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X3: Famke Jansen and James Marsden

By Chris Brown     May 25, 2006

In this installment of the 'X-Men Last Stand' round tables, Comics2Film's thechrisbrown had a chance to talk with Famke Jansen (Jean Grey/ Phoenix) and Jimmy Marsden (Cyclops).

Note: This interview contains some spolers, which are whited out in the text of the article.

Upon first entering the room Famke had to attend to her dog, Licorice, whom Jimmy claimed has a longer resume than he does, so the room sort of jumped on the opportunity to ask some Superman Returns questions.

We cover everything from 'Superman Returns' to Famke's internal struggle as the conflicted Jean Grey.

Q: Jimmy, you're staying extremely busy in the comic book end ...

(Laughter.)

JM: I wish I could say that was, you know, I had planned all of that, but no, I feel very lucky and fortunate to be in both of these films this summer. You know, initially when Bryan took Superman and he called me and said the script is done and I have this role in the movie that you'd be perfect for and I'd love to bring you over if you want to do it. I read the script and I liked the character, and at that point X-Men didn't have a director yet and it was a little unclear as to what I was doing in the film, and I know they were making the film and they were scheduled to go in August, September and Superman began in March, so I figured I'd roll the dice and hopefully it would work out that I could do both.

Q: So, you obviously have a bigger role in Superman ...

JM: Yes, yes, you mean compared to X-Men 3 ... yes. Um, yeah, you know, it's just one of those things that, um, look Bryan is a great friend and has been very helpful with my career, and, um, and it's Superman and I love Bryan as a director and I think he's gonna give people exactly what they want and he's gonna, not revive, because I think he has a great deal of respect for the Richard Donner films, but they were in the 70s and now you have a generation of people that obviously know who Superman is, but might have forgotten that movie or not seen it, so to me it was a safe and creatively gratifying move to go do Superman, and work with Bryan again, and shed the glasses and be a regular guy.

Q: Was there any bad blood or anything from the studio, the fact that you went with Singer and Superman?

JM: No, you know, obviously they, you know, they want that they can have you, you know, on board when they want you. It's easier for them to not have to work out schedules and details. And that was the only conflict, really, and I have to hand it to Fox and Warner Bros. because they were really collaborative and working out my involvement for both of them, so it wasn't as dissonant as some might have thought. It was just a scheduling thing.

Q: Now, with Superman you said that Bryan holds the original Superman movies in such high regard, now how do you feel playing a character that doesn't exist in the comics? Do you fear any geek backlash playing a character that goes against Superman canon?

(Jimmy chuckles a little at the question.)

JM: Um, you know, no. Like I said before I feel very safe in Bryan Singer's hands, and he's a super-competent director and one of the most talented guys out there, and you know, if he conceived this character that doesn't exist in the comic books, then he did for a reason and I didn't really question it. Obviously, it's difficult to be the competition for Superman, I mean, how do you compete with that? But, um, the movie works on so many emotional levels that it transcends the physicality of Superman and gets into his emotional struggle, you know, and, uh, so, it's an interesting situation.

Q: You worked with Bryan and Brett within the same 12-month span ...

JM: You know what's funny, I actually met with Brett to play Superman when Brett was going to direct it. (He laughs.) I mean, I wasn't, you know, he was meeting with lots of people, but, I met with Brett when he was going to do Superman. Just bizarre that he went on to do X-Men.

Q: How different for both of you to work with Bryan and then go to Brett, what's the main transition. Everyone has said that Brett's off the wall and high energy, but you just worked with Bryan, was it quite obviously some big differences?

JM: Well, yeah, when you see the way they both direct and you, you know, all directors are all different, they all have a different energy about them. Bryan has his own energy. It's very controlled and very, you know, calculated, and Brett's energy is, let's go for it, let's do it, let's do it, let's do this and this, wouldn't that be great? He gives himself a lot of options. You know, the great thing about the both of them is that they're very good friends, and they respect each other, and, um, Brett respects Bryan's movies, the first two, he didn't want to reinvent the wheel. He thinks this movie can work with the two of them, so, as much as it was different to work with a different director, you still feel like it was that comfortable X-Men world that Bryan created.

Q: Now, Famke, this movie revolves around you. You kick some major, you really push it to the limit ... when you read the script, were you like, 'Damn, I'm really going to do this?' Were you okay with this?

FJ: I was absolutely okay with it. I figured, Jimmy, we've seen enough of him ...

(The room explodes in laughter.)

FJ: A little kiss, then you gotta go ... actually, my body count was a lot higher, but they wouldn't go for it.

(Everyone continues to laugh.)

FJ: It was a negotiation ...

Q: What do you feel was the most challenging part of playing Jean Grey this time, seeing that she was a darker character and a more, I don't want to say high strung, there was a far greater edge to her this time, she was much more of a comforting character in the first two ...

