“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the ultimate “X-Men” ensemble, combining the casts of the first three “X-Men” movies and 2011’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” In “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the superhero mutants fight a war for the survival of the species across two time periods. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past who were introduced in “X-Men: First Class,” in order to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle that could save our future. At 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego, most of the stars from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” gathered for what may arguably be the most star-studded panel at the annual event.
The “X-Men: Days of Future Past” team on the panel were Hugh Jackman (who plays Logan/Wolverine), Ian McKellen (who plays older Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto), Patrick Stewart (who play older Charles Xavier/Professor X), Michael Fassbender (who plays young Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto), James McAvoy (who plays young Charles Xavier/Professor X), Halle Berry (who plays Ororo Munroe/Storm), Jennifer Lawrence (who plays Raven/Mystique), Ellen Page (who plays Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat), Shawn Ashmore (who plays Bobby Drake/Iceman), Nicholas Hoult (who plays Hank McCoy/Beast), Evan Peters (who plays Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver) Omar Sy (who plays Bishop), Peter Dinklage (who plays Dr. Bolivar Trask), Anna Paquin (who plays Marie D'Ancanto/Rogue, a character that was later edited out of the movie), director/producer Bryan Singer, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, producer Hutch Parker and screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg. Here is what they said on the panel, which included the first public showing of sneak-preview footage from the movie.
Evan, what can you say about your Quicksilver character?
Peters: He’s real fast. And he’s a bit of a spazz.
Peter, can you talk about about your “X-Men” character?
Dinklage: My name is Peter Dinklage, and I play Bolivar Trask.
Nicholas, what’s it like to be to be a part of this “X-Men” experience?
Hoult: It’s amazing, even sitting here.
Jennifer, are you excited to show a different side to your Raven/Mystique character?
Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. She’s starting to find her journey to revisit the Rebecca Romijn /Msytique character that we know and still very close to Charles — well, close geographically — and her journey of who she’s going to be.
Michael, what do you have to say?
Fassbender: It’s great to be back here and see so many film enthusiasts and comic-book enthusiasts and crazy people. It’s nice to be here. I’m very excited to be here.
James, how are you?
McAvoy: I’m really good. I can’t be in a room with this many people without saying, “How ya doin’, Comic-Con?” It’s the very first time I’ve ever been here. I was in the halls this morning, wearing my cool T-shirt, and it is amazing the passion you guys have. It’s awesome to be amongst you.
Bryan, was assembling two sets of “X-Men” casts an invigorating challenge or something you had to overcome?
Singer: It’s a scheduling nightmare, a logistical nightmare, but it’s great. I actually like ensemble films. I started with “The Usual Suspects,” which was an ensemble film, and I enjoy working with a lot of interesting people to cut to when you make an ensemble film. So I think, “The more the merrier.”
But I think the blend of these two casts is unique, and it’s just a thrill for me. I was involved as a producer and a story writer in “X-Men: First Class,” but not as a director. So it’s an opportunity to work with this incredible group of people [he gestures to the “X-Men: First Class” stars], who I’ve been enormous fans of for years, and to return to this family of people [he gestures to the original “X-Men” stars] are my home, so it came quite easy.
Hugh, how does it feel back with your “X-Men” ensemble?
Jackman: Oh, man, this is an embarrassment of riches. To work with the people who were in the very first film I ever did, that’s incredible alone, and then to work with this new lot. This is two great movies in one. If I just got to do one of these movies, I’d be very lucky. The fact that we have everyone here, this is something I’ll never forget.
Patrick, can you compare and contrast working with the “Star Trek” cast with the “X-Men” cast?
Stewart: We’ve heard the word “blessing” several times today. And to experience a job as an actor with a great group of people whom you not only respect and admire but love to, once in a career, is enviable. But in my case, to have that experience twice in a career feels quite extraordinary.
Ian, you and Patrick, can you talk about working together again after filming “X-Men: Days of Future Past”?
McKellen: I just have to say how lovely it is to be back in California. I feel safe here now that you’ve gotten rid of Proposition 8. I’m looking for a husband. It’s great to meet you, Michael.
