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Thaw Master
Ice might be the weapon of choice for Shawn Ashmore's mutant hero in the new X-Men movie, but dressed in the season's greys, taupes, and tans, he single-handedly saves us from winter
- Mark Schatzker

It seems fitting that the actor who plays Iceman in the X-Men movies got his first break in Edmonton during the dead of winter. The year was 1987, and nine-year-old Shawn Ashmore, along with his twin brother, Aaron, were part of the Edmonton Boys Conservatory Choir. It was a gig neither one of them was enthusiastic about. The rehearsals were on Saturday mornings, which, as any nine-year-old will tell you, is prime cartoon-watching time. One of the cartoons young Shawn hated missing was Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, which, as any twenty-eight-year-old will tell you, was Iceman's breakout TV role.

Those annoying Saturday-morning choir rehearsals came to an end, however, when a stranger approached Ashmore's mother at a picnic. He wanted to know if her sons would be interested in auditioning for a television commercial. Both boys auditioned, and Aaron, who's sixty seconds older than Shawn, ended up getting the part. When it came time to do the shoot, however, fortune struck: Aaron came down with a runny nose, so Shawn found himself in the makeup chair.

Shawn has had more than his fair share of television parts since then, on shows such as Smallville and My Brother's Keeper, but Aaron didn't let the sniffles deny him his own degree of fame. (He recently finished shooting five episodes of Veronica Mars.) For Shawn, though, his most memorable appearance on the small screen was his turn as Canadian hero Terry Fox, in the made-for-TV-movie Terry. He enlisted the help of a movement coach and even lived with an amputee so that he could learn to stand, walk, and run like Terry Fox. "My worry was, Can I get the gait down? If people turn on the TV and I don't look and move like Terry Fox, they're going to scoff at it."

In the original X-Men, Ashmore was cast as Bobby Drake, the boy-next-door nice guy whose secret mutation morphs him into Iceman. Despite his ability to create ice out of thin air (a handy super power at a pool party), it started out as a bit role. But in the 2003 sequel, X2, Iceman froze enough liquid to warrant his own action figure. Ashmore isn't as excited about this as one might expect. "I used to have GI Joes and strap firecrackers to them," he says. "I'd hate to think that people are doing that to me."

Ashmore says that the newest installment in the mutant saga, X-Men: The Last Stand, is the best one yet. Why? Because of the simple yet compelling fact that "it all comes down to one huge battle. There are head-to-head match-ups," Ashmore explains, "that feature battles between certain X-men and evil mutants that everyone's been waiting a long time for." One action sequence is reportedly so grand that a Hummer was accidentally crushed during shooting.

And remember Iceman's romance with Rogue (played by fellow Canadian Anna Paquin) in X2? Let's just say that things don't exactly cool off. Given the sparks that flew between Rogue and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in the original X-Men, this seems an outrageously dicey move - even for a mutant with ice in his veins.

Toro / Transcript by Pam