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Dual Cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 20, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

In NYC recently, “X-Men DOFP” cast members gathered to tell journalists about their experiences on the film. Check out what Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (young Charles Xavier), Patrick Stewart (older Professor Xavier), Michael Fassbender (younger Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto) and Peter Dinklage (baddie Dr. Bolivar Trask) all had to say about bonding, flying and bringing this time-hopping story to life.

Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/MagnetoMichael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/MagnetoCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

The movie tells the story of a far future time in which both mutants and mankind must survive against the Sentinels; giant shape shifting robots sent by baddie Dr. Trask that can change their abilities at will. Only a few X-Men survive. Wolverine is sent back to 1973 by Kitty’s psychic abilities to put a hard-living young Xavier back on the up and up path to stop the Sentinels before they exist!

Q: Ellen, so much of this movie hinges on what your character is doing to Hugh’s character Wolverine (using psychic powers to zap him back in time). What was it like to do those moments?

  • Ellen:  It required a lot of focus and getting to be in a confined space with extraordinary actor; one minute I’m watching Patrick deliver a monologue over and over, just blowing my mind. You’re just inspired by it completely. Then you are spending your day with the loveliest human beings who are sweet and generous and funny. It just makes every day a joy.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) with Iceman (Shawn Ashmore)Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) with Iceman (Shawn Ashmore)Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: This film is pretty intense. Is there one moment that stands out for you as being intense to film?

  • Michael: It was like camping. We were “in tents” (laughter).
  • Hugh: That’s good! This felt like two films because the beginning was the future which was like an incredible reunion for all of us then we had the younger actors. As intense as it was, it was a joy being on set the whole time. There is a great bond but everyone is passionate about it and takes it seriously.
  • I was never sure anyone could fill the shoes of (Sir) Ian McKellen and Patrick (Stewart) but when I saw X-Men First Class, I realized that these guys did it with aplomb and confidence. Not only did they feel like the younger versions of those characters but they also had made them their own. It’s an incredible feat. (Talking to Michael and James), you guys anchored the films.

Hugh Jackman as Logan/WolverineHugh Jackman as Logan/WolverineCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: Patrick, you and James are playing this character (Xavier) again at different ages and your scene is delivered when you are physically very close to each other. What was that like?

  • Patrick: It was in a sense, a no-brainer how that was staged. If it had been in a set where we could have gone and poured cocktails or opened a window, it would have been a very different kind of scene. I don’t know how it came about that we were nose to nose but I can’t think of any other way of making the scene work. You are looking into the eyes of your (younger) self. It was James’s first day at work on the movie and my last day. I don’t recall rehearsing it. We knew the lines. Oh, I should have said we worked on it for weeks (laughter).
  • James: I’ve been a fan of Patrick’s for seven years and in “Star Trek (Next Generation”) and back to the movie Dune. To get to come and do my version of a character that’s he’s been in charge of for 14 years in his face? It was quite nerve-wracking but then you either get nervous and let it overcome you or you get quite excited, strangely at the fact that you might fail. There is an empathy that pours out of Patrick in the previous movies when he plays the character and I hoped to emulate that. The professor has a willingness to reach out and care and touch.

Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets himself (Patrick Stewart) in the futureYoung Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets himself (Patrick Stewart) in the futureCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: Can anyone else talk about what you shared with the actor playing your older or younger self?

  • Michael: I didn’t get to talk to Ian (older Magneto) actually until Comic Con but this time I had this thing on You-Tube which was Ian McKellen in the 1970’s giving a workshop for the Royal Shakespeare Company about “Macbeth” and it ran for about 10 minutes so I played it over and over trying to get the rhythms and tones of his voice. Then, we finally did get to meet which was great but unfortunately, I didn’t have a scene with him.
  • Hugh: In “X-1” the Professor was a mentor/guide for Wolverine and that became the opposite in this movie. The film feels like a fresh beginning. Wolverine in the 1970’s is perfect. I don’t think he ever wanted to leave the ’70’s; the hair, the mutton-chops, the clothes, the car....I think the moment that “Tears for Fears”, “Flock of Seagulls” and “Duran Duran” came along, Wolverine was like “I’m out!” (laughter)

Young Xavier and young Magneto play chessYoung Xavier and young Magneto play chessCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: Peter, if I’d said you would be the go-to villain on both film and TV (“Game of Thrones”) what would you have said?

  • Peter: Define villain! No. I jump at the chance! But it’s a high-falutin’ actor thing of not wanting to judge your character (or call him a villain). Dr. Trask really believes he’s doing the right thing. He wants to save humankind world-wide and, at the same time, he’s also a capitalist and if you are going to tack on “villain”, those are the guys I don’t trust; war profiteers. He sure has his big “T” on all these cargo containers with the Sentinels on them and that’s ego, and war profiteering and that, for me, is where true villainy lies.  

Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage, seated) plots to kill all mutantsDr. Trask (Peter Dinklage, seated) plots to kill all mutantsCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: Agree. You guys are keeping it light today but this movie is heavy. It’s full of pain and anger and rage and death.

  • James: Yeah, well, over seven movies, you’ve got to stretch the characters in order to give the audience something new but, on top of that, the point of going back (to the characters’ youth) is to show how different people are so the audience can be there for the key turning points in their lives when somebody goes through the crucible (the test), somebody is formed and becomes who they will be. You’ve got to hang around for the worst moments because, if they don’t kill you, they make you stronger. People do get killed but in aid of saving the future and altering the past. That’s kind of dark but amazing.

Young Magneto uses his powersYoung Magneto uses his powersCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Q: Michael, can you talk about flying? Is being harnessed up there fun or horrible or what?

  • Michael: A little bit of both. If something gets caught in the wrong place, it’s another sensation altogether (in a harness). They put you in and off you go. You take various flight paths on the wire. It is very advanced now. I was going up pretty high so you just hope the computer setting (that moves the rig with you and the wires on it) is done correctly. You have to make it look like it’s comfortable.
  • Hugh: I have done it a few times. My children have grown up on rehearsal stages and it has ruined Disneyland for them because they have flown on those wires. The stunt guys on the X-Men films are great. They rig up the kids. I love it. For me it’s great fun.
  • Patrick: Exactly. All actors have got a Peter Pan in them somewhere and some actors have got a Tinker Bell (laughter). Not all my flying in this made the final cut. I and my chair were flown from one end of the stage to the other starting at about 12 or 14 feet.

X-Men: Days of Future Past PosterX-Men: Days of Future Past PosterCourtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Check out X-Men: Days of Future Past in theaters May 23rd!

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Are you going to see X-Men this weekend?  Who is your favorite character?