Set Visit: X-Men: Days of Future Past - Part Three
The Filmmakers and the Future of the Franchise:
Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker!
Bryan Singer, Director
It's been over a decade since Bryan Singer has directed an X-MEN movie. What finally brought him back? Time travel, giant freakin' robots, and the biggest and best cast of any movie ever. We discuss all that, as well as why DAYS OF FUTURE PAST won't be your average summer blockbuster.
On creating his own version of time travel:
I wanted it to make sense. This is a rare film where past and future are coexisting. And I had to create a set of rules where that made sense to me. So that's what I set about doing. I created a set of very specific rules. When do things change? Who observes the change? Who has no memory of the change? Who has no memory of what was and who does, and how that works. I think I cracked it. I think I figured it out. When Matthew left the picture, that didn't exist. There was no concept of time travel or how it works. Until I figured that out I had some misgivings about doing the movie and once I figured that out I was very hooked and I felt like they had me, because now I know how to do this.
It's not immediate. It's not that picture in Back to the Future. And it's tough with LOOPER. I love the film but you can make the excuses with multiverses. And there's a moment where they don't want to get in to the time travel talk at all. And I see Joseph Gordon-Levitt sitting across from Bruce Willis and my first thought is, "Okay, I'm going to get some Rogaine, I'm not going to get involved with this woman, I'm not going to do this" and then BOOM—they're not sitting there anymore. For that movie it was fine because you've got people running around in the past and the future and it was cool to see them affect each other in a certain way. But for me this is a much more emotional story. It's a story about a bad future, not just a bad situation, but a bad future and how you go about changing that. So it's a very simple conceit.
And I pitched it to James Cameron when I was in New Zealand and he put it in to physics terms and I wish I could articulate the experimentational physics of it .It deals with the notion that objects and things evolve differently or behave differently when they're observed or not observed. So I play with the principal of the traveler, in this case it's consciousness to your younger self. And that traveler is the observer. And the observer perceives one thing while the rest of the world perceives something else. So in this case Hugh is the observer.
On the much anticipated Sentinels:
There are movies like TRANSFORMERS and IRON MAN and PACIFIC RIM that have already explored robots of all different sizes and shapes and scope and caliber. I knew that to make another "robot attacks people or hero" movie is not… yet they are an element in the picture. So they serve the story in an interesting way, and not necessarily in an obvious "Rock-Em-Sock-Em battle robots at the end of the movie" kind of way, although there is some of that now that I'm really thinking about it. Come to think of it, more than I probably realize. It's just not that, particular what you saw in that picture, is not the totality of it. That's not exactly the whole of the technological threat.
We tried to make the ones from 1973, the Sentinels of the past, a little fun and stylish but also a little retro. The key is they're not made of metal. That's very important to our story because we've got a very powerful mutant. So that was a challenge to, to make them look like they could be made of polymer or some other material, plastic or something, but still have them be formidable when flying around.
I had very strong feelings about all the designs. I was very specific about what I was looking for. And they came with different head ideas, different body ideas. Originally they wanted this round thing with this big fan. But I'm friends with Guillermo [del Toro] and he let me watch Pacific Rim and so fortunately I got to see that it was too much like those robots. I need something cruder, more 70s. So I had a harrier vent in the chest.
On Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask:
I'm a big fan of his and Game of Thrones. He's from Jersey. I'm from Jersey. Plus, he's incredibly talented. And it's perhaps unlikely. I like the idea of a not a big guy building big robots. There's something ironically interesting about that. But he's foremost carries the screen and there's not a second that you don't – he even talks about that in the movie in a speech he gives to Congress. He was underestimated. Don't underestimate small things.
On filming in 3D:
I don't think I'm interested in 3D frankly. I think it's necessary now so if I want to have good quality 3D, it's good to be able to shoot it in native stereo. Maybe down the line the conversion will be so polished and so great I won't have any desire to shoot with 3D cameras. I don't particularly like going to see 3D movies. But when I'm doing it I do enjoy it. I enjoy seeing the images in 3D. There's still a childhood fun about being able to see those dimensions. With HFR, it's the same thing. When it enhances the image quality it's exciting. When it makes it too clear or too vivid or it starts to make it look exposed than Im not as much of a fan of it. And there were parts of the Hobbit where it enhanced the experience enormously. It pushes the image forward and makes the experience more exciting. It's a good thing. I just don't seek to go see movies in 3D.
