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Mutant Love: Famke Janssen and James Marsden talk 'X2'

As Jean Grey and Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) they're the Bogart and Bacall ofthe Mutant set. Famke Janssen and James Marsden recently sat down with the pressfor roundtable interviews. Several members of the press took turns askingquestions about the new mutant movie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to providereaders with an edited transcript of that conversation.

WARNING: THIS TRANSCRIPT CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

 

Q: Was it like a class reunion getting back together again?

Famke Janssen (FJ): It was.

James Marsden (JM): It was, definitely.

FJ: We're like a family reunion, and a very dysfunctional family reunion.

JM: I was going to add that if she didn't. Yes. No, it was very nice. It wasa lot less pressure this time around. It was good to see everybody. Actually thetime between the first film and the second film was like a year and a half.

FJ: Two, probably.

JM: Two years, I think. So it was nice. We kind of saw each otherintermittently between, but it was good to have the whole...and it was nice tohave the entire family back. There was no one missing, so it was cool.

 

Q: Wouldn't you think it would be more pressure to do the sequel?

JM: No. I know what you're saying, because you have to top it or match it...

FJ: But as actors, that pressure really doesn't apply to us as much as itdoes to the filmmakers.

JM: Right. Yeah. We're just kind of excited that the first one did as well asit did. So now we get to make the movie we wanted to make on the first one.

 

Q: Did that surprise you at all?

JM: The first film? Well we kind of had anticipated...

FJ: We were surprised!

JM: We knew it had the potential to do well, but you never know and I alwaysset my expectations low so I don't set myself up for disappointment.

FJ: Also, I think at the time, nobody had any idea. [Director] Bryan Singerhand never done a movie of that stature. I think that comic book movies had beenquite the way he...with his approach. So I think it was a whole new thing and Idon't think anyone really knew how it was gonna do. I think we were all reallysurprised. Happily surprised.

 

Q: Does this mean you can't walk past a comic book store without gettingfrantic crowds chasing you?

FJ: No. I'm fine.

JM: No. I think you'd be in trouble actually. I don't no if you're somebodywho's walked past one, but you'd be in trouble if you walked past it.

 

Q: Have you had any encounters with the "X-Men" community?

JM: I never leave the house.

FJ: Me either.

JM: Randomly, you come across people. It's trickier with me becausenobody...I mean I'm just walking around without my glasses on. Nobody reallynotices until I put a pair of sunglasses on. Then they're like, "you lookfamiliar." I'm actually incognito without the glasses.

But, yeah, occasionally people come up to me, but they're all very nice andvery happy with the first film. They all think we're doing it the right way.

 

Q: Are you excited about exploring your character, Jean Grey, becoming thePhoenix?

FJ: In this movie? Yeah. I think it's great. I think it's great what JeanGrey is going through. She's going through a lot of changes and exploring herpowers and seeing how much she can control them or not. Yeah, I thought it wasvery exciting what's happening with her.

 

Q: Is it challenging working with those glassed? You don't really get toexpress through your eyes. Are there any thoughts about giving your contacts?

JM: The thought did cross my mind. Unfortunately that just...the visor's sucha cool visual thing. It's like the reason why it's on the poster. It's just acool visual.

But yeah, it's difficult to...it was definitely handicapping to do any sortof dramatic scenes or one on one dialog scenes when you couldn't makeeye-contact with the other actor. Not only for us, but for the audience to seewhat's going on behind all of it. 

In this film, it's so driven by...there's a lot more action and there's a lotmore heightened emotion and things like that. So, I just was like, "Youknow what? If I believe in the dialog I'm just going to do it like I didn't havethese glasses on and cross my fingers and hope that it's conveyed."

I think it works but it's taken two films to really master the technique

 

Q: I was at the screening at Fox last week and after the screening BryanSinger's standing in the middle of the street saying, "Where's JamieMarsden? Where is he? Where is he?" Were you guys still shooting?

JM: Why was he screaming that? When was this?

 

Q: A week ago last Monday, I think.

JM: Oh, you know what? I had to...no...I was...they were...those bastards.They called me the day of to come in and loop. It was like the last day theywere locking the picture and they just realized had to have me come in and loopsomething; do dialog replacement on something.

I love those stories you hear about...

FJ: [laughs] ...yeah....

JM: ...and you're not there. But yeah, so...

FJ: ...and all of a sudden you get a reputation.

