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X-Men: The Last Stand - An Interview with Ben Foster, Anna Paquin, and Shawn Ashmore
- Wilson Morales

With the exception of the cast of Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 12, there hasn't been a sequel that has brought so many talent people back in the fold, especially when the director of the first two films didn't come back. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men films, left the project and was replaced by Matthew Vaughn, who then left himself, and was replaced by Brett Ratner. While musical chairs was going on with directors, the main cast of actors came back, including Anna Paquin who plays Rogue, the alienated teenage girl who can absorb the powers of anyone she touches, and Shawn Ashmore, who plays Bobby Drake AKA Iceman, and Rogue's love interest. Joining the cast is Ben Foster, who plays Warren Worthington III AKA Angel, the winged mutant who just arrived at Xavier's School. In speaking with, Foster, Paquin and Ashmore spoke about the characters they played.

Do you think your character is a metaphor for gayness coming out?

Shawn Ashmore: I don't know if Bobby is specifically a metaphor. In "X2:, a lot of people said it was like a coming out scene, but I think people sort of project whatever... Had people came up to me and said "That was like when I told my parents I wanted to be an actor and they rejected me or whatever." That's what great about it. That's why so many people relate to it, but yet, everyone's really in it.

What was the problem with wearing the wings?

Ben Foster: Well, the flying part is CG and the standing around part is practical. They would glue these things to my back and Iwould be winged strapped for the day.

In regards to the gay, when your character realizes that his father is trying to convert him, was that on your mind at all?

BF: Absolutely. But like what Shawn said, the success of this series is that it meets you were are at and that we all feel different. We're laughing in some way and we all want to appeal to those who we respect. So, I don't think it's one thing or another, but it definitely occurred to me that people might relate to it one way or another. It definitely occurred to me that people might relate to it on that level. I think it's an important thing to consider.

At some point in the film, Angel rescues his father from death. Where did he drop him off because it was never shown?

BF: It was important. We discussed it. Look, the movie barrels along. There's not a lot of time for backdrop. It moves. Stuff explodes. People say cool things and capes flow in the wind. What we discussed was that in those windows of humanity that we are hopefully able to communicate that it was a son against father story. Warren Worthington III, in his opinion, doesn't want this horrible disfigurement, which is a cultural misunderstanding. It's the same thing with young kids wanting to fit into a click and be cool, or an athlete feeling too tall around the smoking artist. Everybody feel strange. Every feels like an outcast on some level and it's important that it's not just good guys and the bad guys. I think that's part of the success of this particular X-Men film. It's not about the good mutants vs. the bad mutants. If you are an individual, how do you fight for it and how do fight for being an individual? How do you handle these responsibilities?

Can you both talk about the evolution of your character since the last movie?

Anna Paquin: I think both personally and professionally and on-screen with Rogue, I've grown up a lot and certain issues that Rogue were dealing are more adult issues, like how to be close to someone without hurting you. I think without the physical limitations just based on her relationship with Bobby, that's a pretty big thing that young adults go through, the fear of intimacy on some level. If you let someone in, you could end up getting hurt pr they could end up getting hurt. Is it worth it? It feels organic because it's been age appropriate for what I've been going through personally. So, the writers have hooked me up on the character front because Rogue and I have grown as one.

SA: Anna pretty much nailed it when she said as the movies went along and we've matured as people, and as actors and like the characters, Bobby for me, I was excited about this film because not only does he become a member of the team and he's training, but he uses his powers to become more confident and uses his powers in an offensive way as opposed to just doing small things. He matured to the level where he's ready to use what he has in a positive way, and in an aggressive way. I liked that about him. As in every movie, you gain a couple of years in real life and in the film and progressions are made and it feels natural.

Do you think one day we see Iceman on an ice slide?

SA: Honestly, I was kinda hoping, and I don't want to give anything away, but I was looking forward to something like that. I was very pleased with what does happen in the film as far as his powers and that sort of thing. I would had love to see that, but maybe if there's an X-Men 4, who knows.