Because of these movies, Patrick and I, we’ve had similar careers on stage and in classical theater, we got to be part of this wonderful journey, we’re getting closer together — so close that we’re going to do two plays on Broadway in the autumn: “Waiting for Godot” and a little bit of Harold Pinter. You can come see us on stage.
Halle, what’s your favorite thing about Storm?
Berry: What I always loved about Storm is something I love about her and something I hate about her. I’ll tell you what I love first. What I love about Storm is that she’s the earth mother of the group. That’s part of my own personality, and that’s what resonates and what attracted me to Storm in the beginning. She’s usually the calm, cool voice of reason. Besides being a badass when she needs to be, she’s kind of the mom of the group.
What I hate about Storm is that she never gets any love. You guys probably know more about the comic books than me. Is she asexual and nobody’s told me?
But when I got called to come back and play Storm again, it didn’t take me but half a second to say, “Send me that wig, give me that costume, I’m in!” I love being part of this franchise, and I love all the people sitting up here — the ones I’ve known for 13 years and the friends that I’ve just made. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend time on a movie than with this great group of people. And I’m so glad that Bryan Singer is back.
Anna, is great to go back to a character that pre-dates “True Blood”?
Paquin: It was amazing. Obviously, a lot has happened in the last 13 years in all of our lives, but it’s incredibly exciting to get to come back. I got cast [in the first “X-Men”] movie when I was 17, so it’s really, really amazing to be back.
Shawn, what’s up with the Iceman?
Ashmore: Bobby’s back! I think I can say the same as everybody else. Four [“X-Men”] movies. Anna and I were teenagers. We get to come back every four or five years. And as you grow as a person, as you grow as an actor, you get to return to this amazing franchise and these amazing people. So it’s amazing to back among friends, great to meet new ones. I think there’s going to be some really cool stuff that people aren’t expecting to see or possibly waiting to see out of these characters.
Ellen, you’ve said you love doing big movies with special effects. You must be excited about returning to the “X-Men” franchise?
Page: Absolutely. When I did my first one, I’d never been on a set even remotely of that scale and size. I was joining a group of people who were already close, so it sort of blew my mind. I was joining a group of people who were already close, but they could not have been nicer and more lovely and so sweet. And then, never did I expect to be playing Kitty Pryde again. I couldn’t be more excited.
Omar, can you tell us about your “X-Men” character?
Sy: It’s Bishop. He’s a guy from the future.
For the producers, what would you say is the most important thing that “X-Men: Days of Future Past” had to accomplish?
Kinberg: I grew up, like most of you, reading the comics. Being loyal to the original stories is the most important thing to us. Like Hugh said, this was an embarrassment of riches of actors. In the same way it’s surreal and cool for you to see all these guys up here, it’s surreal and cool for us too on set every day. It’s really about the original story. I’m just trying to honor the original as best as we can.
Shuler Donner: Thank you guys for coming and showing love and supporting our films. It’s only because the comics are written so well that we’re able to do these stories. Starting with the first [“X-Men” movie] and getting to this one [“X-Men: Days of Future Past”], for me personally, and to see this cast mixed together with Bryan Singer, I almost want to cry, I’m so happy.
Parker: Yeah, I think for all of us, probably the most amazing opportunity all for us is in 25 years of making movies, for me personally, I’ve never seen a better cast assembled in anything at any time. And it’s matched by a story, thanks to Simon and the underlying comic book that I think is worthy of the cast. And I think under Bryan’s stewardship, it’s an amazing opportunity for all of us. We’re very grateful and excited to share it with you.
Is Deadpool coming back to the “X-Men” movie franchise?
Singer: Not in this particular movie, but anything is possible. It really occurred to us, the “X-Men” universe is every bit as large, if your really look it, as the remaining Marvel universe and the DC universe. And if carefully explored, movie by movie, much the way Marvel has done and DC is beginning to do, I think there’s lot of room for growing and expanding the film and X-Men. Some people are going to have their own movies, combined movies. All of those things are obviously possible because we’ve seen them work.
Robert Downey Jr., who plays Iron Man, has done well with Marvel movies. Hugh, if Wolverine met Iron Man, would it be a can-opener situation?
