Producer: Paul Salfen Editor: ChrisThompson, AMFM Magazine
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, “X-Men: First Class,” in order to change a major historical event and fight an epic battle that could save our future.
Director Bryan Singer reinvented the comic book genre as we’ve come to know it. With the debut of the hugely successful “X-Men” in the summer of 2000, Singer established nothing less than a new creative aesthetic in his motion picture adaptation of the beloved comics stories and characters. That film was followed by Singer’s even more successful “X2” in 2003.
In “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” Singer returns to the director’s chair to expand upon his vision for the X-Men universe. It’s a huge and provocative story propelled by richly conceived characters. Producer Hutch Parker believes it is “a combination of Bryan’s love, attention and respect for these characters” that makes the director’s X-Men films so compelling.
Singer’s involvement with the franchise from its infancy has bred close ties among both the returning production and acting teams. The new film reunites producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who has been involved in all the X-Men films; writer/producer Simon Kinberg, who was a producer on “X-Men: First Class”; award-winning director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel, ASC, who has worked on seven projects with Singer; Oscar®-winning production designer John Myhre, who created the original X-Men world; and composer/editor John Ottman.
Singer also reunites with the cast of the original X-Men films, as well as the young cast of “First Class,” on which he wrote the story and served as a producer. From the original trilogy, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” toplines Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Halle Berry; and from “First Class,” it stars Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. “It was a thrill to cast these people, both in the original X-Men films and also in ‘First Class,’” Singer notes, “and at that time, several of them had little to no experience with films of this scope. Hugh came from a musical theater background. Jennifer had done only small independent films like ‘Winter’s Bone.’ Over the years their careers have evolved, gained momentum and garnered tremendous recognition. The coming together of the original family and the new one has been exciting for us all.”
Shuler Donner feels that the X-Men stories’ rich and provocative themes drew Singer to that universe. “Bryan is very serious when it comes to the X-Men. He has always understood that the stories’ underlying themes dictated a realistic treatment. The characters are flawed in ways in which the audience can identify. For example, Mystique wants to be proud of who she is, and Beast is self-conscious about his mutant ability and thus hides it. If the characters are grounded in reality, we will believe they can fly or heal or have extraordinary powers. All the other elements of an event picture are there – action, comedy, visual effects – but binding it together is human conflict and struggle. Bryan is able to find depth and meaning in these comic book stories because he always pulls from within himself to find the pathos of the characters and the ethos of the world in which they live.”
“The biggest reason I wanted to return to the X-Men,” Singer confirms, “is not just the enormous cast and the story’s scope, but also the way it touches on things that haven’t been experienced in X-Men films to this point, like time travel, that have blossomed in the comic books for many years. I think with each movie you need to do something new, and I can guarantee there’s a lot of new stuff in ‘Days of Future Past.’”
While producing on 2011’s “X-Men: First Class,” Simon Kinberg began conceptualizing the storyline for the next X-Men feature with filmmaker Matthew Vaughn. They kept gravitating towards a story that juxtaposed two generations of X-Men.
They were inspired by the original “Days of Future Past” comic written by Chris Claremont, who appears in a cameo role in the film. “I think it makes perfect sense to have the past be set in the early ‘70s when the world was undergoing tremendous change and turmoil,” says the comics legend. “It certainly made chronological sense after ‘First Class,’ which was set in the 1960s.”
For Claremont, the most important element of storytelling is taking the readers by surprise. He feels “Days of Future Past” is a fantastic story to bring to the screen “It’s one of the most iconic stories in the canon,” said Claremont. “That combined with Bryan Singer’s vision and a cast of breathtaking variety and depth is very cool.”
Time travel is a key component of both the comic and the new film, though Singer says “X-Men: Days of Future Past” has an unconventional take on it. “The difference is that we’re not sending someone back in time, physically,” he explains. “Instead, we’re sending a character’s consciousness into his younger self. For the period that Logan is in the past, both past and future can co-exist. So I can have parallel action happening in both time periods.
“There’s even a theory in quantum physics that describes that phenomenon,” he continues. “It’s called the ‘superposition,’ which claims that if we have not yet observed the outcome of an event, then the event hasn’t truly happened. When the observer in our story, Wolverine, returns from the past, that collapses the superposition, meaning that everything he’s changed in the past will then take hold in the future.”
While Singer was exploring the logic and physics of time travel, Kinberg was studying time travel literature and movies while working on the script. “What is unique about ‘Days of Future Past’ are the inter-cuts and interactions between past and future,” Kinberg agrees. “One of the challenges of the project was not only keeping the logic intact but having the emotion feel continuous. The continuity of a young character and an older version of the same character created a new set of criteria. Keeping the emotional logical, not just the rational logical, was as challenging as the physics and psychology of time travel.”
Kinberg embraced the opportunity to work with Singer on a picture that combined the cast from the original film trilogy and the team from “X-Men: First Class.” “These films are about being an outsider and finding a surrogate family when your own family won’t accept you, and that all resonates with Bryan,” says Kinberg.
Kinberg says that one of Singer’s greatest successes from the first “X-Men” film was the casting of real dramatic actors. “Bryan didn’t just hire genre or action stars; instead he cast powerful dramatic actors with theater backgrounds, including Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. The same is true for the next generation: Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Nicholas Hoult, “I’m not sure there’s ever been a cast assembled that’s quite as impressive in this one’s range, experience and accolades.”
Hugh Jackman is the tie that binds the days of future and past. Jackman has played the character of Wolverine seven times over 14 years, which he describes as an “incredible and rare gift.” It is the character that has defined his career, but has never limited him as an actor. Jackman knows Wolverine better than anyone, and he describes Logan’s return to the X-Men universe as a “rebirth.”
“Logan sees himself, for the first time in a long while, as part of the X-Men team,” Jackman continues. “He has come to terms with the fact that his anger is his greatest weapon. He is a warrior at peace with himself now. Being the only mutant with the capacity to heal himself, Logan volunteers to travel back in time to prevent the mutant apocalypse that the X-Men of the future are facing.”
Wolverine’s mutant abilities make him the only member of the X-Men capable of making the journey. Singer explains: “Going back that far in time would rip apart the mind of anyone else. There’s only one person who has the regenerative capabilities to survive the experience, and that’s Wolverine. Since he doesn’t age, when Wolverine’s mind travels back to his younger self, Hugh was able to play both versions of the character. So that was a great opportunity for me and for Hugh.”
Throughout their history, Charles Xavier has tried to instill the X-Men philosophy in Logan, and tried to reach out to him and calm his anger. In “Days of Future Past,” however, the characters reverse roles. Logan is now the one trying to convince a younger Charles to have faith.
“It’s a kind of interesting poetry that plays out between the two,” notes Singer. “In the first ‘X-Men’ film, Xavier helps Logan find a place in the world among the X-Men. In ‘Days of Future Past,’ Wolverine must travel back in time and help Xavier put the shattered pieces of his life back together, and save the future.”
It may be Wolverine’s most difficult mission, for as he says in the movie, “Patience is not my strongest suit.”
Jackman was glad to be back on board even though he had completed “The Wolverine” only a few months before he headed to Montreal to film “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” That meant that instead of having to get in shape, he would simply have to stay in shape. Not that his regimen is simple. The actor’s workout program included 45-90 minutes every morning before his hair and makeup call. His diet was also very strict, consisting mainly of broiled chicken and steamed vegetables. He ate every two hours, often in between scenes or rehearsals. Before shooting a specific scene he did a 15-minute extreme “pump up” and finished the day with another 45 minutes at the gym.
Jackman was grateful for the opportunity to reunite with Berry, McKellen, and Stewart, with whom he’s remained friends since their coming together in the first X-Men film, as well as with Singer, whom Jackman credits for his breakthrough in Hollywood films. Working with the young cast was also a treat. During one particularly telling moment, Jackman was walking down the Blue Hallway set with Nicholas Hoult, who said, “I remember I was about eight years old when I saw ‘X-Men.’” That moment made Jackman realize how iconic the X-Men universe has become.
