It seems like these days everyone wants to be in a superhero movie. Everywhere you look, Hollywood A-listers are taking on characters from comic book pages and portraying them on screen. From Oscar winners and nominees to the biggest names in Tinseltown, getting a movie role as a comic book character seems to be a most coveted position lately. After resurrecting his career as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. became one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood. Whether it’s sitcom star Chris Pratt jumping to leading man status after appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy, or five-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams taking up the mantle of Lois Lane, no one wants to back down from a spot on the cast of a superhero flick.
That’s why it’s hard to imagine a time when the Hollywood elite wasn’t necessarily clamoring to be in a comic book adaptation. While the films found success and had big celebrities attached, it was considered more of a fluff role than one that could define a career. When the original X-Men film was released in 2000, the cast had no clue they were about to become some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Here, we look at where the actors and actresses from the original X-Men trilogy have ended up today.
16 HUGH JACKMAN
Hugh Jackman made a breakthrough in his acting career after appearing as Wolverine in X-Men. Becoming a huge celebrity overnight, Jackman became a hot commodity in Hollywood. He spent the next 17 years as Wolverine, being the only main actor to have a role in every X-Men film (yes, the First Class cameo counts). Earlier this year, Jackman retired as Wolverine after a beautiful send off in Logan.
Throughout his years as the Canadian mutant, Jackman enjoyed success outside of the superhero genre, having hosted the Tony awards on multiple occasions, receiving an Oscar nomination for his turn in Les Miserables, and appearing in hits such as The Prestige, Prisoners, and Eddie The Eagle. It is left to be seen what’s next for the Australian actor after hanging up the claws this year, but it is a safe bet he will continue to find success.
15 PATRICK STEWART
Sir Patrick Stewart was already an acclaimed actor when he took up the mantle of Professor X in the original X-Men trilogy. A successful stage career, and his extremely popular portrayal of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation meant that fans were excited to see such a heavy-hitter leading the mutants. Stewart continued acting as Professor X until this year, appearing in all the X-Men films save three, and only retired as the character along with Jackman in Logan.
Sir Stewart continued a successful career outside of X-Men over the years, continuing to appear on stage and film. He has become a British icon, having carried the Olympic torch before the 2012 London Olympics, and was knighted by the Queen in 2010. Most recently, Stewart has lent his voice to The Emoji Movie as the Poop Emoji.
14 HALLE BERRY
Halle Berry appeared in all three original X-Men films as Storm, the mutant with the ability to control weather. While fans were torn over her terrible accent and cheesy lines in the first films, she eventually grew to be a memorable part of the movies, and returned eight years later in Days of Future Past to reprise the role of Storm in a few scenes.
After mild success in the 1990s, X-Men helped propel Berry to stardom, and she was subsequently cast as a Bond Girl and as Catwoman in a less-than-stellar comic book adaptation. Garnering an Academy Award in 2002, Berry became an it-girl in Hollywood and acted in many films over the following decade. While not being as prominent a force of late, she has turned her focus behind the scenes and founded production company 606 Films.
13 JAMES MARSDEN
James Marsden is another name that shot into stardom after the success of the original X-Men trilogy. Marsden’s role as Cyclops was beloved by fans and he has turned it all into a very successful Hollywood career. After X-Men and Superman Returns, Marsden left the comic book world behind and began appearing in comedies including Enchanted, 27 Dresses, Death At A Funeral, and Sex Drive.
Marsden had a memorable role as Will Ferrell’s rival newscaster in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and then reprised his role as Cyclops in the final scene of Days of Future Past. Marsden has shifted his attention to dramatic roles, having played President Kennedy in The Butler, and now has a spot on the main cast of HBO’s hit sci-fi/western, Westworld.
12 REBECCA ROMIJN
Rebecca Romijn was primarily known as a model before her work as Mystique in the X-Men trilogy. Although she was an odd choice for the fan-favorite villain who had a decently sized role in the films, she pulled it off wonderfully and left fans with one of the most memorable on-screen villains in a comic book film. Romijn didn’t return to modelling after acting, but has struggled to become as successful as some of her costars.
Shortly after the trilogy wrapped up in 2006’s The Last Stand, Romijn joined the main cast of Ugly Betty for its first two seasons. She has since appeared in multiple short-lived television series, married actor Jerry O’Connell, cameoed in First Class where Jennifer Lawrence took on the role of Mystique, and is currently the host of the body painting competition show, Skin Wars.
11 BRIAN COX
X2 was unique in that Magneto was not the main villain in the movie; in fact, he was forced to unite with the X-Men and work to defeat a common threat. That threat was Stryker, the Weapon X mastermind played by Scottish actor Brian Cox. Notable for being the first person to portray Hannibal Lecter on screen in 1986, Cox was similar to Patrick Stewart in that he was a very prominent stage actor in the United Kingdom.
Although he never found as much success as some of his costars, Cox has been nominated for multiple awards in his time since X2 and has had small roles in a ton of films, including tentpoles like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and several of the Jason Bourne films. He is also currently set to appear in October’s comedy sequel, Super Troopers 2.
10 BRUCE DAVISON
Bruce Davison was already a well-known actor before playing anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly in X-Men and X2, and has surprisingly been out of the limelight since his turn in the original trilogy. After receiving an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win in the early 1990s, Davison continued to shine both on film and television, securing himself a spot as the secondary antagonist to the X-Men.
Though never again achieving the same level of success as he found before the X-Men films, Davison has kept quite busy having appeared as a guest star in countless TV shows and finding success on stage in Los Angeles. Davison is set to star in the upcoming dramatization of the September 11 terrorist attacks 9/11 alongside Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg.
