Mutant Love: Famke Janssen and James Marsden talk 'X2'

Wed, April 30th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

As Jean Grey and Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) they're the Bogart and Bacall of

the Mutant set. Famke Janssen and James Marsden recently sat down with the press

for roundtable interviews. Several members of the press took turns asking

questions about the new mutant movie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide

readers with an edited transcript of that conversation.


Q: Was it like a class reunion getting back together again?

Famke Janssen (FJ): It was.

James Marsden (JM): It was, definitely.

FJ: We're like a family reunion, and a very dysfunctional family reunion.

JM: I was going to add that if she didn't. Yes. No, it was very nice. It was

a lot less pressure this time around. It was good to see everybody. Actually the

time between the first film and the second film was like a year and a half.

FJ: Two, probably.

JM: Two years, I think. So it was nice. We kind of saw each other

intermittently between, but it was good to have the whole...and it was nice to

have the entire family back. There was no one missing, so it was cool.

Q: Wouldn't you think it would be more pressure to do the sequel?

JM: No. I know what you're saying, because you have to top it or match it...

FJ: But as actors, that pressure really doesn't apply to us as much as it

does to the filmmakers.

JM: Right. Yeah. We're just kind of excited that the first one did as well as

it did. So now we get to make the movie we wanted to make on the first one.

Q: Did that surprise you at all?

JM: The first film? Well we kind of had anticipated...

FJ: We were surprised!

JM: We knew it had the potential to do well, but you never know and I always

set my expectations low so I don't set myself up for disappointment.

FJ: Also, I think at the time, nobody had any idea. [Director] Bryan Singer

hand never done a movie of that stature. I think that comic book movies had been

quite the way he...with his approach. So I think it was a whole new thing and I

don't think anyone really knew how it was gonna do. I think we were all really

surprised. Happily surprised.

Q: Does this mean you can't walk past a comic book store without getting

frantic crowds chasing you?

FJ: No. I'm fine.

JM: No. I think you'd be in trouble actually. I don't no if you're somebody

who's walked past one, but you'd be in trouble if you walked past it.

Q: Have you had any encounters with the "X-Men" community?

JM: I never leave the house.

FJ: Me either.

JM: Randomly, you come across people. It's trickier with me because

nobody...I mean I'm just walking around without my glasses on. Nobody really

notices until I put a pair of sunglasses on. Then they're like, "you look

familiar." I'm actually incognito without the glasses.

But, yeah, occasionally people come up to me, but they're all very nice and

very happy with the first film. They all think we're doing it the right way.

Q: Are you excited about exploring your character, Jean Grey, becoming the


FJ: In this movie? Yeah. I think it's great. I think it's great what Jean

Grey is going through. She's going through a lot of changes and exploring her

powers and seeing how much she can control them or not. Yeah, I thought it was

very exciting what's happening with her.

Q: Is it challenging working with those glassed? You don't really get to

express through your eyes. Are there any thoughts about giving your contacts?

JM: The thought did cross my mind. Unfortunately that just...the visor's such

a cool visual thing. It's like the reason why it's on the poster. It's just a

cool visual.

But yeah, it's difficult was definitely handicapping to do any sort

of dramatic scenes or one on one dialog scenes when you couldn't make

eye-contact with the other actor. Not only for us, but for the audience to see

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what's going on behind all of it.

In this film, it's so driven by...there's a lot more action and there's a lot

more heightened emotion and things like that. So, I just was like, "You

know what? If I believe in the dialog I'm just going to do it like I didn't have

these glasses on and cross my fingers and hope that it's conveyed."

I think it works but it's taken two films to really master the technique

Q: I was at the screening at Fox last week and after the screening Bryan

Singer's standing in the middle of the street saying, "Where's Jamie

Marsden? Where is he? Where is he?" Were you guys still shooting?

JM: Why was he screaming that? When was this?

Q: A week ago last Monday, I think.

JM: Oh, you know what? I had was...they were...those bastards.

They called me the day of to come in and loop. It was like the last day they

were locking the picture and they just realized had to have me come in and loop

something; do dialog replacement on something.

I love those stories you hear about...

FJ: [laughs] ...yeah....

JM: ...and you're not there. But yeah, so...

FJ: ...and all of a sudden you get a reputation.