On JACK I directed with the 3D monitors and the glasses. And what I think I did was I limited myself because I became so captivated and caught up in the framing of the 3D that I didn’t shoot as aggressively as I had in my previous action adventure films. I wasn't giving my editor the volume of material. He complained tremendously about it. I wasn't giving him the coverage. And he said, "You're better than this." But I also blame the fact that I got distracted by the monitor size and the 3D itself. So I made a commitment in this movie not to direct in 3D, but knowing that I have the knowledge of shots that work in 3D and shots that don't. Like my DP pitched a shot where we have a character walking through the Pentagon at night and they have all these really cool murals and he was like "Let's get a shot where we follow him like this." And I said "No. It'll be him walking past blurs and strobes." Those shots just don't work in 3D.
On hidden Easter Eggs:
There's a little one I did with Quicksilver the other day which was fun which I just cut together. It's cute; it's one of those nods to the larger universe. So yeah, we do a few.
On the Quicksilver sequence:
With the Phantom I can shoot over 3,000 frames a second or something to that effect. So I'm doing like a variety of different things—high speed photography, slow speed photography, motion controlled cameras—just a bunch of different technologies,. So sometimes we'll be at our own speed, sometimes we'll be at his. So we're using that technology and it's all 3D technology so we can shoot all of that in native stereo, even at that speed. He's not in the movie a lot. He's just sort of in one section of it, but there's a fun sequence which will be fun to watch in 3D.
On upping the action with each film:
With X1 I could only do so much, like I didn’t have the money, time, or ability to do a Nightcrawler sequence but on X2 I did.. I wouldn't have wanted Sentinel robots and things like that back then. It would've been a nightmare. But now I feel comfortable having that kind of stuff in there. But to me I'm never going to be the kind of director that has action ad nauseum or action destruction ad nauseum. I just can't. I don’t think it's in me unless it's motivated by the story or the characters. If it is, then I'll destroy planets. But it has to factor in to the story and the drama. So yeah I am able to do a lot more and different stuff, cool stuff I haven't seen yet.
On the importance of dialogue:
Since I started making films with THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and working with Chris McQuarrie, I've been a nut for dialogue. When I first saw Star Wars when I was 12 years old, I came home and recited all of the lines from it. Before I talked about Death Stars exploding and Tie Fighters I was talking about how funny Princess Leia was and how sarcastic Han Solo was. So to me that's always the most important thing, and I love hearing great actors say great lines, and these actors are fantastic. This is a more serious film than First Class, the characters we encounter them in very dark places, we have fun with that. It's hard to see, don't try to give them too much to say, just make what they say really strong. Like Michael Fassbender and I were talking about this the other day and he was just like 'Give me less, but give me the idea,' and with these actors when they say the idea it's very strong.
I like language that paints a picture. Dialogue that paints a visual image makes me—I remember we had a line in X2 describing the Adamantium. And Ian McKellen said, "The metal on your bones carries a signature." You know what I mean? Obviously the image you have is some guy signing his work on a femur, yet it paints a picture of pride and of ownership and of authorship on the Adamantium. And yet it was elevated as opposed to "He put the metal in your body!" which is bad dialogue. So I try to find dialogue that paints a picture. And for this movie particularly, speaking to audiences that may not have seen or remembered FIRST CLASS or the early X-MEN movies. Dialogue that will take us back to remind us who Raven was to Charles or what Raven became to Erik. And who Logan was to all these people in the future. And it's fun. When we go back to Quicksilver and he says "Is he okay?" And [Wolverine] says, "Yeah, when I knew him he wasn't so… young." But immediately it paints a picture of some mature, awesome dude in the future who Wolverine and now he's discovering this dysfunctional teenager.
On TV vs Film and the future of cinema:
I think television is moving more into movies, particularly with serialization and almost cinematic proportions and expectations. A show like Game of Thrones is a perfect example of that, or even a show like The Wire, which isn't all about instant gratification it's about inviting someone into the long experience of television the way you'd be invited into a theater for two hours. So I think in that way, and the quality of writing in television is probably much better than most film writing.
I think the film experience will if anything go the opposite, you'll be required to make a big long epic experience, so as not to be confused with the home viewing experience, to justify paying the $40 or whatever it's going to cost for your kid to go see a movie in a movie theater. I don't know if what Spielberg and Lucas were talking about will come into fruition, I think it's very clever for getting smaller films out there, but there will always be people trying to differentiate 'Why do I have to see this in IMAX? Why do I have to see this in 3D? Why do I have to see this in a theater?' Well you do because it's X-Men.
On directing future X-MEN movies:
We've talked about it. There are a few ideas.
[Like the "mash up" idea you mentioned?]
