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Generation X: Junior mutants talk about the new movie

They're young. They're good looking and they're mutie scum.

Actors Anna Paquin and Shawn Ashmore return to the mutant fold as Rogue andIceman to the upcoming X2: X-Men United. They're joined by AaronStanford as Pyro to make up a sort of Generation Xclique in the new movie.

The three actors recently sat down with the press for roundtable interviews.Several members of the press took turns asking questions about the new mutantmovie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide readers with an editedtranscript of that conversation. (Warning: contains minor spoilers)

Q: Anna, was it like a family reunion for you? And for Shawn and Aaron didyou have to find your place in the family?

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Aaron Stanford: For me, these guys were in the first film and I cameinto it fresh, but I feel like I settled into the fold. Absolutely we were afamily. We spent six months together. Everyone formed their own life there;their own routines, their own relationships. Yeah it was a big, big family.

Anna Paquin: Family reunion.

Q: Like you never left the other set?

Anna: In like a really eerie way because these movies go on forever and afterthe first couple of days it felt like we hadn't really left. And also a lot ofthe same crew, because we're up in Canada again. A lot,  in terms of thebehind the scenes production end, a lot of the same, creative people. It wasactually really nice. It was really great.

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Q: It was good to see the X-Men kids' powers come up. Can you talk about theindividual powers that each of you have.

Aaron: I play Pyro and he's got the power to manipulate fire. He can make itburn with any intensity or size that he wants to, or any direction, but he can'tcreate it himself. He needs an external source of flame to begin it, like amatch or a lighter or something. So, that's his little handicap.

Anna: I drain people's energy if I touch them. If they're a mutant I take ontheir ability or their power, whatever that may be. I don't really do anythingspectacular because Rogue doesn't really use her powers that many times. Sothat's kind of it. I just wear a lot of gloves. 

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Shawn Ashmore: I play Iceman. Basically his ability is to lower his corebody temperature and manipulate water molecules. You know, shoot it out in astream of frost or create forms with it. Stuff like that.

Q: Chill somebody's ice tea?

Shawn: Yeah. You know, cold drinks. Whatever anyone needs. Good party trick.

Q: Is it good to know that your characters will be back whenever there's athird one, because there's so much to do with everyone's characters.

Shawn: If there's a third one, I think there's an interesting relationshipbetween the three of us. There's a bit of a love triangle going on. ObviouslyBobby and Rogue are together and I think that causes Pyro a little distress. Wewere talking about this yesterday. Maybe that's why he's such an angry youngman.

Aaron: Maybe if he did better with the women he wouldn't be blowing up copcars. 

Shawn: Yeah, so if there is a third and that comes about I think there're someinteresting things for us to go on. I think a lot of things were started in thisfilm that will be interesting to continue on. The relationship between the threefriends that happen to break off. They're all put through the same, sort of circumstancesand you see how each character deals with that in a different way. I think it'sinteresting.

Q: Anna, you say you don't do much with your powers but they do present aninteresting dilemma in the film. Can you talk about that?

Anna: Although I have what I think is possibly the lamest power of all of theX-Men they chose to have in these movies...I really do nothing cool, you knowwhat I mean? It's not spectacular in any way. 

In terms of the emotional life of a character like Rogue, which you got tosee a lot more in the first movie than you did in the second one, is becauseanyone she really cares about she really, physically has to keep far way fromher, which is also, I think, is true about regular people. Whenever you getreally close to someone there's always a possibility of hurting each other.That's also a physical reality with her as well. That gives her a lot more depththan your average comic book character, in terms of stuff you get to do orexplore.

Q: Have you had any strange encounters with comic book fans?

Aaron: Didn't you get accosted outside a comic book store?

Anna: Yeah, actually, I was with a friend of mine and we were buying like aStar Trek thing, because she wanted to get it signed by PatrickStewart. So we actually had to go into the comic book store. I thought it'dtotally be fine, walk in, buy the Star Trek thing...

Aaron: And you had the white stripe in your hair.

Anna: ...I had the white stripe. Big mistake. Big mistake. Huge. Because I didget followed around the comic book store and kind of refrained from leaving forabout half an hour, which totally fine but I didn't realize quite how...youforget about it for months and months and months and then you go into asituation where there happens to be someone who's really into the movie or thecomic books. It's interesting. It's very different.

Q: Don't you run the risk of having somebody go, 'Poser. She thinks she'sAnna Paquin?'

Anna: I get asked a lot...people ask me if I look like Anna Paquin and I say,'yes.' If they don't ask anymore questions that's fine. 

Q: Aaron, your character displays a lot of adolescent angst through differentmannerisms. Is that something you brought to the set?

Aaron: You mean like flicking the lighter? It was in the script that he'ssupposed to flick it on and off. He uses it as a device to annoy othercharacters really. But I think you're right, it does get to that energy of thatage and constantly ready to pop. 

