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Friday, Oct. 13, 2000

Double-teaming on the promotion tour


Comic culture has always been big in Japan, and after a summer short on action-fantasy, 20th Century Fox obviously sensed a hit on its hands with "X-Men." As such, the PR department arranged not one, but two press conferences of "X-Men" stars in Japan, where they met an adoring media.

Bryan Singer (left to right), Hugh Jackman and Ray Park

Famke Janssen was too glamorous for words, while Anna Paquin, fluttering a paper Japanese fan, was shifting between vampy poses and looking like the 18-year-old teen she is. James Marsden and Ray Park, meanwhile, were beaming with the sheer joy of virgin stardom. Hugh Jackman left a legion of female fans starry-eyed and sighing, while director Bryan Singer -- an old hand at Japanese press conferences -- was clearly a man who likes to talk film.

On playing a mutant

Jackman: "As an actor, we have to find those freakish bits in ourselves, and we're drawn to those freakish bits in other people; the things that make us different are what make us interesting. The most difficult thing with all these characters is to make them three-dimensional, and -- with relatively little dialogue -- make them believable, so you could feel for someone like Wolverine."

On the X-Men's "body-armor" costumes

Janssen: "Thank God I was only in it (the costume) for the final part of the movie!"

Marsden: "I actually like our costumes. If we were wearing spandex and silly costumes, it would take away from the soundness of the drama in the movie. But they weren't the most comfortable things to wear -- they were, ah, particularly restricting. It took some getting used to, but they look great onscreen."

Jackman: "When we first put those suits on, I remember we had to go and show Brian in his trailer, and James and myself were walking up to the trailer, and the step was about this high [30 cm], and we literally couldn't actually step up, we had people pushing us inside. A little like the Tokyo subway [grins]."

On the highlight of making the film

Singer: "The highlight? There were a lot of lowlights. This was not an easy film for me -- it was never finished! The film was supposed to come out for Christmas 2000, and while we were prepping in Toronto, I got a call from Fox saying, 'Congratulations! You've got the summer!' and I thought, great, summer 2001, we have an extra six months, and they said, 'No, summer 2000.' And to me, that represented every difficulty that would follow."

On the X-Men action figures

Marsden: "I thought it was very exciting to see my action figures. Growing up, I used to collect 'Star Wars' action figures, so it was kind of fulfilling a childhood fantasy of mine. They're actually really well done -- it's scary how much they resemble you."

Paquin: "Maybe I was just being pushy, but I sent my action figure back about seven or eight times to get some finishing touches on it. Maybe it's just scary seeing yourself carved out of plastic. It's not really biodegradable, so it's going to be around for a long time."

On visting Japan

Janssen: "I love your street fashion -- it's great, very outrageous, people have very individual style. It's a really nice surprise having just come from the States where The Gap -- or other stores like that -- is where everybody buys their stuff, and everybody looks identical."

On X-Men fans

Janssen: "Well, it's a little difficult to play somebody who has lived in a comic book for 40 years, because inevitably people are going to have expectations about what the character's supposed to sound like, look like. And on top of all that, we had a director with a very clear vision, and the general overtone was supposed to be realism, the world as we know it today. So within those parameters, we tried to create the characters, and I think from the reaction, we're really pleased."

Marsden: "There was an intimidating feel on the set about 'are we going to please the X-Men fans?' These die-hard fans who've been dedicated to this comic book for 40 years. We just realized that there wasn't any way you're going to please everybody."

Singer: "If it was a small comic book with a small following, we could take more liberties with it, but because its fan-base is so huge, and multigenerational, so many people invest in these characters and how they're portrayed. To me the most important thing was capturing the essence of the character. It's not important to get too mired in things like, are Wolverine's claws six inches or nine inches. The thing that sets this apart from most genre sci-fi/fantasy things, is that the characters do have great depth."



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