August 3, 2013
Ever since Bryan Singer, director of the upcoming Marvel X-stravaganza surprised fans at San Diego Comic-Con by bringing all top members of the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past has been in the top of the entertainment news feed.
Stories have been multiplying exponentially, as clever, hooking, Web marketing (like the very real-looking Trask Industries web site) and new images of the actors and effects are surfacing, starting enough buzz to keep those already excited and new converts frothing all the way to the May 23, 2014 release date.
With Wolverine, and the accompanying half-dozen magazine covers featuring Hugh Jackman, as well as tweets from very tech-savvy Singer, the stage is being set even nine months out to build a guaranteed blockbuster.
Some of you may ask: “What’s the big deal?” Apart from the movie being based on one of the most mythical stories in the X-Men canon, the acting talent and staggering good looks of the assembled cast is rarified even in this day of Hollywood dream-team casting. Permit Cinema Siren to elucidate exactly how rarified by profiling just 11 of them. (To reference Spinal Tap, “Ours goes to 11.”
One could, indeed, play a parlor game, “Hierarchy of Hotness,” but that might strike as shallow…So our list considers also their talent and experience. Hotness is implied.
1. Hugh Jackman
Perhaps you’ve crawled under a rock and don’t know the “pec-tacular” Jackman, who has become one of the most desired A-listers in Hollywood. He is reputed to be not only hard working but the “nicest guy in Hollywood.” He was nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA (among many other awards) for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. He balances his time onscreen with various stage roles where he can use his talents as a song and dance man. In DOFP, he reprises his role as Wolverine (making him the actor who has portrayed a superhero more than any other actor in film history) and is sent back in time to fix some very bad goings-on that threaten to destroy the future of mutants worldwide, as well as the lives of beloved characters in the Marvel pantheon.
2. James McAvoy
The fandom for McAvoy is vocal and enthusiastic, and for good reason. He just finished a stint as the lead in an extremely physical and intense version of Macbeth in London’s West End that was so well reviewed he was nominated for the Olivier Award. The new and controversial film Filth may be his ticket to the awards circuit this year, just as the very different The Last King of Scotland and Atonement were when they were released. He proved himself action-able in 2008’s Wanted. As Professor X in X-Men: First Class, he raised his actor’s profile enough to be recognized by the most casual filmgoer. In DOFP, his role goes deeper and darker, which will further increase awareness of his talent. A thinking woman’s sex symbol, he is at the top of the go-to list for discriminating directors like Danny Boyle, who cast him in this year’s breakout hit, Trance.
3. Michael Fassbender
If Jackman is the X-Men’s McDreamy, Fassbender is their McSteamy. He and auteur director Steve McQueen have brought attention to each other in their collaborations Hunger and Shame, and are furthering their work with the soon to be released 12 Years a Slave which is already expected to garner Oscar buzz. His role in Shame as a sex addict spiraling out of control brought BAFTA and Critic’s Choice noms. Other directors have jumped on the “Fassy” train, as he has worked with Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), Soderbergh (Haywire), and Scott (Prometheus). In DOFP, he reprises his role as the younger Magneto.
It is no surprise many Americans might not recognize Sy’s name, but in his native France, he is the superstar that made 2011’s The Intouchables the biggest blockbuster in the history of French cinema, winning the country’s equivalent of an Oscar, the Cesar. He is a newcomer to X’s on film, playing Bishop, an antihero character co-created by Jim Lee for “Uncanny X-Men”. As my trusty intern Jonathan says: “He’s a good guy, but in a ‘shoot first, and ask questions later’ kind of way”…How he will be portrayed and how his story unfolds in DOFP is a source of infinite geek conjecture.