Another veteran of the franchise is Ian McKellen, whose professional relationship with Singer began on “Apt Pupil,” which Singer produced and directed. Since that first collaboration, McKellen has marveled at Singer’s enthusiasm for his projects and his dedication to the audience. McKellen, too, has great respect for the audience. As a classically trained theater actor he draws from their energy and excitement for his performance.
The actor sees his character Magneto as a man with a conscience and a tragic past, whose grief leads him to discover his superhuman power to attract and control metal. In McKellen’s view, Magneto is the most powerful mutant, at least in terms of what he can physically accomplish. His grief and his rage put him at odds with society, but in “Days of Future Past” he teams up with his rivals to ensure the survival of the mutants. Thanks to his new costume, McKellen says his character “looks like a man who means business,” not that there was any doubt.
Patrick Stewart, who has played Charles Xavier/Professor X for over fourteen years, was not surprised that his character was returning in “Days of Future Past.” The success of the franchise has been impressive and Stewart could see where the stories were headed. And besides, “It’s going to take James McAvoy a year or two before he actually looks like me,” he jokes.
Stewart was happy to again work with Singer, whose vision has helped define the ambitions and success of the films. One of the changes Stewart has witnessed over the years is the approach to setting up a project of this scale. He had never before worked on a 3D film nor seen animated pre-visualizations of his scenes. The process has become more complex but also more precise, all of which excited Stewart almost as much as finally flying the X-Jet. Moreover, this time Xavier has a wheelchair that “actually hovers!” he marvels.
Scottish actor James McAvoy returns to his role as the young Charles, who in this story has lost hope, has had his spirit broken, and is more vulnerable than ever before. As Shuler Donner describes it, “‘Days of Future Past’ sets the stage for his evolution.” For McAvoy, this character has always had “huge reserves of empathy. He can reach out to people, he can feel their pain and help them process it and help them become bigger and better individuals.”
But at this stage in his life Charles has chosen to shut down. He’s been hurt emotionally by the loss of his once-close friend Raven (Mystique), and he’s been damaged physically, leaving him in a wheelchair. McAvoy decided that this version of Charles was unlike any previous incarnation of the character. “James takes this role very seriously and approaches it from a completely human perspective as opposed to a superhuman perspective,” notes Kinberg. “But the young Charles is human, and the turmoil he’s experiencing in this film is real and relatable.”
One of McAvoy’s most poignant scenes, an interaction with his older self, played by Patrick Stewart, occurred on McAvoy’s first day on set, and Stewart’s last. The younger actor was a bit nervous. “The scene represents the apex of [young]Charles’ arc,” he says, “but playing opposite somebody who has portrayed this character for fourteen years made me a little uneasy.” The two actors had never met before and barely had any time to rehearse. McAvoy suggested that the two actors should play out the scene nose to nose, and Stewart agreed that the proximity to one another would create an important sense of intimacy. “James just came in and did it,” Singer recalls, “and to see two incredibly fine actors from different generations act so harmoniously was an unforgettable moment for everyone.”
Michael Fassbender returns to his role as young Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto from “X-Men: First Class.” His character, explains Kinberg “in some ways finds his politics in this movie; he becomes more strategic, more like the Ian McKellen version of Magneto who has a political cause and a sense of how he can change the world.”
Like most actors, Fassbender appreciates working on a real set versus a green screen environment. He was impressed with the detail of the design and the craftsmanship that the art department had put into the construction of the sets. His favorite was the Pentagon prison cell that serves as his home in the film’s early scenes and which helped the actor define Erik’s character. “The prison cell gave me an idea of a past life,” said Fassbender, “and how Erik managed to get through those ten years of being imprisoned, around which I came up with the lotus idea. The ‘lotus’ is Erik’s state of Zen, where he spends hours in his cell elevated, sitting cross-legged in a meditative state, gathering his strength.”
A major source of conflict between Fassbender’s Magneto and McAvoy’s Xavier is Raven/Mystique. Academy Award® winner Jennifer Lawrence again portrays the mutant, who in “X-Men: First Class” was a promising student of Xavier, before adopting Magneto’s darker world view. Now, Raven has taken on the identity of Mystique and turned against humans.
“Raven has been on her own in the ten years since the events depicted in ‘First Class,’” says Singer. “She is no longer the girl that grew up with Charles, nor is she Erik’s disciple. She’s found her own path, of vengeance, hunting those responsible for abducting, killing and experimenting on mutants. At the same time, she’s seeking vengeance against Trask, and that breaks Charles’ heart because he knows that will set in motion a very dark future that will lead to the destruction of mutantkind. So it becomes a battle to save the future, and also a battle for Raven’s soul.”
One character firmly situated on the dark side is Dr. Bolivar Trask, played by Peter Dinklage. Trask is the inventor of the enormous robotic weapons, the Sentinels. His aim is to unite the human race by eliminating its evolutionary rivals, the mutants. In fleshing out the character, Singer and Kinberg created, says the director, “emotionally logical reasons” for Trask wanting to hunt down and exterminate mutants. Trask had to be more than a stock villain that was seeking to destroy people for being different.
“In a twisted way, Trask longs for peace,” Singer elaborates. “He believes that mutants are so powerful they could pose a threat to humanity – and that mutants are to modern man, what modern man was to the Neanderthals,” which led to the latter’s extinction. “So what better way to unite people, he reasons, than against a common enemy that could lead to humanity’s extinction?”
The idea of a multi-layered villain led to the casting of Dinklage. “Peter brings not just the notion of being different physically but he brings a real depth of emotion and humanity to his work,” says Kinberg. “With Peter, Trask becomes relatable. He’s somebody the audience actually cares about even as they root against him.”
The actor in turn praises Singer and Kinberg for telling a story, set in two time periods, that retains its integrity and logic. Dinklage is enthralled by the characters – their inner struggles, emotional and psychological strongholds, and relationships to one another. “Charles and Erik’s relationship is amazing,” said Dinklage. “It’s so beautifully connected. There’s such compelling loyalty with old friendships like that, and it’s really, really done well here.”
Academy-Award winning actress Halle Berry has now played her character Storm four times. She feels a kinship with the mutant and compares returning to the role to reuniting with an old friend. Berry sees her role as that of the teacher, a direction that was developed with Singer in the original “X-Men.”
Still, Berry admits there’s much more to Storm than books and pencils. Storm is one of the more powerful mutants, and she is instrumental in trying to protect the X-Men from the Sentinels. “Storm can control the weather and when the team is in a battle she’s the first one to be sent out into it,” she explains.
Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page returns to the X-Men universe as Kitty Pryde, a role she first took on in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” In “Days of Future Past” Kitty’s ability allows her to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time in order to try and save the mutants from annihilation at the hands of the Sentinels.
Page says Kitty is a strong, “badass” female character, and she is certain that X-Men fans will not be disappointed with the story, which she refers to as “epic in scope.” For Page every day on set, surrounded by “incredible actors and gorgeous costumes on amazing sets,” was a thrill. She admires Singer for being able to manage a film of mammoth proportions and Kinberg for writing an elaborate and intricate script. As for the cast, Page regards them as “legends and I get to sit and watch them work. It was awesome.”
Nicholas Hoult returns to his “First Class” role as Hank McCoy/Beast, with a broader sense of his character’s emotional turmoil. Hank is uncomfortable in his blue skin, and insecure and ashamed of his mutation. In the ten years since the events depicted in “First Class,” he has lived in the mansion with Charles, and invented a serum that suppresses his and Charles’ mutation. Charles uses it to be able to walk again, but one of the side effects is the loss of his heightened mental capacity. Additionally, Hank’s connection to Raven is further explored in “Days of Future Past,” and although he can accept her blue form, Hank realizes he is still uneasy in his own.
Hoult was grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with McAvoy, whom he considers a consummate actor. The two analyzed their scenes together and McAvoy’s ideas inspired Hoult to broaden his perspective of the characters’ relationship. “Working on ‘Days of Future Past’ has left a remarkable impression on me,” he said. “It’s such a colossal project spread across two time periods, and has dozens of characters each with their individual story and emotional arc.”