Can I be honest? It was only something I'd been thinking about in the last week or so, I just had some thoughts about something. As you're shooting an idea pops in your head or you have a conversation about another universe. You start thinking, "It'd be interesting to see these… Is it right? Is it premature?"
There are certain things I'd like to see. I'd like to see us move in to the next decade. The 70s are great but it'd be fun to take them in to the next decade. In the 80s it'd be fun to meet some familiar characters when they're very young. Maybe see how other characters besides Xavier and Magneto came to be and got their start. That's something I'd personally like to explore. Work with those characters in other films. There's a possibility for that but we just want to finish this one, see how it feels and get home and be at Fox. I'm sure every day I can wander over and have a conversation about what to do next.
On Fox's X-Men Universe vs the Marvel Universe:
I think they always understood that the X-Men universe is every bit as exciting and large and potentially fruitful as the remaining Marvel Universe. They're different characters. The Marvel charaters are very familiar, they have household names like the Hulk and Spider-Man, things like that, but that doesn't mean the X-Men universe is any less rich. Time travel is something that is a staple part of the X-Men universe that we were able to explore, and a lot of great new characters. So at some point, it's just doing it right. You can't just whip up that formula and go “Here is my Gambit movie and my Deadpool movie, this movie, and that movie, and they're all gonna be hits!” You've gotta take care that each one is different. They're not household name characters you're smashing together like AVENGERS. Some of them are ensemble characters. It's kind of a different universe. It's a more thematic universe. It's a more serious universe. And it requires a different kind of care that I think Fox is anxious to explore.
On using Twitter to update fans:
I'm very shy about social media. I'm very awkward about it. I've never been big on it or anything but I made a commitment that if I did a movie again that had a big preexisting fanbase that I'd go on Twitter. 1) Because it's nice to have a relationship with the fans. And 2) I'm not on the defensive usually but more the reassurance of it. Meaning when there's a concern or a confusion about something instead of having to call up a journalist friend or having to call up a press conference, you get to put it out there and control it. And you get to release images for instance that aren’t exclusive to one outlet but are shared by everyone. So if an outlet wants to write an article about it from their own point of view they have access to your Twitter picture. It gives me direct connection to the perception of the movie. So when fans said "No more leather costumes." I can simply write #NoLeatherCostumes. And then they're like, "Yaaaay!"
I'm not defensive though. If someone says, "I hate this idea!" I'm not gonna be like, "Retweet: fuck you!"
Simon Kinberg, Writer
Simon Kinberg has gone from being the writer of xXx: STATE OF THE UNION to being the creative godfather of Fox's own superhero universe. (Not to mention involved in the new STAR WARS series.) The in-demand writer/producer opened up to us on the X-MEN set about the challenges of this installment, as well as offered some hints of where they might go in future movies and spinoffs.
On his history with the X-Men franchise:
My crazy experience with the X-Men movies is, I came on to X-MEN 3 because Bryan Singer left it. And Matthew Vaughn was going to direct X3, then Matthew left and Brett [Ratner] directed the movie. Then FIRST CLASS came along and Bryan was going to direct it for a moment, then Matthew came on. Then he was going to direct DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and he left and Bryan came back. So I have an arc from Bryan to Bryan over the span of 10 years. So I'm very aware of the lineage outside the frame and story-wise, and this is an opportunity, when you send somebody back in the past, it's to change the future, so that is the goal of the movie, to change the future and in doing so, potentially change X1-3. There's a part of me that says I can right some of the wrongs we might have done in X3.
On developing with Matthew Vaughn:
One of the things, and this is an idea that came out of my work with Matthew Vaughn was, we didn't want to do what most sequels do, which is pick up a day after or a month, or even a year after the last movie. We wanted to give it a big breadth of time so that you would meet these characters in some ways for the first time again, so we set the movie 10 years later than FIRST CLASS ended and in doing that, part of my responsibility as the writer was creating a timeline so we can do exactly as you said, just give the actors a sense of who they've become and how they got there over the span of the 10 years we haven't seen. And there's a monologue in the movie that Hank has that Nick has, where he tells Wolverine essentially what happened. Wolverine comes to the mansion, he meets this broken, disheveled Charles Xavier and he says, "What happened to the Professor?" And Nick tells him what happened. "We started a school, it fell apart, he fell apart..." And all the things that happened over the last 10 years.