But the actual little tricks that I did, flipping it open or there's like atrigger trick that I do, Shawn actually taught me beforehand. 

Shawn: Iceman taught Pyro his lighter tricks.

Aaron: A little irony for you.

Q: Are your characters in the X-Men video games that are out?

Anna: Someone said that we have cameos in them.

Shawn: Yeah, in the new Xbox game that's out. I haven't really played the X-Mengames, but apparently the new one's really good. I was talking to my brother andhe brought it right up, so I'll probably end up playing it.

Q: For your video game cameos, do you voice those?

Anna: I didn't.

Shawn: No. 

Aaron: No.

Shawn: Maybe they took lines from the movie? I'm not sure. I don't even know ifthey speak. It could just be sort of like maybe there's a matching scene andwe're all just sitting in a classroom or something. I have no idea.

Anna: We have no idea.

Q: I have a feeling we'll be seeing you guys in X-Men 3 and 4.

Shawn: It's possible. We don't know anything about the future.

Anna: Nobody tells us anything.

Shawn: We get asked a lot about the third one and we're like, 'this one's noteven out yet, so I think we have to wait and see what happens.'

Q: Do you three have action figures?

Shawn: I know that I have an action figure. I saw it on the Internet the otherday, and you had one last time.

Anna: Yeah.

Shawn: It's really strange knowing that there will be toys out there and peoplewill have a miniature version of you, doing whatever they want. I used to blowup G.I. Joes with fire crackers, so I hope nobody does that to mine, but it'sinteresting.

Q: How much does it look like you?

Shawn: It's really, really close. They did texture mapping, which is like a 3Dscan and they just essentially just plug you into a computer and make a mold andthen send you off.

Q: How scary is that, knowing that they've cataloged all of your features?

Anna: They also do that in terms of the stunt stuff. If there's anything thatthey can't physically act an actor to do, they'll ask a stunt person and thendigitally place their texture mapped body, which they can manipulate on acomputer. Basically, like that movie S1m0ne, where they created thedigital actress, they've basically done that to all of us. So, if they everchose to, not that they could...

Aaron: Scary times.

Anna: ...but like if we died mid-movie or something, like if we got involved insomething dangerous on the set we died, they could finish the movie without youat least.

It's also very expensive, so they don't like to do it. It's kind of a strangethought.

Shawn: I'd like to think that directors like Bryan probably wouldn't want to dosomething like that.

Anna: He'd be respectful enough to get you to do a re-shoot.

Shawn: Yeah, get the natural performance as opposed to alter your performancedigitally.

Q: You talked about X-Men being like a family. What about whenyou worked together on 25th Hour?

Anna: There were three people in 25th Hour that didX-Men and none of us worked together on 25th Hour andAaron and I never worked with Brian Cox who was the third person.

Q: But it makes me wonder if there's a certain comfort level that you havewhen you work on the same films together.

Aaron: Well if we had worked together on 25th Hour I bet would havebeen very comfortable with one another.

Shawn: No, if were were on a different picture where we worked together it wouldbe nice to have friends...

Anna: Yeah...to have friends and to be comfortable around each other, because Ithink one of the main things I found about acting is that a lot of it is gettingto know people and not feeling self-conscious and that's when I think people dotheir best work is when they're really open.

Aaron: That's when communication happens: once you're comfortable.

Anna: Because then your just sitting and talking to the person. You're notfeeling self-conscious or strange or like they're going to judge you, becauseyou already know them. It's all kind of relaxed.

Q: On the merchandising end, I'm assuming we won't be seeing the Pyrolighters on the shelves.

Aaron: Oh, I hope so.

Shawn: That's be kind of cool actually.

Aaron: I don't know. I don't know what they're doing.

Q: Pyro has a line where he says, I can't ignite the fire. I can onlycontrol it. Will he ever reach the point where he can ignite it? It seemslike it would be something to develop in the sequel.

Aaron: I don't know if he'll ever reach that point. He never did in the comicbooks. He's actually dead in the comic book. He died from the legacy virus.

But no, I think that's one of the defining factors of that character: heneeds the external flame or he's nothing. That's his Achilles heel.

Q: So where do you guys go from here?

Aaron: I'll be doing some stuff back in New York. I just finished doing a darksatire called Rick with Bill Pullman, a small independent. Then I'mworking on a film called Winter Solstice with Anthony LaPaglia, asmall, family-driven drama.

Anna: I have a film coming out some time this year, I think, calledBuffalo Soldiers. I'm kind of taking a little bit of a break, or Ihave been for the last couple of months, from both school and work, which isvery pleasant.

Shawn: I'm just sort of, now that this is coming out, looking for the next part.I want to try something different, whether it's small and independent orwhatever. Just something different. I'm just looking for that right part thatreally feels like it fits.

Q: What is it that you liked about living and working in New York?