Quicksilver is another key mutant character in the 1970s scenes. The young Charles, Logan and Hank enlist him to help break Magneto out of the Pentagon prison. Quicksilver’s power, as his name suggests, is his superhuman speed, which up until meeting the X-Men, he has employed for petty theft and teenage mischief. “Wolverine knows Quicksilver in the future,” says Singer. “But in the past, he’s a kleptomaniacal kid with an attitude. The only way they can enlist Quicksilver’s help is to appeal to his penchant for troublemaking, asking him if he’d like to break somebody out of the Pentagon.”
Singer and director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel used high-speed phantom cameras and photo-sonic technology to film the Pentagon break-in and escape sequence, one of the film’s most technically intricate and visually arresting scenes. The scene was shot at 3000 frames per second with Quicksilver running along the walls in the Pentagon kitchen, parallel to the ground. “We’ve never experienced this on film before,” says Singer.
The technology required the use of enormous lights rigged above the set, each powered by about 40,000 watts. “The set was so brightly lit, we had to wear sunglasses just to work on it,” Singer adds. “The actors had to close their eyes until the moment they started shooting.”
Shawn Ashmore, as Bobby/Iceman, also returns to the X-Men universe. In “Days of Future Past,” he teams up with Kitty, Bishop and Colossus, who are all on the run in a dark and desperate future. Ashmore says the characters are hardened by their circumstance. “They are in grave danger on a regular basis,” said Ashmore, “and Kitty’s ability to travel to the immediate past barely saves them.”
Ashmore was thrilled that Iceman got to exhibit his powers in a high intensity action sequence that included an ice slide, what he remembers as “the ultimate superhero moment for me.”
Canadian Actor Daniel Cudmore was equally pleased to be returning to the X-Men universe. Cudmore’s character has the ability to transform his skin into organic steel, giving him enormous strength, rendering him nearly indestructible.
French actor Omar Sy (“The Intouchables”) plays Bishop, one of the new mutants added to the X-Men universe. Bishop, who appears in the future, is fierce and intimidating. He has the ability to absorb radiant and conductive energy, which he uses to power his plasma weapon. Bishop is also able to time travel with the help of Kitty and serves as a key character in depicting the mutants’ predicament in the dark future. Bishop’s backstory is turbulent and painful: he bears an “M” scar over his eye which he got as a prisoner of a mutant camp.
Adan Canto’s character Sunspot fires powerful solar flares. To immerse himself in the role, Canto researched Sunspot’s story. Sunspot, he says “is loyal and passionate, but the tragic death of his love leads him to anger and rebellion.”
Another mutant new to the movie franchise is Warpath, portrayed by Booboo Stewart. Warpath, also known as James Proudstar, possesses elevated senses, including super sight, smell and hearing. Warpath is one of the future mutants who help defend the X-Men from the attacking Sentinels. The X-Men’s refuge in the future, a monastery, serves as a kind of haven for the remaining mutants as they fight for survival. Warpath is a weapons master and gets to wield 17-inch long blades. For Stewart, who has been training in martial arts since he was three, the character was a perfect fit.
A third mutant new to the movie franchise is Blink, played by Fan Bingbing. Blink has the ability to teleport herself, others and large objects. She uses her power to displace things, in particular her enemies or large projectiles. The SFX team was able to bring her powers to light by all the practical interactions around her, like blowing up, knocking over or moving columns and pillars on the Monastery set, where some of the biggest special effects of the film took place.
Australian actor Josh Helman portrays the fourth incarnation of the character Bill Stryker, who has appeared in “X2,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “X-Men: First Class,” each time played by a different actor. Helman felt he had big shoes to fill however peripheral his role may seem. “Bill Stryker is such a complex character because he can instill fear despite not having any extraordinary powers,” he says.
Lucas Till, who appeared in “X-Men: First Class,” returns Alex Summers, known as Havok, whose mutant power is shooting cosmic energy out of his body. In “Days of Future Past,” Havok is enlisted in the special mutant platoon serving in Vietnam when he gets rescued by Mystique, with whom he shares a playful camaraderie.
Principal photography on “Days of Future Past” began April 15, 2013 in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. The production was based at Mel’s Cité du Cinema (commonly referred to as simply “Mel’s”), a 27 acre studio facility on the Île de Montréal overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Comprised of seven soundstages, totaling 116,500 square feet as well as 143,000 square feet of office space, “Days of Future Past” morphed and mutated every square foot to meet its massive filming needs.
Two-time Oscar-winning production designer John Myhre (“Memoirs of A Geisha,” “Chicago”), along with his talented art department led by supervising art director Michele Laliberte (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) and Academy Award-winning set decorator Gordon Sim (“Chicago”) had the daunting task of overseeing the design, creation and construction of the film’s forty built sets, as well as the production design and art direction of the movie’s thirty-six practical locations in and around the metropolitan Montréal area.
Myhre, who served as production designer on Singer’s original “X-Men,” was tasked with designing the biggest X-Men film to date taking place in two time periods, the 1970s and the not-so-distant future. Myhre saw it as having to design two films while staying true to the concept of the whole. He tried to visualize the cuts between past and future and how they would complement one another aesthetically.
One of the film’s largest stage builds was the Exterior Monastery in the future, a monolithic ancient cloister built into a mountainside. Singer notes that the monastery’s inner sanctum, where Wolverine is in statis as his consciousness travels back in time was modeled after a chapel he’d seen pictures of. Its stained-glass fixtures provide, says the director, “a kind of ethereal, almost magical quality. I didn’t want the monastery to be dour; I wanted it to have a kind of holiness, because something kind of magical is happening there.”
Myhre and company used every inch of the 36,500 square feet of Stage H at Mel’s to house the gargantuan set, where Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are reunited in the story. It is also the site where the mutants face their greatest foe of the future.
Like Singer, Myhre felt that with such an impressive cast, creating a real environment for them to get excited about was paramount. “Bryan told me that whenever possible we should build a practical set,” recalls Myhre. “So, in the case of the Monastery, you could even smell the burning incense.”
“The Monastery set is a mash-up of a classic aesthetic and a sci-fi aesthetic,” says Kinberg. “It was a neat juxtaposition to see this ancient monastery that has been around for thousands of years surrounded by all the sci-fi elements like the new X-Jet and the robot Sentinels.”
Inspired by many forms of Asian architecture – including Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Indonesian – Myhre designed the set as if the entire structure was carved out of a single rock by ancient monks. The Monastery has three sections: the crenelated “Great Wall” built for protection; the “Courtyard,” composed of a series of pagoda-like structures used for prayers and gatherings; and the “Colonnade,” a pillared portico which serves as the last line of defense against attack as well as the doorway to the Monastery’s inner sanctum.
To Myhre, this inner sanctum is the heart of the film. He wanted the set to feel distinctive, reminiscent of a sacred place. Working with director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel, the designer added various features to different elements on the set, including mirrors on rotating columns and swiveling panel walls. This allowed Sigel to have unique camera angles and play with optical illusions, much like a carnival fun house. Sigel and Myhre had a close line of communication; Sigel’s ideas about lighting and mood for a certain shot had to fit into Myhre’s sets and vice versa.
Sigel agrees that it felt like two distinct movies were being shot back-to-back. “This was a fun one for me,” he says. “I lived through the ‘70s so I had a cultural reference for the ‘past.’ In creating the ‘future’ there is no cultural memory and no reference to go on. So my approach was to create a visual vocabulary to get my ideas across. The past is warmer, grainier and almost muddy, whereas the future is cooler, darker and starker.”