And the interesting thing about the future period is, originally it was conceived not as Days Of Future Past, it was because Matthew and I in working on the movie felt like it needed to have bookends that were Patrick and Ian. They just were going to be stand-alone scenes that weren't going to be connected to the past, there wasn't going to be any time travel. And then we started saying, "Wouldn't this be interesting if it was kind of like Godfather II" where you're intercutting and seeing backstory and future story and then, one day, I was with Matthew and I said, "Have you read Days Of Future Past." He said, "I think I know that. I've seen the cartoon..." Like Bryan, actually, he was really raised on the X-Men cartoons, and he asked me for more details. All of a sudden it was, "Oh shit... we should be telling this story." But the thing that immediately was apparent was, can we make that movie? Because they had to make all new deals with Ian and Patrick and Halle and all these people, and Hugh, and can we afford to make this movie or is it prohibitively expensive? And the studio figured out a way to make it and gave us a healthy budget so we were able to, but it wasn't Days Of Future Past. It really went from two little scenes to a few more scenes to, maybe we should do Days Of Future Past... Can we? And then Hugh shall we send back in time? It evolved.
It didn't need much pushing because once everybody sort of wrapped their heads around what it was, everybody got excited about it, creatively, and then practically it was, “We can't make a $500 million movie, so can we do it?” And schedules. From the beginning, it was, “How do we get all these people together for a finite amount of time?”
On the concept of time travel and advice from James Cameron:
Unlike most time travel movies—and I studied a lot going in to this—we intercut between the two periods. So there is a relationship between the two time periods narratively and experientially. It's not like leaving the future to go to the past and never coming back the way you do in BACK TO THE FUTURE or the TERMINATOR movies. I didn't think about it as two discreet time frames. BACK TO THE FUTURE and the first two TERMINATOR movies were the ones I studied the most. They also just happen to be my favorite time travel movies. But the logic is so sound in those movies. And in both cases those franchises are built around character and that's what I wanted to focus on is to use time travel to tell character stories not to just do it for science fiction purposes. I was looking at how time travel in those movies forces the characters to evolve. This franchise is very character driven franchise, so I didn't want it to suddenly become this purely plot-driven science fiction movie.
Actually I had this crazy experience. Fox did a corporate retreat and I was on a panel speaking with James Cameron and I had a book on the making of TERMINATOR 2 and I brought it with me for Cameron to sign. And I never met him before and T2 is like a top five movie of all time for me. And I said "I'm doing DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and people said DOFP influenced TERMINATOR and now TERMINATOR is influencing DOFP." And he said "Sure, I'll sign it." And he just wrote in it: Don't fuck it up. Love, Jim
On sending Logan back in time instead of Kitty Pryde:
When you start thinking about the original story and sending Kitty back in time, you would have to recast Kitty in the future as almost Ian and Patrick's age. She's like negative 5 years old in 1978. So quickly we felt it wasn't going to be Ellen/Kitty. Frankly, he was the most natural candidate, not just because he was the star of the franchise but because he doesn't really age, so he'd look the same as an actor in 1973 as he would in the future. And then we start to build more mythology and logic around why he would be the one to send back. To send somebody back this far would be really destructive to the body and he's the only person that heals. Things suddenly lined up. And he's the only actor who was in both franchises.
On Charles Xavier and why you see him walking around:
When he starts this movie, he is as far from the Charles Xavier that we've seen in the movies, in some ways I think, as any iconic character that becomes a hero. He's wallowing in self-pity, essentially doing drugs, Unshaved, walking around, broken, Born On The Fourth Of July kind of character and obviously, like any great actor, James was really excited about that. One of the fun things was on Michael's first day on set, we were shooting a scene where James and Michael had not seen any of the movie yet, he was literally showing up on set for the first time. James is shooting a scene, and Michael was sitting next to me at the video village and he was watching James. He'd read the script, obviously, but he hadn't seen that James had a beard and scraggly hair and Michael said, "Oh, so he gets to play the angst in this movie
I don't think it'll be a spoiler, I think it'll be something that'll be in trailers that he is walking around. And that's a huge part of the arc for him, accepting, in some ways embracing, the chair, as opposed to being condemned to it. It's something that by the end of the movie he's really taken his place in. I'm not to talk much about this, but it's in the Hank/Charles relationship that they've discovered a way to help him walk, but at the cost of other things. And over the span of the film, he embraces those other things and lets go of his legs.
On balancing the actors (and their salary):
Jennifer Lawrence was an unknown when we cast her in First Class and she's the biggest female movie star in the world right now...
Usually what happens in these kinds of movies and it has in the Marvel movies is when someone gets exponentially bigger and their fees gets exponentially larger than what it was originally, there's some sort of settlement between the studio and the actor. They don't pay them what their current fee is but there's some sort of settlement.
