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Feature: X-Men 2

The cast returns to the X-Men

X-Man into action…

Forget Spider-Man and Daredevil. Stop worrying whether Batman or Superman will re-appear on the big screen. Let us tell you about the return of the best comic book superheroes around…

Bryan Singer’s 2000 hit film X-Men kick-started the comic book film adaptations when it grossed a surprising $400 million worldwide. Since then, other comic books have been turned into hit films, including Spider-Man and Daredevil. Although they have taken some of X-Men’s thunder, Singer, who already is preparing a third instalment in the series, is convinced that the highly-anticipated X2 – despite arriving a year late due to endless rewrites – will satisfy the fans.

“This movie is more intense than the last one,” offers the 35-year-old director, who likens the tone of the sequel to another dark middle chapter of a Sci-Fi movie franchise, The Empire Strikes Back. “Things have gotten darker. It’s kind of a trial by fire for Mutant High. Literally, in certain scenes.”

The original cast members are back, headed by Hugh Jackman who became an overnight sensation as the tormented mutant Wolverine. This time around Wolverine faces off against villains led by British actor Brian Cox. The 35-year-old Jackman followed up X-Men with a forgettable Ashley Judd comedy (Someone Like You), a panned John Travolta thriller (Swordfish) and a moderately successful Meg Ryan comedy (Kate & Leopold). No wonder he is more than happy being back as Wolverine.

“I was looking forward to recreating him,” admits Jackman. “Despite all the aches and pains I suffered making the first movie, I had a ball. Everyone came back, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, so it was a reunion.”

But preparing for filming was hard work.

“I worked on weights and a strength-training regime in the gym five times a week,” recalls Jackman. “I was eating more than I ever have just to fill out the muscle mass. I also did intensive aerobics three times a week. My trainer was the guy who prepared Angelina Jolie for Tomb Raider.”

Jackman was considerably leaner when he filmed X-Men in 1999. He just came from performing in Oklahoma! on the London stage. X-Men had been filming for a week in Toronto when the Sydney-born actor was flown in to replace Dougray Scott, who had to cancel when Mission Impossible 2 went over its shooting schedule.

“I met Dougray after I got the part and he was great about it. He said, ‘It’s a great part and a brilliant script. Kick butt,” tells Jackman, who was on holiday in Los Angeles when the director called him. “I flew there and did another test and was hired on the spot. The story is told through Wolverine’s eyes, so things were getting pretty tense on the set since the actor playing the central character wasn’t there!”

Jackman felt really welcomed on the set but, coming in late, it took him a while to get settled. “I remember my first day, I felt like I was at a Rolling Stones concert. There was 400 crew members, and everything was secrecy this and secrecy that.”

Due to ongoing pre-production problems, including endless rewrites of the script, X2 is arriving more than a year late in theatres. So how did it feel finally being back in the Wolverine costume?

“It felt good, but I had actually used the costume since finishing the first film. I took it out of storage on the last day of shooting Kate & Leopold. I wanted to return the joke the Spider-Man people played on us. One day, Spider-Man turned up on our Toronto set of X-Men. It’s a great moment that is in the DVD.”

by Roald Rynning

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Photo © 20th Century Fox
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (May), see below for ordering options
Film Review (May)
#630, May 2003
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