Were you disappointed that Bryan (Singer) wasn't going to be returning?

SA: Yeah, it was disappointing, but more anything, it was scary at the point we didn't have a director. We knew Bryan was going to be doing this, and we were like, "Well, who's going to direct this thing."

When it was Matthew Vaughn, did you to go to video store and rent "Layer Cake"?

SA: I did and I had a chance to meet Matthew. I went in and read with 4 guys who were reading for Angel, including Ben. I was coming in from Canada, so I was in town for like a day so I read with three actors who were reading for Angel and three actors auditioning for Kitty Pryde. So I sat down and met Matthew and thought it was kinda cool. Here's the guy and a week after that, he was gone and then Brett came along. The cool thing about Brett is that he obviously had his own vision, and he had his own focus. If you haven't met Brett, he's this energetic, fun guy. I think he respected us as actors that have already played the characters before, and the existing storyline. So it was a pretty smooth transition. Within a few days, it's not like Bryan was forgotten, but it was a new movie and we knew this was going to happen and we just did it. So it was cool.

Did he do anything to your character that was different from the last film?

SA: Not drastically. Obviously, the characters have changed emotionally and within the framework of what was happening in the storyline of the film. Brett is actually detailed oriented when it comes to physical movements and stuff. I kept asking him when we were doing this one take and he said it didn't look right and that he'll know when he sees it. "When it looks right, it looks right" and there were specific moments. We did the changes until he got what he needed as far as physicality and that was a big deal at least in my case.

Is it better to have the same look?

SA: Good or bad, I think it's just a different view. Bryan established it very well and I think if Bryan had made X-Men it would have been great, but having someone else's view and someone else's stamp, it's kind of exciting and interesting as well. So, I don't think it's good or bad, it's just different.

What are you doing next?

BF: I'm doing a film called "Alpha Dog". Nick Cassavetes is the director/ writer. It's about Jesse James Hollywood and he was one of the youngest men on the FBI's mst wanted list. He's a crystal meth skinhead who's trying to get his brother, who's kidnapped, due to a 1200 drug deal that went wrong. So, that's why I did X-Men. (Laughs)

Was that tough to shoot and get into the mind of that character?

BF: It was an exceptional experience. I went into the underground crystal meth scene not like the weekend partiers but like the life stylist and was allowed all this time with all these kids. That was a really eye opener. Doing X-Men was a vacation. I was like, "You kidding me? I gotta fly around on set? I don't have to kick anyone's ass in a bad way?" (Laughs)

AP: I'm working on "Margaret", Kenneth Lonergan's movie, which I was shooting at the same time as X-Men so that was what I was getting up to when I nodding in bed. I had a 10 week hiatus. The hardest work of my life! I just did this movie called "Blue State" that my brother and I produced. It's about a die hard Democrat who makes a drunken promise to move to Canada if the President gets re-elected. He does, so he does.

SA: I have a movie called "3 Needles" which is coming out this Fall. I play a second rate porn actor in a film about the AIDS pandemic and I also just finished a movie in New Orleans called "The Solstice". It's from writer/ director Dan Myrick, who did "The Blair Witch Project". It's a fun spooky movie.

There are some moments where you are responsible for expedition. It's there and it's written into the script and you got to deliver it. How do you as actors approach the justification of that in terms of your characters?

AP: I've been spared a lot of that.

SA: It cant be difficult but we've been lucky in having not spout dialogue about DNA sequencing and other stuff.

AP: Lucky we had Famke (Janssen) in the first movie to explain the entire concept. That's tough.

How do you find logic within your characters?

AP: There's so much humanity in all these characters and the ideas and themes and the comic book and movies deal with it. That's actually the easiest part to relate. You take it a couple of times around the block and add some blue paint and some wings and it's a little bit more fabulous than every day life but it's basically the same shit that everyone else deals with.

Do you think there will be a spinoff with your characters?

AP: Who knows.

SA: It would be fun. Whether it happens or not, it's a complete mystery.

Wilson Morales /