As a creative person I don't really think about how many movies we have with them. I assume if they're successful they’ll just do what they did with Hugh, which is pay the actors a shitload of money for a fourth and a fifth movie. They had Hugh for three movies and then they burned one of those on a different film. So they essentially had him for two movies and they've been paying him tons of money for the three or four since.
Jen is a fantastic actress and I wanted to write more for her to do and explore, performance-wise, in this film. She's maybe a more prominent character in this movie than she was in First Class because she proved herself as something special in that film. Same for Nick, same for Michael, though he was obviously very prominent in First Class. So I guess I just, when I feel like there's an actor that I feel is really interesting, and just as a fan, I want to see them explore more colours then maybe some of the other actors that maybe don't feel like they're as multi-dimensional.
On the pacing and length:
…It'll be a two-hour movie.
I love the Dark Knight movies and Dark Knight and the last one are well over two hours, and I could've sat there for three and a half hours, so if it's good you have some leeway. I don't know. I don't really think about it, to be honest. We have a lot of drama in this movie, I would say there's more dramatic, face-to-face shit's-not-exploding dialogue scenes in this film than in any other X-Men movie. In fact, I know there are, even more than First Class, which was a pretty dramatic film. So that will slow the movie down a little bit, because those dialogue scenes, there are a bunch of four-five minute dialogue scenes on a film like this. It's a long period, you have eight minutes before you have to blow something up again, so I think it will have the feel of, I hope, a more sophisticated, mature movie, which maybe can support a two-plus hour run time, but I don't think about it when we're shooting. I'll think about it when we have the director's cut or the assemblage and it's four hours long...
On Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels:
Trask is the villain of the film, and the Sentinel program is the thing that they're sent back in time to stop, you've read the comics, you know that. And we're loyal to that. Part of what was really fun about this, and it's just separate that it happens to be this story, is when I was working on X3 and FIRST CLASS, we were trying to find ways to incorporate Sentinels into the movies - I know they did it in X2 as well and dropped it. In X3, they have a little not-so-awesome moment with the Sentinels, that doesn't take full advantage of them. So once we all committed to DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and knew the Sentinels would be a part of it and Trask would be central to the story, Bryan has done a lot of things to make the Sentinels feel loyal to the books but also distinct from all the things that are ripped off the Sentinels, like all the other robot movies that have come in the last 15 years or so. So they look and feel different. And Bryan spent a lot of time working on them to make them feel period specific but also cool and what a kid would fantasize about.
On future X-MEN movies:
I am going to be working on the next X-Men movie and I was writing this and as especially as it's been evolving as we’re shooting, thinking about what's the next story to tell. Not even from a narrative standpoint, but from a character standpoint. Like, what's the next stage in evolution for, no pun intended, these characters? And one of the things that's really cool is, there's this big, open time frame between FIRST CLASS and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and the original actors, so there's this still 30-year period where we can fill in a lot of the blanks and show how, even after this movie, they still evolve from where Charles and Erik and Raven and Hank end this film to the ones we meet 30 years later. So I had a lot of different graphs and grids and shit up on my bulletin board when I was writing this, a lot, actually, because I was keeping all the characters straight and the arcs straight and then I was keeping the narrative straight, and then when things in the past impacted the future, so there was that whole thing to keep straight. And I had a whole grid that was from First Class to X-Men 3 and the Wolverine movies and I was very aware of where things began and where they could potentially deviate.
On further stand-alone character films ala THE WOLVERINE:
We've talked about it and I know that Fox would be interested in more movies. But I don't think there have been any evolved conversations about it, just ideas for character spin-offs. One of the things that was a really cool script, and you can't do it, because we did it in FIRST CLASS, was the Magneto stand-alone. But you could follow Raven, you could follow Charles or Erik in their own movie, there are a lot of possibilities.
I think these characters are super intriguing, and it would certainly be a hell of a lot easier to write, to just tell one story. It's my dream now, just to do that. But my favorite movies growing up were ensemble movies. The reason I wanted to work in movies was the Star Wars films, and you have a lot of characters to service in those. And a lot of really iconic, great characters that could justify their own spin-offs, but George kept together in one universe.
On the new supporting characters and potential future projects.
It would be nice to incorporate them into future movies. It's interesting to think about what the future of the X-Men world would be, because we now have these two separate timelines. We have the original cast in the future essentially and we have the past, younger cast. But no, it wasn't really built for future movies; it was that they serve a narrative purpose within the film. When we meet some of our characters in the future, it tells the story of mutant refugees and so we wanted to populate that with characters that the fans would recognize and potentially would be intriguing enough that they'd want to follow into who knows what—maybe it's movies, maybe it's a television show, maybe it's their own anime, it could go in a lot of different directions these days, there are so many different types of media that it would be cool if a movie that has this many characters could actually take advantage of a different media.
