X-Men: First Class Press Conference Details!

At the rather illustrious Dorchester Hotel in central London recently, 20th Century Fox’s PR team were awaiting the hordes of Journalist’s with X shaped cookies and smiling faces. Not for any old reason mind, today was the day that the X-Men: First Class stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Zoe Kravitz, Alex Gonzales, Jason Flemyng, and script writer Jane Goldman held an open discussion panel with a room full of journalists.

Kicking off the panel was a question that was on every X-Men fan’s mind; no not how Professor X looses his hair (don’t worry we get to that later), the other really important questions: what exactly this cast know about the Marvel Universes’s Mutant’s!

“I didn’t grow up so much with comics, I had a few, but it wasn’t really a big part of my childhood.” Said actor Kevin Bacon who’s playing the villainous Sebastian Shaw. “Marvel came out with this gigantic bible… it was probably like 75% of my research just handed to me, that was great.”

“Ditto!” Laughed Michael Fassbender before handing the microphone quickly to the always-talkative James McAvoy.

“I was really aware of the cartoon when I was growing up…” Remarked McAvoy, “They started showing it on Live & Kicking I think… I was a big fan of that, and the first couple of films too!”

“I didn’t realise this was based on anything until now,” interjected Zoe Kravitz (playing Angel Salvador) with a smile and to much audience laughter.

It was easy to see that the cast were in high spirits and why shouldn’t they be! The buzz surrounding the First Class screenings was high and the cast looked happy to be in the Capital on a rare sun filled day.

That mood of joyful playfulness ran through the next 40 or so minutes of the panel, let’s put it this way; if they had as much fun filming the movie as they did talking to us about it then we are all in for a treat come June 1st.

The first question from the floor dived straight into proceedings, directed at Fassbender and McAvoy, the journalist wanted to know what informed the portrayals of the characters… filling the boots of Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart was never going to be an easy task!

“The comic book history and comic book lore is really different from all the X-Men movies that have come before.” Began McAvoy. “For example, in the comic books my character is an American person and Fox decided to make that character English when they cast Patrick Stewart.”

“[First Class] is a prequel, it had to be different cause the franchise needed to be fresh and it needed something new, but also there is no point having that same character just played the same way, in a different suit.” He said, before giving us an insight into the ways in which his younger Charles Xavier differs to that of the future Patrick Stewart portrayal,

“Where Sir Patrick was wise I would be foolhardy. Where he was chaste I’d be randy. By the end of three films…I’ll end up doing something much more like Sir Patrick Stewart, but it was really important to start in a different place – but taking the cues of his performance.”

This was a sentiment that Michael Fassbender echoed, “When I found out I got the job, I thought about studying Ian McKellen. Getting my hands on anything I could where he was a young man…and just studying his physicality and voice and what not.

“I sat down with Matthew [Vauhgn] and he decided that wasn’t the way he wanted to go. At that point I ditched the idea totally and used the comic book/source material that was available… I was spoilt really!”  Said Fassbender, giving us an idea of what could have been unless director Matthew Vaughn had encouraged his two lead starts to add a dose of themselves to the role.

Moving swiftly on, a question directed towards scriptwriter Jane Goldman asked how tricky it was to make this story fit within the X-Men mythos. She remarked that while it would be impossible to make a movie that ever accurately fit into the comics landscape, the most important thing for them to achieve was an authentic feel to the film.

“The most important thing is to tell a good story and be respectful of the source material and be true to the spirit of it.”

“One of things that runs through the X-Men movies is that they are largely about people who feel like outsiders.” Says McAvoy jumping in. “It’s something that you’ll find in this film… it’s one of the key elements.”

Knowing that cast have such a strong understanding of what to be found at the core of the X-Men franchise is a big confidence boost for any fans worried about a repeat of X3, thankfully the cast seem to be pretty respectful and understanding to the demands of the comic book hordes, as Kevin Bacon explained.

“There certainly is a responsibility to fans of comic books, I hope there won’t be too much disappointment in the fact that I don’t look anything like Sebastian Shaw. I went online, and I saw this massive [Lou] Ferringo type guy, with a ponytail, dressed as George Washington – and I thought, I just don’t know how I’m going to do that!” He said with a smile, sending the room full of journalists into laughter.