JM: ...they called that morning and just assumed that I was, first of all, inthe country, but I was actually there, luckily, and showed up within thehour. 

 

Q: How well do you think someone who hasn't seen the first movie can enjoythis one?

FJ: Oh, I think it's completely irrelevant if you've seen the first one ornot. In the first one I think we had a lot of introductions of the charactersand what their powers were about and what the X-Men were about, but I think thismovie just works as a movie, whether you know about the X-Men, if you've seenthe first movie or not, I really don't think it matters.

JM: I also think too, because it has an entirely new villain and it has awhole new conflict, that's why it kind of separates itself from the first filmand you don't have to see that one.

I just think it's bigger and better on many levels.

FJ: We were interviewed by a bunch of people yesterday that hadn't seen thefirst one, loved the second one so much that the went back and rented the firstone.

 

Q: How involved are you in voicing the video games?

FJ: Not.

JM: Not involved at all. We've never been invited to.

FJ: No! They don't care.

 

Q: How about playing the games.

JM: I played one. What was the first one they came out with after the firstfilm? It was like "X-Men: Evolution" or something -- I don't know --and I went to the Sony Playstation convention down at the -- what's the biggaming convention downtown?

 

Q: E3.

JM: ...E3 convention, thank you, and I went and talked to the programmers ofthe new "X-Men" game. One of them was like, "Wow! Cool! Cyclopsis here. Oh, by the way: Wolverine kicks your ass in the game."

Thanks!

 

Q: What about your choice to do another comic book character. Is"Preacher" something that's going to happen?

JM: That's something that I'd like to do. It's one of those Hollywoodexamples of something that has the potential to go, but it's one of those thingswhere it's kind of in the mix of...it's trying to find all of its financing, butthere's a director and there's a producing team and I told them that I'd loveto.

They actually went to me and asked if I'd be interested in playing the role.I immediately picked up the comic and became a huge fan. It's much, much darkerthan "X-Men" and very intelligent. 

So, it's one of those things that if it all gets its money together and getson the right track, because it is a $25 million independent film, then I'd loveto do it.

 

Q: So you're not worried about being the comic book guy?

JM: No. I don't think so. There's plenty of contrast in the characters.That's actually a better reason for me to do it because it is the kind ofantithesis of sci fi. 

 

Q: Who's the director?

JM: Rachel Talalay is on board to direct it at this point.

 

Q: Was it hard working in the winter weather conditions in Vancouver?

FJ: No, it couldn't be more beautiful in Vancouver. We were there for themajority of the film, about five months. For the last ten days we went up to[another location] and it was cold, but nothing really that wasunbearable. 

JM: No. It was nice...

FJ: ...beautiful...

JM: The first one was Toronto during the winter which is...

FJ: It was much more unbearable.

JM: It was cold. 

FJ: No, Vancouver was great.

JM: Vancouver was really easy to shoot. 

 

Q: Have you seen your action figures?

FJ: We have them. I haven't seen them and I thought we were supposed toapprove them. I haven't seen mine.

JM: I saw a couple of photos. There's one in the plastic prison with me incape...I'm holding....

There's a tiny fight scene, if you blink you might miss it,with me and the guards while she's healing...Kelly Hu's character is healing.The stunt coordinators worked out this fight where I kind of strip the guards oftheir plastic batons. So my action figure is there with a cape and these twoplastic batons...

FJ: Really?

JM: ...that look like dildos. It was like...

FJ: ...this is going to be great.

JM: ...sorry. You don't want two? 

But it was very funny.

 

Q: Do they go through the cyber-scanning process with you? 

FJ: They do that thing where they circle around you and stuff? Yeah.

 

Q: I know that has its advantages, but it also lets them alter yourperformance.

FJ: I don't think they ever use it for stunts.

JM: I mean, they probably could but...

FJ: ...but they haven't...

JM: ...I don't think they would do that. Bryan's really...

FJ: Everything is done with actors.

JM: I'll give him lots of credit on lots of things, but he really chooses togo to practical effects before he'll go to CGI. I do believe that he thinks hewould rather try to do the practical effects and get that right before he triedto do anything CGI. But if ever felt like anybody was at risk or anything, he'sa magical editor as well. He can fix things with editing.

But the texture mapping stuff that they do is for costume fitting. Like theydid my head to get the visor to fit perfectly and everything. And it's only soaccurate. They still have go in with giant forcep measurements.

But I think when we fight and blow up...

FJ: ...that was CG?