Anna: Everything.

I think that there's some cities that, when you live there and you're reallypart of the experience of being in a very exciting and very packed and verydiverse city like New York, there's so much that influences your life. I feellike you have a lot of experiences to draw on. I think you get a lot of lifeexperiences in a shorter amount of time living in intense places. Especially asan actor, New York has the whole benefit of a really strong theater communityand that's a whole other range of opportunities  that I think are reallyamazing for actors to do.

I love New York. There's nothing like it.

Aaron: You've got two choices: New York or California. I don't trust anywherewhere the weather is this pleasant all the time. I grew up in Massachusetts, onthe east coast, so it's just unsettling for me. It's a pace of life and style oflife that I'm used to and it helps ground me.

Q: Can people enjoy this movie without having seen the first one?

Aaron: Absolutely.

Shawn: We saw it for the first time on Friday and it's such a riot. It's a lotof fun. At the end of the day, there are certain inside things, if you're acomic book fan there's definitely, sort of little...

Anna: ...in jokes...

Shawn: ...hints and little jokes and stuff, but at the end of the day I thinkit's a self-contained film.

Anna: Especially with the plot, it introduces a new bad guy and a newwhole  scenario. In some way you see some characters growing and developingfrom the previous film, but it's self contained within this two-hour period oftime. That's really great. That's very hard to do when you're making a secondfilm to achieve that.

Q: But if somebody wanted to go out and get the DVD for the first one youwouldn't necessarily discourage that.

Anna: Of course not. Especially the DVD 1.5 with the additional bonus footage.

Shawn: What is the bonus footage?

Anna: You guys talking about your parts. 

Shawn: Really? No its not.

Anna: It's like the new cast members. They interviewed you guys and put it onthe new DVD or something. I don't know. They were laughing about it a whileback.

Shawn: We were laughing or they were laughing?

Anna: No they were like...laughing about it.

Q: Were any of you guys comic book readers?

Shawn: I was. I still, at my parents' house, have a big box in my old closet. AndI did read X-Men and I watched the cartoon so I was aware of X-Men before I waspart of this. So it was exciting.

Q: Be careful. Mothers are notorious for throwing that stuff out.

Shawn: It's probably gone by now. I left it there. If it's still there or not, Idon't know.

Anna: You sound like you have a story there.

Shawn: A fortune in comics that are now gone.

Q: Gone.

Shawn: Yeah.

Q: Where are you in terms of politics, music and film?

Shawn: Politics right now, let's be honest. It's a turbulent time and it'sdifficult. We could get into it but I don't really think it's worth it at thispoint. It's too complicated. Everyone has different opinions.

Music-wise: I could list you some bands that I'm interested in. The new AudioSlave album is really great. That's the newest album I bought that I reallylike.

Film-wise: a variety of things. That's why I think being a part of somethinglike this is really interesting. It's a fun, entertaining movie, which is great.

Anna: It's a nice distraction.

Shawn: That's an important thing right now, escapism. A little bit of fantasyhelps everybody.

Q: X-Men is about tolerance and not fearing things that are different. Whatdo you think the value is of entertainment exploring issue like that? Do youngpeople respond to that element of it?

Anna: I think that's the been role of theater and film and performance arts foras long as there've been, you know, back to like Greek times. The old, old,oldest plays that were ever written were this form of catharsis for people. Yougo and you experience something and it makes you think about things and maybeyou won't  need to go out and behave in a really aggressive way or docertain things because you've experienced them through art. Whether or notpeople realize that, I think that definitely it's a function that art can stillserve, even if it's a film.

Aaron: It's the hope to keep people interested in something long enough tocommunicate something to them.

Q: Sometimes I think the public is too entertained. They're paying so muchattention to what's happening at the box office that they're not payingattention to the outside world. A lot of people still think that Saddam Husseinis responsible for 9/11.

Anna: That's unfortunate.

Shawn: I think you're responsible to, before you make a decision, to informyourself. I think the information is out there. Whether are people are lookingto get proper information for themselves. At the end of the day I think it's anindividual's responsibility, if they're going to comment or have an opinion thatthey've hopefully found the correct information.

Anna: It depends how you were brought up and what kind of environment you livedin and...

Aaron: Being politically aware and being entertained can exist at the same time.It's just that some people chose to have it not exist in their mind at the sametime.

Q: Anna, have you had to work to get your Kiwi accent out of your speech forcertain roles?

Anna: I'm bi-lingual [laughing], so to speak. If I talk to my mother on thephone, or my sister, or anyone at home, I sound completely like I'm from NewZealand and when I'm here I sound like I'm from here. It gets kind of tediouswhen you're buying a bottle of water in a deli to be like, having someonewanting you to explain your life's story and what your accent's from. It justtakes too much time.

Plus I've had the best dialect coaches on the planet teaching me to speakperfectly correct American English, which doesn't hurt.

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