5. Patrick Stewart
Using the description offered by a young friend who knew of my article is sorely tempting: “‘Nuff said.” Sir Patrick Stewart, for those of you who are unaware of his long career on stage and screen, sits atop the throne of two fandoms, having not only played Professor X, but Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. His strong voice is so recognizable, he has done much vocal acting. His talent and skill as actor onstage, though, is legendary, as evidenced by his many awards, including several Olivier awards and a Drama Desk Award, among others. He is known for his one-man-play of A Christmas Carol, and has had a long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has been in dozens of Shakespeare productions, including a famed version of Macbeth for Cameron Mackintosh (Cinema Siren saw that in person!), Hamlet, The Tempest, and a race-bending version of Othello for the Shakespeare Theatre in DC where the lead was the only white actor cast. As to his charm, the aforementioned friend was asked her choice for the most attractive member of the cast, and paraphrased Sex and the City… “Patrick Stewart. Then, Now, Forever.” He plays the elder version of Professor X in DOFP.
6. Ian McKellen
Otherwise known as Gandolf, and Sir, is another on the list of actors who has multiple “fandoms” at their beck and call…along with his fellow knight, pal Patrick Stewart, McKellen is the other heaviest hitter in the cast. He has not only been nominated for two Oscars, one for Gandolf in The Lord of the Rings, the other for the fantastic Indie Gods and Monsters (for which he won the Independent Spirit Award), he has won the Critics Choice Award (LOTR) the European Film Award and Evening Standard British Film Award (1995’s Richard III) and has been nominated for many other awards, not least five primetime Emmys and three BAFTAs. An acting powerhouse, he too has blown his way through the plays of Shakespeare, so much so that he had his own one-man play in 1982 called McKellen: Acting Shakespeare (also seen by Cinema Siren). He is a vocal and inspiring campaigner for LGBT rights, and co-founded Stonewall, a lobbying group in the UK. In DOFP, he shares acting duties for the character Magneto with Michael Fassbender.
7. Peter Dinklage
Most will know Dinklage as the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor who plays baddie Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones. In his long career his talent has been repeatedly recognized, most especially as the star in the Indie film, The Station Agent, for which he won awards in multiple film festivals. Members of his considerable long term fan base were over the moon when he was announced as mutant-hating Bolivar Trask for DOFP. You can see him on the viral Trask website here:
8. Jennifer Lawrence
That’s Ms. Katniss Everdeen to you. Most Hunger Games fans will always think of her as their arrow-wielding heroine, but at 23 she has already won many awards, including an Oscar. Nominated for Winter’s Bone and winning for Silver Linings Playbook, fans believe those accolades are only the beginning. She won the Critics Choice Award for both The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook in 2012. With her portrayals of Katniss and now Mystique from the X-Men in DOFP (a role she reprises from X-Men: First Class), she too straddles multiple fandoms.
9. Halle Berry
No one disputes Berry’s acting prowess. She is a stunning former high fashion model and beauty queen (she was 1st runner up for Miss USA) who reached icon status for playing Bond girl Jinx, but she has more than looks in a vast arsenal of awesomeness. Her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball helped her make history as the first female actress of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a female leading role. Playing Storm once again as she did in the previous X-Men films, Berry adds even more female power to DOFP.
10. Anna Paquin
As Sookie Stackhouse, Golden Globe-winning Paquin is known to fans as the non-vamp face of True Blood. She also held the record for the youngest Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress in 1994’s The Piano. The actress has begun producing, with her upcoming film Free Ride in which she also stars. She is playing Rogue in DOFP as she did in X-Men: The Last Stand. She also somehow balances all these meaty items on her plate with being mum to new twins with True Blood co-star and hubby Stephen Moyer.
11. Ellen Page
Page too has Oscar cred, having been nominated for 2007’s Juno. Her passion for acting started early, and her talent was recognized with a Gemini nom and win for 1999’s Pit Pony and 2004’s Mrs. Ashboro’s Cat. Inspired by her work with Christopher Nolan on Inception, she has chosen to expand her artistic reach by taking on the project Miss Stevens as director in 2014. Ellen will reprise her role as Kitty Pryde aka Shadowcat from X-Men: The Last Stand.
Perhaps this breakdown of just a few of those involved in Days of Future Past explains all the hype. Can Singer make good on all the expectations and the colossal talent he has at his disposal? Only time will tell. We send him our hope and wish him good luck. It may be, however, that the director of The Usual Suspects, another movie with a super cast that proved “X-ceptional,” has everything well in hand, and won’t need luck. Judging by the great press and creative promotion, it promises to be nothing short of X-cellent.