Jackman: I don’t want to be responsible for taking down Iron Man …
McAvoy: Fight! Fight! Fight!
Jackman: But I’m open to that. I’d reckon it would be fantastic, some kind of big mash-up. When I was young in Australia, we had a cartoon on TV that had the superheroes in the Hall of Doom, and they were all together. That was at 8:37 every morning. I’m all for it, but there are people way above me who have to decide that one.
If you could be another character in the “X-Men” franchise, who would you be and why?
Lawrence: The good thing about my character is that I can do that to anyone.
Hugh, is it easier or harder to prepare for the “X-Men” ensemble movies, compared to your “Wolverine” movies?
Jackman: In terms of preparation, it’s no different. Wolverine is Wolverine, and every movie in a way is an ensemble. Let’s be honest. Look at this panel. I’m turning up to work every day, not only being able to work in the future part of the movie but also work in the past, with an ensemble I’d never get to work with [otherwise], with the man who gave me the job that’s defined my career. Every day I’m grateful and I thank my lucky stars.
Are we going to see a Gambit/Rogue pairing?
Singer: We’re exploring all options at the moment, aren’t we? We’re taking notes and suggestions. Hit me up on Twitter.
Quicksilver is popping up in different movies, including the second “Avengers” movie. What can you say about that?
Singer: Quicksilver was always part of the story as we were developing it. The casting, it took a while to find the right actor for this role. I’m a huge fan of Evan’s, so making that work was really fantastic. I can’t speak to “The Avengers,” but … Evan, you describe the character.
Peters: He’s very fast. He moves quickly. He talks quick. Everybody is very slow compared to him. He’s always at an ATM waiting for the bastard in front of him to finish.
Fassbender: He’s got excellent genes.
Is Quicksilver going to wear the green costume or the blue costume?
Singer: It’s going to be a ‘70s costume. I grew up as a kid in the ‘70s, and I had forgotten how hideous some of the clothes were back then.
McAvoy: I look incredible in this film!
Singer: They make it look quite good. Peter Dinklage looks like my father in this movie. [He laughs.]
Dinklage: That handsome?
Singer: It’s not a wig. That’s his [Peter Dinklage’s] real hair. That’s it. It just can comb like that.
Dinklage: I’ve got a sweet Tom Selleck moustache too.
Hugh, you’ve starred in musicals and big-budget action movies. What unique characteristics do you bring to both?
Jackman: Groove, yeah. I can tell you there won’t be any singing as Wolverine. [He says to people in the audience who are groaning with disappointment] You really want “Wolverine: The Musical”? [He starts to sing] I’m going to slice ‘em! I’m going to dice ‘em!
Thank you for your question. I feel like I’m kind of answering it seriously now. It’s just so weird to play a character seven times.
This is my fourth year at Comic-Con. People used to say to me all the time, “You cannot walk around San Diego as Hugh Jackman.” But I did.
This morning, I got up in my full Wolverine costume — and not one person stopped me. One guy goes, “Yeah, not bad.” And another one said, “Way too tall.”
Who’s your favorite “X-Men” character?
Peters: I’d say Wolverine.
Hoult: I loved Beast in the cartoons [when I was] growing up, but [my favorite “X-Men” character] is Magneto.
McAvoy: Gambit. I thought that he had a crazy accent, and if people understand him, maybe they’ll be able to understand me.
Singer: Professor X, because he’s in charge, and I’m in charge.
Jackman: I love Wolverine, but [my favorite “X-Men” character] is Deadpool.
Stewart: I would like to play any female character in any “X-Men” movie, because then I might stand a chance of winning an Academy Award.
McKellen: If I can’t play the younger Magneto, I’d like to grow wings and play Angel.
Berry: I’d like to give a run at Mystique.
Paquin: Wolverine, unless Rogue can fly. That would be nice. I like the claws.
Ashmore: Without a doubt, Nightcrawler.
Page: I am really into Bishop, I have to say.
Kinberg: I think Mystique, for me, because she can be all these guys.
Shuler Donner: Jean Grey.
Parker: It has to be Wolverine for me.
For more info: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" website