The second of the two largest set constructions is the Exterior White House Lawn (in the 1973 scenes), site of the film’s climactic battle. The set was built on Mel’s “backlot,” (i.e. an overflow gravel parking lot), and Myhre designed a decidedly unconventional set. He and his teams constructed a square “box” comprised of 100 cargo-shipping containers – five containers long, stacked five high on each of the four sides of the box – creating a 40,000 square foot interior floor, which was sodded and landscaped to serve as the lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Standing at four-stories tall, over 10,000 yards of green screen fabric was used to drape the interior walls, providing a canvas on which the Simul-Cam technology could project an image of the actual White House exterior, while the native 3D cameras were shooting live footage of the cast.
Other major sets include the iconic Cerebro and adjoining Blue Hallways (constructed on Montréal’s 30,000 square foot Alstom Stage). For these sets, Myhre literally dusted off the old blueprints and made a replica of the originals – from the first “X-Men” film. Jackman remarks, “For me, and for Halle, and Patrick, walking down those hallways was déjà vu – like we’d gone back fourteen years in time.”
Xavier’s Mansion was constructed on a stage at Mel’s. Because the film takes place in the past and future, both Cerebro and Xavier’s Mansion were in a constant state of flux, bouncing back and forth between their temporal setting, as the film’s shooting schedule dictated which scenes were to be shot on a given day. In previous films the Mansion was shot in various locations, but a suitable site could not be found in Montreal. Myhre reconstructed the interior of the mansion used in the original “X-Men,” which was Casa Loma in Toronto.
Additional constructed sets include the 1973 basement bedroom, where we first meet Quicksilver. One of the other sets is the 1973 Oval Office, the workplace of then President Richard Nixon, whose administration figures prominently in the story. Myhre’s replica was historically exact and accurately detailed down to the decorative dental crown moldings.
The X-Jet, which Myhre describes as a “fortified warship,” was one of the most challenging sets from a design and build perspective. “The X-Jet felt true to the original X-Jet of the comic and of the earlier movies, and yet it was completely new and different,” says Kinberg. “The team wanted to create a sleek futuristic looking vessel without visible joints, using various shapes, scales and layers.”
At one point during the production Myhre’s team included three hundred craftspeople: carpenters, painters, plasterers, sculptors, set designers and decorators, and prop people, among others. The unprecedented scale of the project was evident in every aspect of the shoot.
When creating props like the Cerebro helmet, many elements had to be accounted for once the final design was approved: what materials would be used both for comfort and stylistic consistency; how would it fit on McAvoy’s head; how would it catch or reflect light and appear on camera. The 1973 Cerebro was made to reflect a progression from the original in “X-Men: First Class.” The future Cerebro was simpler, more compact, streamlined and very light.
The filmmakers’ designed the past version of Xavier’s wheelchair to reflect ones that had already existed in the X-Men universe, and for the future version she worked with Myhre to come up with something unique. In considering future technology they concluded that the chair no longer needed wheels and could instead move using magnetic force.
Costume designer Louise Mingenbach (“The Usual Suspects,” “X-Men,” “X2”) and her team prepped for five months before the start of principal photography. In addition to designing and building, from scratch, all of the principal actors’ hero costumes, including those inspired by the 1970s, Mingenbach drew upon the resources of more than ten costume rental houses in the U.S. and Montréal and scoured retail vintage stores, as well as vintage clothing shows across the country.
Mingenbach and Singer defined the not-so-distant future and took into account the situation in which the characters find themselves. “They are being hunted; therefore sleek, clean, shiny suits were not going to work,” said Mingenbach. “It was difficult to make the intricate pieces and hand them over to be destroyed, but they came back looking more realistic, like they had been in battle.”
Mingenbach designed and produced custom fabrics, each cast member was measured and fitted, and every detail was handcrafted and molded to the actors’ dimensions. Getting into them was nothing like pulling on a loose pair of jeans. Some of the costumes weighed dozens of pounds or more with the addition of weapons and props. Each actor had to be helped in and out of these elaborate wardrobe pieces. Out of the nearly two-dozen superhero costumes made for this film, each one customized to the mutant powers of its character, the hardest to make was for the one mutant who had never previously worn a costume: Professor X.
Before sourcing the 1970s period costumes, Mingenbach discussed her ideas with Myhre. The two agreed that it would be important to find the patterns, textures and colors that represented the decade. The color palette of rusty browns, oranges and greens really brought the period to life on screen. Mingenbach and her team spent months collecting pieces from costume rental houses, vintage stores and on-line. Truckloads of clothing were shipped to Montreal from across the U.S. and Europe.
The costume department had to set up a massive tent in one of the parking lots next to the stages to accommodate the department store-sized wardrobe. On numerous shoot days the team had the task of dressing up to 600 extras in period clothing, the tent served as their base camp. The task took tremendous organization not only for the costume department but make-up, hair and props as well.
“The costumes in ‘Days of Future Past’ are really more about each mutant’s individual powers rather than looking like they are part of a team of superheroes,” says Mingenbach. “Bryan has always understood and been insistent about the fact that film is a totally different medium than a comic book, so the costumes have to look real and practical. It’s all about finding a balance – the sweet spot – between the clothing representing the character but also trying to give the audience something new and different.”
In the year 2000, when “X-Men” was released, the technology to do some of the things the filmmakers had imagined was simply not yet available. Fourteen years later getting realistic, believable effects is no longer a problem. For example, the Sentinels, 18-foot tall mutant-destroying robots, beloved by X-Men fans, would not have been served justice with older technologies in VFX. There have been many robot films in the last decade, but what Singer wanted to achieve was not possible until now. In “Days of Future Past,” Singer introduces two versions of the Sentinels, those of the past and the evolved version of the future.
“The Sentinels are mutant-killing robots, and the program to build them began in the early-1970s,” the director explains. “They have the ability to target the mutant gene, and then isolate and target mutants. The Sentinels of the future are an evolution from those developed in the ‘70s. The Future Sentinels are particularly dangerous because they have the biomechanical technology to adapt to the mutants’ powers, take on their appearance, and destroy them. There are thousands and thousands of them on the hunt.”
While Myhre designed the Sentinels of the future, Special effects supervisor Cameron Waldbauer and his team were the custodians of the Sentinel we see in the scenes set in 1973, built by Legacy Effects in Los Angeles. The 1970s Sentinel took eight weeks to build and all of its parts are movable and adjustable. Although there are numerous sentinels both in the past and future, only one of the ‘70s model was built for a few practical reasons besides cost. The actual eighteen-foot figure helped director of photography Sigel frame the shot and served as an indication of relative proportion for the VFX team who would multiply the robots in post-production.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the biggest X-Men film to date, a validation of the success of the franchise, but more importantly a culmination of tremendous creative energies from its cast and filmmakers. It is a story that reaches across all boundaries to all audiences.
At last year’s Comic-Con convention when almost the entire cast stood on stage in front of their fans, the roar of applause was deafening. The emotion was overwhelming. Singer recognizes that kind of emotion. “If I had been at Comic-Con 25 years ago and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia walked across the stage I would have freaked out, too!” he says. For Singer, the X-Men stories are “modern day mythologies. I feel extremely at home with this universe. I love being in it, exploring it and having a lot of fun with it.” His ability to articulate these stories as a filmmaker is unparalleled.
Which means that for the X-Men, there is hope for a bright future.
HUGH JACKMAN (Logan/Wolverine), a Golden Globe® and Tony® Award winner, has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-hyphenate career persona, proving that he is as successful on stage in front of live crowds as he is on a film set. From his award-winning turn on Broadway as the 1970’s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to his metal claw-wielding Wolverine, Jackman has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time.
The Australian native made his first major U.S. film appearance as Wolverine in the first installment of the “X-Men” series, a role he reprised in the enormously successful “X2: X-Men United” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006. He played Wolverine in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which served as a prequel to the popular series and grossed an outstanding $85 million domestically in its first weekend of release in May 2009. Most recently Jackman starred in the popular role titled “The Wolverine” and the critically acclaimed “Prisoners.”
