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The National Post

'Ice to meet you,' Shawn
X-man sequel provides breakthrough moment for a cool guy
- Shinan Govani

On Monday night, Shawn Ashmore, the young Torontonian who plays Ice Man in the summer mega-blockbuster X2 and who has the look of dewy bewilderment down, well, cold, had about 200 of his closest friends over for a private screening at the Paramount, followed by a smaller get-together at the Rosewater Supper Club.

On Tuesday morning, the 23-year-old Ashmore was ensconced at Truffles restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel, doing a flurry of media interviews and smiling sweetly -- though not too sweetly -- for the cameras.

On Tuesday evening, he jetted off to London to attend the British premiere of the X-men sequel, which in a juggernaut of a buzz-making move is releasing the movie in 93 countries all at once next Friday.

It's fair to say that this is Ashmore's moment, and a part of you wants to hate him for his success but, darn, you really can't. Maybe it has something to do with the dewy bewilderment thing.

Sure, Ashmore had a role in the first installment of the comic-book franchise, but in every way that counts his role here is bigger, juicier, flashier. In one of the posters, he's pretty darn good reel estate, his face popping out right between the mugs of Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman.

In the movie, he's an up-and-coming member of the junior X-men set, blessed with the gift of freezing. His on-screen girlfriend is Anna Paquin. (They share a storyline in the movie that can best be described as Dawson's Creek, mutant-style). There's even a moment in the movie when his character finally sits his parents down and explains to him that he's different from the other kids. It reads as a tragi-comic coming-out scene, which, in a way, makes him the heart of the movie.

When we meet, Ice Man is about as calm as a curled-up house cat. He doesn't seem as though he's thinking too much about how he's on the verge of success. Maybe he's, like they say, just keeping it real, or maybe he's just hung over. All that Rosewater Supper Club business.

Freeze frame! We interrupt this article with a list of ten things you have to know Right Now about Shawn Ashmore!

1. He admits he was too embarrassed to talk to co-star Rebecca Romijin-Stamos on the set because she was, y'know, always in her birthday suit! (She walks around in spray paint for much of the movie, you should know.) Says the bashful babe about Stamos: "She was comfortable with it -- but she was so close to naked!"

2. Ice Man, we hear, had a cold on the day he shot his big kiss scene with Anna Paquin.

3. He has a twin brother, Aaron, who's also an actor, which puts him in a growing sub-category of hot Canadian celebs who have sibling doubles. This includes Jill Hennessy, Kiefer Sutherland and Alanis Morrissette. Ashmore calls it the "freaky Canadian twin thing" and is bracing for the fact that his brother is pretty soon going to be stopped by people on the street who think he, too, is a mutant.

4. He was once nominated for a Genie, for Guitarman, when he was 13 years old.

5. He's single. And maybe looking.

6. One of the -- dare-I-say -- coolest parts of the movie is when he helps out Wolverine by giving his warm bottle of Dr. Pepper a little instant cooling, but Ashmore says he has not personally benefited from this neat bit of product placement. We repeat: He does not have cases of Dr. Pepper in his house. Which is just as well, since the guy is more of a Red Bull fan anyhow.

7. Already, the Ice Man puns are getting out of control. Reporters routinely say stuff to Ashmore like, "What music do ya chill to?" or "Ice to meet you." For the record: Ashmore has picked up some bad lines himself, partly from watching Arnold Schwarzenegger ham it up as Mr. Freeze in the third Batman movie.

8. Home is still Toronto (he grew up in Brampton). In British Columbia, where X2 was shot, he did stuff like get together with the other superheroes at dinner parties thrown by Sir Ian McKellan.

9. When he was young, people used to say that he looked like Doogie Howser.

10. He was once in a TV movie with Delta Burke.

The National Post