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The Journal Gazette

'X3' Cast Talk Careers, Life After Powers Gone
- Sharon Eberson

NEW YORK "X-Men: The Last Stand" features a huge cast that ranges far and wide in Hollywood, from virtual unknowns to veterans to Oscar winners. Here are some dispatches from the "X-Men" universe:

Stage development

Anna Paquin, who turns 25 in July, still faces constant questions about winning the Oscar at age 13 for "The Piano." She'd much rather talk about the theater, which she has frequented in recent years, starting with "The Glory of Living" in 2001 for director Philip Seymour Hoffman, a more recent Oscar winner.

"I had the incredible good fortune that the first play I ever did was directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is frankly one of the gods in my universe and who I am permanently indebted to as far as beating into submission every last little bad habit I had as an actor. He's the most phenomenal, insightful person I've ever met."

Paquin's Rogue doesn't get much screen time in "X-3," but her character's dilemma is central to the story. Should Rogue take the cure? What others see as power, she sees as something that has cursed her to a life without human contact.

"The basic of Rogue's story line is of self-discovery," Paquin says. "So as an actor, while the physical stuff is really fun, there's a lot more weight to the decision affecting Rogue, because she is more impeded by her abilities, so to speak. It's that she can't physically blend in; she can't lead a normal life."

Angel and Iceman

Ben Foster walks in the room asking reporters for advice about what's Mac compatible for digital recorders, quickly connecting with the group, just as he did as one of the newest X-Men, Angel.

After roles in "The Punisher" and HBO's "Six Feet Under," Foster's career could be ready to take flight with "The Last Stand" and "Alpha Dog," a crime drama for Nick Cassavetes in which Foster plays "a crystal-meth-addict skinhead. A little different from Angel."

He had a lot of time to think about his role as Angel while he was having his back spread with glue and the big wings attached.

"The introduction to Angel it's a beautiful metaphor, seeing someone who would seem to be blessed in some ways, with a 16-foot wing span, and then be haunted by this, in his opinion, in his father's opinion, to be a horrible disfigurement. What a beautiful thing to think about: The things that make us different, that make us individuals. That's the success of this series."

Shawn Ashmore is an "X" veteran as Iceman, Rogue's love interest and a young man ready to flex his mutant powers. He was signed to do "The Last Stand" before director Bryan Singer dropped out and Brett Ratner took the helm.

"We trusted Bryan. But once Brett came in and he respected the actors that have been playing the parts for several films, after the first couple of days of shooting, there was a rhythm and it just flowed from there."

The Journal Gazettte