JM: ...they called that morning and just assumed that I was, first of all, in

the country, but I was actually there, luckily, and showed up within the


Q: How well do you think someone who hasn't seen the first movie can enjoy

this one?

FJ: Oh, I think it's completely irrelevant if you've seen the first one or

not. In the first one I think we had a lot of introductions of the characters

and what their powers were about and what the X-Men were about, but I think this

movie just works as a movie, whether you know about the X-Men, if you've seen

the first movie or not, I really don't think it matters.

JM: I also think too, because it has an entirely new villain and it has a

whole new conflict, that's why it kind of separates itself from the first film

and you don't have to see that one.

I just think it's bigger and better on many levels.

FJ: We were interviewed by a bunch of people yesterday that hadn't seen the

first one, loved the second one so much that the went back and rented the first


Q: How involved are you in voicing the video games?

FJ: Not.

JM: Not involved at all. We've never been invited to.

FJ: No! They don't care.

Q: How about playing the games.

JM: I played one. What was the first one they came out with after the first

film? It was like "X-Men: Evolution" or something -- I don't know --

and I went to the Sony Playstation convention down at the -- what's the big

gaming convention downtown?

Q: E3.

JM: ...E3 convention, thank you, and I went and talked to the programmers of

the new "X-Men" game. One of them was like, "Wow! Cool! Cyclops

is here. Oh, by the way: Wolverine kicks your ass in the game."


Q: What about your choice to do another comic book character. Is

"Preacher" something that's going to happen?

JM: That's something that I'd like to do. It's one of those Hollywood

examples of something that has the potential to go, but it's one of those things

where it's kind of in the mix's trying to find all of its financing, but

there's a director and there's a producing team and I told them that I'd love


They actually went to me and asked if I'd be interested in playing the role.

I immediately picked up the comic and became a huge fan. It's much, much darker

than "X-Men" and very intelligent.

So, it's one of those things that if it all gets its money together and gets

on the right track, because it is a $25 million independent film, then I'd love

to do it.

Q: So you're not worried about being the comic book guy?

JM: No. I don't think so. There's plenty of contrast in the characters.

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That's actually a better reason for me to do it because it is the kind of

antithesis of sci fi.

Q: Who's the director?

JM: Rachel Talalay is on board to direct it at this point.

Q: Was it hard working in the winter weather conditions in Vancouver?

FJ: No, it couldn't be more beautiful in Vancouver. We were there for the

majority of the film, about five months. For the last ten days we went up to

[another location] and it was cold, but nothing really that was


JM: No. It was nice...

FJ: ...beautiful...

JM: The first one was Toronto during the winter which is...

FJ: It was much more unbearable.

JM: It was cold.

FJ: No, Vancouver was great.

JM: Vancouver was really easy to shoot.

Q: Have you seen your action figures?

FJ: We have them. I haven't seen them and I thought we were supposed to

approve them. I haven't seen mine.

JM: I saw a couple of photos. There's one in the plastic prison with me in

cape...I'm holding....

There's a tiny fight scene, if you blink you might miss it,

with me and the guards while she's healing...Kelly Hu's character is healing.

The stunt coordinators worked out this fight where I kind of strip the guards of

their plastic batons. So my action figure is there with a cape and these two

plastic batons...

FJ: Really?

JM: ...that look like dildos. It was like...

FJ: ...this is going to be great.

JM: ...sorry. You don't want two?

But it was very funny.

Q: Do they go through the cyber-scanning process with you?

FJ: They do that thing where they circle around you and stuff? Yeah.

Q: I know that has its advantages, but it also lets them alter your


FJ: I don't think they ever use it for stunts.

JM: I mean, they probably could but...

FJ: ...but they haven't...

JM: ...I don't think they would do that. Bryan's really...

FJ: Everything is done with actors.

JM: I'll give him lots of credit on lots of things, but he really chooses to

go to practical effects before he'll go to CGI. I do believe that he thinks he

would rather try to do the practical effects and get that right before he tried

to do anything CGI. But if ever felt like anybody was at risk or anything, he's

a magical editor as well. He can fix things with editing.

But the texture mapping stuff that they do is for costume fitting. Like they

did my head to get the visor to fit perfectly and everything. And it's only so

accurate. They still have go in with giant forcep measurements.

But I think when we fight and blow up...

FJ: ...that was CG?

