Finally the speculation can end. X Men 3 The Last Stand is here and fans will not be disappointed. Not only have Wolverine, Storm, Jean and Scott all returned for a third time - along with Professor Charles Xavier and his arch nemesis Magneto - but there's a host of new characters including The Beast (Kelsey Grammer) and Angel (Ben Foster).
Expect state-of-the-art effects, along with a more emotional story line wrapped around a contemporary plot where mutants - who are not happy with who they are - now have the choice of a "cure" - either they can retain their uniqueness although it isolates and alienates them, or they can give up their powers and become human. The option divides the mutants and will trigger the war to end all wars.
Director Bratt Ratner (Rush Hour) takes the helm for the first time after Bryan Singer - who directed the first two instalments left to take over the troubled Batman Returns film (2007) interestingly enough from Ratner.
In a world first the creative team at Fox have brought together online journalists from around the world for the first ever digital press junket so that fans can get the latest interviews and news instantly as it unfolds at the 59th Cannes Film Festival. Femail.com.au was lucky enough to be invited and below is a Q&A with some of the cast members.
Wolverine - Hugh Jackman
Storm - Halle Berry
Magneto - Ian McKellen
Charles Xavier - Patrick Stewart
Jean Grey - Famke Janssen
Rogue - Anna Paolin
Mystique - Rebecca Romlin
Cyclops - James Mapsden
Iceman - Shawn Ashmore
Pyro - Aaron Stanford
Colossus - Daniel Cudmore
Beast - Kelsey Grammer
Juggernaut - Vinnie Jones
Kitty Pride / Shadowcat - Ellen Page
Angel - Ben Foster
Callisto - Dania Ramirez
Multiple Man - Eric Dane
Leech - Cameron Bright
Gaynor Flynn: How has your fans comments impacted on the way you see this role?
Halle Berry: I have read so many comments and I knew Storm was not depicted the way she was in the comic book and the fans let me know that and after the first movie I was inundated and they were like what happened to Storm she's not like that in the comics, we don't like the hair and she's supposed to fly with her cap and I took the fans so to heart that I said I can't come back as Storm I would love to but I can't do that to the fans they're unhappy so I took a lot of things that the fans said that she should be and the studio took note and so this story is for the fans she's much more like the comic books.
Gaynor Flynn: What have you learned from this role?
Halle Berry: I wasn't a comic book reader when I was a kid so I became an X Men fan from the movie but the theme of the comic strip has resonated with me being a woman of colour its forced me to think about my feelings about being in the world about making sure I try to be as tolerant towards people who are different whether that's being a woman or sexual orientation or religion, I try to live my life as I am and I hope people accept me and not challenge that and that conflict (in the movie) forced me to try and work my life out...
Gaynor Flynn: What is the message of this movie?
Halle Berry: The message one of tolerance and with this last movie, the idea of the cure is so scary and so emotional it made me think that if my government. If the US Government said there was going to be a pill and tomorrow morning every person of colour must take it and your skin will be white the next day how would I feel if I was forced to change? Or if tomorrow they said you've got to be a man we want it to be a man's world and you have to take a pill that would be terrible, well not wearing a bra would be good so it put this question on my mind and made me realised that I had to stand up for myself and confront those issues which is why I think its so appropriate for teens, or for 70 year old men and women because those issues have been around since the beginning of time and I think we'll be struggling to fit in until the end of time.
Gaynor Flynn: The role is quite physical, how did you prepare for that?
Halle Berry: I had to work with a stunt coordinator Simon Crane and do some hand combat practice. I just said whatever you do don't know my teeth out, I can take a punch just don't knock my teeth out. Usually I'm in good physical shape because I'm diabetic so I work out and look after myself but this time it was learning to spin and do wire work.
Gaynor Flynn: Tell us about the spinning scene. I understand you did 24 spins a second?
Halle Berry: Yes then I projectile vomited. I had this bucket called Halle's bucket and it sort of followed me around. I have it as a memento of the film.
Gaynor Flynn: What do you need to have in your trailer?
