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The Louisville Courier-Journal

Youthful 'X-Men' Stars Like Their Roles
- Forrest Hartman

SAN FRANCISCO -- "X-Men: The Last Stand" is the third and -- reportedly final -- movie in the comic-book series.

"Last Stand" is set in a future Earth where regular humans have become suspicious of their powerful mutant brothers and sisters. That leads to a scientific "cure" for the mutations, but criminal renegades are convinced the "cure" will be used as a weapon. They declare war on the creators of the "cure," and it's up to the X-Men to quell the uprising and save humanity.

Three of the movie's youthful stars -- Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Dania Ramirez (Callisto) -- talked about everything from special effects to new series director Brett Ratner.

Q: How did you approach your characters?

Shawn: As far as approaching the character in this film, a lot of it's in the script. There's also a lot of history with the relationships and the characters. So you just try and take that history and the relationships and dynamics from the other films and take them a step forward.

Anna, you had less action in this movie.

Anna: I didn't really have any action last time, either. Rogue tends to get relegated into the less physical roles. She's basically just a little 5-foot-5 chick.

Nobody dominates the screen time.

Dania: I don't think you ever make the choice to be part of a film based on how much screen time you're going to get. This is my first ("X-Men" movie). I was just lucky and really honored to have been in the same room with some amazing actors and really happy that I've gotten the opportunity to work with Brett Ratner and to become a part of this huge franchise.

Shawn: I think the thing that's really great is every character is so specifically different. So, whether you have two scenes or 20 scenes, your character has a specific power in the story and a purpose in the story.

What is it like for you, considering the popularity of this comic-book series?

Dania: This is my first ("X-Men" movie) You work and you finish shooting it, and then months pass and you're not really thinking about it. It became more real (for me) when we landed in New York and we got out of the cars and we literally had photographers (waiting).

Shawn: That's when I realized that it was a big deal. When people were paying that much attention.

Anna: For all the hundreds of people that have been really enthusiastic that I've personally encountered, I've really only had two incidents where someone just showed up outside my hotel door and was like, "Let me in." I'm like, "Dude, no." That's just Female Safety 101: Don't open your door to a stranger. Actress or not, I'm not stupid. (But mostly) people are just overwhelmingly supportive.

With special-effects movies like this is, what's it like to watch them?

Shawn: When you see yourself shooting ice out of your hands or doing something like that... seeing the combination is very surreal.

Dania: Now I feel like I could walk the streets anywhere and beat anybody up.

Anna: People seem to be under the impression (that) if they touch me, they'll die.

Each of you has done independent films, and this is different.

Dania: A couple million dollars' difference.

Anna: Like a $150 million difference.

Shawn: I really feel like the biggest difference or the most drastic to me is the pace. I tend to like working on smaller films because the pace is a lot faster.

Shawn: You're on set whether you're shooting a scene or rehearsing the next one or blocking. (On an independent, you're) working throughout the whole thing and not having three hours to wait while they light.

Anna: On an independent movie you just never have that time. You could literally watch your budget ticking away. If you waste three hours on an indie movie, you're screwed. I just produced an independent film, so I'm brutally aware of that.

You said one reason the producers might have chosen independent film actors is the characters have more depth than...

Anna: The ideas behind the comic books, I think, are quite profound. In order to bring that to life in the best way possible, I think they hired some really unlikely people. In a million years, I would never have pictured that I would be cast in the middle of a great big superhero movie. Why would they want me? I'm not cool. But that's kind of what "X-Men" is. We're kind of the misfits.

Shawn: Someone asked, "Is it a compliment or an insult that you got cast as a mutant?"

Anna: I'm going to take it as a compliment.

Shawn: Yeah, I like it.

Dania: In this particular movie, it's a compliment. "X-Men" is a rare kind of superhero film. It's exceptionally good. You have fighting, you have explosions, but you also have a good message. It has substance.

The Louisville Courier-Journal