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TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2006

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND'S BEN FOSTER

NEW YORK -- After he failed to make the cut in the first two X-Men films, Angel will finally appear in X-Men: The Last Stand.

However, despite what some published images might indicate, he won't be a costumed member of the squad.

Ben Foster, who plays Angel, acknowledged he was photographed in a black X-Men outfit, but that's as far as it went.

"I was never filmed, but I wore it a lot in fittings," Foster said. "We got a photo of it and that's as good as itıs going to get in this movie.

"There's a lot of potential when we're shooting a film of this size and magnitude of where characters can go. And films run long and shooting runs long, and decisions are made to accommodate."

That's not to say Angel isn't important to the movie.

Warren Worthington III is shown very early in the film as a child, struggling to cope with the wings sprouting out his back. His father, billionaire industrialist Warren Worthington II (played by Michael Murphy), cannot accept Angel's mutation and spearheads the effort to develop the cure for mutancy.

Foster said he talked with Murphy about how their relationship should be played.

"It was important for both of us going in that it wasn't son against father or father against son," Foster said. "In this particular circumstance, although a 16-foot wingspan is a beautiful thing to behold, it's considered to be a horrible disfigurement. And they're in agreement about this, and the both want to make life easier."

X-Men: The Last Stand is Foster's second Marvel movie, following his turn as Spacker Dave in The Punisher. Just by appearance, it's tough to tell the same actor did both parts.

"Ben worked out harder than anyone I'd ever seen," said director Brett Ratner. "He really transformed himself."

Being fit helped Foster deal with the prosthetics and harness work. He shrugged off the notion that applying the wings was "grueling," as suggested in press notes.

"It wasn't thrilling at 4 in the morning having strangers glue things to your back in the cold Vancouver air." he said. "But it wasn't grueling. It was unpleasant at first, more unpleasant taking them off because it's heavy glue and real wings, taking off the skin.

"And it may be a drag when it's four in the afternoon and you can't sit. Angels don't sit, apparently. They just kind of pose and stand or sleep on couches, face down. So that's kind of a drag, but not grueling."

Foster said he has read X-Men comics -- "I was a big Wolverine fan -- and Gambit. Those were my guys." -- and acknowledge that Angel's powers are rather simplistic compared to other X-Men.

"He's a guy with wings," Foster said. "It's an idea. He's more of a metaphor, in my opinion. It's one of the world's most ancient icons ­ man with wings. For my money's worth, I want to see a hairy guy with metal coming out of his arms. Like, 'Arrrrrrr!' But in terms of the freedom to lift off in fly, I think that's a beautiful thing."



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