X-MEN 2 - Q&A with ALAN CUMMING, SHAWN ASHMORE, ANNA PAQUIN & BRIAN COX
Movie Interview by Toby White
Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Anna Paquin (Rogue) and Brian Cox (Stryker)
This film has a lot more depth in terms of the issues raised compared to other comic book films and I wondered if you all have a perspective on that?
ALAN CUMMING: I liked the fact that they were all outsiders and were struggling with what it feels like to be prejudiced against and I think that's what makes it work. Personally, I don't think it's hard to feel what it feels like to be an outsider, I think we've all felt that at some point.
SHAWN ASHMORE: Playing a young character taking the next step and dealing with a super power he's tormented with he has to deal with forging normal relationships and certainly that's something I could associate with.
ANNA PAQUIN: I think for Rogue, her power is more of a curse than a blessing because in order to use it she has to hurt someone else and it's not in her nature to want to do that. Especially with relationships, there is a fear that when you get close to people there is the fear that you could get hurt or hurt someone else. That's something that adolescence deals with, you start feeling emotions very intensely and added to that Rogue has this physical manifestation of it.
Brian, how do you think X-Men fits in to this idea of the outsider?
BRIAN COX: I think the notion of the outsider is a very common state, I think we all have feelings of alienation, of not being part of something and, ironically, it's one of these things that feeds creativity. Most comic book creators have these feelings, it's something that they draw from, their fantasy is the corollary of that. It's interesting in Stan Lee's case that he came to the idea of the X-Men that the outsider is a super power and then you realise that there's a whole group of these people. Ironically, the person who's the real outsider in all this is the character I play.
With such a large cast, what was the atmosphere like on set? And, Alan, what's all this about you and Sir Ian going off to a nudist beach?
ALAN CUMMING: It's true. Ian wanted to go and needed someone to go with him and I was curious so I went along.
SHAWN ASHMORE: With such a large cast, you either sit in your hotel room or you hang out and I think Ian started to make that happen because of the parties he threw. I was new and it was nice to have that outside of work.
ALAN CUMMING: It was a long shoot so you want to make friends more.
There's a lot of similarity with such things as the civil rights movement, how expedient do you think the movie is in raising the watermark in addressing these issues?
ALAN CUMMING: I think the X-Men came about during the time of the civil rights movement in America so it was spot on. When the script came along I really responded to that aspect of it and I was surprised because you don't expect to get characters of this depth. It's not Hollywood's doing, it's the comic book origins.
SHAWN ASHMORE: It's important that you're caring about the characters and you're not just waiting for the next action sequence.
BRIAN COX: In the tradition of really great children's writing, they're always cautionary, there's always a hidden story. Stan Lee really pushed the envelope way back in the 60s. There's a kind of 40s romanticism about Superman and Batman and then Spiderman and finally you get to a human phase with X-Men and develops really interesting ideas. There are these little morality tales in X-Men and, particularly, it's all about tolerance.
Alan, Rebecca said her make-up was gruelling, how was it for you?
ALAN CUMMING: It was very uncomfortable and gruelling over the months. I was very bitter having to get up at 2 in the morning, 4 hours before anyone else. I didn't have prosthetics like Rebecca but I did have lots of little tattoo-like touches that were individually syringed on. My skin was in a state and funny things happened to my face.
Did you go through much physical training for the part?
ALAN CUMMING: Yes, a lot of gym work. And I worked with Terry Notary [Movement Coach] who provided a lot of acrobat training to help with the movement.
Anna, in the first movie Rogue seems very intense but she lightens up here, was that quite a relief?
ANNA PAQUIN: Yeah, she's no longer scared and withdrawn now that she's found her community, her family. It's a nice evolution of her character that she does open up and experiences things that other teenagers do. It was nice not to have to wear those handcuffs that I had the entire first movie and nice not to have to cry and scream all the time like in the first movie. I think I cried eighty-five per cent of the first movie. So, yeah, it was more fun this time.
How does your character develop next time?
ALAN CUMMING: In the comics she meets a character called Miss Marvel and beats her up and steals her powers so she gets super strength and gets to fly. I think that will be really fun.
Alan and Brian. With Sir Ian and Patrick did you guys have a Brit base on set?
BRIAN COX: We didn't work together.
ALAN CUMMING: We saw each other occasionally in passing. But with Ian and Patrick, it was nice to do some scenes with them. I find that in America in general when you see British people it's good to have a common reference.
BRIAN COX: Ian did a great job in that he provided a social centre but it was everybody, not just the Brits. It was very egalitarian in that way, a good feeling.