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That's why they call it the blues. Stamos and Cumming talk 'X2'

When "X2: X-Men United" opens in theaters May 2nd, RebeccaRomijn-Stamos will reprise her role as the blue-skinned mutant Mystique. Joiningher with an azure epidermis is Alan Cumming who introduces Nightcrawler tomovie audiences.

Stamos and Cumming recently sat down with the press for round-tableinterviews to talk about mutants, makeup and opening gratuitous cans of whoop-ass.

Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide readers with an edited transcriptof that conversation. If you missed it, be sure to check out our previoustranscript with director BryanSinger.

 

Q: It must have been exhilarating that they shaved three hours off your makeup time.

RebeccaRomijn-Stamos (RRS): That was exhilarating. I really went through it on the first one and Icomplained a lot. So I was so happy that they shaved three hours off of it forthis one. I was fine. I was perfectly fine.

He didn't know what he was in for, so I think he probably had it much worsebecause he was like me on the first one.

Alan Cumming (AC): Like a novice nun.

RRS: He didn't think he was going to make it through, which is how I felt onthe first one.

AC: It was so great to have someone else there who was like, 'I know.'

RRS: I totally understood. We had a support group.

AC: I'm blue too.

RRS: We have a secret blue club.

AC: Yeah.

RRS: With a secret language.

 

Q: I wish shaved hadn't been used in that last question.

AC: I know. I thought that every time you said that. 'Shaved three hours offyour thing.'

RRS: Oh...'shaved.' [laughs]

AC: [laughs] I get a visual.

RRS: Really?

AC: Yeah.

RRS: Wow. I hadn't thought of that. Interesting.

 

Q: Also, we saw a scene out in the cold and you practically have nothing on.How long of a day was that?

RRS: That was a long day. That was the worst. 

AC: It was so cold.

RRS: Of course, that was my very last day on the movie. The last day alwayshas to be the hardest. I don't know why.

AC: They do things...always on last days they do big stunts or big thingsthat you might complain about or you might die in...

RRS: ...I thought I might die...

AC: ...so they can still finish the film if you die.

RRS: But you know what about that day? First of all, we were up in themountains. It was snowing, ninety mile an hour winds, freezing cold, but theyput potato flakes on top of the snow to try and save my feet from being in theactual snow, because I was barefoot, and the potato flakes literally turned toglue on the soles of my feet. I had these big, glue shoes and they'd rush meback into the helicopter, which is where they'd keep me warm between takes, andIan McKellan would pick the glue off the bottoms of my feet. It was...

AC: [laughing] ...a knight of the realm!

RRS: [laughing] ...it was the worst! There's Ian pulling glue off of my feet.

AC: I'm sure it's not the first time he's done it.

 

Q: What were your first impressions, the first time you actually saw whatNightcrawler looks like?

AC: Kind of horror because I would have to be sitting there. The first time Idid it was like eight or ten hours just to get my face done. Also we went tovarious textures and shades of blue and then the tattoos became a component.

Actually the first time I saw it I thought, 'oh, yuck,' because it was toodark and I just didn't feel I'd be able to communicate anything with theaudience. I just thought it was going to be such a mask that it would be...youknow, why did they bother hiring me? They could get anyone...

RRS: That's how I felt.

AC: But then you kind of hone it and hopefully by the time you startshooting...and then you kind of...in a way it was good because in the first twoweeks I was just on my own doing the opening sequence, where I open a can of whoop-ass sequence.

RRS: [laughs]

AC: That's my favorite phrase. That's why I said that.

RRS: [laughing] He just learned it yesterday. He's been working it into everysingle interview.

AC: Open a can of whoop-ass. 

And in a way you're much more concerned with the wire and hitting the markand kicking the stunt man and all that stuff. And then after that, when I gotmore into the thing, I was more used to it by then and I could see how I couldact a bit more.

 

Q: You both have to do a lot of wire work, don't you.

RRS: My costume is so fragile; it disintegrates immediately, so there was noplace to put the wire.

AC: There's no place to put the harness.

RRS: There's no place for the harness. My stunt double [Vickie Phillips] isthe same stunt double from the first one, who is a gymnast, because Mystique hasthis unique fighting style.

AC: So all that's non-wires?

RRS: She worked on the wires. I think they took it out in post, digitallyremoved the harness, but it was difficult for them to find a gymnast my height,because most gymnasts are much shorter than I am. Anyway, she was great.

