Ready for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" this Friday, May 1? Well, before you head out to your favorite theater, we here at Marvel.com wanted to get you close enough to the film to feel the berserker rage! Our "'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' Up Close" series of articles lets you hear from the film's top stars—today it's Gambit himself, Taylor Kitsch! Don't miss our "Up Close" interviews with Sabretooth/Liev Schreiber and, of course, Wolverine/Hugh Jackman! Enjoy!By John Rhett Thomas with Sheila Johnson Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit, has the power to charge anything he touches with explosive energy. The same could be said about Taylor Kitsch, one of the most exciting young actors to hit Hollywood in a long time. His career in modeling took off almost as soon as he hit New York City as one of IMG's most talented stars, landing high-profile gigs with clients like Abercrombie & Fitch and Diesel. He parlayed that into a budding film and TV career, where small roles in major motion pictures very quickly led to a starring role in "Friday Night Lights," one of television's most critically acclaimed dramas. As Tim Riggins, star high school running back, Taylor has made his mark playing the bad boy who may seem to love getting into trouble simply so he can impress himself getting out of it. (Gee, sound like a certain Cajun mutant?) In doing so, he's easily become the show's most popular star. In his review of the show's third season, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker remarks of Taylor, "Kitsch continues to charm: Mark my words, this guy is a budding movie star once "FNL" throws its final touchdown." Once "FNL" is over? P'shaw! Taylor Kitsch is ready to be a movie star now! And his role as Gambit in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" will prove that, as he lines up next to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and dishes out an equal measure of Cajun charm and brashness. Marvel.com had the pleasure of catching up with Taylor as he and the Wolverine movie crew shot scenes in Vancouver, his hometown. Naturally, our first topic with the young Canuck is hockey! Marvel.com: Now, anyone that is going to play Gambit has got to be a good-looking guy with tremendous athleticism. Your career in the public eye started in modeling, but what a lot of people may not know is that you also had a burgeoning career in the British Columbia Hockey League. What was it like growing up in Vancouver? Taylor Kitsch:Well, I think it was kind of your stereotypical upbringing. Before school, we'd get up at six, go out in the backyard, and there'd be a pond that the whole neighborhood would come to play on. And of course, me being the youngest of three brothers, they put the pads on me, and I'd just stand there and basically get pelted with pucks. And then we'd go to school, and when we moved closer to Vancouver, it was just street hockey and pond hockey. It's such a huge part of my life, so I love it. Marvel.com: So your stick handling skills are really good. Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, I mean, I played 20 years, so they better be. Marvel.com: Part of Gambit's arsenal is his staff. Is that part of the movie arsenal? Taylor Kitsch: Absolutely. You see a bit of it in the trailer. I trained my butt off for that, and I also trained with the cards. We just shot some stuff with the bow staff, and every time I get to use it, I just love it, man. I feel so comfortable with it. I trained for months on end, two hours a day, for five, six days a week. With the training, you find pieces of Gambit when you are using the staff, and you have that confidence; I can do whatever I really want to do with it, you know? And that confidence, it kind of emanates through the whole thing, especially when you're fighting! Marvel.com: You get to use some of your hockey skills with that, too? Taylor Kitsch: Well, there's not much hockey in it when you're blowin' stuff up and hittin' people with it, you know? (Laughter.) Marvel.com: How are your card flipping skills working out? Taylor Kitsch: I was working on it for like four hours a day in my hotel room, driving myself crazy getting all these things worked out with the cards. But now, I'm pretty darn comfortable with some pretty cool tricks that I never thought I would be able to pull off. Marvel.com: Have you busted out some sleight of hand, and fooled some people? Taylor Kitsch: I don't think I've learned too many magic tricks, but just like really cool stuff like cutting the deck over and over with one hand. Dealing with one hand, which is really cool. Just nonchalant stuff, you know? It's a lot of fun, and that's the beauty of even playing this kind of cat, where you learn these traits, with the cards, work in the staff, and all these pieces kind of start coming together, and you feel more and more, as you're building all these tools Gambit has, that it starts to really piece together really nice. Marvel.com: Were the cards just normal playing cards that you were working with? Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, Gambit can do some stuff with cards that no human can do, I don't care who you are! But there are some definite little moments, like rolling the cards through your hands, and stuff like that. You know, I haven't seen the film, so I can't tell you how much of that is in it. Marvel.com: Do you get wear the trench coat? Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, man. That's a huge piece for me. I love it. And I love that hat, the moment in the trailer, it's just a real cool moment when Gambit starts talking, it's just a really cool reveal that he has. I'm excited about it. I haven't seen anything, man. I've seen as much as the next fan has in regards to the trailer, and I've heard some really great stuff is getting shot. And that Hugh's incredibly happy with it, which is the bottom line, really: You come in and contribute as much as you can. It's Hugh's gig, right? You know, you just wanna come in and do your part and kick some ass. I was just talking to Hugh about it and he's nothing but happy. That's enough for me as an actor to hear because he's gonna be honest with you regardless. Marvel.com: Well, Gambit hails from New Orleans. I know you shot some down there. What was it like creating the mythos from which this Cajun mutant comes from? Taylor Kitsch: We shot a lot in Australia too, but when you see the set, it's definitely New Orleans, the whole vibe is what we recreated. You know what I mean? Like, when you see the trailer, he's sitting there, and he's in a casino at his little gambling table. It's just that whole dark vibe, when he goes out into the streets that are wet and dark, and that's such a piece of Gambit's character. Metaphorically, that sums him up pretty quickly. He's a dark, badass cat, you know? If you cross his path, he'll put an end to you, and without even second-guessing it. I love that. I also love the part of him where you don't know, when, or if, or anything else, for that matter, he's gonna snap! Marvel.com: He's a total wild card. Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, exactly. No pun intended! Marvel.com: Right. Taylor Kitsch: He's got that vibe where he's his own guy. He just doesn't give a damn, because he's beyond that. I don't know if you call it cockiness, but there's an aura about him that hopefully you'll feel when you're watching the movie. He knows his deal, and he knows that at any point in time, he can really mess things up. It's fun. I love that part of him, there's that kind of confidence within him, y'know? He loves it. He loves the fight…He wants to fight! "You want to go? Well let's go!" Marvel.com: What's his relationship in the movie with Wolverine that you can talk about? Are they friends, are they adversaries, or both? Taylor Kitsch: Ahh, that I can talk about? Well, we definitely have a badass fight scene. And it was shot over the course of many days. I had to use all that training with the staff, I used a truckload of staff in that fight. You look at the end of the alley, and there's Wolverine standing there, you know, he's got his blades out basically ready to chop your head off. And it's like, "What are you gonna do with this moment?"And when we come together, I heard it's just great. So, I'm really excited to see it. Marvel.com: How quickly did it take you to accept this part when it was offered to you? Was this something you had known about? Taylor Kitsch: We fought for this gig, man. I battled for it, because there's not too many gigs in a lifetime that I'll come across like this, to be part of something with Hugh and all the rest of the cast. So, I'm waiting by the phone man, that's what it was! You audition your face off, you show 'em everything you got, and it's basically in their hands. And when they called and said, "Okay, yeah, you're our guy," it was just like, "Holy – let's do this!" I don't know how to explain it. A lot of work went into it, so it was like a sigh of relief, and I was so ecstatic. Marvel.com: Did you do any particular comic book reading research? Taylor Kitsch: I read a lot with him and Wolverine. I was not so much worried about the relationships, because that was already down for me in the script, right? I was actually more just wanting to know this cat, what his deal was, and why he was the way he was, where he basically raised himself as a thief while growing up as an orphan. I started to look at it down to the way he fights. I was just talkin' to Liev about it [Liev Schreiber plays Sabretooth]. And these fight sequences really do dictate so many pieces of the character. You really see the way each character fights, to me it's such a great building block to the character. Gambit, he'll pick up a bar and beat the crap out of you! He's a pretty raw guy and that just explains so many pieces of him. He'll get the job done. He doesn't really care if he looks great doing it, because he knows as long as he kicks ass and walks out at the end of it, he's gonna be just fine. Marvel.com: Is that something that you identify with personally? Taylor Kitsch: Well, I've been in a few fights in my time, you know. If you can relate it to sports, it's the guy who doesn't need to prove himself that you've got to be afraid of. And that's a huge piece of Gambit. When he is engaged, he's 110% in, and he's engaged, you know? It's like zero to a hundred, there's no fifty in there. Marvel.com: You've got a successful TV series, "Friday Night Lights," but you're also transitioning to a movie career. Have you been able to handle that pretty well? Taylor Kitsch: To make any transition like that, I have the best person I can look up to in Hugh Jackman. He is so professional, and so free. I'm not saying I'm at even close to his level, but just seeing him and looking up to him, and how he hasn't changed a bit from day one and how he treats the crew and everyone just the same, and just the aura this guy emits, seeing that has really opened my eyes. It was like a sigh of relief. He is more than normal and more than supportive, and being positive and everything else. Marvel.com: That's great. I've heard that about him, so it's good to hear that reinforced. Taylor Kitsch: It's very real, man. He's as noble as they come. Marvel.com: Now, can you talk about the possibility of signing on to possible future films with the Gambit character? Is that something that you can discuss? Taylor Kitsch: To be honest, I think everyone knows it too: It's yet to be determined, but I would murder to do this again, to go deeper into Gambit, to figure out even more layers and everything else, right? I'd murder to play him again, and it's more or less up to the fans or Fox. I would even say, more up to the fans, you know? They really do dictate a lot. I'm just excited to see it all transpire.For more Wolverine, check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and our "Wolverine: Required Reading" list. Like gaming? The official "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" video game hits stores May 1! And remember: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" comes to a theater near you on May 1 visit the official "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" movie site!Check out the official Marvel Shop for everything X-Men!Download episodes of X-Men: Evolution now on iTunes!