A concern for anyone walking into a superhero movie has been the same since those Christopher Reeve Superman movies; would the actor look goofy when pulling off his signature moves? No matter what advancements we’ve made with special effects and CGI in the last 40 years, we still can’t have someone fly tough the sky without it looking horrendously fake (Kick-Ass anyone), so even when it comes to mastering magnetism and probing minds – those worries still lurk deep down.

“How can I physically represent constipation through my hands…” Mused Fassbender when asked how he found portraying Magneto. “There was an element of me that obviously feels like a bit of an idiot, as a grown man, trying to bend metal things with my hands… I wondered whether I should even physicalise it.”

McAvoy on the other hand knew straight away that he needed to physicalise his powerset, he wasn’t going to sit paralysed all movie looking pretty now was he?

“I saw what everyone else was doing and they all got cool ninja stuff and good action, I didn’t really get to do anything.” He said, before letting us into the secret of his performance.

“I thought I’ve got to physicalise my power in some way, so I came up with the masterstroke of touching my temple.” With a smile he sent the crowd into laughter again, before Flemming knocked us for a suckerpunch with his assessment of McAvoy’s powers,

“He’s just trying to justify why his looks more like Carphone Warehouse” he chuckled as he held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Zoe Kravitz remarked that physicalising power sets does sometimes come at a cost.

“It does after a while, become painful [the harness] around the um…crotch,” she smiled before continuing on with her tale of woe, “The happy parts, it turns out they aint so happy!”

Some of you are going to go into First Class next week and recognise the cast, some of you however won’t and that’s a shame… (Go watch Last King Of Scotland & Inglorious Barstards for fantastic examples of McAvoy and Fassbender respectively). You don’t have to take my word for it, how about Kevin Bacons?

“For me, to get a chance to work with some of the finest young actors that are working today… was a thrill!” Before adding, “it’s just a kick-ass cast (no pun intended),” before looking over in Jane Goldman’s direction with another effortless smile.

As the panel began to draw closer to its end, Fassbender had certainly perked up – offering this insight into way cinema operates today – giving us all one again hope that First Class would be a little deeper and thoughtful than X2 & X3.

“Noawdays, especially with big commercial films, the audience is spoon fed through the entire experience – they don’t have to do any work. I believe if you go to see a film you should have to invest something yourself… when you leave the cinema you should be having those conversations, either with yourself if you’re crazy like me or with friends afterwards.”

He also added that with First Class it’s the ambiguity and grey area between who’s right and wrong between Charles and Erik that makes him interested in the movie as an actor and audience member,

“The grey area is what’s interesting. I don’t like “Ok here’s your hero, here’s your villain” it makes it just too comfortable and easy for an audience.”

The cast started moving through questions a bit faster now. When asked how easy it was to blend history with fiction, Kevin Bacon made a very good point, “If you want to see real history, go see a documentary!” First Class does of course deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the X-Men hoping to prevent an all out nuclear war as their way of presenting good intent to the world.

Sadly the Q&A had to end somewhere, back to that all important question… the hair. What’s going on with Charles’s hair?

“He either shaves it or looses it, but we don’t know how. In the comic books he looses it when his powers activate… we decided not to do that. “ Says McAvoy.

“We spend time in this movie explaining why he [Xavier] can’t walk, and so we get to see why he looses or shaves his head in another movie.But because we haven’t taken the explanation given to us in the comic books, we need to come up with a really good character gripping narrative.” He added, although sadly there were no further hints… we can only hope that he shaves it off in tears in First Class 2 after Magneto uses the hair as the base of pre-fight smack talk. We can hope.

That’s all we and they had time for sadly, with everything wrapping to a close the cast hoped that we and all of you would enjoy the film – from what we’ve heard and seen, we will think you will!

X-Men: First Class is released in UK Cinemas June 1st and you can take a look the movies website here and don’t forget to check back with the MCM Buzz for an X-Men: First Class competition!

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