On Marvel's influence on the Fox universe:
Yeah, Fox is a very different place than it was when I made X-MEN 3 there. And it's been evolving since X3 to FIRST CLASS to this, and there's no question that the Marvel model has influenced and inspired them. We approached this movie from the standpoint of what to do with the universe rather than what to do with the story. We talked about other Marvel properties at Fox and talked a lot about what the future stories would be, whether they followed the cast in the future or the cast in the past and they're all about trying to do what Marvel's done and create different platforms for different stories. But understanding that the tapestry of that before I'm writing rather than having to put things together after I'm writing.
It was fun because it felt like the comics. In the comics you could go any different direction with different stories and incorporate different characters and drop characters for stretches of time, so it felt like we were doing something that was more akin to creating comic books than one-off movies. And they're so supportive and open now - I've never had an experience, especially on a movie like this, that's this big, a franchise, a title, this big a swing, because of using all the casts and science fiction elements, it's a big movie, the studio has just been so supportive and open and trusting and maybe that's because it's me and Lauren and Matthew and Bryan, who've all had some experience and success in this world, but they've been really cool. We're doing some pretty radical things in this film, such as the Charles characterization, some of the things we do in this movie are not necessarily for my four-year-old son, they're darker and more ambitious and provocative.
Lauren Shuler Donner, Producer
Lauren Shuler Donner has produced six of the seven X-MEN films (only missing THE WOLVERINE to go undergo cancer treatment). Plus, she's married to the guy who directed SUPERMAN. What better person to talk to about superheroes and the future of the genre?
On the film's development:
This is meant to be a sequel to FIRST CLASS. And as we're developing it we said Okay, XMEN FIRST LCASAS took place in the 60s, so now do we roll the cast in to the 70s and what happens in the 70s. Bryan had had the idea that Magneto—can I say that? Why he's in prison. – Okay, Magneto did something. Then the idea came up to move them forward using DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Which was such a treat. When you do three movies with a bunch of actors you party every weekend and love each other. It was like bringing together all my favorite people.
There's Dr. Trask who you know and he's created a sentinel in the futre that's wiping out all mutants. Now we're not strictly following the comic. We're more adhering to the comic than before, but nonetheless. So someone is sent back to try to prevent the DNA from creating the sentinels of the future to save the mutant race.
Why is Logan sent back? Because it's very dangerous to go back and because he's always healing himself he would be the likely candidate. So he does not have damage but he occasionally when there's turbulence in the past, it affects him in the future because he's the same guy. And the worry is if he pops out of it, all is lost. So there are a couple of times when it gets a little hairy.
On 3D and post-conversion:
I personally disagree with Bryan, but I respect his opinion more because he’s the director. I believe in the future it will all be post-converted. The post-conversion is getting better and better and better. Bryan had just finished Jack and hung out with Cameron and Peter Jackson, and they’re such 3D fanatics that it was in his head, he decided he had to [shoot native 3D]. I advocate… from now on I would only do the conversion, because it’s gotten so good. And I believe that most of the audience can’t tell the difference.
On the tonal shift between FIRST CLASS and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST:
It's darker by necessity. You have the chance that the mutant race is going to be wiped out. The look between the future and the past is very different. It's very dark in the future. It's really dark, yet beautiful. Schadenfreude. Really gorgeous but they're dealing with their death. And then the past has a darker tone because there's so much conflict between the characters, especially Charles and Erik, who must work together in order to save the future. And they're at a place where they're not together emotionally. But because of the dire situation the clock is ticking and they have to get there. So it's very serious. It feels more serious than FIRST CLASS.
[In the first X-MEN movie] the one thing we argued about was tone. He very much wanted to make a really dark movie, and I felt an obligation to bring in fun. That’s Joss Whedon’s script when he says “how do I know?” and the answer is “you’re a dick,” that’s Joss. We had to push for that. Bryan’s tendency was to make that very very dark, and I was afraid we’d never get to the second one if it was unrelentingly dark. We argued about tone, and he finally allowed me a few light moments. Now I look at it and I think, “OK, we can go dark, let’s go dark.” We’ve established the characters. And Logan, traditionally, has that dark humor, you know, and to not allow him that is to not fully develop the character. He’s got to toss off those one-liners now and then. But now I see that we’ve come this way and we can go darker and darker and darker, so that I find very interesting.