9 BEN FOSTER
Ben Foster was relatively unknown when he was cast as Angel for the conclusion of the X-Men trilogy. While the character’s portrayal was a disappointment to fans, it was not Foster’s fault; rather, its failure was attributed to the character’s lack of screen time and poorly developed arc. A year later he was praised for his acting in the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma and it seemed for a moment like Foster was the next big thing in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, he never found A-list levels of success, but has continued to act and is consistently praised by critics for his performances. Foster had a successful 2016 appearing in the heavily anticipated Warcraft and the critically acclaimed Hell Or High Water, for which he received multiple awards and nominations.
8 RAY PARK
Ray Park played the role of Toad in the first X-Men film, taking a silly villain and making him actually kind of cool on screen. Unfortunately, he’s mostly remembered for infamously being defeated by Storm’s lightning bolt, but this was still a big step in Park’s career. He was known at the time for portraying Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace a year prior, and had otherwise mainly done stunt work.
Park has had little success outside of those two roles. He has done stunt work for Christopher Walken and played Snake Eyes in both G.I. Joe films, but for the most part he has been relegated to bit roles mainly reserved for a strong physical actor, which he most definitely is. He does appear frequently at cons and fan events due to his memorable roles in both Star Wars and X-Men.
7 SHAWN ASHMORE
Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore appeared in all three films as Iceman, one of the original X-Men team members from the comics. While Iceman did not have as large a role in the trilogy as he did in the comic books, Ashmore was memorable as the young mutant learning to control his omega-level powers and handle his relationship with Rogue.
Ashmore reprised the role in the final scene of Days of Future Past, but has otherwise been fairly quiet in Hollywood. Time has not been so kind to the early-2000’s heartthrob as he has primarily disappeared from the public eye. Ashmore has appeared in several small films and TV shows, most recently the short-lived drama on ABC Conviction, but he has not yet found the success of the X-Men franchise.
6 ALAN CUMMING
X2 is widely considered to be the best of the original X-Men trilogy, in part due to the incredible portrayal of Nightcrawler by Alan Cumming. Fans were disappointed to learn he would not return for the third film, but no one has forgotten the excellent version of the character we saw on screen all those years ago.
In his time since wowing audiences as the teleporting mutant, Cumming has found much success on stage, appearing in numerous Broadway productions, most notably the revival of Cabaret in the starring role. Cumming has also lent his voice to many animated films including the two original Smurfs films, and has had roles in tons of major films including the musical Burlesque and the upcoming sports film Battle of the Sexes.
5 KELSEY GRAMMER
Kelsey Grammer’s portrayal of Beast was a welcome addition to the cast of The Last Stand, an otherwise lackluster movie. Grammer was known for playing the brainy and pompous Dr. Frasier Crane on television, so his casting as the brainy mutant was a perfect choice. He won the hearts of audiences and got to return to the role in Days of Future Past to the delight of fans.
Grammer has not been very high-profile since his time in the third X-Men film, as he had achieved so much prior success playing Frasier. He has had many guest starring spots on TV and has kept busy appearing in a few films over the years, including 2017’s comedy Neighbors 2 and 2017’s animated Paul Bunyan romp, Bunyan and Babe.
4 FAMKE JANSSEN
After a somewhat successful modelling career, Famke Janssen switched her focus to acting and hit it big through the original X-Men trilogy, where she played Jean Grey. Janssen returned to the franchise twice, in 2013 and 2014, to reprise her role, and has now passed the torch to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner.
Janssen has kept quite busy over the years, having been a series regular on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove and as the lead role in this year’s The Blacklist: Redemption. She appeared earlier this summer in the action-comedy Once Upon a Time in Venice opposite Bruce Willis, and continues to act as she is set to appear in the upcoming comedy Status Update.
3 ANNA PAQUIN
Fans were introduced the world of mutants in the first film through the eyes of Rogue, played by Anna Paquin. Her performance was praised and landed her several award nominations. She continued to appear in all three movies and at the end of Days of Future Past. She has also found loads of success outside of the comic book movie realm.
Her most successful role would be that of the lead character in HBO’s True Blood, for which she received multiple awards and nominations. She continued her television success with a pair of nominated roles in television films Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. Recently, she lent her voice to the Pixar film The Good Dinosaur and appeared again on television with the lead role in the Canadian series Bellevue.
2 ELLEN PAGE
Ellen Page was a relative unknown when she appeared in The Last Stand as Kitty Pryde, which jumpstarted her career into superstardom. A year later she played the titular role in Juno, garnering critical acclaim and a plethora of nominations for her performance.
Since then, Page has continued to find success, having played key roles in the comedy Whip It and the science-fiction/thriller Inception. Page also reprised her role as Kitty Pryde for a supporting spot in Days of Future Past. Page came out as gay in 2014 and has since become a prominent LGBTQ activist, and currently hosts the documentary series Gaycation. She also has produced multiple films, including the upcoming romance film Mercy.
1 IAN MCKELLEN
Sir Ian McKellen was king of the 2000’s sci-fi and fantasy world. In addition to expertly playing Magneto in the X-Men trilogy, he was also Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. He reprised the Gandalf role for The Hobbit trilogy, as well as the Magneto role for The Wolverine and Days of Future Past.
McKellen was successful long before the X-Men films, and has continued to act in both Hollywood and stage productions. In fact, he has spent much time on stage in mainly Shakespearean productions. He also played a role in The Da Vinci Code and The Golden Compass. Most recently, McKellen lent his voice to Cogsworth the clock in the live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Do you know where any other cast members from the original X-Men trilogy are? Let us know in the comments!