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X-Men toys

SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2006


NEW YORK -- In the which-is-going-to-be-better debate -- X-Men: The Last Stand or Superman Returns? -- James Marsden can't lose.

That's because he's in both films, returning to play Cyclops for a third time in X-Men: The Last Stand, and playing Richard White, Lois Lane's fiance and father of her child in Superman Returns.

"It feels like a dream, really," Marsden said during the X-Men junket on Friday morning.

It could have been a nightmare, too, with X-Men filming in Vancouver and Superman Returns in Sydney, Australia. In fact, when Marsden was hired by Bryan Singer -- director of the first two X-Men films -- for Superman, rumors swirled that Cyclops wasn't going to be in the third X-Men movie. The nastier rumors even had Marsden fired.

They couldn't have been further from the truth, Marsden said.

"It was really a pretty easy thing," Marsden said "It was just like a scheduling issue.

"When Bryan called me and asked if I'd be interested in playing a part in Superman, at the time the director hadn't been set yet on X-Men 3 and they were targeting an August or September date. And I think Bryan's film was starting in March, so I just proceeded like that.

""And I knew that when it got down to the wire we would have to work out dates, and Fox and Warner Bros. ­ thank God for them ­ they were just really collaborative in making it work."

Cyclops is featured heavily early in X-Men: The Last Stand which picks up dealing with Jean Grey's apparent death at Alkali Lake in X2.

"Obviously, he's taking it real hard," Marsden said of his character. "As an actor, I admire Scott's devotion, his feelings, toward Jean Grey. And it was fun for me.

"There's a bit of role reversal between Logan and I in this movie, where I actually become a little more irresponsible and emotional and he's a little more responsible. It was fun.

"He's a little more weathered and he's mourning Jean's death. I think he's at a crossroads of his life and is being haunted by her presence and he doesn't want to close the book just yet because he fees like therešs something nipping at him, her presence or soul or whatever. He's having a tough time."

In Superman Returns, White is the nephew of The Daily Planet's Perry White and the object of Lois Lane's affection, which causes Superman no small consternation upon his return.

"It was great to be with Bryan again," Marsden said. "I think he's doing a pretty amazing job with it. It was a long shoot, eight, nine months.

"In many ways, it felt like you were working on an X-Men film because Bryan has a very specific way of working and creates a very specific tone on the set. And he has a group of people ­ Mike (Dougherty) and Dan (Harris), the writers, and (director of photography) Tom Sigel ­ so, it felt safe. You feel very safe with Bryan because you know he's going to take your best and put it up there."

Marsden said Singer wasn't overly curious about how X-Men: The Last Stand was going.

Bryan has an unwavering focus when he's working on something. He can't be bothered with," Marsden said. "Obviously, it's a great part of his life and he's very close to the X-Men world and he's proud of what he created. I donšt want to speak for him, but thatšs what hešs told me.

"I went to do X-Men and then I went actually went back and finished more work on Superman afterwards. And I was waiting for him to ask me something about it. And he said, 'Oh, how was it? How as it?' He's very good with friends with Brett (Ratner, X-Men: The Last Stand director) and therešs a great mutual respect for each other."

And while it's highly unlikely you're going to get Marsden to vote for one film or the other, he did favor Superman Returns in one regard: "I don't have to wear the glasses or visor," he said with a laugh.

X-Men: The Last Stand opens May 26. Superman Returns opens June 30.

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