In 2012, Jackman starred in the much-anticipated film adaptation of “Les Misérables,” directed by Tom Hooper (of “The King’s Speech”), also starring Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe, based on the popular stage show originally created from Victor’s Hugo famous novel of the same name. The ambitious musical featured singing captured live on set (as opposed to pre-recorded in a studio), making it one of the first films ever to successfully attempt this method. Jackman’s standout performance as protagonist Jean Valjean earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical as well as Screen Actors Guild nominations for both Best Ensemble and Best Male Actor in a Leading Role. The film also garnered him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
He is set to star in Paramount’s “Six Years,” produced by Tom Rothman and Mark Gordon, based on Harlan Coben’s newly released novel.
In 2012, Jackman lent his vocal talents to the DreamWorks family holiday adventure, “Rise of the Guardians.”
Jackman made his return to the Great White Way in his one-man show “Hugh Jackman – Back on Broadway” in the fall of 2011. Backed by an eighteen-piece orchestra, the revue, which previously opened to rave reviews during its limited engagements in San Francisco and Toronto earlier that year, was comprised of both Broadway hits and a selection of some of his personal favorite standards. Although the show ran only until the end of the year, Jackman’s continued dedication to the Broadway community was feted at the 2012 Tony Awards, where he received a Special Award from the Tony Awards Administration Committee, recognizing his accomplishments both as a performer as well as a humanitarian.
In the fall of 2009, Broadway-goers could see Jackman in the Keith Huff penned “A Steady Rain.” Also starring Daniel Craig, the play tells the story of two Chicago cops who are lifelong friends and whose differing accounts of a few traumatic days change their lives forever.
On February 22, 2009, Jackman took on the prestigious role of hosting the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Live from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, he wowed those in attendance and helped ABC score a 13% increase in viewership from the previous year. This wasn’t, however, Jackman’s first foray into Awards show hosting. Previously, Jackman served as host of the Tony Awards three years in a row from 2003–2005, earning an Emmy® Award for his 2004 duties at the 58th Annual ceremony and an Emmy nomination for his 2005 appearance at the 59th Annual ceremony.
Additionally, Jackman has starred in Shawn Levy’s “Real Steel,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” and Woody Allen’s “Scoop.” He lent his voice to the animated features “Happy Feet” and “Flushed Away.” Other films in which he has had leading roles include “Deception,” “Someone Like You,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing,” and “Kate and Leopold,” for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe nomination.
For his portrayal of the 1970s singer-songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards.
Additional theater credits include “Carousel” at Carnegie Hall, “Oklahoma!” at the National Theater in London (Olivier Award nomination), “Sunset Boulevard” (MO Award – Australia’s Tony Award) and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (MO Award nomination).
Jackman’s career began in Australia in the independent films “Paperback Hero” and “Erskineville Kings” (Australian Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award and The Australian Film Institute Best Actor nomination). In 1999, he was named Australian Star of the Year at the Australian Movie Convention.
JAMES McAVOY (Charles Xavier), a Golden Globe nominee, won over American audiences with his critically acclaimed breakthrough performances in “The Last King of Scotland” and “Atonement.” Having been referred to as “the best young British actor of our times” by Empire Magazine, James continues to test himself with a wide variety of work, on stage, television and film and is regarded as one of the industry’s most exciting acting talents.
Although McAvoy took on small parts in high-profile projects like the World War I drama, “Regeneration” and the hugely-successful HBO series, “Band of Brothers,” he first came to prominence in the UK with the role of Josh in the Channel Four adaptation of Zadie Smith’s popular novel, “White Teeth,” with Geraldine James, John Simm and Naomie Harris. In the fall of 2003, McAvoy played Dan Foster in the BAFTA-winning BBC political drama series, “State of Play,” with Bill Nighy, John Simm and Kelly Macdonald. The series ran in the UK, debuted on BBC America and became one of the most successful UK exports of the last decade.
McAvoy’s popularity in the UK grew with his portrayal of the car thief, Steve, in the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 series “Shameless.” He was nominated in the Best Comedy Newcomer category at the 2004 British Comedy Awards for this performance. That year, McAvoy also impressed audiences in Stephen Fry’s comedy, “Bright Young Things” which was also released in the U.S. the following year. The film had an all-star international cast including Emily Mortimer, Peter O’Toole, Jim Broadbent and more.
In the summer of 2005, James traveled to Uganada to take on the lead role in “The Last King of Scotland,” directed by Oscar and BAFTA winner Kevin Macdonald. McAvoy was nominated for a BAFTA, a European Film Award, a BIFA and a London Film Critics Circle Award for his performance. That year he also starred in “Inside I’m Dancing” (U.S. title: “Rory O’Shea Was Here”) directed by Damion O’ Donnell and co-starring Romola Garai. McAvoy was nominated in the Best British Actor category at the 2005 London Film Critics Circle Awards for his performance.
In December 2005, McAvoy was seen in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” He was nominated in the British Actor in a Supporting Role category at the 2006 London Film Critics Circle Awards for his performance. McAvoy also was awarded the Rising Star Award at the 2006 BAFTAs. In 2006, he starred in the adaptation of the hugely-popular David Nicholls book “Starter for Ten” for HBO films. The film premiered at the 2006 Toronto film festival.
In 2007, McAvoy starred in the Golden Globe award winning “Atonement.” Directed by Joe Wright and also starring Keira Knightly and Soairse Ronan, McAvoy received a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and was awarded the London Film Critics Circle Award, the Santa Barbara Film Festival Award and the UK Regional Critics award.
Other film credits include “Becoming Jane” (2007), “Penelope” (2008), “Wanted” (2008), “X-Men: First Class” (2011), “The Conspirator” (2011), “Gnomeo and Juliet” (2011), and “Arthur Christmas” (2011). McAvoy was most recently seen in the Eran Creevy action thriller “Welcome to the Punch” as well as Danny Boyle’s “Trance.” McAvoy will next be seen in “Filth” opposite Jamie Bell. He recently finished filming “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.”
McAvoy has also played a large role in the London theater scene. In 2009, McAvoy took to the stage at the Apollo Theater in London’s West End playing the two roles of Walker and his father Ned in Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain.” His performance earned him an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor. He was also seen in “Breathing Corpses” at the Royal Court, “Privates on Parade” at the Donmar Warehouse and “Out in the Open” at Hampstead Theatre. James most recently starred in “Macbeth” at Trafalgar Studios. His performance has earned him an Olivier award nomination for Best Actor and the show was nominated for Best Revival.
McAvoy was born in the Scotstoun area of Glasgow, Scotland in 197 and is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
MICHAEL FASSBENDER (Erik Lehnsherr), born in Germany, and raised in Killarney, Ireland, is a graduate of London’s prestigious Drama Centre. His breakthrough role came when he was cast in the epic Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks production, “Band of Brothers” and his big screen debut with Zack Snyder’s hugely successful “300.”
Fassbender’s performance as Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” won large critical acclaim and, following the film’s Camera D’Or winning premiere at Cannes in 2008, Fassbender scooped up numerous international festival awards including the British Independent Film Award (BIFA) and Irish Film & Television Award (IFTA) for Best Actor; a London Film Critics Circle Award; and Best Actor honors from the 2008 Stockholm and Chicago International Film Festivals. He was honored at the latter festival the following year as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank.” The portrayal brought him BIFA and IFTA nominations as well as his second London Film Critics Award. He was also an IFTA nominee for his performance in Marc Munden’s miniseries “The Devil’s Whore.”
He went onto work with Quentin Tarantino in “Inglourious Basterds” opposite Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger. Other credits include Francois Ozon’s “Angel,” Joel Schumacher’s “Town Creek,” James Watkin’s “Eden Lake,” Neil Marshall’s “Centurion,” and Jimmy Hayward’s “Jonah Hex.”
In 2011, Fassbender was seen as the young Magneto opposite James McAvoy’s Professor X in Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class.” He was also seen as Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method” and as Edward Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska in Cary Fukunaga’s “Jane Eyre.” He reteamed with “Hunger” director Steve McQueen to play a sex addict in “Shame,” which won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, the Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
Fassbender was the recipient of numerous international awards and nominations in recognition of his performances in more than one film to include the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor for “Jane Eyre” and “Shame,” the London Critics Circle Film Award for Best Actor for “Shame” and “A Dangerous Method,” the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor for “X-Men: First Class,” “Jane Eyre,” “A Dangerous Method,” and “Shame,” and the National Board of Review’s Spotlight Award for “A Dangerous Method,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Jane Eyre” and “Shame.”
