Set Visit: X-Men 3 Part (5/5)
the second day of the X-MEN:
THE LAST STAND
set visit, we got to see some first unit photography. I was excited
at the chance to see Brett Ratner at work again. The
last time I was on one of his sets (for AFTER THE SUNSET) I got to
see, among other things, Serena Williams pants falling down. With
X3 being a much larger shoot (with a much larger budget), I
naturally assumed everything would be amplified. I expected nothing
less than full frontal nudity. From
couldnt have been more wrong. Not only was there no nudity to
speak of (perhaps on account of the frigid
fox rep described the location as such: This is the side of the
The scene: Ian McKellen (Magneto) stands above Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), who is pinned face down on the ground (Magnetos got that whole power over metal thing, yada yada yada), and utters the line I warned you. He then flips Jackman over and spins him around (with Jackman screaming in pain throughout.) Jackman manages to yell out Jean!!! before McKellen has him writhing again. McKellen says, You never learn, do you? to which Jackman replies, Actually, I do. And cut. It was strange seeing all the action before the digital effects are added, like watching a couple kids playing in their backyard or something.
We were stationed a few yards away from the action its the closest Ive ever been to a scene. In between shots, a Ratner joked around about the tight security on the set. Its weird having visitors, he said, theres like no visitors allowed on the set. Hugh also came over and chatted with us a bit. He was particularly excited to see the films trailer, which had just been finished.
The second unit at work :
The day before, we watched as second unit director Simon Crane shot a pivotal scene where Juggernaut chases Kitty Pryde through Worthington Labs, with Kitty phasing through the walls and Juggernaut smashing through them. Heres how associate producer David Gorder described it: The reason Juggernaut is going through the wall is hes chasing Kitty, whos phasing. And theyre both after a certain character a certain mutant, which I will not reveal. Obviously, Kitty is after him for a different reason than Juggernaut is after him. Theyve shot elements of it already, where the walls, the special effects have exploded, and Juggernaut runs through the debris will be added with visual effects. The scene was shot from above, with the camera on a huge technocrane, following the characters as they ran.
After the shoot, journalists peppered Gorder with questions about the film. Here are some excerpts.
This movie is probably the biggest action-oriented movie out of the series. The action scenes are just incredible like something youve never seen before Ive worked on all three X-Men films and this is unprecedented as far as the action. Brett Ratner is doing an incredible job of making it visually exciting with huge stunts, explosions, and action. Its going to be something that...youre just going to be thrilled when you see it. Its absolutely incredible Bryan Singer did a fantastic job and Bretts carried it to another level. Its bigger in scope. Its a bigger canvas that he has. We have more important characters that weve been trying to get into the films all along, like Beast and Juggernaut.
The huge scope of the production:
The whole production this whole undertaking has impressed me. Every day Im impressed. We have two huge units going. The second unit is almost like a whole separate movie in itself. You can see out there with the trailers and stuff it looks like the main unit on an ordinary movie the level of expertise, the crew weve hired, Bretts knowledge of big moviemaking and green-screen work. Weve built a section of the Golden Gate Bridge and we have four-story green-screens all around it, which is just mind-blowing. When you see production on that scale, and scaffolding, and green-screens four stories high, its pretty mind-blowing.
On seeds being planted for future films:
As much as we did in X2 as much as many people missed the fact that Oh, there was sort of an outline of a phoenix in the water. We do sort of the same thing with this one. Its sort of like, you could go there if you wanted to. But it doesnt rule out anything, it doesnt set up anything specifically like saying, Oh, youre going to tell this story in X-Men 4. It just sets it up like, Oh certain characters could come back and continue their story arcs.
On the comics that influenced the X3 storyline:
Theres a lot of reference from Joss Whedons Astonishing X-Men. Theres some characters Dr. Rao is a character in this movie thats from the Astonishing X-Men. And also Phoenix Rising and the Phoenix comics there will be some references to that, but mostly its an original story. Weve just taken bits and pieces of what we liked from Josss storylines and from the Phoenix storyline.
On the new characters in the film and the actors who play them:
Kitty is played by Ellen Page. Shes amazing. Brett calls her the female Edward Norton. She was in a small indie movie called Hard Candy, and shes just an incredible actress. Were very excited for her to play Kitty. She has a lot of screen time with Bobby (Iceman). Theres a B-storyline there that involves Bobby.
Vinnie Jones, of course, is a renowned soccer player from England, and hes perfect for Juggernaut. He has a suit on that we made for him. The costume and the helmet are incredible and very faithful to the comic. Vinnie has the right personality for the character. Hes an amazing actor to work with. People are really going to fall in love with Juggernaut as a bad guy.
We have Ben Foster, who plays Angel. Hes doing an incredible job. When Angel is revealed in the story, I think everybody will be really surprised and happy that he was chosen because hes spot-on as anything you could imagine Angel to be like.
