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X-Men toys

MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006


NEW YORK -- X-Men: The Last Stand might or might not be the finale for the franchise, but, either way, it does figure to be Halle Berry's swansong as Storm.

After three X-Men films and Catwoman, Berry said she is hanging up her super-hero duds.

"I donıt think Iıll do this again or a spin-off because I do want to focus on other aspects of my career, and there are other things I want to work on," Berry said at the X-Men: The Last Stand junket.

Berry said the desire for more dramatic fare -- like her Oscar-winning turn in Monster's Ball -- and the time consumption of large-scale movies like X-Men: The Last Stand were primary reasons for moving on.

"I have a hard time reading other scripts when Iım working on a movie, because I stay in that world that I'm creating," she said. "X-Men is a big chunk out of your year. If you do an X-Men movie, it's like six, seven, eight months out of your year, so it takes a lot of time away."

Fans clinging to the notion that Berry might come back do have some hope, especially since she wasn't always a sure thing for the third X-Men.

For months Berry had publically expressed a strong desire for Storm to be more important to the third film, and, originally having signed only for two films, wasn't certain to be back. She credited director Brett Ratner with Storm's increased and more satisfying role in The Last Stand.

"He felt the same way I did and he was very open to me talking about what her point of view is and what should it be," Berry said. "And how does she feel about this or about that and about how involved should Storm really be. And I had big issues with sheıs the teacher and doing more than flying the plane. There has to be a woman under there that has a point of view, that has passion about something, thatıs angry about something, thatıs happy about something.

"She just canıt be this mechanical sort of character she has been in the past. So Brett was open to letting me be a part of that."

Like her castmates, Berry said she was surprised when Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men films, opted to move on to Superman Returns.

"I donıt think any of us thought there would be a franchise without him," she said. "I mean, we thought, 'There's no way they would do 3 without him.' So when we had to wrap our brains around, yes, in fact, he was not going to direct, it was a very confusing time. Some of us not knowing if we were coming back or not, for various reasons.

"But when Brett came on, I personally was really happy. I think he's a great director, and I thought he would bring a different energy to the project. And if this is in fact the last one, I thought he would take it out with a bang. And I would want that for the franchise.

"He had big shoes to fill. Bryan is an amazing director and did a great job with the series, so there was a lot of pressure and question if he could do it."

Storm also gets in on more of the action in X-Men: The Last Stand, fulfilling Berry's to fly as the character soars, zips, spins and throws lightning in the high-octane action sequences.

"I did a lot of wirework and spinning," she said. "It just took about five sessions with the stunt guys to get use to it and learn a few tricks. I'd done it before with Catwoman."

Sometimes, the make-believe of having super-powers got quite humorous on the set.

"You do laugh. We always bust up laughing," Berry said. "Because itıs silly and sometimes itıs stupid and it makes no sense. You've got these grown people doing these silly things. And then you just say, 'This is what I love about my job and what I get to do. And that I get paid to this silliness.; It all becomes silly at that point. It just becomes funs. And you just hope that when it's done that people get some enjoyment out it, some escape and some release."

Berry said she also appreciates the social context of X-Men.

"Although they're mutants and somewhat super-heroes, it really speaks to the heart of real people," she said. "Most people in life walk around very vulnerable because we're all being judged in some way or another, be it in our work environment, or we're all being judged by our lovers and our partners, by our children, by our parents, by our brothers, by our sisters. We're all walking around, really trying to fit in. And be loved. And be liked.

"That is the core of what X-Men is about. I think that's why so many people respond to it because they see their life in some way in the lives of these characters."

The issue of a cure for mutant heightens those elements in the third film and should be thought-provoking, Berry said.

"Because it happened to me in making the movie," she said. "It made me go and look at my own life and become really reflective about, 'Hmm, if I could wake up and be white tomorrow, would I do that?'

"I hope the audiences members leave with some thought of that and question their own lives and maybe create a little more tolerance. If the movie can have any significance socially, it will force people to have a little more tolerance."

X-Men: The Last Stand has received good early buzz and figures to be successful at the box office, unlike Catwoman's mediocre reception. Berry said it's tough to anticipate how a film will fare during its production.

"Because it's a director's medium," she said. "As the actor, you just do your little part. You have no idea what the other characters are doing in the scenes you are not in, usually. You have no control over how the director puts the movie together. You have no control over how it's marketed and presented to the world. You have a little, tiny part in it. What makes a movie work has a lot to do with many other people, not just you as an actor."

That said, Berry probably underestimated how poorly Catwoman would be received. After winning the Academy Award, she received a Razzie -- a dubious distinction for the worst in films -- for Catwoman.

"I thought in the world of action movies and comic-book movies, it was definitely different," she said. "It was different from any that I had seen. It was about a woman being empowered. I, too, thought we needed a better villain than a womanıs face cracking off, but I was outnumbered in that arena. Everybody seemed to think, no, that was OK."

X-Men: The Last Stand opens May 26.

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