X-Men: First Class hits theaters in a little over a week and it’s already experiencing overwhelmingly positive buzz and reviews from those who’ve seen it. Unless the public has an entirely different reaction to it (which, as always, is 100% possible), it’s starting to look like the X-prequel will be a huge success.
It was obvious in the twenty-five minute press conference yesterday that the First Class cast got along extremely well, as they were making lighthearted jokes at everyone’s expense and generally having a great time together.
“Everyone on [X-Men: First Class] was so cool,” said Zoe Kravitz, whose dad Lenny will star in The Hunger Games next year along with First Class co-star Jennifer Lawrence. “Honestly, I think if I was here with a bunch of Hollywood – excuse my French – ass*****, it would’ve been intimidating and [an] awful experience, but if everyone’s there to make a good film, and everyone’s down to Earth, and everyone’s there for the right reasons, [the scale of the film] doesn’t really matter.”
Kevin Bacon was flabbergasted that he’d even been offered a role on First Class. “I don’t know if this says something about my self-esteem, but the first thing I said when I was offered [the role of Sebastian Shaw] was, ‘Who fell out?’”
To which everyone within earshot bellowed a half-minute-long “Awww,” followed by Michael Fassbender saying, “It was Brian Dennehy.”
Asked if she had ‘power-envy’ playing the totally human CIA agent Moira MacTaggart, Rose Byrne said, “At the time it was – it was good, because I didn’t have to go to makeup so early. I’d be like, ‘Oh, I have to get up at six,’ and Nicholas Hoult [who plays the heavily make-uped Beast] would be like, ‘I got here at 2 o’clock in the morning.’ That’s – you win, [Nicholas]! You win.”
James McAvoy immediately interjected to say, “Your character does have the mutant power of immaculate hair at all times.”
McAvoy and Fassbender even brainstormed names for January Jones' unborn baby, including Little Magneto, Magneto Jr., Little Banshee, and Riptide. "Riptide needs his nappy changed!" said McAvoy.
This sort of comradery was apparent in the film, as well, especially with regard to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. We’ve heard tell of Professor X and Magneto’s initial friendship ad nauseum – in the comic books, in the cartoons, in the previous films, and so forth – but rarely have we seen it depicted; or, for that matter, depicted so well.
The strength of First Class rests squarely on McAvoy, Fassbender, and their effortless chemistry together as two great friends with diametrically opposed views.
It’s interesting that, despite the fact that X-Men: First Class is in many ways a departure from the canon of the comic books, some of the actors researched their roles based specifically on the comic books. Though Michael Fassbender initially considered studying the physicality and speech patterns of a young Ian McKellan, director Matthew Vaughn immediately nixed that idea – so Fassbender instead relied upon the “biography” and “well-rounded character” information from the comic books.
So, too, did Kevin Bacon, who realized that he looked nothing like his comic book counterpart:
“[Sebastian Shaw] is a gigantic, muscle-bound guy with a ponytail, and he dresses like George Washington – with britches and all this kind of stuff. […] That being said, it was from the comic books, as Michael mentioned earlier, that most of the research came. I learned […] about where he grew up, his relationship to his father, his relationship to his wife, who died, who got killed, and all this kind of stuff was extremely helpful […] in terms of creating the character.”
James McAvoy spoke rather bluntly about how worried he was that the film would be a mess – due to the rushed production and the extended shoot – that he immediately phoned Michael Fassbender to let him how good it was once he saw it.
“I phoned Michael within about half an hour [of watching First Class] just to go, ‘Dude, you just – you’ve got to just see it quick because you’re going to be relieved. You’re going to be able to go to the toilet again properly.’ You know, we were worried, man. These things – sometimes they’re a nightmare to make. And it’s well-documented that [First Class] was, there’s no point in hiding it. But, uh – it’s turned out really good. I think we always thought it could be really different and really brilliant, or really bad and really … different.”
The cast even made fun of the universally mocked posters that have been released by Fox Marketing in anticipation of the film’s release. “One thing I sort of saw on the blog,” said Fassbender, “one fan wrote that the poster looks like a Sears catalogue. I thought that was pretty funny."
James McAvoy had a similar experience. “One fan actually said we had pigeon feet, and then I looked at the poster and went, ‘****, we really [do] have pigeon feet.’”
When asked if the cast is up for a possible sequel to First Class, McAvoy said, “Yeah, you never want to pass up on a chance to make money. So if we make money on this one, I’m sure we’ll be back,” [in his sarcastic 'movie trailer guy' voice] “next summer!”
X-Men: First Class hits theaters June 3rd, 2011.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.