The Fantastic Four: The just announced cast for the fourth coming, long awaited Marvel Comic Book theatrical adaptation sat down late Saturday night and spilled a little bit more than they should have about this proposed 2005 offering.

In attendance are Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm (aka The Thing), and Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic...

And to be honest, it almost feels like they threw this cast together on the cuff, just so they'd be able to speak at this year's Comic-Con...

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(Micheal Chiklis plays with an action figure of The Thing...)

Micheal Chiklis: That's what I'm talking about...I think among us, I'm the biggest fan of the Fantastic Four, especially growing up. Of course, that makes me the oldest. But I really, truly was a fan. I am aware of how rabid the fans are. How aware they are of every nuance and every aspect of this. Even more familiar than we are of it. I'm a fan. At least until that press conference. I thought I was a fan. Until you come here. And people ask incredible questions, about every episode number. And it's taken to an extreme. We all feel the weight of it. But at the same time, we're so thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in it that we're going to have a blast. And we're going to do it right. And we're going to enjoy it.

Q: Despite all the special effects, do you see any similarities between this character and the characters you've played before?

Michael: Interestingly, there are some similarities. This is a guy who can be very scary. And also be really likable, and downright cuddly. So, yeah, there is a through-line in that way. But his problems, meaning Ben Grimm's, The Thing's problems, are different, certainly, than that of Nick Mackey on The Shield, and other characters that I have played. There are similarities, and some distinct differences. Yeah.

Q: There is a rumor that this is a new Fantastic Four. That it starts the comic over. That things are very different. As a fan of The Fantastic Four, can you talk a little about how this is a departure from what the fans have known for the past forty years, and what is new about it?

Michael: No. In a word, I can't. You know, again, I'm not as familiar with the comic. I'm not nearly as familiar as I thought I was. I was just a kid who loved comics. I didn't study them. I didn't memorize them. I liked them. And I had a particular affinity for Benjamin Grimm. For The Thing. Because I could relate to him. I could understand a guy feeling unattractive, and feeling like he's on the outs. Yet feeling like he had something to offer, and feeling like he had something to do. Feeling like he had good inside of him. I just liked him on a personal level. As far as the nuances between this version, or that version, you're better off asking Avi, or Tim.

Q: Are we going to see the love triangle between the three characters in the film?

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Michael: Not in this installment. You're referring to the love triangle between Ben, Sue, and Mr. Fantastic...You're not talking about my girlfriend. I think that's a later thing for down the road. There is no triangle here. It is a square.

Q: Jessica, are you still moderating the fights between The Thing and Johnny (to be played by Chris Evans, the "Freddy Prinze Jr. Wannabe" from Not Another Teen Movie, not in attendance)?

Jessica Alba: Yeah, between The Thing and Johnny. I keep Ben from strangling his best friend for turning him into the way he is. And from Doom becoming a maniacal, evil bad guy. She's trying to keep everybody together. She just wants everyone to be okay. When she's trying to do that, it seems that everyone is so caught up in their problems, that that's when she disappears. It's very much by the book. And I love it. I'm not that familiar with the comic books. I read the script, and it's great. It's about family, and it's so hopeful. So many people, so many families are breaking up...And so many people are quick to sue people, and go and fight, and go to war. This is just about solving problems.

Q: What do you think producers saw in you that made them want to cast you in this movie?

Jessica: Um, I don't know...(to Ioan..) You talk about it...

Ioan Gruffudd: I'm a mathematical genius...Gosh, I don't know...

Michael: I'm the thug that you want to hug.

Q: They saw so many people for these roles, and there were obviously a lot of people that went out for them. Why do you think they chose you?

Ioan: Honestly, I don't know. I think getting to see us today; you can see that we're all a bunch of down-to Earth people. And I think that's the main attraction of these characters. They are real people and you can associate with them. And they're just in these incredible situations. I think that's the main attraction, and I would like to think we were cast because of that.

Q: Did you guys test together, or did you all just meet recently?

Jessica: Me and Mike actually met at an awards show. We presented together. And I met Ioan at the hotel bar.

Q: Alone?

Jessica: No, no...With the director. This was when he was doing press for King Arthur (Ioan played Lancelot), so he was in the middle of all this stuff. And I honestly didn't know that this was going to happen. Because I so often get type-cast as the kick-ass girl, or the back-pack girl, or whatever kind of thing. Half naked in this, or half-naked in that; this is really who I am. I am a problem solver. I've been working since I was twelve. I come from a really big family, and I'm the oldest of fourteen cousins who all live in Southern California. So I've always had to mediate. And when I sat down with Tim, I think he saw that. That's my nature.

Q: Did just having done Sin City make you more comfortable with playing another Comic Book character?

Jessica: No, not at all. No. Sin City was a whole other thing.

Q: What have they told you about the Special effects that they'll be using?

Ioan: Nothing much, actually. I think all the other movies coming out have raised the bar, particularly Spider-Man 2. So I have faith that they're going to take it to the next level.

