Set Visit: X-Men 3 Part (2/5)
day two of our X-MEN:
THE LAST STAND set visit, Fox hosted a lengthy
Q&A with director Brett Ratner and stars Ian McKellen, Hugh
PART 1 of 2
|Hugh Jackman||Halle Berry|
|Ian McKellen||Brett Ratner|
Brett, with Rush Hour you built your own franchise from the ground up. X-Men: The Last Stand is something really different. You joined a train as it was well underway
Ratner: Jumped on the bandwagon
Why? What did X-Men mean to you and why did you want to come aboard at this last hour?
Well, I was such a fan of the X-Men series. I was talking about this
with Hugh the other day and he said, You probably made history!
Youve directed more movies with a three at the end of them than
any other. And even though Red Dragon didnt have a three in
it, it was the third in a series. But the benefit I had with Red
Dragon was that I had three different movies that existed
so with this movie, I had two films that existed with one director,
which created a fantastic tone, with some of the best actors in the
world. I thought, Oh, this is going to be an easy job. Little
did I know
were here in December in
Can you pinpoint a specific element that you put your personal stamp on once you came aboard?
Ratner: Yeah, like I said its been very important to me to stick to the tone that Bryan and the actors have created and my input really has been just trying to make a more emotional film, a film with more heart and more pathos. So I wanted to try and tell a story and act as if this is a trilogy and this movie is the third in a series and go in there and not re-invent it, not make it a Brett Ratner film, but stay with the formula thats worked in the past and add more heart. Im a very emotional guy. I like heart, I like feeling something in a movie and the audiences care about these characters so much that it was important to me to try and stray true to who they were and not try to re-invent it.
Hugh, this will be the third time youve played Wolverine. How do you maintain your enthusiasm for the role? How do you keep it going?
Jackman: Well, I think Ians been doing it a little longer than me, the acting business, but Ive been acting for ten years, and you get a sense when youre in a role and you have a movie with a story that you dont want to let go of. You see X-Men 1 and 2 and as soon as theyre finished, you think, We have unlimited movies with these characters. The actors can go any which way, and for me as an actor, its an amazing part. I think that Wolverine, not just in the comic book genre, but also in any kind of action movie, is one of the great parts.
And I love playing him and its a challenge and with Brett on board he pulled all the actors aside and said, Our job is not only to round out the series, because were paying off things which have been sown in X1 and X2, deliberately and were getting to pay them off now but not only are we getting to round it out, but were getting to take the stakes much higher than theyve ever been, emotionally were getting to go much further than weve ever been. So its a challenge. For me, if youre going to play and role and do it again, you want to do it better. You want to take it further and want to show more and I think we have the best script to start with of any of the three, so really thats the long answer to say that it was easy for the passion to be there. And I feel blessed to have the role.
For each of you, how have your characters changed between the second and third films, not only in terms of powers, but also personality?
Berry: Well Storm has one now! (laughs) The movie for me is still very much an ensemble, which is one of the things I really love about it, and why I love working on X-Men. But this time my character not that shes there any more than she ever was but when shes there, shes really saying something, she has a definite point of view. And thats been really wonderful for me and I know that Brett has been instrumental in making that happen. He always wondered, Well, what the heck is Storm doing? So hes really been a supporter of that. Ive struggled with finding a voice for the character over the years, but not really sure what voice Storm was taking from the comic books because it didnt always materialize in the script for me but this time it definitely does.
Ratner: And she gets to fly in this one!
Berry: And I get to fly! Thats another Brett Ratner yeah, I do get to fly this time.
McKellen: I dont think my character changes. I think he stays much as he was before. Its the eternal argument between the two people involved in civil rights, whether they are Malcolm X and Martin Luther King or Magneto and Xavier. Thats the theory, at any rate. So basically, thats the story being re-told as its re-told in the comics. I think Magnetos very much as he was: a troubled Ive been asked whats it like to play a villain but Ive never met an actor who thought of a character he was playing as a villain.
Its boring I feel hes a meta-villain. There are lots of villains going around in the world, people doing stupid things. But to say theyre villainous? They might be villainous, but a villain? If theres no motive for their behaviour Magnetos got plenty of motive, and attitude and political nous, you might think hes doing the wrong thing, but youll probably come the worst of any argument with Magneto on this issue. Unless you were a mutant, of course.
Jackman: Hes a little sexier in this one, though.
McKellen: I wanted to keep that as a surprise.
Did you feel the need to make Brett feel comfortable?
Jackman: Brett is the most fearless man youre ever going to meet. He came on fairly late and said to me, Im thrilled because Im inheriting a great script. Its a great jumping-off point. And he was, like, Lets go! right from the beginning, so Brett if you go to a party, Bretts the last guy you need to make sure if hes okay and if he needs a drink. He takes over and runs the place pretty much on his own very quickly. I think whats great about Brett is that hes very much at home on a movie of this size and this scale, in every way. I dont feel that youre daunted by it. I dont know if you have any secret fears, but I think hes enjoyed being with the cast and weve enjoyed having him.