AC: Most people are much shorter than you.

 

Q: That's one of those things that it looks so cool on screen, but I have afeeling that the first time they hoist you up...

AC: I'll tell you. There's not much joy in that.

RRS: Harnesses don't feel good.

AC: No. There's chaffing involved. There're so many perils to wearing theharness.

 

Q: And then you have to act while you're in them. 

AC: That's kind of the least of your worries though, I have to say, whenyou've got big, huge, mountaineering style straps near your groin. 

And it's scary going up so high. Because you practice with a stunt man first.Then it's really nice when the stunt man says, 'yeah! You're doing really well,'and you're like, 'oh!' 

It's like your big brother or something telling you you're good at a sportthat you're not really good at. Then when you go into the set to actually do it,and you start getting pulled up and you can see everyone going, 'oh my God! He'sreally high.'

You have to try and not be scared, because you really are!

 

Q: With both your characters: is it good to see the end result, when thespecial effects are added on?

RRS: Yeah.

AC: Yeah. It's fantastic.

RRS: We just saw it on Friday night for the first time and we were, as Alansays, laughing our tits off.

AC: [laughing] That's only a phrase for you.

RRS: [laughing] I love it. It's so fun.

 

Q: So do you do a lot of the stunt work?

RRS: I did a lot of the kicking and the punching. Then they bring us in forthe vanity close ups, like the, 'Whew.' 

There's a lot of that.

For example Vickie, when I was working with my stunt double, she would comeand watch me on the set just to study how I move, because Mystique is sort ofserpentine and moves a certain way. Then I would come and watch her when she wasfighting and ask her to add in certain gestures here and there.

 

Q: Is there a trick to emoting through all of that?

RRS: Well that's hard. I'm covered in the silicone and my face is frozen.It's like the ultimate botox without actually being injected. You don't know ifyou're actually conveying  what you're trying to convey because you can'tfurrow your brow. Your face is frozen.

AC: I'm going to do it.

RRS: Yeah, I think you should.

AC: I'm getting a little wrinkly.

RRS: [giggles] It's going to be huge next year. We're doing an infomercial.

AC: Yeah...The Mystique.

RRS: The Mystique.

AC: [infomercial voice] Would you like Mystique? You've got it.

[Normal voice] I've got those little tattoo things, they're like littleraised things you do on with a thing that you'd ice cakes with. Like a syringe.

I just got those. I don't have any kind of pieces on, so...it was just theblueness though. And it was just the things like, you can't really see becauseof the contact lenses.

I didn't have any kind of physical things between me and the camera, but atthe same time it's still quite daunting. It's like, 'I'm feeling very sad rightnow. I wonder if anyone knows.'

RRS: [laughs] 'I wonder if anyone can tell how angry I am.'

AC: There're the teeth as well. It's really hard to speak with the teeth inyour mouth. So when I was snarling and all that, I'd have the teeth, the bottomsas well. But then when I was speaking I'd mastered being able to sound not likea big, sibilant drag queen with the top ones in. So I always had less teeth whenI talked then when I was snarling. So there was a constant exchange of dentures.

 

Q: You were doing that and the accent.

AC: And the accent.

Q: Was that the same accent you did on 'Cabaret?'

AC: Well it's a German one. Yeah. I mean it's not exactly the same. Samecountry.

 

Q: So that wasn't a big challenge for you.

AC: No the challenge was speaking in German, which is very, you know: I don'tread...I can get by in a restaurant in German. But the one time I went homeafter a very long day and they said, 'Oh, we're e-mailing you over some newlines for tomorrow,' and I said, 'OK.'

[it was] Hail Mary in German. And I was like, 'Jesus Christ! How am I gonnalearn this by...'

There's a lovely lady, [Producer Ralph Winter's] assistant Sabrina isGerman. So she helped me with the actually pronunciation of the German things.It's OK speaking with an accent but when you actually have to speak the...

And then they said to me, 'do you want to go to Germany for the Germanpremiere?' 

Is said, 'nah-uh. That's like going into the lion's den.'

 

Q: Was it a good experience for you coming into that family environment fromthe first 'X-Men?'

AC: Yeah. It was. It was nice because they'd all done it. They all knew howto pace themselves, because it's such a long film. It's very grueling to do afilm like this.

RRS: And also, we were so happy with the success of the first one that wewere able to come back with that much more confidence and do more. We love eachother. I mean it's such a great cast. We love hanging out.

