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Interviews: X-Kids
- David Server

Hey X-Fans! David Server (aka Typhon24) here, with some mutant treats for all of you. I recently got a chance to sit down with the cast of X2 at the press junket in Pasadena, and over the coming weeks in anticipation of the release of the mutant sequel, we'll be posting the various interviews I had the privilege of participating in. First off, here's a transcript of the interview with the X-Kids, aka Aaron Stanford (Pyro), Anna Paquin (Rogue), and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman)!

Q: You've worked with some great independent directors, as well as some more on the mainstream Hollywood side... what's Bryan Singer as a director on a big budget film?

Paquin: Well, he is kind of like a really cool independent film director, and this is the only mainstream movie I've ever done.

Q: Did it feel like a big mainstream movie?

Paquin: Yeah, because there's these enormous sets and crazy blockbuster huge movie stuff going on, but I think the main reason most of us wanted to do it was because we had someone steering the whole thing who we all knew from his work in smaller movies like 'Usual Suspects' and stuff like that, but we all know he's really talented, and that he's going to make a really cool movie... if you're going to do a big blockbuster movie, it may as well be with someone from our world.

Q: For the rest of you, working with Bryan Singer, What's the main thing he gave you in terms of guidance?

Ashmore: Well, the thing that I like about Bryan is that he knows exactly what he wants to do, and on a film like this, that's important to have everything under control and know where you want to go. The other thing I like about Bryan is that if something's not working, if something's stale, he's not afraid to change it. And if it doesn't work, he lets you know, and if it works, he lets you know. So just knowing where you stand and feeling comfortable to change things is what I like about Bryan.

Stanford: Yeah, flexibility. Just to remain malleable and flexible, in any situation to create what you have to for the scene. He'll change the script to fit the scene and fit the story.

Q: Would there often be a lot of takes to sometimes just to accommodate the special effects for later?

All: Yes.

Q: Anna, when you first got involved in this, were there any anxieties about saying to yourself, ...oh, I'm going to be in this big... boy's movie...

Paquin: It's not a boy's movie. When I first heard what it was, 'there's this movie 'X-Men', it's a comic book movie', I was like 'oh, really, that's cool..' I didn't know anything about comic books, but there are female characters in it, and I was one of the more interesting characters in terms of the first movie, and it felt like it was a real story that happened to be set against the backdrop of lots of action and crazy stuff, like big fights and explosions, and it's very extraordinary kinds of events, and it kind of felt like the best of both worlds.

Q: Shawn, your character was in the first movie for just a few seconds, did you have any clue then that the character would have a much more prominent role, and were you sure you would be back?

Ashmore: No to both of those. I was only around for a couple of weeks on the first one, so I had no idea. I didn't know until probably about a month and a half before this one started shooting that the character was going to be in the film and that I was going to be playing it, so yeah I didn't have any expectation, I didn't hold my breath. I obviously wanted to be involved again, so it was a pleasant surprise to be involved again, and have a character a little more important to the story this time.

Q: Shawn, were you cast in Toronto for the original?

Ashmore: Yeah, it was actually sort of similar to the way Aaron [Stanford] auditioned for this film, it was like, there's no scenes released... there's a couple lines here and there, and I went in and auditioned and got a couple callbacks, and finally went in and auditioned for Bryan and Lauren [Shuler Donner] and got the part. It was a long process, though, five auditions or so.

Q: You've actually done a lot of science fiction fantasy kinds of stuff, between Smallville, Outer Limits, Earth: Final Conflict, You've done a handful of these types of projects.

Ashmore: Yeah, and I think it comes down to what Anna said before, I don't know why I happen to do a lot of stuff like that but it just happens that they're interesting characters. The character I got to play in Smallville was sort of like a duel character, I think sci-fi stuff just magnifies normal situations; it puts normal people in extreme situations, which I always find interesting. I've been lucky to have characters like that.

Q: Did any of you guys know the comic books, or were you fans of it when you got involved?

Anna: We are now!

Ashmore: I read X-Men and watched the cartoon beforehand, so I was aware of all that stuff.

CountingDown: Aaron, What made you want to get involved with this franchise and this character?

Stanford: All the people involved, that was really the key... the key attraction was the chance to work with people like Ian McKellen, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, people that I've looked up to for a long time. Just to have a chance to be on set with them and possibly even have scenes with them, I wasn't about to turn that down.

Q: Are the three of you signed for X3, if there is one?

Paquin: We don't know!

Aaron: We don't know What's going on, if it's happening... you guys seem to know more than we do.

Ashmore: That seems to be one of the most asked questions, and we're like, we don't know!

Q: If there is an X3, what would you like to learn about your characters in the next one?

Stanford: Where do our lives go, like where did these characters come from. Iceman, you see where he comes from, but my character.

Q: Plus, you'd want the hair [from the comics].

Stanford: Yeah, the hair, and the yellow and orange spandex outfit, and flamethrowers on my arms! That's from the comic books.

Ashmore: I think that in this film, you see a bit of family life, where my character comes from, and there's an unresolved issue with that, so I'd like to go back and maybe figure out What's going on with his family, and I think maybe his relationship with Rogue is an interesting one is that it has definite room to grow, they're comfortable with each other but they don't know how to deal with each other in a relationship, and I think that would be interesting.

Q: And you think they'd be full fledged superheroes by that time?

Paquin and Ashmore: Oh yeah!

Paquin: They'd have to be! It would be number three for me, I'd have to allowed to fight. I'd want to kick some butt.

Q: Was that something you wanted to do in this one, get a little more action?

Paquin: Yeah. Well, in this one I'm not a damsel in distress on the tracks in handcuffs, and I was pretty psyched about that.

