Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Peter Dinklage on “X-Men”

The stars of X-Men: Days of Future Past Discuss the Superhero Franchise's Latest Entry

May 22, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The new X-Men: Days of Future Past—the blockbuster superhero sequel opening in theaters this week—takes place across two timelines. The film opens in a Hellish post-apocalyptic future where sentient robots have run amok and massacred or enslaved much of the Earth’s population. Most of the film, however, takes place in the early 1970s, as Wolverine is sent into the past to prevent this bleak future from coming to be. 

“I think Wolverine never wanted to leave the 1970s,” says Hugh Jackman, who has appeared as the clawed superhero in all seven X-Men films. “The hair, the mutton chops, the clothes… I think the moment that Tears for Fears, A Flock of Seagulls, Wham!, Duran Duran came along Wolverine was like, I’m out.”

Future Past’s time-travel narrative allows the series to unite the casts from the earlier X-Men films—including Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and Ellen Page—with the past versions of the characters from the franchise’s 1960s-set prequel, X-Men: First Class, which introduced actors James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence to the franchise.

“It sort of felt in a way like [we were making] two different films,” says Jackman. “In the beginning it’s the future, and that was like an incredible reunion for [Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and myself.] And then on come the younger, inexperienced actors…”

“Can we stop calling them that?” interrupts Patrick Stewart, who has been playing the current-day version of Professor Charles Xavier since X-Men in 2000.

“Should we just call them inexperienced?” asks Jackman, prompting a laugh from co-stars Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, who play the 1970s versions of Magneto and Professor X in the film. “I was never sure if it would be possible for them to fill the shoes of Ian and Patrick, but when I saw First Class, I realized these guys did it with such aplomb and confidence. Not only did they feel like the younger versions of those characters—sorry, the more inexperienced versions of those characters—but they also had made them their own.”

Joking aside, even the highly-esteemed Patrick Stewart had nothing but praise for James McAvoy performance picking up his character’s mantle.

“I’d really like to go back and shoot all of the other movies over again now that I know exactly where [Professor Charles Xavier] came from,” says Stewart. “I could get so much more James McAvoy into my performance.”

When preparing to play younger versions of Stewart and McKellen, McAvoy and Fassbender studied the veteran actors’ early performances so they could better adopt their unique mannerisms for the roles.

“I’ve been a fan of Patrick’s for years,” says McAvoy. “I watched him for seven years on Star Trek, and then way back in Dune. Getting to come and do my version of a character he’s been in charge of for 14 years was quite nerve-wracking.”

“I had this video from YouTube of Ian McKellen in the 1970s giving a workshop about MacBeth,” says Michael Fassbender. “I played that over and over again, trying to get more of the rhythms and tones of his voice.”

Not only was Fassbender able to succesfully adopt McKellen’s patterns of speech into his performance, but more impressively, he was able to do so while hanging from a wire. His character, the villain Magneto, spends a significant portion of the film levitating several feet above the ground.

“You put on your harness, they clip you in, you bless yourself, and off you go,” says Fassbender. “And then it’s just about keeping your body shape strong, and trying to make it look like it’s comfortable.”

“I’ve had my children on rehearsal stages, and it’s ruined Disneyland for them for life because they’ve flown on those wires,” Jackman pipes in. “The stunt guys on these films are great. They’ll just rig up the kids.”

“I think all actors have got a Peter Pan in them somewhere,” adds Stewart on the subject of movie flight. “Some actors have got a Tinkerbell.”

While this is at least the second X-Men movie most of the actors have appeared in, Days of Future Past does bring aboard an assortment of new heroes—including Kick-Ass’s Evan Peters as Quicksilver, and The Intouchables’ Omar Sy as Bishop—and  villains. The most notable bad guy addition is Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage, who plays Bolivar Trask, the industrialist who invented the film's murderous robots.

“I jump at the chance to do these little indie movies,” jokes Dinklage. “Sometimes they can shine more than the big ones with the right script, and working with the right actors.”

The producers were quick to describe the difficulties of shooting a film with so many big-name actors, particularly when working around schedule conflicts. During production, Jackman had to leave for a month to promote The Wolverine, Jennifer Lawrence was working on The Hunger Games, and Peter Dinklage had to leave to return to Game of Thrones.  

“[But] we had nothing,” Fassbender explains, laughing.  

“We were too inexperienced,” jokes McAvoy. “Nobody wanted to hire us.” 

X-Men: Days of Future Past opens in theaters May 23rd. For more information on the superhero franchise's latest entry, check out x-menmovies.com. To read our review of the film, click here



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