Michael: I find it interesting. Thus far, we've been kept in the dark about a lot of things. And now, things are starting to be reveled. I think a major part of that is there is so much anticipation, and there are so many people wanting to know early about what is going on. The policy with the studio has been, "The fewer people we tell, the less the leaks."

Jessica: Especially with the cast...

Michael: We are the people. But you know what? It is on a need-to-know basis. I've been insured many times that the resources are there. They are going to bring everything to bare. There are going to be some spectacular effects in this. For my part, I did not want to do this if Ben Grimm was going to be a CGI. If he was going to be done the way The Hulk was done. And I felt that I would be wasted. I was assured from the get-go that that wouldn't be the case. That they would use some CGI enhancements to create nuances. And they told me some ideas that I just thought were so hot shit, I thought they were awesome. For an actor, it's a thrill to be involved in this type of thing. I've not done really anything of this scale. Everything I've done has been about the acting work. About character development and people interacting. This is still very much like that, but with a huge scale of technical support around it. And that's what really attracted me to this project from a directorial standpoint. Tim has said from the beginning, "The technical will support the character development." I think fans will love to hear that. That's a thrill. Far too often, with big, huge, multi-million dollar pictures like this, the producer makes the mistake of rushing to the next explosion. As you all know, if you don't care about your central characters, you don't care if they blow up, or what they blow up. So, the idea that the onus will be on the development of this family...I think that's why Spider-Man 2 is so successful and so good. It had well-drawn, well-developed characters. And yeah, there are spectacular special effects, but you care. You care about Tobe and Kristin getting together. You know, you care about them, so they take you on the ride. So those effects are effective.

Q: Avi said that the different thing about this one is that there are no secret identities...

Jessica: No, there are none.

Michael: That is a different thing than any of them. We become discovered.

Jessica: What's great is that Johnny Storm acts like every Pop Star, and every young actor who is in Star Magazine, the People Magazine, the US Weekly. He gets a bunch of money, and the cars...

Michael: Dude, he relishes it...

Jessica: He loves it, and he's living out the fantasy of every American Idol, Pop Star wannabe guy. Yeah. Mr. Fantastic is a scientist, and all, in his head, and he doesn't capitalize on the fame thing. And I think Ben Grimm has a really difficult time with it, because he can't get away from it.

Michael: I'm the one that looks at it as a malady. She can knock people down with a force-field. She can disappear. He can stretch himself. But he's still the handsome, dashing cad. Here, I'm this leper. And then when I...Ooh, I don't want to give anything away...But I'm dealing with a sense of betrayal in this picture as well. Because, you know, I want to believe that's one of the great things written about this. You have Dr. Doom, who is trying to create a wedge between the relationships of the Fantastic Four. Particularly Mr. Fantastic and I, and he's causing this mistrust, and a sense of betrayal between us. And it's like what Jessica said, it is about overcoming that. And those feelings, and coming together as a core. The ultimate metaphor is, as a core, as a family, overcoming evil. So, there it is.

Q: There's the jealousy between Ben and Reed, but will there be that playful, brotherly aspect between the two characters?

Ioan: Yes, I think so. The beginning of the story is us as real people. And then the accident happens. So yes, you certainly have that aspect.

Q: What about the hair?

Ioan: I'm not sure how to play him. Did he go gray from the age of nineteen, and the stress of college? Or did he then develop those little, grey hairs after the accident? That's something to play with. We have to discuss this type of stuff.

Q: (to Alba) You're already blonde for the role...

Jessica: I am. I was actually blonde in Sin City, and in Into the Clear. This is my third...

Michael: And I'm blonde too.

Q: Will you be throwing any couches in the role?

Michael: I'll be throwing all kinds of shit. Yeah. I have a really cool moment with a lamp post. It's one of those things as an actor, and I know you guys are going to hug up to this, when you read the script and you go, "Oh, cool, honey, I GET TO DO THIS!!! You've got to read this!" No, I can't tell you specific moments, but there are so many where I'm just like, "Oh, that is hot shit!"

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Jessica: (Pretending to turn the pages of an imaginary script...) And then, and then, and then...

Michael: It's really well written. As an actor, the hardest thing in the world is when you read a script and you go, "Oh, boy..." On any level. And if it's just okay, there's this feeling that you have to lift it. That you have to bring something more to it. When it's good on the page, it really raises your confidence level. You go into it feeling armed. The best way to describe it is; I did a one man show on Broadway once. And it was really successful. And it was successful because it was a great script. And I used to go out there on Friday Nights, which is the worst night on Broadway, because it's all the New Yorkers, who are sitting there with their arms crossed, "Okay, so, I paid sixty-five dollars. Make me laugh." It was called Defending the Caveman. But I felt confident, because I knew I was armed with the material. I could go out there and say, "I know you're copping an attitude, but by the time I get to ‘Hi, I'm an asshole', I'm going to get the laugh." It feels really good to be armed.

Q: Do you have the blind girlfriend?

Michael: Yes. But I don't know who she is yet. And I can't wait to meet her.

Q: When does this start for you guys?

Michael: In a month. Less than a month.