Q: The other thing that would strike me is that on a movie like this, on the set would there be a lot of fun, are you in awe of what's going on with this big film, or is it still like focused and it doesn't really matter?

Ashmore: Yeah, I think there's a little bit of both. I mean, at the end of the day you sort of get used to the whole pacing and set and the scale, but it's still when you walk into a new set.

Paquin: The first day you walk onto the set, it's kind of...

Ashmore: Unbelievable. The first day I took a tour of the sets, and you see familiar stuff like the plastic prison, and the jet, but there's new stuff like the White House, the huge reproduction which is unbelievable. So that's always pretty fun to walk onto something like that. The work that goes in, and the time and the talent to create this world that we're going to get to play in is pretty amazing.

Q: So what do you guys learn when you do a big movie like this?

Stanford: Well, you find out that a job that it would take one person to do on something smaller like 'Tadpole', there are a lot more people doing it on X-Men 2, and it takes a lot longer.

Q: Does that get tedious?

Stanford: It can be tedious, but that's part of it. Especially when you're stretched out over this long period of time, you'll be working on a very action packed sequence, but it will take 20 seconds, and it's a very long drawn out, not very exciting process.

Ashmore: Probably the most exciting scenes in the film are the slowest ones to film, so it's sort of deceiving. When Aaron's blasting the front yard, to me that's one of my favorite sequences, and yeah, it took forever to film.

Stanford: Which is why it's so amazing to see afterwards, to actually see it put together because you have no idea.

Q: Which scene did you think worked best for your characters?

Ashmore: There are a couple scenes, I like the scene with my parents because it gives you some background and you sort of connect to where he's coming from, and another one of my favorite scenes is my introduction to Wolverine as Rogue's boyfriend, I feel like he's standing up, he's no longer a kid, he's trying to become a man a little bit, Bobby trying to become a man a little bit, so that was cool.

Q: And Anna, for you?

Paquin: My X-Jet crash stunt. That was so cool. Cause I got to train doing wirework for like 2 months, all this very Cirque de Soleil kind of stuff. For hours and hours, from the basic rudimentary stuff to how to control yourself during acrobatics and stuff, and as you get a smaller and smaller harness, you feel less and less secure. But you have to learn all that technical stuff first. It was one of my only stunts... and I did it myself.

CountingDown: Was there a lot of practical joking on the set?

Ashmore: There were a couple of things, Hugh's sister actually showed up on set one day, and got in full costume as Wolverine.

Paquin: ...with the chops and the wig, like the whole thing.

Ashmore: ...and this was to fool Bryan, so she went in for a take, and I'm sitting behind the monitor, I know this is happening, and I'm watching Bryan's face, and you can see him going, 'the performance is not good.', and he doesn't even realize, so he cuts and he walks over to give Hugh direction or something and then realizes that it was his sister in the Wolverine makeup, and that was kinda fun, so yeah there was stuff like that.

Q: How did you guys fill those hours between takes?

Ashmore: Brought my X-Box, lotta cards.

Q: Do you learn anything that Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart do on camera, especially Ian McKellen who's becoming sort of the person at the top of most of these films.

Stanford: he's great, the thing that struck me most is that Ian McKellen has a huge level of commitment that he brings to the role and he takes it really really seriously, but at the same time, he's still playful, and he has such a good time between takes and everything, and it keeps him really really loose and really able if he ever has to do anything. He has a lot of fun with it.

Q: Anna, you were talking about the development of the romantic themes in the movie... your character is developing her sexuality quite a bit... are you comfortable watching that on the screen?

Paquin: Completely. I mean, most girly roles at some point involve some degree of being in your underwear, which used to completely freak me out more cause you have like 30 guys staring at you in your underwear, like people holding camera equipment, but I'm comfortable, I like my job, and that's just part of it sometimes. And this is a pretty PG-13 kinda sexuality. Plus, she needs to have a love life at some point.

Q: Shawn, in Canada these days, this is presented as the biggest film to shoot up in Vancouver. What was the perception from a Canadian standpoint of this huge movie choosing to shoot in Vancouver?

Ashmore: Obviously I think Vancouver definitely enjoyed our time there, a lot of money was brought into the city, and it was just exciting.

Q: Was there a buzz among Canadian actors early on, 'this is coming'?

Ashmore: Absolutely, absolutely, I actually had a lot of people that I hadn't heard from in a while who then found out I was going back for this film going, 'so, if there are any young mutants..' And I actually had people request that I read with them for their audition, and I was like, I don't think it's going to matter that they hear my voice on the thing, I don't think that's going to get you the part any quicker, but so there was definitely a buzz, especially because you never know. For instance, my part in the first movie was just a couple weeks and I was lucky enough to be brought back, so there's definitely sort of an awareness of that.

Q: What's next for each of you?

Ashmore: Right now I'm looking for the next thing, I'm taking my time finding something that really fits for me, I want to try something different from X-Men.

Paquin: I have a couple things coming out this year, but at the moment I am kind of doing a lot of nothing, just relaxing and hanging out. I really really want to do another play really really soon.

Stanford: Yeah, I've been working on some stuff. I just got finished with a movie called 'Rick', which is kind of a dark corporate satire with Bill Pullman.

Q: Shawn, in a perfect world, what will X-Men do for your career?

Ashmore: Ultimately, I think it's just going to get you that exposure, get you in that door, get you that recognition that will hopefully get you opportunities. For me, anyways.

CountingDown: Shawn, that's pretty cool that you got to wear one of the X-Men uniforms in this movie.

Ashmore: Yeah! Y'know, if X-Men 3 happens, I want to get my suit again.