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The Washington Times

X-Men Make Their Stand in a Georgetown Sit-Down
- Joseph Szadkowski

Marvel Entertainment's band of superpowered mutants, the X-Men, invaded Georgetown last week -- sort of. Some of their thespian alter egos were at the Ritz-Carlton to promote 20th Century Fox's third cinematic ode to the comic book franchise, "X-Men: The Last Stand," directed by Brett Ratner. It opens next Friday.

Shawn Ashmore, who stars as the hero, Bobby Drake (aka Iceman), and Aaron Stanford, who portrays the fiery villain John Allerdyce (aka Pyro), sat down with Zadzooks to talk about sequential art, their roles and the latest movie.

Q. What's it like to portray a superhero or supervillain?

Shawn: It's pretty cool. I was a fan of comic books, sci-fi and the X-Men before this all began, and it has been a pretty fun ride. Especially with the X-Men, where it is not only about the action and the fantastic world, but there is a lot to the complex characters.

Aaron: He's angry [Pyro], but I try to inject a little bit of levity and enjoyment into the identity of the villain.

Q. Did you or do you read comic books?

Shawn: I did read the X-Men when I was younger. What led me to comic books was reading stuff like "Chronicles of Narnia" and the works of Ray Bradbury. I was more of a Marvel guy but started to collect Image and Dark Horse stuff. I really liked Spawn because he was so over the top, violent and dark. I still actually have the first 10 issues in a box at my parents' house in Toronto. I also read the Eastman and Laird Mutant Ninja Turtles, which sounds like kind of a joke because of the cartoon tie-in, but the old black-and-white comics were pretty intense and the art was amazing.

Aaron: I did not read many growing up, but I was aware the X-Men were huge and had been around a long time. I certainly knew who Wolverine was and had read some of his miniseries. When I was around 14 or 15, I read a lot of underground comics like Pete Bagge's Hate and Chester Brown's Yummy Fir. Bagge was writing about a shiftless loser who leaves home and goes off to Seattle in search of a young hipster's freedom. I recognized a lot of myself with the main character. I have gotten into reading comics now that I am older because the scene is fantastic, with stuff like Warren Ellis' Fell and the zombie story Walking Dead.

Q. Do younger kids have the time to read these days?

Shawn: I think there are a lot more options for kids now, but the ones that take the time to read are exposed to it early on like my Mom used to buy me books for Christmas. There is something more interesting to me about creating your own world, whether it be through reading a comic or novel. I think kids that are going to read are going to, no matter what distractions are out there.

Aaron: I think whether or not a kid reads has so much to do with the parents. Reading was very important in my house and any time I wanted a book, it was given to me. It was very clear it was an important thing and it was to be respected, cherished and valued.

Q. Have you seen any of the other movies based on comic books?

Shawn: "Sin City" was an obvious comic book adaptation that was really cool, and it was really well done.

Aaron: I was hoping for "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," but it did not work. Alan Moore is a fantastic writer, and you almost have to be a Victorian scholar to get all of the references in his graphic novels. His works are so well informed and so intelligent, and this is really hard to put into a film.

Q. Will the new X-Men film satisfy fans?

Shawn: The only downfall is that there are so many characters to pack into an X-Men film. Most of the originals are back, and Brett did a good job of trying to give each character some time and moments. The rivalry between Iceman and Pyro, set up in X2, is played out with a satisfying confrontation between them.

Originally, Bryan Singer did a good job of introducing the characters and staggering the ages, which some thought was a negative. Pyro and Iceman were not younger characters in the comics. Iceman was actually one of the original X-Men. Fans wanted him to be just as he was in the books.

Aaron: Trying to keep up with the demands of the fans who want to see so many characters is difficult. They write letters and e-mails, and the word gets out who these people are demanding. This time out they were also able to work in Angel and Beast.

Q. What is your fondest memory from working on the films?

Shawn: For the first film, I was only around for a couple of weeks, and I was pretty nervous with my first scene with Anna [Paquin]. However, when I sat at the table reading for X2, and saw all of the faces, I just realized the level of the films' success, and that was pretty incredible.

Aaron: For me it is just getting the opportunity to know some of the actors. In "X-Men: Last Stand," I had almost every scene with Ian Mc-Kellen, a hero of mine since I saw him in an adaptation of "Richard III." He is just such a consummate and brilliant actor. When I step back and realize that I had the honor and privilege of working with people like him, I feel very lucky.

The Washington Times