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The Iceman cometh to a theatre near you
- John Intini

Except for a black leather jacket, Shawn Ashmore -- with his boy-band good looks and just-happy-to-be-here enthusiasm -- doesn't exactly come across as a badass. So it's tough to picture the Richmond, B.C.-born actor (who now splits his time between Toronto and L.A.) as a movie villain, something he'd like to tackle. "I was always drawn to the darker characters in comic books," says Ashmore, 23, who reprises the role of Iceman, the mild-mannered mutant who can freeze anything he touches, in X-Men 2. "I loved Ghost Rider and Spawn -- the really violent, aggressive ones. I'd love to switch it up and play the bad guy sometime."

While a leading comic-strip role remains a dream, his performance in X2 is sure to be a major career boost. "When I first received the script, I flipped through the first couple of pages and then went straight to the end," says Ashmore. "The whole time, I was thinking, am I going to die? Do they make me disappear?" Ecstatic to find an increased role for his character, Ashmore realized that it came with greater responsibilities. "The toughest day was the first read-through of the script," says Ashmore, who earned a Gemini nomination for his part in the 1994 TV movie Guitarman, and is known for his role on the Nickelodeon series Animorphs. "Looking around the table at actors like Patrick Stewart, Alan Cumming, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry was incredibly intimidating. I didn't want to be the weak link, which was a great motivator for me."

The first few days on set were challenging, but researching the role was far from taxing. "It was a lot of reading," laughs Ashmore, an avid comic book fan who still has a box of favourites stashed in the basement of his parents' Toronto home. "They had all the comic books on set and a pile of X-Men magazines and encyclopedias. It was like I was 10 again."

Photo Caption: Toronto-based Ashmore is a cool character in his reprised role as a mutant in X-Men 2