Halle Berry: I just recently brought my own trailer and decorated it like my house and that's what I needed because we spend so much time in out trailers. We go on location all the time and I wanted to bring a part of home with me so that when I'm in the trailer for hours and hours I'm okay being in there so I redid it and its very earthy and very casual, very simple very clean, its very much like my home. I'm not a person who likes a lot of colours or clutter I'm very minimal and that's what I like and needed.
Gaynor Flynn: Does Storm evolve in The Last Stand?
Halle Berry: I think she definitely evolves in the third one. In the second one I think she's sort of repressed or something but in this one I think she evolves in a big way she finally stood up for herself, she had a point of view, she became a reluctant leader and when the professor approaches her she realises she may have to be the leader of the group at some point and she really was all about using all of her mutant powers for the good of the team so yes she evolved a lot.
Gaynor Flynn: What would you like to say to your fans.
Halle Berry: I hope you all go and see X Men I guarantee you will have a good time. You're going to see some surprising things and shocking things. You might just shed a tear.
Gaynor Flynn: Was the 3rd X Men more physically challenging?
Hugh Jackman: Yes we had a second unit director Simon Crane who did Saving Private Ryan and Mr and Mrs Smith and he wanted to bring that feeling to the movie like Saving Private Ryan was it felt very real because here you have all these people with these incredible powers and lighting and yet it's easy also to not actually feel when somebody gets stabbed to actually feel that danger so I think he brought to that a reality to and at one point Simon came up to us and said 'you're going to be doing all your own stunts'. And I said well you know I generally do most of my own stunts and he said 'no you're going to be doing all of your own stunts, so I can't say I did every one of them but I had a good go at it and the other little interesting fact is that my stunt double is my brother in law and I did a movie called Van Helsing and I sent him home from Van Helsing with a broken leg in two places so my sister rang me up at the beginning of this movie and was like, hey little brother, you're doing your own stunts so I was getting it from all angles.
Gaynor Flynn: What's your favourite scene?
Hugh Jackman: There's a scene in the movie where Magneto, Ian McKellen's character kind of ejects me from the forest and I fly through in reality about 800 feet I think it was at 80 miles an hour from a standing start to 80 mph now I'm someone who loves to go to theme parks and rides roller coaster so this was basically like the best roller coaster ride I've ever been on. In fact the first three or four takes were completely unusable because I was going woo hoo. I mean going backwards at 80 mph I almost lost my lunch a couple of times but that was my favourite.
Gaynor Flynn: How did you feel about Brett Ratner taking over?
Hugh Jackman: It's funny Brett Ratner is a new director and it would be a little intimidating in a way coming into a third instalment with probably ten actors and actors like Ian Mckellen. I think there's two Oscar winners, one Oscar nominee I mean there's kind of a fairly formidable case, but Brett is the most fearless guy I've ever met. He just came into this series like he'd been doing it all his life, and the smart thing about Brett is that he loves what he does but he's not an egoist he wasn't like 'I'm making a Brett Ratner film, I'm going to change everything about X Men 1 and 2, he kind of said, 'you know, if it ain't broke don't fix it' and there's a lot about those movies in one and two that worked, he just said I want to make them a little funnier I want to make it a littler sexier and I want to make it a little more emotional actually a lot more emotional and he did.
Gaynor Flynn: What was the atmosphere like on set?
Hugh Jackman: Brett is a practical joker by nature so everyone was a little wary of playing jokes on him because you knew you were going to get it back. There was one scene where I was just about to go on it's the scene where I'm going down the hallway and I encounter the kids, just before getting on the jet and I'm just about to walk in and I get this tap on the shoulder and I look behind me and there's Brett Ratner in full Wolverine get up, my Wolverine get up and (he's shorter than Jackson), he kind of looked like a kid wearing his father's suit, and he had the claws and he had the hair he had the mutton chops and from that moment on we called him Wolvershine because he looked like a slightly airy dare I say it, a little plumper version of this character. I'm in trouble now, but that's okay. And he went and did my scene right through, the entire two and a half page scene and for entire scene Halle Berry was in hysterics and I think he was a little put out by that, I think he thought he was doing really well, but Halle could not stop laughing.
Gaynor Flynn: Did you pull any jokes on him?