JM: Yeah, I think that was me, CGI, flying back. But it's good that you

have to guess.

Q: When you first got back together on the set, was that sort of like a

family reunion?

FJ: It was, yeah. They had a dinner for us, before we started shooting and everything. So, the first time was saw each other wasn't

actually on set. They

had a little dinner party to...

JM: ...make sure everybody still liked everyone?

FJ: Just to get reacquainted.

Q: Do you get to keep anything? Do you keep the visor?

FJ: We don't get to keep anything ...

JM: Uh-oh...

FJ: Oh...did you? OH! You did!

JM: I kept nothing.

FJ: Right. Right.

JM: No.

Q: Was there an outline for this a while back? Do you know where these

characters are going over the next couple of films?

FJ: Oh, no, no, no. Nobody knows anything.

JM: "X-Men 2," when we were shooting it, it was constantly

reworked, dramatically at times.

FJ: And before we started shooting it I think there was so much talk about

what the second movie was going to be about. And this storyline was going to be

prominent and then you heard that some other storyline was going to be

prominent. It changed all the time.

JM: I don't think anyone has any master plan. If they do they're keeping it

to themselves.

FJ: I don't think they know.

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JM: I don't think they know. It'd be cool to say, but I don't think...

Q: That being said, are you committed to three or five or anything?

FJ: No.

JM: No. No, we were all signed on for the first two...

FJ: ...the first two. Yeah. That's it.

Q: So you have them over a barrel now!

FJ: Yeah! Absolutely!

JM: Yeah. Kind of. Right.

Q: On "Preacher" is it going to be hard to get the movie made with

the controversial religious subject matter?

JM: I think that we could make it an R rated film. The problem is, just like

you said, the nature of the comic is so dark and violent and it questions

organized religion and things that I think that the ratings board would just go,


But I think that's why it's not at a studio. I think that's why it's gonna be

an independent film and done correctly. To really please the fans on that you

can't pull any punches. I think you just gotta do what's on the page.

Q: You said that this movie pushes PG-13 as far as it can go. Do you think

movies affect the behavior of kids?

JM: I think a lot of things affect the behavior of kids. I wouldn't want to

saddle the entertainment industry with being the reason why kids act the way

they do or whatever. I was certainly affected by movies when I was a kid, but it

never made me do anything. I think that if it's a child's personality to do

whatever they do, I think they're gonna do it anyway.

But it gets to the point of, where are you gonna draw the line? I think it's

a give and take thing. I think Hollywood can use more responsibility at times.

FJ: Movies are very violent. Violence, people can get away with a PG-13

movie much more easily than nudity, which is...

JM: Which is kind of weird...

FJ: Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

JM: ...and backwards, considering you can have eighteen people get shot in

the head on "Nash Bridges" on television and you can't show naked

breasts in a PG-13 movie.

Not that I care about that but I think that that's kind of our

puritanical...backwards. It's kind of weird the way that's worked out, that

violence is a lot more lenient.

Q: How does music affect you?

FJ: In terms of the wording and...?

Q: What does music do for you and why?

FJ: Well music is very important to me. I love it. I think it's something can change your mood. It can do a lot of things so I happen to listen

to a lot of music.

Are you asking me if certain lyrics are too ... ?

Q: No, just in general how does it affect you?

FJ: It affects me very differently depending on my mood, also depending the

music and it's a very important thing to me.

JM: She loves her music though. She shows up on set with the iPod.

FJ: iPod! I dig my iPod. I think it's the best thing in the whole world.

Q: What do you listen to? What's your favorite band right now?

FJ: iPod's a great thing because you just can put it on. You can have 2000

songs on it and you just put it on songs so all the different albums just play

in different orders or whatever.

JM: Van Morrison.

FJ: Van Morrison I love and Radiohead I love and The Stones I've always been

a big fan of.

JM: Radiohead is the best band ever.

FJ: I love Radiohead.

Q: Why do you both love Radiohead?

JM: I just think they're just like the typical, artist's artist band.

FJ: Because it's kind of rock and it's kind of beautiful...

JM: ...trippy...

FJ: ...and it's sort of like a little bit...

JM: ...strange sometimes...

FJ: ...the lyrics are good...

