locate and assess the powers of other mutants."

"The only real difference is my character is the eye patch. She doesn't wear an eye patch," Ramirez said. "That was something they were kind of struggling with, I think.

"The character in the comic book is a lot older than me and eventually she will get an eye patch. But at this particular time she doesn't have an eye patch yet. That's my excuse for it, and that's how it made sense in my head. And I'm sticking to that story, and I haven't discussed it with anyone."

Callisto does have some interesting tattoos, including one on her face.

"She's the leader of the Morlocks," Ramirez said. "Her main thing is that she's so proud of being a mutant and who she is and she wants to kind of wear it. She's not afraid to hide what she represents. And I thought that was a great (to show it).

"That's more of a Brett Ratner and the creative team's idea. And I think that's also one of the reasons why the eye patch wasn't going to work as much for me playing that character.

"It was going to be busy. I have a tattoo on my face, I have a tattoo on my chest, I have a tattoo on my arm."

Ramirez said she originally auditioned to be Stacy X.

"They really liked my audition, but Marvel wanted to true to the characters in the comic book and I just wasn't right for that," she said.

Callisto's rivalry with Storm transfers to the big screen with some high-voltage scraps between the characters.

"Those are cool!" Ramirez said. "It was exciting to get the opportunity to work with Halle Berry. She was so sweet and really a professional when it came to doing the stunts. She wanted to be there for me and I wanted to be there for her, and we basically did a lot of our own stunts. Of course, there were things we just couldn't do because of safety issues.

"It was exciting. I love the fight. It's not a catfight. It's not pulling hair. It's not scratching. We're really going at it. It's really raw, and I think people are going to really respond to that.

"And going back to staying true to Callisto in the comic book, that's who she is. She's this really raw, tough character."

Ramirez, 26, has appeared in three Spike Lee films -- The Subway Stores, 25th Hour and She Hate Me -- as well as Cross Bronx and Fat Albert. None matches the scope of X-Men.

" They did a really good job of creating the world," she said. "That's the advantage of being in such a huge movie that has a great budget. You have a lot more to play with, and they're able to create the world you're in...the bridge and Alcatraz. Everything, actually, was a set. They built it."

Ramirez has been involved with some popular franchises other than X-Men. She appeared in three episodes of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she will be in the season finale of HBO's The Sopranos.

"It's pretty cool," she said. "It's The Sopranos. I've been a fan of the show for years."

Of course, she couldn't spill any details about her role. Asked if her character will return for the next season, she gave a Soprano-like answer: "Whether I tell you that or don't tell you that, it's really not going to make a difference."

X-Men: The Last Stand opens May 26.

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