On hidden easter eggs:
There is, but I’m going to save it because I want to make a game out of it. And maybe we’ll reveal it through some of the fan sites. I can’t tell you what it is, but there’s something really great that’ll be super-fun to look for on the Blu-Ray. That’s one. And in terms of the other stuff, if I tell you it won’t be a fun surprise!
We always like to tip out hat, and have, like Remy LeBeau being mentioned in X2, like we know about Gambit, and so on a list in X2 there’s Remy LeBeau. Or in the bar we had Hank McCoy in the background, because we could never figure out how to build Beast, and do it classy. We could never figure it out, so that was our way of saying “we know he should be in the scene, so here he is.”
On future movies:
We will continue with our main characters in future versions. We want to diversify. We will bring in new characters. My mandate to myself since I’ve been involved in these movies was "make every single movie different," so there’s never X-Men fatigue. What I loved about what Matthew Vaughn did was that he made it a Bond movie. A James Bond movie. I didn’t want fans to say “I’ve seen it, been there,” you know. And what James Mangold did with The Wolverine was he made it a noir. It had a whole different style, a whole different feel, more focus on character, it was kind of one of those old film noir movies.
And Bryan, what he’s doing that’s interesting is, it’s time to bring back the “classic Coke,” the classic X-Men that we had before, the classic cast. It’s the right way to do it. You wouldn’t want to fool around and give it a different kind of style or genre, so that’s perfect. We will bring a lot of people back, let’s just say that. And we’ll bring in new characters, and we will release different kinds of X-Men stories. I don’t know that we’re always going to follow this one, I think it’s time to reach out to…well I can’t say because you’ll print it and then everyone will expect it.
On having long-term plans like the Marvel Universe:
We will do something similar. We have been talking— “we” meaning Fox and some of the people involved in the film, in terms of also laying out a timeline—which characters can be spun off, which stories we can do, if we pick one story, which stories THAT will lead to, that sort of thing. I think it’s a very good idea. I think Kevin Feige’s very smart — I gave Kevin his first job. I think he has done it right, he’s done it how we always ask to have it done, and he’s done a terrific job. And I think it’s good to tell the fans “this movie’s going to lead to that, and that will lead to…” It gives fans a confidence. And we will start to do that also.
On the X-Force movie and New Mutants:
I think we have to figure out how many X-Men films a summer can handle without getting into X-Men fatigue. And I just mentioned New Mutants off the top of my head because that’s a personal passion of mine. I’m not saying that’s Fox’s next movie, please don’t misquote me or I’ll get a call. But we have to be very careful. As you all know there’s a Deadpool script that is out there, and you know about X-Force and you know about Fantastic Four. There’s a summer, there’s a year, say 2014, 2015… how many can you put out? Take into consideration there are also Marvel movies coming out then. At a certain point people want to see other movies besides comic book movies so you have to be really careful what you’re going to pick, and how many are going to be released within a year.
On the DEADPOOL movie:
First of all, the [Deadpool] movie should be $50m in any event, whether it is PG-13 or R. Because it’s a single character, it doesn’t involve that many of the other mutants, which means not many other powers, which is CGI, which is what costs so much. It would be a lot of action, but it should be — and because it’s a standalone character, just like the Wolverine films, we keep them at a smaller budget, so it should be a $50m budget regardless. And I am a producer who NEVER discusses her budgets, EVER, ever, ever. But that one should be kept small. As for the rest of it, I can’t really talk about it. I’d love to take the movie, it’s a really good script, we’ll see.
On what will happen when Hugh Jackman quits:
I cry! Because I love him, I want to work with him! I’m hoping that day won’t come. We keep talking about other stories to spin, and of course he wants to do other movies and theater and he wants to take time to be a dad. So far, I think it’s not on the horizon, but I’m sure it will be one day. It’s hard to push your body like that. Thank God the character doesn’t age! (laughs) Physically, he has given a lot. I loved it when the poster came out for THE WOLVERINE, and there was a lot of chatter on the internet that it was Photoshopped. It’s NOT. That’s the man, ok! Have him pull his shirt off, he’ll show you. That’s another reason for women to come!
Hutch Parker, Producer
Hutch Parker may be fairly new to the world of movie producing, but as a studio executive at Fox for the last 20 years, he's been involved since the first X-MEN movie was just a rumor. He gives us a studio-eye view of the franchise and where cinematic superheroes might be headed.
On the themes of the movie:
I love the comic that this is based on because it's such a mythic and powerfully resonant idea. For me, from the teen alienation at the heart of all the X-Men characters, that degree to which they're all looking to find their place in the world. The idea of having an opportunity to go back and make changes that can both ensure your future but also potentially destabilize other things. It's such a wonderful, rich science fiction conceit. And to have the comic and its roots blended with that makes it to me one of the biggest—certainly the biggest idea we've ever tackled. I think it has the potential to be the biggest film and the home run of introducing the two casts together.