JM: Yeah, I think that was me, CGI, flying back.  But it's good that youhave to guess.

 

Q: When you first got back together on the set, was that sort of like afamily reunion?

FJ: It was, yeah. They had a dinner for us, before we started shooting and everything. So, the first time was saw each other wasn'tactually on set. Theyhad a little dinner party to...

JM: ...make sure everybody still liked everyone?

FJ: Just to get reacquainted.

 

Q: Do you get to keep anything? Do you keep the visor?

FJ: We don't get to keep anything ...

JM: Uh-oh...

FJ: Oh...did you? OH! You did!

JM: I kept nothing.

FJ: Right. Right. 

JM: No.

 

Q: Was there an outline for this a while back? Do you know where thesecharacters are going over the next couple of films?

FJ: Oh, no, no, no. Nobody knows anything.

JM: "X-Men 2," when we were shooting it, it was constantlyreworked, dramatically at times.

FJ: And before we started shooting it I think there was so much talk aboutwhat the second movie was going to be about. And this storyline was going to beprominent and then you heard that some other storyline was going to beprominent. It changed all the time.

JM: I don't think anyone has any master plan. If they do they're keeping itto themselves.

FJ: I don't think  they know.

JM: I don't think they know. It'd be cool to say, but I don't think...

 

Q: That being said, are you committed to three or five or anything?

FJ: No. 

JM: No. No, we were all signed on for the first two...

FJ: ...the first two. Yeah. That's it.

 

Q: So you have them over a barrel now!

FJ: Yeah! Absolutely!

JM: Yeah. Kind of. Right.

 

Q: On "Preacher" is it going to be hard to get the movie made withthe controversial religious subject matter?

JM: I think that we could make it an R rated film. The problem is, just likeyou said, the nature of the comic is so dark and violent and it questionsorganized religion and things that I think that the ratings board would just go,"wahh!"

But I think that's why it's not at a studio. I think that's why it's gonna bean independent film and done correctly. To really please the fans on that youcan't pull any punches. I think you just gotta do what's on the page.

 

Q: You said that this movie pushes PG-13 as far as it can go. Do you thinkmovies affect the behavior of kids?

JM: I think a lot of things affect the behavior of kids. I wouldn't want tosaddle the entertainment industry with being the reason why kids act the waythey do or whatever. I was certainly affected by movies when I was a kid, but itnever made me do anything. I think that if it's a child's personality to dowhatever they do, I think they're gonna do it anyway. 

But it gets to the point of, where are you gonna draw the line? I think it'sa give and take thing. I think Hollywood can use more responsibility at times.

FJ: Movies are very violent. Violence, people can get away with a PG-13movie much more easily than nudity, which is...

JM: Which is kind of weird...

FJ: Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

JM: ...and backwards, considering you can have eighteen people get shot inthe head on "Nash Bridges" on television and you can't show nakedbreasts in a PG-13 movie. 

Not that I care about that but I think that that's kind of ourpuritanical...backwards. It's kind of weird the way that's worked out, thatviolence is a lot more lenient.

 

Q: How does music affect you?

FJ: In terms of the wording and...?

 

Q: What does music do for you and why?

FJ: Well music is very important to me. I love it. I think it's somethingthat...it can change your mood. It can do a lot of things so I happen to listento a lot of music. 

Are you asking me if certain lyrics are too ... ? 

 

Q: No, just in general how does it affect you?

FJ: It affects me very differently depending on my mood, also depending themusic and it's a very important thing to me.

JM: She loves her music though. She shows up on set with the iPod.

FJ: iPod! I dig my iPod. I think it's the best thing in the whole world.

 

Q: What do you listen to? What's your favorite band right now?

FJ: iPod's a great thing because you just can put it on. You can have 2000songs on it and you just put it on songs so all the different albums just playin different orders or whatever.

JM: Van Morrison.

FJ: Van Morrison I love and Radiohead I love and The Stones I've always beena big fan of.

JM: Radiohead is the best band ever.

FJ: I love Radiohead. 

 

Q: Why do you both love Radiohead?

JM: I just think they're just like the typical, artist's artist band.

FJ: Because it's kind of rock and it's kind of beautiful...

JM: ...trippy...

FJ: ...and it's sort of like a little bit...

JM: ...strange sometimes...

FJ: ...the lyrics are good...

JM: And it's also great because, they travel around without any promotion andthey bought their own equipment and they bought their own tents and these thingssell out. Hundreds of thousands of people go to these things...I don't knowabout hundreds...but they set up their own tents and they're not sponsored byanybody.