FJ: Oh, she's very caring, a sweet and kind person. Well, we played with, if you were to look back at one and two there were little hints of what was to come; in the second one they're in the museum and all of a sudden all of these things, these screens start going off ...

JM: Even in the first film at the very end at the top of the Statue of Liberty, the light, and then you look down at what happened ...

FJ: There were hints of what, the power she had within her and the moments she lost control over those powers, and what potentially could happen. And in this film, it's not that she goes, I mean at some point she goes all the way to the bad side, but it's a struggle within the way that, I wanted to play it and be sure, hopefully it came across that way, was that it was a struggle between Jean Grey and Phoenix and which one was going to win.

Q: Going back to Superman really quick, what makes Brandon the right Superman?

JM: What makes him the right Superman?

FJ: Who says he's the right Superman?

(Famke leads the room in explosive laughter.)

FJ: I'm just kidding, I have not seen the film and I know nothing about it.

(Laughter continues.)

JM: You know, I think whatever Bryan saw, Bryan's gift, I believe is, he has this eye and he has impeccable taste, and, um ...

FJ: In casting, look at all of these movies.

JM: I know that sounds incredibly narcissistic.

FJ: Impeccable taste, that's right ... Jimmy Marsden ...

(Everyone laughs.)

JM: Sorry ... But, so, I think when you see Brandon walk into a room, it's like you have to, immediately you look at him, you go, oh my God and not only physically is he just this commanding presence, he's a very sweet guy, he's a very generous actor. And, it's, it was amazing because when I first met him I was, okay, he doesn't look like the man I remember in Chris Reeve, you know, and then you'll ask him some question and he'll do some facial expression and he'll look just like Chris Reeve. Not that Bryan's even worrying about emulating Chris Reeve, he's not at all, but it's obvious when he walks in the room and, you know, speaks, he just has this, and he embodies in his real life, you know, I've gotten to know him and there's so many aspects of Brandon that are, not only Superman, but Clark Kent and Clark Kent from the farm. He's playing three different characters in the movie, and there's a lot of him in each role, so, and he's a terrific actor, I think people are going to be very please. I think he's the obvious choice for Bryan.

SPOILER WARNING: The remainder of this Q&A reveals significant plot points. It has been "whited out". Please swipe your mouse over the text to highlight it and make it readable.

Q: (to Famke) When you read the script, and saw that you kill Xavier, and you know, shatter his heart ... what was the most interesting thing, or hardest thing?

FJ: It was a tough character to shoot. It wasn't easy, it wasn't, well, like I said she was conflicted. There was a lot of conflict going on in her head. And trying to make sure that in, during the course of the film, that was always clear. What we worked on, what we tried to make sure was that she never chooses sides with Magneto or Xavier. That there's so much going on at that point in the storyline that, we've got, those parts were challenging, because they have to be, with just one expression you have to make that clear. And, you know, I'm around at that point, but I don't actually stop some of the things that are going on, but I'm still there and I have the power to do it, so why am I not doing it, it's because I'm conflicted, so those were the things I found to be challenging to play. In terms of, generally, when you get to play the bad guy or girl, or whatever you want to call it, the way I did with Nip/Tuck or Goldeneye, or whatever, they're more fun, evil characters. You get to have a lot of fun playing those types of characters, this one, she's up there in terms of craziness, but I don't think it's fun. You know, just more challenging, and certainly as destructive.

Q: So, in all of that destruction, you didn't have a little bit of fun?

FJ: No, I don't think it's, in this case when she kills the two people she loves the most in this movie, one who's sort of a father figure and the other one who's ultimately, kind of like her husband ...

JM: Her lover ...

(Everyone laughs.)

Q: Not so much as Jean Grey, but you as an actor ...

FJ: As an actor ...

Q: Did you have fun in that evolution?

FJ: You know what, I have fun just the moment I see a trailer on the street where people are shooting a movie, because I love what I do so much. It's so silly, but it's true. Every single time I get goose bumps when I see it, and then when I'm there, I don't care it's 4 o'clock in the morning we arrive at work or leave to go home, or whatever it is, it's just a great job, an absolutely fantastic job. So, yeah, there were moments where I looked around and I thought, I did all of this. In the film I'm doing all this, so yeah, it's great.

Q: Now, we know that in the comic book world people don't really die ...

FJ: Yeah, but how many chances can I get, I've died twice already ...

Q: Are you done with the X-Men franchise?

JM: Those sort of questions, I mean, I don't even know, there's nobody out there that holds the answers about, it's really up for whether or not they want ... I think they can make these films forever.

Q: But would you come back if they said Scott didn't really die. Would you come back?

JM: Would I? Sure, well it depends, there are so many elements that you want to line up, I mean, I don't want to go back to feel like, if it's just a financial move, to make money, or whatever, and the script is crap and doesn't feel inspired, then I'd be less interested in coming back, but if it's an inspired move to carry on this legacy, then sure, but all of those other things have to line up first.

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