In 2012, Fassbender was seen as the android David in Ridley Scott’s science fiction epic “Prometheus.” He reteamed with Ridley Scott for “The Counselor” (2013). Written by Cormac McCarthy, Fassbender plays a lawyer, opposite Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz, who finds himself over his head having got embroiled in drug trafficking.
Also in 2013, Fassbender reteamed with Steve McQueen for the highly acclaimed “12 Years a Slave,” based on the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery, and his subsequent fight for survival and freedom. As well as Fassbender receiving Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Independent Spirit nominations for his role as Edwin Epps, a malevolent slave owner, the movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA, PGA and Broadcast Critics Choice Awards.
In addition, Fassbender starred in several movies including the “Untitled Terrence Malick Project,” a story about two intersecting love triangles set against Austin’s colorful music scene and “Frank,” a comedy about a young wannabe musician who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Both titles are due for release in 2014.
Most recently, Fassbender has starred in “Slow West,” directed by John Maclean; opposite Marion Cotillard in Macbeth; and is set to star in “Trespass Against Us.” All three are set for release in 2015. Fassbender is also developing “Assassins Creed” through his production company DMC Film Ltd with Ubisoft and New Regency.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE (Raven/Mystique), a natural talent, with a striking presence and undeniable energy, and an Academy Award-winner, is one of Hollywood’s most gifted actresses. She was an Oscar nominee again last year for her performance in David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.”
Lawrence starred in Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” alongside Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. Her portrayal of Tiffany in the film garnered Lawrence an Academy Award in addition to wins at both the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards® for lead actress. Most recently, Lawrence starred in “Catching Fire,” the second installment of the big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel trilogy, “The Hunger Games.” In the series, Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who joins a fight-to-the-death contest to save her community. Since its release, the franchise has grossed nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office.
Lawrence has signed on to star in and produce “The Rules of Inheritance,” an adaptation of Claire Bidwell Smith’s recent memoir about a woman who loses both her parents to cancer as a young adult. Susanne Bier is set to direct the film, which will be written by Abi Morgan and distributed by Film Nation.
Lawrence was also seen in Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy,” opposite Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. The film won the Grand Jury prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In 2011, Lawrence also starred alongside Mel Gibson and Anton Yelchin in “The Beaver,” directed by Jodie Foster.
Lawrence’s performance in “Winter’s Bone” garnered her a 2011 Oscar nomination for Best Actress in addition to nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and Critic’s Choice Awards. Additionally, she was honored with the Breakthrough Actress award by the National Board of Review, the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival, and the New Hollywood Award at the 2010 Hollywood Film Awards. The critically acclaimed film, directed by Debra Granik, also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, in addition to winning the 2010 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Other film credits include a lead role in Guillermo Arriaga’s directorial debut “The Burning Plain,” opposite Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. The film premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival where Lawrence won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor. Lawrence starred in Lori Petty’s “Poker House,” opposite Selma Blair and Bokeem Woodbine, for which she was awarded the prize of Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival. Lawrence also starred in Relativity’s “House at the End of the Street,” opposite Elisabeth Shue and Max Thieriot.
On television, Lawrence co-starred on three seasons of the TBS series “The Bill Engvall Show.” Written and created by Bill Engvall and Michael Leeson, the comedy series was set in a Denver suburb and follows the life of Bill Pearson (played by Engvall), a family counselor whose own family could use some counseling.
Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, where she appeared in some local theater productions, Lawrence traveled to New York at age fourteen to explore a career in acting. She quickly caught the eye of casting directors and started acting in film and television during the summer of 2005, and she hasn’t looked back.
PATRICK STEWART (Professor X) returned to the Broadway stage starring opposite Ian McKellen in repertoire productions of Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot,” which they first performed to critical acclaim on London’s West End in 2009. Other recent appearances on stage include Edward Bond’s “Bingo” at the Young Vic and Chichester Festival Theatre; and as Shylock in a 2011 RSC production of “The Merchant of Venice,” directed by Rupert Goold. His previous collaboration with Goold, in the title role of “Macbeth,” played Chichester, London, BAM and then Broadway, where Stewart earned a Tony nomination.
Stewart is an Honorary Associate Artist with the RSC, having appeared in over 60 productions including, most recently, a 2008 production of “Hamlet,” opposite David Tennant; and 2005 repertory productions of “Antony and Cleopatra” and “The Tempest.” In 1978, he won an Olivier Award for his performance in Peter Brook’s production of “Antony and Cleopatra” and was nominated for his role in “The Merchant of Venice.” He also appeared in the now legendary Peter Brook production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
On Broadway and West End stages, Stewart has appeared in “A Life in the Theatre,” The Master Builder,” “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” and “The Tempest.” For his acclaimed solo production of “A Christmas Carol,” Stewart played over 40 characters, garnering an Olivier, Drama Desk and What’s on Stage Award.
Perhaps best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” both on television and film, and as Professor Charles Xavier from the “X-Men” films, Stewart has also enjoyed a successful film and television career, earning Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Award™ nominations.
Screen appearances include “King of Texas,” “Jeffrey,” “Dune,” “Excalibur,” “L.A. Story,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Extras” (for which he earned an Emmy nomination), “The Lion in Winter,” “I, Claudius,” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” His vocal talents have been heard on “The Simpsons,” “American Dad,” “Family Guy,” and as narrator of Seth MacFarlane’s hit comedy, “Ted.”
Stewart recently completed production on the Israeli film “Hunting Elephants” and the film adaptation of Stephen Belber’s “Match.”
IAN McKELLEN (Magneto) has been honored with over 50 international acting awards during his half-century on stage and screen. He is treasured worldwide for his roles as Magneto in the “X-Men” films and Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy.
In “The Hobbit” he again plays Gandalf the Grey, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Screen Actors’ Guild Award in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” As Gandalf the White, in the other two LOTR films, he shared the Screen Actors’ Guild Award for Best Motion Picture Cast.
For his role as the gay film director James Whale, in Bill Condon’s “Gods and Monsters” (1998), McKellen received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, plus an Independent Spirit Award and a British Independent Film Award. The same year, top critics’ groups elected him Best Actor, as the Nazi-in-hiding in Bryan Singer’s “Apt Pupil.” For McKellen’s classic performance in Richard Loncraine’s “Richard III,” which he produced and co-wrote, he was named 1996 European Actor of the Year.
McKellen’s long list of film successes include “The Keep” (1983); “Plenty” (1985); “Scandal” (1988); “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993); “Restoration” (1995); “Bent” (1997); “Cold Comfort Farm” (1995) and “The Da Vinci Code” (2006).
McKellen is a five-time Emmy nominee, most recently for the PBS presentation of his monumental “King Lear” (2008); the British miniseries “The Prisoner” (2009), and his comic guest spot on “Extras” (2006), remembered for the viral catch-phrase: “How do I act so well?” He earlier received a Golden Globe award for his Tsar Nicholas II in the telefilm “Rasputin” (1996). McKellen is most proud of his work as the mentally- handicapped “Walter” (1982 Royal Television Award) in the “And the Band Played On” (1993 Cable Ace Award), about the origins of AIDS, and a short spell in UK’s longest-running soap “Coronation Street” (2005).
Born and raised in the north of England, McKellen attended Cambridge University and since 1961 has worked non-stop in the British theatre. He has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London. He has won Olivier Awards for “Macbeth”(1976-78); “The Alchemist”(1977); “Bent” (1979); “Wild Honey”(1984) and “Richard III”(1990): plus Evening Standard Awards for his performances in “Coriolanus”(1984) and “Othello” (1989) and for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre (2009).
