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The Toronto Star

Canuck has Iceman Down Cold
Shawn Ashmore stars in 3 X-Men
Character has grown up onscreen
- Bruce Demara

The Iceman cometh of age in the latest outing of the X-Men franchise and Canadian Shawn Ashmore couldn't be more pleased.

He's been part of the X-Men team since the original film debuted in 2000, with his role expanding in each sequel. In the latest, X-Men: The Last Stand, Ashmore is no longer a bit player among the young students at Dr. Xavier's school for misunderstood mutants, nor just the troubled youth Bobby Drake of X-Men II struggling with puppy love and teenage angst.

For Ashmore, who has literally grown into the role, it's been a great experience.

"Every couple of years, it's like a family reunion. Everyone gets together and your character matures as you mature. So it's a sort of a natural progression," Ashmore said in a recent interview.

"In the first film, I was just sort of a student, in the second film I was brought into the fold a little bit more and in this film, Bobby is definitely part of the team. He's going on missions, his powers have matured, I think he's matured as a character," he said.

This film features a fire-and-ice face-off between his superhero character, Iceman, and arch-enemy Pyro.

"I get to have some real action sequences and play a major part in the outcome of the (final) battle. Obviously, when you're doing a film like this, that's what you hope for scenes like that and moments like that," Ashmore added.

Does being cast as Iceman, who has the ability to radiate intense cold, have anything to do with being Canadian?

"I've thought about that several times. I don't know if it's ironic but I think it's fitting (to be Iceman). I like it, I fully embrace that aspect of it," Ashmore said.

Born in Richmond, B.C., Ashmore spent the first decade of his life in Edmonton before the family moved to Brampton, where his parents still live.

At 26, tall and lean, Ashmore retains the vestiges of youth though, in fact, he's a veteran of film and television. He played Terry Fox last year in CTV's movie about the life of one of Canada's most beloved heroes, for which he received an ACTRA nomination. Audiences saw him earlier this year in Canadian director/writer Thom Fitzgerald's 3 Needles -- in which he plays a porn star -- and will see him soon in the indie thriller, The Quiet.

In fact, Ashmore notes, he's not the only Canadian connected to the X-Men movies. Winnipeg-born Oscar-winner Anna Paquin has played Rogue throughout the series and newcomer Ellen Page who plays Kitty Pryde -- who has the ability to walk through solid matter -- is also a Canuck. Not to mention that Wolverine (the comic book character, not the actor who plays him, Aussie Hugh Jackman) is from Canada.

And Alberta's Alkali Lake has figured prominently as a film location in both of the last two films.

"There's definitely some Canadian content in this film, which is great," Ashmore.

In fact, the X-Men films were vital in opening up opportunities for Ashmore, especially at home.

"I didn't start doing Canadian projects... or I didn't have the opportunity to do Canadian projects I liked until I moved down to Los Angeles and people were like 'oh, he's the guy from X-Men.' That's when I got the opportunity to play Terry (Fox)," Ashmore said.

Since then, he has shot on location in Vancouver, Toronto and the East Coast.

"There's tons of opportunity in Canada and I try and work and be a part of Canadian projects as much as I can because I like the filmmakers here, I like the actors here, I like the projects here," Ashmore said.

That doesn't mean he wouldn't be tempted by projects south of the border like, for example, another X-Men movie.

There has been speculation that the latest film may not be, in fact, the last stand.

"I've heard rumours both ways. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned right now, from what I've heard, there's not going to be an X-Men IV. But I was the last to know there was going to be an X-Men III," he said.

The Toronto Star