The actors discuss working with Brett Ratner, having special powers and their future projects

At recent roundtable junket for the highly anticipated X-Men: The Last Stand, we got to sit down with series veterans Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and newcomer Ben Foster (Angel). During our discussion these actors discussed working with Brett Ratner, the powers their characters possess and what projects they have coming up in the future.


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Ben, did you feel more pressure because this was the third film and you were new to the cast?

Ben Foster: There's certainly a pressure taking on an icon which has been beloved by so many people for so many years. There's certainly that pressure. But coming in, be it the third part in a series, no that didn't concern me. Every job there's always going to be different concerns and it's just trying to make it real for me. For whatever it is.

Anna, what would you do if you were in Rogue's position and you were given a cure?

Anna Paquin: Something that I've always kind of felt is that making a blanket decision about a situation you're not in, is generally not a good idea. I think we see that thing happening with all kind of aspects of our various freedoms and lives. I don't personally pretend to think that I would actually know what I would do. I really don't. You don't know until you're there... I don't like to preach about stuff I don't have any personal experience with.

If any of you could have chosen your roles, would you have chosen the ones you were in or another one?

Anna Paquin: I want to be Wolverine!

Ben Foster: Me Too.

Shawn Ashmore: I think everyone does.

Ben Foster: He's got great chops.

Anna Paquin: I want some claws.

Shawn Ashmore: I wanna smoke a cigar.

A lot of the younger actors seemed to be really a part of the action and had a lot of screentime. How did you feel about that?

Shawn Ashmore: It's exciting. I think in something like this where there are so many actors and so many characters, you kind of feel lucky for any screen time you get.

Anna Paquin: Absolutely. I'm just glad I'm still in the movie.

Shawn Ashmore: I think they did a good job. There's obviously an A storyline but even some of the younger characters, and some of the other stories you don't feel like the character's just floating through. I think everyone has their time and their moment which is nice.

Ben Foster: And the success of X-Men is addressing people in very precious, developmental periods in their life. A lot of that has to do with when you're young. You're defining who you are everyday and listening to your own individuality is a thing we have to confront moment by moment. If there's more time for the kids on screen, than maybe some kids will hear that.

What was it like working with Brett Ratner?

Anna Paquin: Brett's great. The man has so much energy, it's amazing. On a long, long shoot like we were on you need someone who's really, really, enthusiastic and just exuberant about what they're doing; who gets that it's supposed to be fun. You're supposed to have fun, we're making a fun movie.

Shawn Ashmore: There was a couple nights that I'm not sure we would have made it through at five in the morning, without Brett throwing on some music and jumping around and keeping everybody together. He's very meticulous as far as performance and stunts and what he's looking for. So that is sort of a nice drive to keep everybody going and keep everybody together.

Were any of you comic fans at all? Do you read comic books?

Shawn Ashmore: I did when I was younger. I still do every once in awhile. I have a box of comics sitting at my parents old house. And I did read the X-Men. I knew, sort of, exactly who they were and sort of the world I was getting into before I even auditioned for the film.

I think Ben made a really good point about the age of the characters. Staggering the ages of the characters was a way to obviously bring more characters into the story. If we're all the same age I think that really would have been difficult. So I think that's a really interesting way to introduce other characters. Obviously, the school is an important place for the X-Men. Having major X-Men be younger is an interesting thing, but it really comes down to, at a certain point, when you're growing up if you've discovered who you are, the choices that people are making in these films is a lot easier, because you're confident. You know who you are.

Ben Foster: It's exciting. Just being a fan of the comics as a kid. It's not necessarily comic specific but tonally it, hopefully, captures the beingness of these guys. At least as a theater goer myself, going to the movies all the time, I wanna see these people figure their sh*t out. These are Gods with problems, you know? It's Rome. It's Greece.

Were there little things about your characters that you tried to bring to the roles, based on your powers, that maybe viewers get or maybe they don't?

Shawn Ashmore: Everytime Rogue and I are around each other...

Anna Paquin: We're very physically choreographed.

Shawn Ashmore: There's certain takes where if we have to hug and our cheeks touch, we can't use that, so we were trying to stay clear of that.

Anna Paquin: Of having it not look like we accidentally brushed in the ear.

Shawn Ashmore: There's definitely things like that that inform, how... stuff like that is mostly physical, I think. It's one of my favorite things about Iceman and Rogue's relationship, it's sort of been the staple of Bobby's stay at the school. He's got this girlfriend that gives him a purpose to be here, aside from being a safe place for him to be, and he can't fully relax there. He's halfway there. He's halfway comfortable. The relationship he wants more than anything he can't have.

Ben Foster: Coming to set, in a physical way, wearing wings on your back... at first I was like, "God, I've got to wear this giant thing glued to the skin all day." But you come on set, you stand there and you think, "If I need to get out of here fast I don't need to use the exit." That's really awesome. This is cool. You stand differently. It's like if you're wearing pajamas out or you're wearing a tuxedo. You're gonna talk differently. We have amazing special effects on this. Ridiculous. Just really inventive, fun people.

What's it like seeing everything cut together in the final X-Men movie?

Shawn Ashmore: I'm always surprised every time I see an X-Men movie, because you're not in every scene so I didn't see any of the forest stuff. I didn't even know what that looked like really until I saw it. Also with Alcatraz, we were on the real set with a piece of the bridge there. To see camera moves where it pulls out and it started tight on the set, and they added the whole environment it's like, "Wow!" It's pretty amazing.

Also, there's the time where you're shooting ice out of your hands and there's obviously nothing there, and you feel like an idiot posing there. Again, this movie I didn't worry about it too much because I'd done it before. I realized it's gonna look cool once it's all said and done. The first time you're doing it you're standing there and it's like, "Okay, can I stop now? Does this look silly?"

What are your thoughts when you see yourselves on screen?

Anna Paquin: Mine are, Jesus Christ! That's what I look like? That's what I sound like? That's not cute.

Ben Foster: I think we all get into this to be other people. So if there's any kind of recognition it's hopefully that we don't recognize ourselves. I suppose it's closest to hearing your voice on an answering machine.

What are some other projects you're working on?

Ben Foster: This fall is a Nick Cassavetes film called Alpha Dog. I play a crystal meth addict, skinhead. It's based on Jesse James Hollywood, the youngest person to be on the FBI's Most Wanted List.

That's with Justin Timberlake?

Ben Foster: It is. And he's great in it. It's a helluva young cast.

Anna Paquin: I have two movies. One called Margaret that Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed. Absolutely everyone under the sun is in it. Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Matt Damon... everyone. I just produced my first movie with my brother. I'm in it as well and Breckin Meyer is in it. It's called Blue State. We just wrapped four days ago.

Shawn Ashmore: I've got a movie called Solstice coming out at some point. I just finished it so I don't know when and also a movie called 3 Needles and it's coming out at some point.

Ben Foster: He plays a B-Level porn star.

Shawn Ashmore: Who steals blood from his geriatric father. The writer/director is a guy named Tom Fitzgerald who I've worked with before. When he sent me the script and offered me the part, I was like, "Really, you want me?" I'm kind of a skinny, pasty guy. The character's not really a big, beefy porn star. He's doing the one thing that he's ever been good at.

X-Men: The Last Stand hits theaters May 26th, 2006.