In 1981, McKellen won every available award, including a Tony for Best Actor, as Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus.” He appeared on the New York stage in “Dance of Death” (2001) with Helen Mirren. For over a decade, he toured his solo entertainment “Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare” throughout four continents; the DVD of the show is widely viewed in schools and universities.
McKellen astonished his fans as Widow Twankey in the Christmas pantomime at the Old Vic in London (2004 and 2005) and in “Waiting for Godot” (2009), with Patrick Stewart, he broke all box-office records in London and on UK and world tours. McKellen and Stewart recently reunited for their Broadway repertory productions of Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” and “Waiting for Godot.”
In 1991 McKellen was knighted, for his outstanding contribution to theatre. He is co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008, the Queen personally appointed him Companion of Honour for his services to drama and to equality.
Complete professional credits and personal writings are on www.mckellen.com.
HALLE BERRY (Storm), an Academy Award-winning actress, continues to break down barriers with a multitude of critically acclaimed, diverse roles and continued success at the box office. For her brilliant performance in “Monster’s Ball,” she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the SAG Award, the Berlin Silver Bear Award and was named Best Actress by the National Board of Review.
No stranger to accolades, Berry earned the Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG and NAACP Image Award for her extraordinary performance in HBO’s telefilm, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” which she also produced. Berry was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in “Frankie and Alice.” She has tackled some of Hollywood’s toughest roles, making her one of today’s most sought after leading ladies.
Berry starred in the hit Sony Pictures thriller, “The Call,” in which she plays an emergency operator who must confront a killer from her past in order to save a girl’s life.
Berry was previously seen in the Warner Bros. film “Cloud Atlas,” alongside Tom Hanks, Susan Sarrandon, Hugh Grant, directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski’s. The film, which earned Berry a 2013 NAACP Outstanding Actress nomination, follows six stories set in a different time and place that become intricately related to each other.
In 2010, Berry starred in the psychological thriller “Frankie and Alice,” alongside Stellan Skarsgard. Berry’s Golden Globe nominated performance is based on the true story a young woman with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and not give in to her alternate-personalities. Berry is also credited as a Producer on the film.
In 2007, Berry was seen in the drama, “Things We Lost in the Fire,” opposite Benicio Del Toro. The film, which was written by Sam Mendes and directed by Susanne Bier, follows a woman who befriends her husband’s drug addicted, childhood friend after his untimely death. Her moving performance as a widow gained her acclaim and praise from critics and fans alike.
Also in 2007, Berry was seen starring opposite Bruce Willis in the thriller, “Perfect Stranger.” This film follows Berry as she goes undercover to revenge the murder of her friend. The film was released in Spring 2007 and was a box office success. Berry reprised her role as Storm in the third installment of the X-Men series, “X-Men: The Last Stand.” This film, directed by Brett Ratner, continued the franchise worldwide success, opening #1 at the box office.
In 2006, Berry received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her acting work in the Oprah Winfrey produced movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and as executive producer for the HBO telefilm “Lackawanna Blues.”
Previously, Berry heated up theatres across the globe in Warner Bros.’ “Catwoman” and she provided the voice of Cappy in the 20th Century Fox animated hit, “Robots.” Berry starred in the psychological thriller “Gothika,” which helped to cement her status as an international box office draw. In 2002 Berry starred as Jinx in the James Bond feature, “Die Another Day,” opposite Pierce Brosnan, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise and becoming the largest-grossing Bond film to date.
Critics and filmgoers first took notice of Berry in her feature film debut, Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.” She went on to star opposite Warren Beatty in the socio-political comedy, “Bulworth.” Berry’s other film credits include “Losing Isaiah,” opposite Jessica Lange, “Executive Decision,” the live-action version of “The Flintstones,” “The Last Boy Scout,” “Strictly Business, “Boomerang,” opposite Eddie Murphy and “Swordfish” with John Travolta and Hugh Jackman.
Other television credits include starring in the highly-rated ABC mini-series, “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding,” directed by Charles Burnett, as well as the title role in Alex Haley’s mini-series, “Queen.” The latter performance earned Berry her first NAACP Image Award for Best Actress, as well as the Best Newcomer Award from the Hollywood Women’s Press Club. She also starred opposite Jimmy Smits in Showtime’s original telefilm, “Solomon and Sheba.”
In recognition for her achievements as an actress, the Harvard Foundation at Harvard University honored Berry as Cultural Artist of the Year.
Berry has garnered praise not only for her numerous leading roles, but for her work with a range of influential organizations. Berry is an active supporter and chair member of the Jenesse Center in Los Angeles. The Jenesse Center was founded in 1980 and assists victims of domestic violence and aims to change the pattern of abuse in the lives of women and children. Berry has also joined forces with Novo Nordisk and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to launch the Diabetes Aware Campaign. This national project was created to help raise awareness about diabetes and how to help people with the disease manage it successfully. She is also an Ambassador for the Callaway Golf Foundation for Women’s Cancer Initiative, encouraging women to better understand their risks for ovarian cancer and educating them in how to be proactive in the cause.
ANNA PAQUIN (Rogue) is an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winning actress whose diverse work in films, television and theater display a range of emotion and a wealth of talent well beyond her years.
Paquin stars in the HBO drama “True Blood,” based on the Southern Vampire book series by Charlaine Harris. “True Blood” marked Paquin’s first foray into series television, and her performance garnered a Golden Globe Award in 2009 as well as a Golden Globe and SAG nomination in 2010. The sixth season premiered in the summer of 2013.
Paquin will next be seen in “Free Ride,” which she is producing through her CASM production company. Based on a true story, the film follows Christina (Paquin), an abused single mother in the 1970s who is caught up in the Florida drug trade. Her production company has also optioned “The Pink Hotel” by Anna Stothard.
In 2011, Paquin starred in Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret,” opposite Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo. She received critical acclaim for her moving performance as Lisa, the film’s protagonist. Additional film credits include Fox’s “X-Men” trilogy, which grossed more than $600 million domestically; Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and The Whale”; Spike Lee’s “25th Hour”; Gus Van Sant’s “Finding Forester”; Cameron Crowe’s Academy Award-winning “Almost Famous”; Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad”; Gregor Jordan’s “Buffalo Soldiers”; Tony Goldwyn’s “A Walk on the Moon”; Carroll Ballard’s “Fly Away Home”; Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jane Eyre”; Galt Niederhoffer’s “The Romantics”; and James Cox’s “Straight A’s.”
Paquin starred in and co-produced “Blue State” with her brother Andrew, under their banner Paquin Films. The film premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and is a political romantic comedy about a Democratic campaigner who follows through on his promise to move to Canada if George ‘Dubya’ Bush is re-elected.
Paquin’s other television credits include starring in the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler,” for which she received a 2010 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television. In 2007, Anna starred in HBO’s original movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” opposite Adam Beach and Aidan Quinn. Directed by Yves Simoneau and produced by Dick Wolf, the film received a record 17 Emmy nominations, including Paquin’s nomination in category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini Series or Movie.
On stage, Paquin received a Drama Desk nomination as Best Lead Actress for her stage debut in Rebecca Gilman’s “The Glory of Living” for actor-director Phillip Seymour Hoffman. She followed that performance with the first West End production of Kenneth Lonergan’s “This is Our Youth,” co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hayden Christensen. Other stage credits include “After Ashley” directed by Terry Kinney and Neil Labute’s dark drama “The Distance from Here” (Drama Desk Award for Best Play and won for Best Cast Ensemble).
Paquin stunned the world in 1993 with her film debut as the daughter of the bride of an arranged marriage in Jane Campion’s “The Piano.” Paquin’s performance opposite cast members Holly Hunter, Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel led to her winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of eleven.
ELLEN PAGE (Kitty Pryde) is an Academy Award nominee who has established herself as one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood today. She continues to build on her impressive body of work with a diverse lineup of roles with some of the most acclaimed directors of all time.
Most recently, Page could be seen in the Lynn Shelton directed film “Touchy Feely,” a closely observed examination of a family whose delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels. The Magnolia Pictures film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. The film co-starred Allison Janney, Scoot McNairy and Rosemarie Dewitt.