FJ: I couldn't even tell you what they look like. I've never seen any ofthem.

JM: I just think they're really solid. They just keep deliveringsongs...really new sounding...

FJ: ...albums.

 

Q: You're part of a great ensemble cast in "Eulogy." Can you tellus about that?

FJ: Oh, that was great. That was just fun. I was very excited when that camemy way, because it's such a great cast. It's Ray Romano and Debra Winger andKelly Preston and Zooey Deschanel and Piper Laurie and Rip Torn...

JM: Piper Laurie? 

FJ: Yeah.

JM: Wow

FJ: God, who else? Oh and Hank Azaria's in it. And I play a lesbian, which isfun, and it's just this crazy comedy.

JM: Count me in!

FJ: Jimmy is very excited. Very excited. Can't wait for the movie to comeout.

JM: Never got invited to the set though.

 

Q: Why do you say it was "fun"? Was that not the case with"X2"?

FJ: No, it's just a different character that I hadn't played that characterbefore yet. The really fun part was that it was a comedy. It was basically thatKelly's part of the family, all the people that I mentioned are in the familyand Piper Laurie and Rip Torn are the parents, and I'm Kelly's girlfriend. Herfather dies and she brings me home for the funeral. She decides to announce, atthe funeral, that we're gonna get married, which doesn't go over verywell. 

The whole family is insane. I can't even begin to tell you how insane thisfamily is. It's just the wackiest comedy. I just had a great time. 

 

Q: There was a time when actors might have downplayed that their character isgay. These days it seems like actors can't wait to go, "I'm gay!"

FJ: Well, I didn't quite say that.

I only got excited because for me it was a character that I decided to playwith no makeup. I kind of look a little bit boyish with my close and stuff likethat. It was just sort of a, especially because I'd done two movies in a row,"I Spy" and "X-Men," where, you know, they're effects-drivenand big action films and I have to look kind of glamorous and whatever. So itwas really fun to just go to a little film, that was shot in about a month, andcompletely opposite on every level.

 

Q: James, do you go by "Jimmy" now?

JM: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's just one of those things where, personally,I've always gone by Jimmy but professionally I did that thing many years ago,early on, it was like, "I'm going to be taken seriously. My name isJames."

Always with billing and articles and stuff, I prefer to be called James butmy mom calls me Jimmy.

 

Q: James, There's a Nick Cassavettes film that you're involved in. Can youtalk about that?

JM: Yeah, I did that right after "X-Men," right after the holidaysand into the new year. It's called "The Notebook." It's based on aNicolas Sparks novel. It's a great cast. It's a big ensemble pieced: JamesGarner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, Ryan Gosling and a new, young actressfrom Canada, Rachel McAdams.

 

Q: To do a smaller-scale movie after doing a big studio movie, is it sort ofa battery recharge for you?

JM: Yeah, because it taps into certain things that you didn't get...like"X-Men" fulfills a certain part of me creatively and then other typesof films kind of fill other voids.

FJ: For some reason, I only get different types of parts in the independents.I get kind of typecast in studio films, I would say, more, but in theindependents I get to branch out into different things. I love doing them. 

 

Q: Is it kind of daunting walking onto a set with a cast like the one youjust mentioned?

JM: Kind of like walking onto the set of the first "X-Men" to behonest with you. 

It's exciting as hell, because I just know how much better I am when I'msurrounded by great actors. I think it just expands your ability and also youjust kind of go, "Wow. I'd sure like to keep doing this for the rest of mylife."

 

Q: It seems like often, blockbuster movies are just big, stupid films. Peoplejust do it for the money. "X-Men" has a terrific cast.

FJ: Well, it was Bryan Singer who had been doing very serious, on a smallerscale, movies. I think that he attracted the cast. I think that we all probablysigned on or were very excited to work with him.

JM: I also do believe that Bryan doesn't buy into the idea that a blockbusterhas to be stupid. I think he believes that you can have both. I think that oneof his favorite films, and one of my favorite films as well, is"Jaws."  It created the blockbuster. It's not about a shark,really. It's about these really wonderful characters trapped on this boat. 

So I think Bryan believes that you can have both. You can make a solid filmand lay on as many special effects as you want for people who just want to goand eat popcorn and go, "woo!'

But Bryan believes that having all of that stuff that comes from a core thatis based on character and relationship.

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