JM: And it's also great because, they travel around without any promotion and

they bought their own equipment and they bought their own tents and these things

sell out. Hundreds of thousands of people go to these things...I don't know

about hundreds...but they set up their own tents and they're not sponsored by

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FJ: I couldn't even tell you what they look like. I've never seen any of


JM: I just think they're really solid. They just keep delivering

songs...really new sounding...

FJ: ...albums.

Q: You're part of a great ensemble cast in "Eulogy." Can you tell

us about that?

FJ: Oh, that was great. That was just fun. I was very excited when that came

my way, because it's such a great cast. It's Ray Romano and Debra Winger and

Kelly Preston and Zooey Deschanel and Piper Laurie and Rip Torn...

JM: Piper Laurie?

FJ: Yeah.

JM: Wow

FJ: God, who else? Oh and Hank Azaria's in it. And I play a lesbian, which is

fun, and it's just this crazy comedy.

JM: Count me in!

FJ: Jimmy is very excited. Very excited. Can't wait for the movie to come


JM: Never got invited to the set though.

Q: Why do you say it was "fun"? Was that not the case with


FJ: No, it's just a different character that I hadn't played that character

before yet. The really fun part was that it was a comedy. It was basically that

Kelly's part of the family, all the people that I mentioned are in the family

and Piper Laurie and Rip Torn are the parents, and I'm Kelly's girlfriend. Her

father dies and she brings me home for the funeral. She decides to announce, at

the funeral, that we're gonna get married, which doesn't go over very


The whole family is insane. I can't even begin to tell you how insane this

family is. It's just the wackiest comedy. I just had a great time.

Q: There was a time when actors might have downplayed that their character is

gay. These days it seems like actors can't wait to go, "I'm gay!"

FJ: Well, I didn't quite say that.

I only got excited because for me it was a character that I decided to play

with no makeup. I kind of look a little bit boyish with my close and stuff like

that. It was just sort of a, especially because I'd done two movies in a row,

"I Spy" and "X-Men," where, you know, they're effects-driven

and big action films and I have to look kind of glamorous and whatever. So it

was really fun to just go to a little film, that was shot in about a month, and

completely opposite on every level.

Q: James, do you go by "Jimmy" now?

JM: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's just one of those things where, personally,

I've always gone by Jimmy but professionally I did that thing many years ago,

early on, it was like, "I'm going to be taken seriously. My name is


Always with billing and articles and stuff, I prefer to be called James but

my mom calls me Jimmy.

Q: James, There's a Nick Cassavettes film that you're involved in. Can you

talk about that?

JM: Yeah, I did that right after "X-Men," right after the holidays

and into the new year. It's called "The Notebook." It's based on a

Nicolas Sparks novel. It's a great cast. It's a big ensemble pieced: James

Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, Ryan Gosling and a new, young actress

from Canada, Rachel McAdams.

Q: To do a smaller-scale movie after doing a big studio movie, is it sort of

a battery recharge for you?

JM: Yeah, because it taps into certain things that you didn't

"X-Men" fulfills a certain part of me creatively and then other types

of films kind of fill other voids.

FJ: For some reason, I only get different types of parts in the independents.

I get kind of typecast in studio films, I would say, more, but in the

independents I get to branch out into different things. I love doing them.

Q: Is it kind of daunting walking onto a set with a cast like the one you

just mentioned?

JM: Kind of like walking onto the set of the first "X-Men" to be

honest with you.

It's exciting as hell, because I just know how much better I am when I'm

surrounded by great actors. I think it just expands your ability and also you

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just kind of go, "Wow. I'd sure like to keep doing this for the rest of my


Q: It seems like often, blockbuster movies are just big, stupid films. People

just do it for the money. "X-Men" has a terrific cast.

FJ: Well, it was Bryan Singer who had been doing very serious, on a smaller

scale, movies. I think that he attracted the cast. I think that we all probably

signed on or were very excited to work with him.

JM: I also do believe that Bryan doesn't buy into the idea that a blockbuster

has to be stupid. I think he believes that you can have both. I think that one

of his favorite films, and one of my favorite films as well, is

"Jaws." It created the blockbuster. It's not about a shark,

really. It's about these really wonderful characters trapped on this boat.

So I think Bryan believes that you can have both. You can make a solid film

and lay on as many special effects as you want for people who just want to go

and eat popcorn and go, "woo!'

But Bryan believes that having all of that stuff that comes from a core that

is based on character and relationship.

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