Q: Are you guys training, or doing anything specifically to get into these roles?

Michael: I'm training like a freak. Because I need to trim down at the waist, and bulk up at the shoulders. I'm doing the Stairmaster.

Jessica: I've been training...

Michael: She's always looking hot...

Jessica: No...But, I always train for a movie, because it's quite exhausting. We're on the set, literally, and have to be there fourteen hours, on an easy day. In order to do that, you've got to be on your game.

Q: Have you guys tried on your costumes yet?

Jessica: Yeah. I tried mine on. Have you guys tried on yours yet?

Michael: One of the most horrifying moments of my life was putting on the spandex. It's always nice when four women pull you into spandex when you're in Jockey shorts. That's...Yeah...

Jessica: All the zippers are on the inside...And the crotch...

Michael: And the pinching.

Jessica: I was so scared of the pinching. They had to use a tool to get my right leg in.

Michael: Did they use the fan on you? That causes shrinkage.

Jessica: I had the guy making the costumes kind of look at me in disgust. I'm like, "Is there a problem?" He's like, "No, I'm just looking."

Michael: Well, that guy prides himself on being a pro, and he looks at you like you're a mannequin. He's just doing his job.

Jessica: Yeah, I know he is. But the costumes are very cool. We do have spandex, and we do have gloves and boots.

Michael: Now, of course, they are also building The Thing deal. And thankfully, they've thus far spared me a lot of the pre-stuff. They're basically going to pare the process down to about five hours before they try it on me. Right now they are doing it on my life cast.

Q: Which company is working on this?

Michael: Someone's gotta tell us the name, because I've forgotten the name of the company. Spectral Motion, I think, are the people doing it. The people that did Hellboy. That's right. They're a fantastic group over there. I know, if you're a claustrophobe, it's a nightmare. Thankfully I'm not. I don't know about these guys.

Jessica: It was really strange for me. I was with a bunch of guys, and I was by myself, and it was 8 in the morning. I had this bodysuit on, and they're like, "We're going to put Vaseline all over your body." I'm like, "Oh, okay. Everywhere?" And they're like, "Yeah, everywhere." So, I say, "Okay." Then they got closer and closer to certain areas that only certain people are allowed to go, and they were really lubing it up. So, it was weird.

Michael: Yeah. They were guys. Think about when they lubed me up. I was like, "Dudes...Guys...Don't pause."

Jessica: They have to lube you up before they put on the casting thing, so it won't stick to you.

Q: What did they need the life cast for?

Jessica: I think they just wanted it so they could build a costume on it. Hmm, I don't even know...

Michael: The life cast is for a number of purposes. They are for the action figures. They are for the spandex suits, because they have to fit perfectly, and be anatomically correct. A life cast, once they rip it off you in half, and then put it back together, then pour the liquid cement in there...It dries, and they have Jessica Alba's body, perfectly. Now, I'm not going to say the other reasons why they wanted to make these things. No. But there are practically issues for all of it.

Jessica: (to Ioan) Have you done it yet?

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Ioan: No. No I haven't. I'm the perfect specimen.

Jessica: You're the sample size.

Q: How about the action figures? Are you guys ready to see yourselves in Toys R Us?

Jessica: I've never been in Toys R Us, by the way...

Michael: I have. I have two children. (to Alba) You've lived that. And I have too. With The Shield, they've made a bobble-head doll.

Jessica: It's strange. I had two of them. One was very voluptuous, and the other was very masculine. I guess we'll see what this one is like.

Q: Do you pay any attention to fan comments about casting?

Jessica: Actually, I was worried. Absolutely. Obviously. But at the end of the day, when this opportunity came up, I couldn't say no. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I turned this movie down. Because it's such a great story. And I'm going to work my ass off. Hopefully, people will be pleased.

Q: Is there anything you're doing non-physically to prepare for this Comic Book?

Jessica: Yeah, falling in love with a guy who just won't tell me his emotions. Yeah, I'm doing that.

Michael: I'm re familiarizing myself with the comics. I think we all are.

Jessica: I'm reading the graphic novels.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think we're all hungry to get up there and see the nuts and bolts aspects of this. How we're going to achieve certain things. It's different when you read stuff in script form, and you see it in your mind's eye. But then you go, "How are we going to do that?"

Jessica: Especially that first moment where they put their powers at use. It's pretty fucking...Excuse my language...But it's incredible...

Michael: They got me and the Doc going down in the subway...

Jessica: You can't say things...

Michael: It's a brushstroke. A brushstroke.

Q: What about the classic hat, and the sunglasses? And the trench coat, will you be wearing that?

Michael: I will be.

Q: How about, "It's clobbering time!"? Will you be doing that?

Michael: You'll hear...(Does the voice of his character) "It's clobbering time!" I think that's about the right pitch. I'm so thrilled to be the simpleton...

And with that, our short session with the cast of the new Fantastic Four is over...

Click hear to read interviews with the cast of {italicsConstantine (Keanu Reeves, Djiimon Hounsou, and director Francis Lawrence...)}

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange