X-MEN 2 - Q&A with REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS, FAMKE JANSSEN, KELLY HU & JAMES MARSDEN
Movie Interview by Toby White
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Mystique), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), Kelly Hu (Lady Deathstrike) and James Marsden (Cyclops).
Rebecca, you're covered in blue make-up for the majority of your role - was it uncomfortable and were you a long time in make-up?
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: It's about as comfortable as not wearing clothes. But it's not just paint, it's about a hundred individual prosthetics made out of silicone. It took six hours on this film which was better than the first one which took nine hours and I had a two in the morning call time which meant the rest of the cast would wander in at about eight or nine with their coffee and their breakfast...
There are a lot of effects in the movie - did it involve a lot of acting with blue and green screens?
FAMKE JANSSEN: I had to do a lot more green screen this time and a lot of acting on my own with the director giving me instructions...
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Yeah, you find yourself looking at the cinematographer's crotch for your eye line! [Laughter] But you know what, I was amazed at how little green screen there was, a lot of the sets were actually there, like the X Jet, and a lot of props.
Famke, there's a lot more to your character this time, did you enjoy the darker side to your character?
FAMKE JANSSEN: I love the dark stuff. And, yes, Jean Grey went through a lot of changes in this film. I thought that Brian did a great job of adding different elements to this movie, in terms of emotion and humour.
A question for all of you, if you could be any mutant, which would it be?
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: The kid that can change channels with his eyes.
JAMES MARSDEN: Definitely, it's the most useful.
KELLY HU: I'd want to be Mystique.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: What, for the make-up?
KELLY HU: Except for that part. To have her powers would be really cool. You could pretend you were the President.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: I think all of our powers would help in a day-to-day way.
KELLY HU: I could open cans with my fingers...
JAMES MARSDEN: I think Jean Grey has the coolest power. She can read people's minds and be able to move things with her mind...
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: I like that everyone has 'issues' with their powers, they're superheroes but they're also like real people, like they're having a bad day...
FAMKE JANSSEN: Yeah, Jean Grey goes through puberty in this film.
JAMES MARSDEN: PMMS. Pre Menstrual Mutant Syndrome.
[Much laughter as the cast collapse into a flurry of innuendo]
KELLY HU: Now you guys know what it was like off set!
There's a new generation of X-Men in this movie, what was it like working with all the youngsters?
JAMES MARSDEN: I remember the first day's shooting, we arrived to shoot the scene where Logan comes back to the mansion and we hadn't seen each other in two years so we were all hanging out at the bottom of the stairs, catching up and Brian came in and said "Hey guys, how's it going? I'm just going to talk to the new kids for a second" and he was over there for a half hour and we were, like, "So, what do you think of the script, there's meant to be this new generation, right?" then there was a pause and we looked over and suddenly we were, like, "hang on, he's phasing us out!" [Laughter] But it's great, I think the X-Men universe has characters that span all the ages and it's a broad demographic which is nice. There you go, sensible answer...I didn't even get dirty!
FAMKE JANSSEN: Don't worry, we'll change that.
What were your reactions when you saw the finished film?
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Alan said [impersonates Alan Cumming] "I was laughing my tits off." [Laughter] I thought it was very exciting on every level. They did a great job of giving us all our screen time and there are those kick-ass action sequences but then also the chunks of meaningful moments.
JAMES MARSDEN: Brian has a way of surprising everyone. I thought the first film had the potential to not work but...
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: We didn't know what we were in for for the first one, you read all the effects sequences but have no idea what it's going to look like and we saw the first one and afterwards we were, like, "Hey, that really worked out!" This time we all went back in with much more confidence and we knew the tone of the movie.
FAMKE JANSSEN: Even so, we were blown away.
KELLY HU: With my fight scenes, as we were shooting them they had a video camera alongside the camera and they did a rough edit and it looked pretty cool even then but when I saw it on the screen it was better than anything I imagined.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Another thing they did this time was to have computer animatics so we could see what it would look like before we shot it which was kind of nice.
JAMES MARSDEN: Also with that many cast members, there are a lot of scenes you're not in so you get detached from the filmmaking side so there are a lot of surprises.
Did anyone get any injuries?
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: I got blue crack. [Laughter]
KELLY HU: I did a lot of stunts and wire work and just putting the harness on gives you bruises and I was constantly injured getting smashed to the ground, smashed into walls, things like that.
JAMES MARSDEN: I lost an arm. [Laughter]
FAMKE JANSSEN: I remember when Jimmy and I were shooting the lovers' quarrel scene, and there was a bit which didn't make it into the movie but I had to fling myself into a barrel and after every take Brian would go, "More butch" because I was running like a girl so finally I flung myself into the barrel and really hurt myself and he said, "Yeah, I think we got it."
JAMES MARSDEN: I know Hugh crushed one of his testicles.
FAMKE JANSSEN: You crushed Hugh.
JAMES MARSDEN: Yeah, there was one time when my zipper cut Hugh's cheek and Brian was, like, "Keep rolling" and there's blood streaming down his face.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Well, Hugh's got self-healing powers...[laughter]
James, they say a lot acting is done with the eyes, how was it wearing the visor the whole time?
JAMES MARSDEN: You have about 30% field of view so you realise how much you use your eyes in acting and I had to overact to compensate. There are little tricks you do; a nod of the head, a clench of the jaw, and you do end up relying a lot on your voice. So it was okay and the visor this time was more refined, last time it kept coming off, this time it was more comfortable.
How was working with Patrick, Ian and Brian, the Shakespearean heavyweights?
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Those guys are hilarious.
JAMES MARSDEN: Ian would have dinner parties at his house the whole time.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Ian and Alan went to a nude beach together! Alan was telling everyone that they went to a nudist beach and I asked Ian and he goes, "Well, we did."
JAMES MARSDEN: They're great, those guys. They're like kids.
KELLY HU: For Patrick's birthday, Ian threw a party at his house and Jess Platt, the dialogue coach, got on the piano and everyone sang show tunes, it was awesome.
Did you ever step back and watch everybody on set and think this isn't a job for grown ups?
JAMES MARSDEN: Personally, every day.
REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS: Nothing about our job is a job for grown-ups...
KELLY HU: Especially when I'm in that harness flying around the room, thinking to myself, "I can't be getting paid for this."
JAMES MARSDEN: The funniest time for me is when we're all in our costumes and there's an argument on set. Arguing with a blue man, or saying, "You're wearing a wig and a black leather suit and I'm wearing a red visor, I can't be arguing with you." But that's what gets us through the six months.