Hugh Jackman: Yeah I did a few little things but this is a long story and doesn't really have anything to do with X Men but there's a TV show in America called Punk'd and Brett Ratner organised me getting Punk'd so at the moment I'm still kind of smarting a little bit and I'm really thinking up ways to get him back. Basically he made me believe that I burnt down his houses. We went to his house and we went and got take away we come back and he'd asked me to test out his barbecue because that's why we went to get take aways because his barbecue wasn't working and we come back there are four fire trucks, a 100 firemen and from where I'm standing and it may seem hard to believe the entire house is on fire. Now Brett's house is a mansion and he lives next to Bruce Springsteen so the firemen are saying 'we've lost Springsteen's house' so I'm thinking I've burnt down a $100 million worth of homes and I'm assuming people are inside so I've killed people and for half an hour I thought my life was over I was shaking. So don't do practical jokes on Brett Ratner.
Gaynor Flynn: Wolverine is a great character does that give you a good feeling?
Hugh Jackman: Yes and I feel really lucky to play him because when I see the movies I kind of always think he 's a cool guy that guy, so as an actor there's a lot to play, he's not just a cool guy, he doesn't just have the lines he has cool fighting, but he's got battles, internal struggles and dare I say it he's a little vulnerable in places so I've played three movies and I still don't feel like I know who he is which is kind of why I want to do a movie about Wolverine about the character.
Gaynor Flynn: Do you think that will happen?
Hugh Jackman: Well we have two drafts right now of the Wolverine movie and David Bennioss writing it and he approached me with this idea and it absolutely blew me away. It's so compelling its pretty much a prequel because Wolverine has evolved a lot over the series and I feel I needed to go back to fully understand who he was, sort of more to his origins and you know whether or not the movie will happen will probably depend on how well X Men does because I know there are a lot of fans of Wolverine but I don't' want to be in a situation where I'm making a movie where people are like you know what we've had enough. And we'll know after this movie so its in the hands of the X Men fans really.
Gaynor Flynn: When you took this role did you know what you were getting into?
Rebecca Romijm: No I had no idea what I was signing up for and reading it on page, and doing special effects, you can't really see it, you think is this going to work out? Is this going to be cool and then when you see it, you go oh I get it, I see it.
Gaynor Flynn: How was the make up process this time around?
Rebecca Romijm: The first movie was definitely the hardest, the second easier. The first took nine hours the second seven hours a day and the tedious part is maintaining it. I had to adjust my attitude, it was like okay I'm in the X Men movie great but then I have to sit in the make up chair for nine hours that was the hard part because its psychologically challenging, and you do feel claustrophobic when you're in it too long so I really wanted to make the costume more durable and easier. So we stopped using glue and used silicone and it made it more durable and required less maintenance but taking it off was much worse. Imagine being wrapped up in duck take and ripping it off, it was like that. It was painful, incredibly painful, but it's like a mother giving birth, I just remember the good times. I had blue inside my ears or under my toenails for months and I travelled back and forth from LA to Vancouver and because I knew I was going back to the set all the time, I wasn't very good at getting rid of the blue and I'd be sitting on a plane and a stranger would come over and say to me, do you know you have blue in your ear?
Gaynor Flynn: What's one day on set you'll always remember?
Rebecca Romijm: It's all one big blue blur.
Gaynor Flynn: Did you feel a camaraderie with Beast then?
Rebecca Romijm: On the second film they put Alan Cummings and me together on all the junkets and yesterday they put me with the Kelsey, so they put the blue people together.
Gaynor Flynn: Do you still like blue?
Rebecca Romijm: Blue is no longer my favourite colour.
Gaynor Flynn: What's it like being here in Cannes having a film premier?
Rebecca Romijm: It's pretty exciting, this whole experience, its such a thrill to be here.
Gaynor Flynn: You're obviously excited about making X Men The Last Stand?
Brett Ratner: Everyday is a dream for me, really being on my own movie set and with a movie of that scope and that size with all these actors who are brilliant and doing a comic book that has a legacy and a history is so exciting I can't describe the overwhelming feeling that I had every day because its also hard making a movie. In the middle night, its raining and snowing and if somebody had a bad day, I'm kind of like the cheerleader director I got to get everyone pumped and excited about we're doing and it wasn't hard because these actors love these characters and every single actor took it all so seriously but I tried to make it fun for everybody cause its not easy making movies especially in winter at night in Vancouver.
