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THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2006


NEW YORK -- The Continuum today continues its series on the actors of X-Men: The Last Stand with a question-and-answer session with Kelsey Grammer, the former Frasier star who plays Hank McCoy/Beast.

Following is an edited transcription of the roundtable interview.

Question: Did you have approval of your shade of blue?

Grammer: As it turned out I did, sure. Because it was a work in progress until we decided on that blue, there were several shades of blue. There was a pasty blue was the first film test, then we went very, very dark, then we went sort of mid-range, then we went a little dark and thought the first dark was the right one.

Question: How freeing was it to be in the makeup?

Grammer: It is freeing to be given a great mask because you have the luxury of not being saddle with, in my case, a TV persona that perhaps a little bit limiting in terms of other people's imagination when they see you.

It's just fun to play dress-up. It was always fun for me, and it still is.

Question: Looking at it both ways, is it somehow restrictive?

Grammer: Physically, it is restrictive. It was something that I borrowed from the physical restriction for the character because he is intellectually very focused, so he's not a prone to action. He is a man who chooses action very, very specifically. That, to me, was a great compelling quality about the character that made him fun to play and unique and interesting.

Question: Had you ever read any comics with Beast in them?

Grammer: No, I didn't really know about Beast. I don't know much about X-Men except for the films, actually. I was a Thor guy when I was a kid. Those were the only ones I pretty much remember resonating, but that probably because I was a Norse god in my past. (laugh).

Question: Did you read any comics in preparation for this?

Grammer: I did a little bit of research, checked out what the Beast had been and what his story was. I asked a couple of fans actually. The makeup guys who did the makeup knew about the past incarnations of Beast more than anybody else. They're complete fan. It's the perfect job for these guys. They started out doing this stuff. They were mixing prosthetic equipment when they were five or six years old. These guys were to the matter born.

Question: And how did that information bear on what you do?

Grammer: Pretty much without any connection at all. (laughs) But it was just nice to know. It's nice to know where you come from. But really has very little to do with where you are in the moment of the show, that he was a chemist or a guy who used to have regular flesh color. Things like that might help inform on how he might feel about this blueness.

Question: How exciting was it to do a character so different from Frasier?

Grammer: It's always exciting to do a different character. Actors get into it because we want to play different, memorable characters. The day you get a TV job, it's a blessing and a curse because you think, "Well, I can finally make a living as an actor." And then you think, "Will I ever act again?" because eventually it becomes such a fit -- that one big successful character you have.

Question: Did they come to you for this or did you pursue it?

Grammer: Actually, the director Matthew Vaughn. who was originally slated to direct the film, was pretty adamant about me playing Beast. He saw it and sold it.

Question: How surprised were you with Brett (Ratner, director) staying with that decision?

Grammer: Well, it would have been foolish to have changed course. (laughs) There's no reason to expect that I'm not a good actor. There are certainly people in our industry -- especially on the film side -- that would assume they don't to see me any more because there's so used to the television thing. But very few people think, "Oh, he's not a good actor. I don't want to watch him at all."

Question: But Vaughn had to fight that battle for you?

Grammer: A little bit.

Question: Was the studio reluctant?

Grammer: To the point where you go in and say hello. You say, "Hello" and they say, "Oh, all right."

Question: Did you feel like the new guy in this ensemble?

Grammer: Yeah. When you examine the roles that have been plummed by this cast in the previous two roles, this is perhaps the most significant contribution to the third one, in terms of a different character and someone we don't really know. But he also has this back cache, I guess, of being loved by the comics readers. He's a very popular guy, that's what I told.

Question: Did you play him like he was uncomfortable? He seemed very bulky.

Grammer: His attempt to integration into what would be mainstream society ... and obiously in this film, he's done it well because he's in politics and seems to be quite good at what he does, even if he's just more of a figurehead until the cure comes up. Because maybe it was a political expediency thing to appoint a mutant affairs guy. Maybe it was just a gesture to shut up the mutant population, I don't know.

But once this driving force comes into the story, he now has something that's important to take care off, and I think he handles it pretty well.

Question: It is distracting to have the film start with one direct and then shift?

Grammer: Well, we didn't really start. Brett was always at the helm once the film started rolling. Matthew was just in the casting process, and he said he didn't have enought time to finish it to make this release date. So, I respect his causes.

Brett said, "What the hell, I'll try it." And he was terrific. Brett was great.

Question: How much of that was you in the fight scenes?

Grammer: It's about half and half. There's some of the stuff that pretty nutty. With the flying stuff, if I had a little more time to prepare for it, that made I would have done a few more of those things. But I jump off the ceiling, I do all that stuff. The one where, I flip off the ceiling, that's me.

Question: So how did you prepare for that?

Grammer: Well, most actors are athletes. You have to be at least physically capable to accomplish stuff like that if they throw it at you.

Question: So how do actually do that?

Grammer: They have you strapped in at the side. There's a harness you wear. To the imaginative soul, you know what the problem. They buckle you in, then you really have to coordinate where your arms go. Because if you're flipping, you have to past the wires.

Question: How long are you hanging up there?

Grammer: It was up there for a couple hours. I was not comfortable. (laughs) The upside-down part was weird, but you get used to it.

Question: If the film is successful, would you be interesting in doing a Beast spin-off, like Wolverine?

Grammer: There has been some discussion of that. That's all I know.

Question: But would you be interested?

Grammer: Would I be interested? It's a very, very demanding role to play. I could probably handle it. We'd have to make sure that the schedule worked. I mean, in terms of sufficent rest in between. There would have to like two days on, one day off, two days on...

Question: Because of the makeup?

Grammer: It's just the makeup; it tears your face apart. And physically, it gets claustrophobic spiritually. You spend so much time locked up in that. And often you spend 10 to 12 hours without working, immobile. It has a physical challenge to it that's kind of strange in its inertness.

Question: What about the Isis movie? Where does that stand?

Grammer: The Isis movie, still percolating. I like the project. We'll see. That's one we bought a while back. It's a really fun idea. It's a matter of making it, money wise.

Question: If they do a Thor cartoon, would you be interested in doing the voice?

Grammer: Oh, maybe. You never know. (laughs)

Question: Did you and Rebecca Romijn ever bond with the time in the makeup chair?

Grammer: No, we never saw each other. I've seen her parties. Rebecca and I are acquainted, but we never had a chance to work with each other. She told me when I got the job, she said, "Oh, it's hell. Then it's fun when you see it."

X-Men: The Last Stand opens on Friday.

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