Additionally, Page starred in the interactive drama action-adventure video game “Beyond Two Souls,” opposite William Dafoe. Created by David Cage, CEO of the French developer Quantic Dream will be available for the PlayStation console.
Page makes her directorial debut with a comedic high school drama titled “Miss Stevens.” Anna Faris is attached to star as the title character, a teacher whose life is in disarray who ends up chaperoning a group of high schoolers on a weekend trip to a state drama competition. While on the trip, she rediscovers her own self-worth via the humanity of her students. The script was written by Julia Hart.
Page was also recently seen in the Fox Searchlight thriller “The East,” a story centered on a contract worker who is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group, only to find herself falling for its leader. Page appeared opposite Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård and Patricia Clarkson.
Page was featured in the Sony Pictures Classics’ romantic comedy, “To Rome With Love.” Written and directed by Woody Allen, the film also stars Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg.
In 2010, Page starred in a host of roles: Christopher Nolan’s award-winning psychological thriller “Inception,” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard; the independent film “Peacock,” written and directed by David Lander and also starring Susan Sarandon and Cillian Murphy; and the dark comedy “Super,” opposite Rainn Wilson and Liv Tyler.
Other recent credits include Fox Searchlight’s “Whip It” (2009), which was Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. Page led an all-star cast including Kristin Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Alia Shawkat, Juliette Lewis and Jimmy Fallon.
With her breakout role in Jason Reitman’s hit comedy “Juno,” Ellen received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG Best Actress nominations, and won the Independent Spirit Award for her performance. Written by Diablo Cody, the film is about an offbeat teenager (Page) who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and makes a surprising and mature decision regarding her unborn child. Cody won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for the film.
Page’s other credits include the title role of Bruce McDonald’s “The Tracey Fragments” (2007), where she portrayed a 15 year old bullied high school girl; “An American Crime,” also starring Catherine Keener; and the third installation of the X-Men franchise, “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006), which grossed more than $230 million dollars worldwide. She starred in the Canadian ensemble piece “The Stone Angel,” featuring Ellen Burstyn and directed by Kari Skogland; Alison Murray’s “Mouth to Mouth”; and Daniel MacIvor’s ensemble piece, “Wilby Wonderful” and “Smart People,” opposite Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.
As the lead in Lionsgate’s 2005 independent feature, “Hard Candy,” directed by David Slade, Page garnered much praise for her tour de force performance as a fourteen year old girl who meets a thirty year old photographer on the Internet and then looks to expose him as pedophile. Also starring Patrick Wilson and Sandra Oh, the indie film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Page has long been a fixture in Canadian television and cinema. She began her career at the age of ten on the award-winning television movie “Pit Pony,” for which she received a Gemini nomination for Best Performance in a Children’s Program and a Young Artist Awards nomination for Best Performance in a TV Drama Series. Later, Page appeared as Joanie’ in “Marion Bridge,” where she won an ACTRA Maritimes Award for Outstanding Female Performance. The film also won the award for Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. She won a Gemini Award for her role of Lilith’ in the first season of “ReGenesis” a one-hour drama for TMN/Movie Central, and for the cable feature, “Mrs. Ashboro’s Cat,” for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series. In addition, Page appeared in the cult hit TV series “Trailer Park Boys.”
PETER DINKLAGE (Dr. Bolivar Trask), with his supporting role in Tom DeCillo’s “Living In Oblivion,” delivered an open rant to an entire generation of would-be filmmakers, refusing to be used as a gag or a prop – while honoring his craft with an unforgettable fierceness and dignity. Dinklage got his shot at redefining the concept of a leading man with his starring role in the Sundance Audience Award winner “The Station Agent,” which drew standing ovations at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and was immediately bought and released by Miramax.
After the Dramatic Audience Award, he went on to receive the SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor 2004, the Independent Spirit Award Nominee for Best Actor 2004 and was also named one of the top 5 “Breakout Stars” of the year by Entertainment Weekly and prominently featured in People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. He has been extremely busy ever since.
Feature credits include appearing opposite Will Ferrell in Jon Favreau’s “Elf; Michel Gondry’s “Human Nature,” written by Charlie Kaufman; “Penelope,” also starring Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci; the co-lead in the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise; “St. John of Las Vegas” with Steve Buscemi and Sarah Silverman; “Pete Smalls is Dead” with Buscemi and Tim Roth (Dinklage also produced); and Sony’s comedy “Death at a Funeral,” opposite Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. His more recent films include Fox’s hugely successful “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” and the recent “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” opposite Robin Williams and Mila Kunis.
Getting back to his theatre roots, Dinklage starred in a Lincoln Center production on the life of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec for director Martha Clark; the title role in The Public Theatre’s critically acclaimed “Richard III”; Charlie Kaufman’s “Theatre of the New Ear,” also starring Meryl Streep and Hope Davis; and “Knickerbocker” at Williamstown.
Rounding out the triple threat, Peter’s television credits include many TV series working with HBO, CBS, ABC, and producers like David Heyman, David Goyer and David Benioff. Peter recurred on the hit show “Nip/Tuck” for F/X and did a guest spot written for him opposite Tina Fey on “30 Rock.” Peter currently stars in HBO’s smash hit event series “A Game of Thrones,” for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Emmy and Golden Globe.
NICHOLAS HOULT (Hank McCoy/Beast) was named one of Variety’s “10 Actors To Watch” in 2010. He is best known for his work on the hugely successful TV series “Skins” in the UK and his breakout role in 2002, at age 11, in the film “About A Boy,” opposite Hugh Grant, where Hoult played Marcus Brewer, a young boy who will do whatever he can to make his chronically depressed mother happy, even if it causes himself grief.
Hoult was seen as the character R in “Warm Bodies,” which was distributed by Summit and released on February 1, 2013. Directed by Jonathan Levine, the film stars Dave Franco, Teresa Palmer and Analeigh Tipton and follows the story of a zombie who becomes involved with the girlfriend of one of his victims.
He was also recently seen in Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Slayer,” which was released on March 1, 2013 and stars Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, and Stanley Tucci. Hoult played Jack in this modern day fairy tale in which the long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened as a young farmer leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom in hopes of rescuing a kidnapped princess.
Last year, Hoult wrapped production for George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” where he portrays the character of Nux alongside Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. and is scheduled to release in 2014. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth installment of the popular Mad Max film series.
In 2011, Hoult was seen in Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class” for Fox opposite James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt. Hoult played the young Hank McCoy in this film that took viewers back to when Professor X and Magneto were allies who had discovered their powers for the first time.
In 2009, he was seen in Tom Ford’s directorial debut “A Single Man,” opposite Colin Firth and Julianne Moore for the Weinstein Company. In the film, Hoult plays Kenny Potter, a student who eventually prevents his professor played by Colin Firth from committing suicide after the death of a loved one. In 2010, he was seen in “Clash of the Titans.” opposite Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson for Warner Bros.
In 2009, Nicholas made his West End debut in “New Boy” to outstanding reviews and sold out performances. “New Boy,” adapted and directed by Russell Labey, tells the story of a schoolboy crush and its devastating consequences. Hoult also appeared alongside Mel Giedroyc and Ciara Jason in this stage adaptation of the novel.
In 2007, Hoult starred in Julie Anne Robinson’s television movie “Coming Down the Mountain,” where he played the lead character David Philips. The film is an original drama by novelist Mark Haddon about two teenage brothers, one of whom has Downs Syndrome.
In 2006, Hoult was seen in “Kidulthood,” directed by Menhaj Huda and distributed by Image Entertainment. In 2005, Hoult was in Richard E. Grant’s “Wah-Wah,” opposite Gabriel Byrne and Emily Watson, which is set at the end of the 1960s as Swaziland is about to receive independence from Great Britain. That same year, Hoult was seen in Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man,” opposite Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, and Hope Davis. The film tells the story of a local weatherman whose career is going well while his personal life begins to spiral downward.