Gaynor Flynn: It was so cold.
Brett Ratner: I remember thinking I wish I was on stage in Los Angeles but there was no set in the world big enough to build that Alcatraz set so we had to do it outside.
Gaynor Flynn: That was an incredible set. What's your favourite set?
Brett Ratner: Well the Alcatraz set is probably the biggest set I've ever shot on, that and the Bridge set, you know most movies that had a bridge scene of that size, they'd probably do it on green screen totally CGI but one of my favourite movies from when I was a kid was Star Wars and George Lucas used actual models and practical locations and everything was enhanced whereas now it would be done complete green screen, completely virtual and I think it really helped the performance of the actors when you build a quarter mile of bridge on a location, and they're standing on that actual location it just helps the performance to have a real location, real extras with the cars there, and then we just used CGI to enhance the size of the bridge and the scope of the bridge. So if you watch the movie the light is blurred where the real bridge starts and where the fake bridge ends or begins so its much better way to approach visual effects and CGI.
Gaynor Flynn: You did a great job.
Brett Ratner: We could have easily done this whole thing green screen but I said, we've got to build the set, we've got to have a piece of that bridge crumble down the actors perform so much better when they visually stand on a bridge, when they really stand on a set and they can see what the scope is the depth rather than being in a green screen virtual world you know their eyes wouldn't focus for instance because how your eyes are different when you're focusing on something close or far away so that's the thing. Audience members watching a pure CG set or a virtual set they know its different. Compare the first Star Wars to the most recent Star Wars the first Star Wars has models and miniatures and there's something to grab on to where in the new Star Wars its all virtual and there's something missing there, there really is. I'm not knocking it I'm just saying my approach, my simplistic approach which is to lets go back to the old school, lets use a miniature bridge, a model bridge it could easily have been CGI but lets use a bridge so the actors can actually stand on set and be there. So the physics of it just feels different than something that is created in the computer.
Gaynor Flynn: You obviously had a great time
Brett Ratner: Oh its so cool the energy and vibe on set was awesome everyone was so pumped about being there, so excited about being there and I think that translates in the movie when you watch the movie you see the energy and the confidence of the actors. Even the background the details are incredible.
Gaynor Flynn: How do you feel about this film are you satisfied? Is there anything you'd do differently?
Brett Ratner: I got to tell you thinking back and what I've seen the last two day I'm proud of every frame in this movie. I've had a tremendous amount of support from Fox, everyone said 'oh god you're so rushed' but I'm like how many more days do I need. I got 125 days to shoot the movie? Everyday that I went in I got all the support that I need. I got the biggest budget I could ever dream of how could I complain that I didn't have enough time, so 'm very proud of every single frame of this movie and I wouldn't have put it in if I wasn't happy with it. I have a choice I'm in the edit room and I'm not going to put in a bad frame or something that I feel doesn't' work because it's drawing the story forward. So I love it and I'm very very proud of it.
Gaynor Flynn: How to top it in your career
Brett Ratner: I don't know, maybe I have to put one actor in one room and do a performance piece and go in another direction. As far as comic book movies are concerned I feel like I've done the ultimate. Superman would have been the ultimate for me but I didn't end doing that so X Men is what I feel I was born to make. There's a reason why Bryan Singer is doing Superman and I'm doing X Men. I mean if you had ever made a bet that Brett Ratner would make an X Men movie you would have lost your money so I think for some reason I ended up doing it and I feel I'm part of history. I think Bryuan Singer did a great job at establishing the tone of the movie and I really wanted to stay true to that rather than make my own mark and try reinvent it. I tried to make something that kind of connected the dots and fit into the trilogy of the X Men.
Gaynor Flynn: What would you like to say to the online fans?
Brett Ratner: I want to say hello to all the on line fans even though you picked on me in the beginning I forgive you. I want you to know that I'm here for you if you want to send some more emails I will respond but you know what if you like the movie give it props because I think it deserves it. Thank you very much for supporting me and believing in the movie and for loving the characters.
Gaynor Flynn at Cannes Film Festival, Venice