AC: So it was a nice thing to come into. I didn't really feel like 'new boy'apart from the first two weeks when I was on my own.

 

Q: Can you talk about the work you did with a circus trainer?

AC: Yeah. He's called Terry [Notary]. He's really good. He used to work withCirque du Soleil and he did the movements for 'Planet of the Apes' and stuff. Sowhen I would go up for my makeup tests in the months prior to shooting, I wouldgo and spend time with him and do movement.

It was great actually. It was like being back in drama school again. Weworked on how he would run and things like, instead of...oh this is radio so Ican't do it...sorry...but just to get a kind of animal feel to him. We did a lotof stuff and then we kind of toned it down so it wasn't too much but just subtlethings to sort of suggest how he might move, looking the way he does. 

I like being physical in my work, so it was nice to actually work withsomeone.

 

Q: I've noticed a pattern where actors like yourself will do a big spectaclelike this and then look for something smaller.

RRS: I went right into a move called 'Godsend' which was like a really smallcrew. It's with Greg Kinnear and Robert DeNiro, about a couple who loses theirchild and their child gets cloned, and I went straight from 'X2' into that. Itwas so nice to actually learn everyone's name. I just played a mom. I didn'thave to wear any makeup. It was so nice.

AC: I think that's a good thing. I think that makes you a better actor orartist of any kind, that you mix and match and you go through different mediumsand different styles and tones. You can always bring something from one thinginto the other. If you do the same thing all the time, you kind of limityourself.

RRS: And it gets boring. 

 

Q: It's interesting you say you can bring something from one thing into theother...

AC: Oh, I know where this question's going. I don't have an answer!

 

Q: ...in a big event movie, the character is harder...it's harder to makethat...

AC: Well, I think that you have a point but what I think works about thisfilm, and the last film, is that the characters are so strongly defined...

RRS: Right!

AC: ...and so carefully delineated. I suppose...

RRS: They get to open a can of whoop-ass...

AC: ...yes...

RRS: ...but they also have time to do meaningful stuff...

AC: [sensitive voice]...they have feelings too.

RSS: [laughs] ...like real people!

AC: I always thought that, when I played Hamlet for instance...I used to dostand up comedy and I always think that when I played Hamlet, my Hamlet wasbetter because I'd done stand-up comedy. I understood about relating to theaudience in the soliloquies. Basically, as a stand-up comedian you're completelyjust there with the peole and your looking at them. 

And then, so in a way, things like working in the theater and being used todoing things like movement and dance stuff, that helped me with Nightcrawlerbecause I had the confidence to kind of be quite bold in terms of you I...

So you can bring other things into...

 

Q: Is 'Godsend' what we'll be seeing next.

RRS: Yeah. That'll come out in the fall. I think October.

 

Q: And Alan?

AC: I'm adapting my novel into a screenplay and things like that. Next I'llbe in 'Spy Kids 3D' doing a little return cameo.

And then I'm going to make this film, 'Phantom of the Opera.' 

RRS: Shhhh...

AC: A little-known musical.

 

Q: Who's directing that?

AC: Joel Schumacher. I am playing Christine, yes.

[laughs]

No, I'm playing one of the theater owners.

 

Q: Did I hear you're doing a TV Series?

AC: Oh yes, there's that as well. There's this thing called 'Mr. and Mr.Nash.' I'm only doing the pilot. Steve Martin's company is producing it. It'shilarious. It's sort of like a gay 'Hart to Hart.' It's like a gay couple whoare interior designers and everywhere they go people die and they solve themurder.

 

Q: Is TV ready for another gay series, do you think?

AC: Well I don't know. What do you think?

Q: Well I think they're ready for lots more gay series.

AC: [laughs] Hey! 

I think the thing about this is that actually...I think it's hilarious and Ilove the idea and I'm really excited to see the script, but at the same time I'mvery cautious of it because, it could be the first time that there are gaypeople on network television in America and their gayness would be secondary towhat the show is about. That, I think, is a long time coming. But there's kindof a responsibility to get the tone of it right to embrace the fact that they'regay but also not to make it just about that.

 

Q: Do we know who the other person is yet?

AC: No, actually we're having extensive casting session around the globe. No,I don't know. 

 

Q: Are you up for doing a several year commitment?

