By Marc Strom
“X-Men: First Class” took the number one spot at the box office this past weekend, but if you happened to miss it--or want to see it again--this weekend is the perfect opportunity!
|Michael Fassbender stars as Magneto in "X-Men: First Class"|
And while we--and many critics--loved watching the movie, the stars of the show enjoyed making it just as much. Some of the biggest names from the film, including stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and head villain Kevin Bacon, spoke about their experiences making the magic happen in a press conference for “X-Men: First Class.”
For Fassbender and McAvoy, taking on the roles of Erik Lehnsherr--a.k.a. Magneto--and Professor Charles Xavier proved a particular thrill.
“Well, obviously, Sir Ian McKellen did such a great job and I was aware that the fans of the X-Men comic books were very pleased with what he did,” said Fassbender of donning Magneto’s helmet. “So initially I thought to myself, ‘okay, should I study a young Ian McKellen,’ and I spoke to ["First Class" director] Matthew [Vaughn] about it [in our] first [or second] meeting.
|James McAvoy stars as Charles Xavier in "X-Men: First Class"|
“And he wasn’t so keen on the idea, he wanted me to use my own voice and sort of take it from there. So we just wiped the slate clean of that idea and [delved] into the comic books. There was so much material there that I was spoiled in terms of biography and putting together a really complicated, well-rounded character.”
“We talked for a brief couple of minutes about mimicking the voices and we had a good laugh at that but it didn’t stay an option for too long,” echoes McAvoy. “I looked really closely at Patrick’s performance, which I really enjoyed. But I felt [that] to validate making these movies, you have to make the characters different, otherwise they’re just the same performances. And so I tried to take the key points of his character and just flip them. Not extremely so, you know he’s a good guy, I couldn’t make him a bad guy, but where he’s sort of wise, I was unwise, where he was chaste, I was [not].”
Returning to the origins of mutantkind’s struggle also meant returning to a time before Professor X and Magneto stood against each other. The shades of grey that exist in the film as a result provided rich material for the actors.
|Kevin Bacon and January Jones star as Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost in "X-Men: First Class"|
“Personally, as an audience member and as an actor, I much prefer to find ambiguity in that grey area,” explains Fassbender. “So it’s much more interesting for me if people leave the theater and they start asking themselves questions and they have to sort of find their own moral compass about what these characters have been doing. And in terms of [the] justification for what [Magneto] does, there was a motivation. I could see where the motivation was and where the motivation came from. I’ve always said that Magneto, for me, is a Machiavellian character and the ends justify the means. That really kind of sums him up in one line.”
Bacon, who plays the villain Sebastian Shaw in the film, also looked at his character through his motivations.
“A lot of people say, ‘What’s it like playing the villain, playing the evil guy, playing the bad guy?’” Bacon points out. “I mean, I don’t think that what I’m doing is bad, right? So if I’m really in the skin of the person, I don’t think of myself as the bad guy, I think of myself as a good guy. Obviously my perception of the world is one where the humans are a threat to our survival and that, as Mike says, the ends [are] going to justify the means.
|The cast of "X-Men: First Class"|
The way he goes about it and the misguided nature of it and the power hungry, megalomaniacal aspect of him is there, but he’s not thinking, ‘I’m going to do something evil now.’”
Even Professor X himself, James McAvoy, can admit to understanding Magneto’s perspective in this film.
“I think that, in the other X-Men movies, quite often the forces of humanity are led by Machiavellian humans also,” comments the actor. “Whereas in this movie, the humans decide to take out all the mutants because they’re scared. It’s a very human reaction, which makes them less of a bad guy, but also makes you go, ‘well, [Magneto] is right.’ They’re a huge threat, they’re just reacting, you know. Makes it more real, I think.”