Hugh Jackman keeps telling everyone – including us – that he’s done playing Wolverine after Logan, but Sir Patrick Stewart – who’s been in the franchise for just as long – is very game to keep playing Charles Xavier if there are X-Men stories that require an older Professor X.
Stewart returns in Logan to help Wolverine round out his own trilogy and conclude his journey but like the star of the movie, this older Charles is someone you’ve never seen in the X-Men movies before – and that was extremely important to Stewart.
We had the opportunity to interview Sir Patrick Stewart at the New York press junket for Logan last weekend where the star, still a source of memes from his legendary days as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, shared some of his wisdom and cheerful joy with us about the X-Men franchise, something he shares a lot of passion for.
Hello, it’s nice to meet you.
Patrick Stewart: Hello, Rob.
The movie is fantastic. I have to ask, when did you first find out you were going to be in it and what was your first reaction to the story pitch or script?
Patrick Stewart: Word had subtly drifted to me thanks to my team there was to be another one and soon after that – and by the way, I was at once interested, because the X-Men movies have played a very important part in my life, not in terms of career but in just sheer pleasure of the work – and then soon after that word began to filter through that I should maybe erase all I did as a past X-Men/Wolverine movies from my mind because this was going in a very different direction.
Have to ask, building on that, was it fun playing an angrier, sometimes crazy, Charles Xavier, who can curse back at Logan?
Patrick Stewart: Oh yes [laughter]. It was an absolute treat. Diversity and contrast have always been very important to me in the work that I do. I’m not interested in repeating the same thing over and over and over again. Being the same kind of person. To already have existing a history of a character over five, maybe six movies, and then, to have him blown apart, Charles Xavier as he is in Logan was thrilling for me. A little challenging at times because we had to, and we did with James Mangold spend a lot of hours talking about how are these changes visible and evident in Charles Xavier? How far can we push him? When does he retreat back inside himself? When, for any brief moments, does he become the Charles Xavier that we have known and hopefully liked over the years? All of that was just grist to the mill for me.
Because you had to throw out, essentially, your preconceived notions of this character in the previous lore, did they give you a new backstory? Because the setting of this film is very different. Mutants are nearly extinct. Xavier is different…
Patrick Stewart: Well there is a significant backstory anyway. That exists, you can’t tamper with that, but there have been other events between the last time we saw the X-Men and Logan. There was a time in the screenplay that this background was illuminated a little more visibly but that was then reduced. We only hint at incidents that have occurred in the not too distant past that have brought about the world that Logan and Charles are now living in.
Because this is now a very standalone film, in a way its own timeline or universe, are there still more stories to tell with your Xavier and Ian McKellen’s Magneto?
Patrick Stewart: Oh, you mention him…[laughter]. Ian and I just finished six months on stage together and I think he was quietly quite cross that he was left out of this film. And I missed him too. In a franchise like this I don’t think, despite the fact that Hugh [Jackman] has said it, you really can never say never again. I am open to any future interest there might be in another Charles Xavier.
My last question then, this film nicely wraps up The Wolverine Trilogy, but there are many other X-Men films in development. Are there any you’re most excited to see as a viewer?
Patrick Stewart: I have never been deeply involved in the comic books. So, what future stories there might be I am entirely ignorant of but if they come up and there might be a nod in Patrick’s direction, that’s fine by me.
In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
James Mangold directs Logan from a screenplay by Michael Green and Scott Frank & James Mangold and astory by David James Kelly and James Mangold. Logan is produced by: Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, and Dafne Keen.