Ratner: When Im alone in the bathroom occasionally, I throw up. (laughs) But no
McKellen: People probably think, Oh, I know what happens with these things. Well, Im not going to use that dreadful F word that you used about the film, these are films. And to call them a franchise, as if were in the business of just making money, I think is an insult to everyone involved, including the audience. Were telling a very important story. And because were telling it with the same characters three times over just means that the story is worth telling three times over.
If youre looking for a totally different view of X-Men which would be possible our view of X-Men is quite other than the style of the comics and of the TV spin-off. So it would be possible that Brett would be going way down off the Singer path and (points to Ratner) Ive been very impressed that you decided that you didnt want to do that because youd enjoyed so much what Bryan had done. But weve had the advantage of a script that we all agree is superior from the start out to the previous two and has a very intriguing hook that gets you involved immediately and emotionally with the characters.
But we had the advantage, this being the third time around, of not having to introduce everybody. No wonder Storm didnt have much to do there were 20 people all fighting to get on the screen. I think things have relaxed a little bit, havent they? And its a little bit more indulgent and Magneto has a bit more to say than he did in the last movie.
Brett, should this film be looked at as the third part of a trilogy, or as just another story in a continuing series of stories?
Ratner: Well, you know, because I feel so reverential towards the first two, Im not re-inventing anything thats already been done, but I am informing some back story that maybe you hadnt seen, but helps make more sense of the first two, and we are paying off some of the arcs of the characters and resolving some of the arcs. I dont think its the final arc to be done. I think theres a lot of opportunity to go further with it.
Because Im referring to the first two movies, because Im making sure that were consistent with the first two movies as far as the characters are concerned what they want Bryan and these actors have created the universe and there are these rules that come with that universe. And Im not going outside of those rules but I am looking to show the audience something that pieces it all together, like, Oh! Thats why in the first movie, they were in this location so it kind of all pays off and so in that sense it is a trilogy. Im not saying that Fox wouldnt make a fourth or a fifth X-Men.
McKellen: And it can be quite unnerving when youre just going about your business of acting and a director comes along and says, Dont you remember what you did in the first film? Gandalf intervened and I dont remember! (laughs) So you have been bringing us back all the time, sometimes like a schoolteacher with naughty children.
Ratner: Its like déjà vu for me, except I wasnt there the first two times! Its so weird.
Are you deliberately setting things up in this movie that might be paid off further down the line?
Ratner: Well, you know, see I dont have a contract to do X4 and it depends on the performance of this movie if they ask me to come back, which is the reality. But the truth is that I am introducing some characters that I know Fox are gonna go, We gotta put that Kitty Pryde in X4! Or Im introducing little things that, whether I know Im doing it or not, I just love planting these little seeds. And bringing things into this movie that for some reason or another, Bryan wasnt able to bring in. (Things) that only the hardcore fans would know about, that wouldnt make a difference to the average moviegoer but, for instance, like the Fastball Special. I dont know if I can talk about that, but stuff like that, that the fans are gonna be cheering that for one reason or another they didnt make it into X1 and 2.
Hugh obviously from film to film, your confidence has grown. What effect does that have on your character?
Jackman: As an actor? Well, I hope like in anything in life, the more shots you have at it, the more you learn and the better you get. So I dont want to set myself up for failure, but hopefully as an actor I can bring more to it. I have an interesting progression for the character in this one in that hes archetypally the reluctant hero, and much of it has been, will he join the X-Men? Will he be part of it? And its not so much the case in the third one, but more of, what role will he play? Will it be an issue of leadership or not, will he be a real team player? Its not so much, is he part of the team. Thats kind of a given here, but what role will he play? Theres a lot at stake in this movie. Theres going to be a lot of shocks in store for the fans.
McKellen: For those of us who get really close to Wolverine, we have to admit that his hair is getting even more gorgeous.
Brett and Halle, what kind of story arc did you want to put in for Storm?
Ratner: Well, as Halle said, when I met her the first time I said, There wasnt really a huge presence for you in this movie as far as a personality was concerned, and I wanted to really define who you were and give you a point of view. Because there are two issues in this movie. There are political issues and emotional storylines and I wanted to define where you stand in these issues, this character.
And I just love photographing Halle Berry, so I wanted to put her in the movie as much as I could! But for her, to give Halle a lot of credit, when we first talked, she was like, Look, I dont care about giving me a lot of dialogue, but when Im on screen, I want it to matter, I dont want to just be there. So I kind of went through the script and looked at the opportunity of enhancing her character and giving her more of a point of view and a perspective and a purpose. Its hard, like everyone said, to pay off 20 different characters in a film, but Halle, I think, understands more going into it: who she is, what her reason for being in each scene is.
Because when theres 20 people standing around, its hard to thats the hardest thing, to just stand around listening and not knowing what youre doing, whats your point of view. So at least in her mind Im speaking for you at least she understands what the purpose and her motivation is in each scene.
Is there a romantic thing involving Storm?
Ratner: With me? No. (Laughs) I cant divulge that. No. Youll see. Fans of her character are going to be excited because she has much more to do, and as for physicality, this is one of the most beautiful women in the world and I wanted to take advantage of that and shoot her in a way thats exciting.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF THIS PRESS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY
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