AC: Well, I sort of, you know, I'm nervous a bit, but I actually really likethis idea so much and I really like Steve and Joan [Stein], his producingpartner, and I just sort of thought...and also they're going to let me shoot iton the east coast so I can still live in New York, if it goes to a series.There's always a chance it won't happen. 

I just really, if it's done well, I think it's something I would really,really enjoy. And, also, it might not happen. It might last one season. 

And if it's going really well and it lasts and lasts then, and I was reallyunhappy, I could always feign a nervous breakdown.

 

Q: Do you have a wish list though, of who you would like to see?

AC: No. Not really. I keep forgetting. I don't know because I can't quitework out, because I think he should be a little older than me, but I can't saywhether he should be gorgeous or not.

 

Q: 'Godsend': cloning has become one of those hot button, political issues.

RRS: Yeah. It started off as science fiction. Now it's just science. Sciencenon-fiction.

 

Q: Were there any discussions about the politics? You never know what themarketplace is going to be when the movie comes out.

RRS: It's true and we still have a few more months. Who knows what willhappen between now and then. But the movie sort of investigates the ethical sideof cloning within this family's experience of losing a child.

It's interesting. I actually learned a lot about cloning. My character is init for the emotional reasons. She wants her son back. She's lost her baby. Nomatter what she just wants her kid back.

 

Q: Did you change your perspective on the issue? Will the movie cause theaudience to change their minds about cloning?

RRS: I don't know. It's a thriller. It's scary. It's kind of got this horroraspect of it, so it's not entirely reality based. It's kind of...

AC: It sounds quite gothic.

RRS: It is a little bit. It's scary, actually, hopefully.

 

Q: Alan, what is it about New York that you like?

AC: I think it's a really beautiful place. I love just walking down thestreet and you encounter people of all nationalities and experiences. You canhave adventures there. Things just happen to you.

I find L.A. quite difficult. I don't feel like I'm in a city and real people around me...

RRS: Yeah. Everyone's completely separated.

AC:  ...everyone kind of drives to their homes. Strangely, for a countryboy, I really crave being in the middle of a city.

 

Q: When the blue stuff comes off, do you still have the experience of findingit on you later?

RRS: Oh yeah. I mean I have blue on me for months and months and months. Imean, I knew it was in my ears. I'd get on a plane to go home and strike up a conversationwith the person next to me and wonder how long it would take forthem to comment on the blue in my ears.

I sort of see them looking at it...taking a peek.

Taking it off was, you put this chemical on and it breaks the paint down.Alan and I had a shower trailer that we shared.

AC: Yeah. It was very exotic. It was like a spa.

RRS: It really was.

AC: We had music.

RRS: It looked beautiful and they had the temperature just right. In allthere were probably twelve showerheads, but it never worked. The water wouldnever come on. So you'd put the chemical on your skin to break the paint down,and it burns your skin if you leave it on for a certain amount of times. One outof every two times the shower trailer wouldn't work and I would end up in tearsbecause the stuff is hurting my skin.

I remember sneaking into Alan's side of the shower trailer once and justpulling the pieces off and Alan opens the door and says, 'Oh, I'm so sorry foryou.'

I'm like crying.

 

Q: Have you encountered X-Men fans?

RRS: Oh man, they come out of the woodwork. It's amazing. Most of my friendsare just like...

And the information just finds you. Everyone keeps asking us if we knew a lotabout the X-Men when we started. Once you start making these movies, theinformation comes to you, whether you like it or not. You know everything aboutX-Men.

AC: It's like the French Resistance. Once you're in, you're in.

RRS: You're in for the long haul.

AC: People bring you things. It's like the strangest people are all X-Menny.

RRS: [laughs] X-Menny!

AC: I'm just starting to find out about all this. Like last week I was doinga book tour in London, so I'm signing that book and then all of a sudden there'sall these Marvel comics with my face on it. I'm like, 'Hey. How about buying abook?'

There're just endless amounts of these things that people have now and theyget you to sign them.

RRS: I have a friend that goes to Comic-con every year and he's been tryingto get me to go. I just don't know. I don't know if that's a safe place to go.

AC: I know because there's such a feeling that you'll disappoint people.

RRS: Right. Exactly.

AC: I find that with things that you do that people have become obsessed by.It's not just that you're scared of them, because sometimes you can be. Also,you think, 'if you're so obsessed by this, I don't want to let you down.'

RRS: 'I want to live up to your expectations.'

AC: 'I don't want to spoil it for you.' Yeah, I would be a bit nervous of that.

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