On Kelsey Grammer as Beast:
Kelsey blows my mind. He is so Beast that I almost dont even want to see him out of his makeup. I like him so much and his character so much that when I see him as Kelsey, I keep thinking its Frasier. When you first see him in the Beast makeup, youre thinking, Well, as soon as he talks, hell sound like Frasier with Beast makeup on. Not at all. He has totally encapsulated the character of Beast better than anyone I could ever imagine. I remember when he was cast, I was like, Hmmm, I wonder how the fans are going to react to this. Its very interesting casting And I saw his casting tape, and it just blew me and everybody else away. It was the best choice they could have made. You are going to be so surprised with his look they just did an incredible job with his makeup. Its absolutely fantastic looking.
On the look of Beast:
We wanted to stay away from the cat-like Beast, because it makes the character a little bit too unbelievable. It doesnt quite fit into that world. Its more about the hair. It took us a long time to get the hair color right and the texture of the hair right. But theyve done such an amazing job I think everybody is going to want to be Beast. Hes going to be the favorite character. And its very gratifying because weve tried to get him into every movie weve done and, due to various story reasons or cost-cutting or budget-cutting, we couldnt fit him into the first two.
But in this one, we finally got him and we made the absolute right choice. He is perfect in the part. He loves playing the part and hes so enthusiastic to be taking a character and developing it as his own. And I think hes someone were going to want to see back in future sequels. You could almost make a Beast sequel on its own, because he has such an interesting story. Hes got a lot of emotional pathos to his character. He was a football star before he was turned into Beast. He was a handsome guy, and hes not so handsome now that he has blue fur and blue skin. I think a lot of people are going to relate to that on some level in your youth, you were handsome and you were a star, and then all of a sudden, you were blue, or you were older. Theyll draw parallels between that and their own life, and Kelsey is the perfect person to pull that off.
On Patrick Stewarts involvement is it as big as it was in the first two films?
Oh yeah, hes back and bigger than ever in this. Weve wrapped him filming. If we bring him back it will be for additional shots. But for the most part, hes been wrapped. Hes back in London, where he lives now hes doing a play in London, so we front-loaded the shooting schedule to shoot him out so he could go do his play hes producing and starring in a play in London. Most of his scenes were at the X-Mansion and then we shot him out quickly when we got back to Vancouver. He wrapped about two weeks ago.
We also had a lengthy Q&A with visual effects supervisor John Bruno, who talked about the challenges of creating effects for each of the characters. Here are some excerpts.
On the challenges of X3 compared to the first two films:
The difficult part of this film is basically keeping it within the the story is much more complicated than the last two combined, and the visuals are equally as complicated. What makes it a little more difficult is that were have to sort of lock it to reality. What theyve always established the past X-Men films is that the effects are the reasons the stories worked and the movie works is that theyre locked more into reality, not the fantasy of Lord of the Rings. Everybodys mutant power is based on something in the physical world. So trying to keep everything realistic is in fact more difficult.
Doing CG with Beast is basically only when we cant get physical stunts to do. Theres some specific things that he does he has some trademark moves that he does in the comic. That will have to be CG, because it would hurt somebody if we had to do that. We try to get as much practical as possible, so well start something and take it over in CG and finish it in reality.
On Juggernaut and Angel:
Juggernaut is our new character. The only time we will basically, he physically wrecks things, so we sort of enhance debris or make debris that he sort of runs through. We only have one place where hes taken over CG, thats when comes through this outside wall, because it physically cant be done safely. With Angel Angel we tried to do, with Simon Cranes help, everything practical to the point of, instead of using a double for him, we used the actual actor. At one point we took him out, its supposed to be a San Francisco street, which we shot in Vancouver, but we pulled him up 250 feet in the air and flew him past camera. Which means all we have to do is take out the cable, the support gear, and then add wings to him. Basically, were just adding wings to him.
On making Storm fly:
Yeah, Storms flying a lot in this movie, actually. Lightning, tornados shes creating all that stuff that shes at the core of. And weve done that so far at all practical locations. Shes done it. Halles done it herself, which is a pretty spectacular feat for her. The tornado is a pretty wild thing that she did. She did (it) three times, that I saw. So basically were just taking out wires. And her eyes spinning because she was so dizzy. (laughs)
Colossus is an interesting character. I remember him from the second movie and we were filming it for 24 frames. And I went, Who was that guy? You remember that. So were basically what weve done is weve digitally scanned him the actor and weve got some reference again from Marvel as to what hes supposed to look like. And every time weve filmed him close up, weve put all these tracking markers on him. And we have a CG version of him that will basically I guess the concept of Colossus is that his skin disappears and you see this sinuous muscles and he becomes some solid, steel guy.
We basically have a CG version of him, but we mostly are tracking the actor with a CG skin, keeping it a way from Terminator. We see his muscle tissue. Its a pretty interesting look. And in the background, as much as possible we put him we built a suit that sits on a stunt guy. So as long as hes in the background and other characters are in the foreground, you cant tell the difference. Its actually a very good suit. It also gives us a guide to lighting. Theres a lot of reference to lighting. Lighting, in the CG world, is the key to making the shot look real or not.
Were taking Iceman to the level of the comics. He ices up, for real. That will all be CG. Youll see through him, actually.
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