On the epic cast:
Michael and Ian had never met. That was epic. The first time they met was at a roundtable and they were sitting next to each other. On one hand you wanted to just excuse everyone else from the room and let them talk. But it was fascinating because in the course of the interview they were actually seated in the same position, same leg crossed, same arms. I'm assuming sort of unconsciously. It was fantastic to watch. It's so exciting to see these two generations of great actors come together. It's literally the best cast I've ever seen in any film ever. I think it's the best collection of actors I've ever seen put together. And to have them in the same space is amazing.
On the budget:
It's as big as it gets. Which is daunting, but to their credit—Fox has been great, I have to say, on both of these movies. WOLVERINE I thought was going to be a scary one for them. It's in Japan, there are no other mutants or very few in the film. 25-30% of the film is in Japanese. That could be scary. It's darker and all those things. They were incredibly supporting. And on this, there hasn't been a moment where they haven't had our backs. So you know, when we had new ideas for the third act and there's a fairly significant element that came up early in shooting that we wanted to add, they were right there with us. There's some great stuff that evolved with this Quicksilver sequence that involved an enhancement of that character's—how do I say it—of that scene, I'll say and they've been great.
On Hugh Jackman:
You know, he's game. He loves the character. The challenge for us is to find the story. He needs that character's journey to be interesting to him as an actor. That's the key. And I think if we can do that he's game. The challenge is stepping back and being somewhat self reflective and figuring out where do we need to see him go next. But I think the studio would be supportive and Hugh would be supportive if we found the right story and the right script. That's what it always comes down to with these guys. While most of them love the idea of being in a franchise, they're smart enough as artists to know they need a script in hand that they can get behind.
The studio have been bold enough to make this iteration of Wolverine will continue to be bold in willing to see that character go further afield. That's critical to these films. If you remake the same movies, you can kill these franchises. You have to be willing to take a chance and go in to territory that might be a little scary. But that represents taking the audience somewhere knew. The studio seems very supportive of that so I can't believe we won't figure that out.
On telling a standalone story vs. planting seeds for future films:
It's both. Simon and Bryan and Lauren are all thinking now about next steps and have ideas as to next chapters. It'll be in conjunction with the studio and they'll have to be on board with whatever direction they find most interesting. I think sequels are very dangerous if you assume and presume success. I think you have to plan each film as a standalone and commit yourself to that as your primary objective. We've got a bunch of them over the summer—movies that no doubt had plans for the sequel and believed they could be franchises and then the results don't pan out. At the risk of being too bold, we definitely feel like we're on to something and that this is going to be a very special film. And there are other chapters to be told from the platform that this one will give the franchise.
There's no question there will be another movie. But which movie? That's somewhat a function of what everyone loves about this one. What is it that we want to click in to. Having been at the studio when we did the first WOLVERINE, that was a mistake. The initial intention was to do something grittier. Much more frankly in the tone of the most recent WOLVERINE. And the decision ultimately became to do something that was more of a hybrid and I think it came at the expense of what I feel what the audience was longing for from that character, which was a grittier, darker, much more character-centric treatment. Thankfully we got a second chance because I feel like Jim Mangold did a great job taking us to a place with Logan that we wanted to go.
It's certainly safe to say there will be another XMEN movie, but where the collective audience wants that next journey to take us, is something I hope— We'll make plans and sketch ideas but it's dependent on how everybody reacts and feels when they see the movie. And with the success of these movies in general the bar is being moved a lot. What will come out of the next installment of BATMAN or AVENGERS or IRON MAN will also inform some of where are the new thresholds, where are the new boundaries we should strive for. It's an exciting time for movies. And a lot of what Bryan has set to do is trying to take the franchise and more importantly the audience to places beyond where they've been before.
On collaborating with Marvel:
It comes down to when it's in their interest, when it's in their mutual interest they'll figure it out. At the moment, I think they don't see the need. The franchises are successful enough and self-perpetuating enough that I don't think they see the need. But I think they're going to see in what Warners is doing in kind of cross pollinating and what has been done with IRON MAN and THE AVENGERS, and to some degree what's happened when we've married these two casts – I think the studios and the audience is going to see there's a tremendous opportunity there and may open up that dialogue. Obviously both parties have to be open and that's sort of a question mark.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST opens May 23, 2014 in the United States and May 21, 2014 in other, luckier countries.
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