The X-Men universe forges ahead with a time travel story and a large cast in X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

THERE are so many big names in the latest X-Men movie, X-Men: Days Of Future Past (DOFP), that the cast was able to divide the film’s promotional duties and proceed to conquer different locations around the world.

This is how Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage and Fan Bingbing came to be in Singapore last week. The stars flew in from Beijing, China, for the film’s South-east Asia premiere in Singapore, before heading out for their final appearance in Melbourne, Australia, all in the span of one week.

Other locations for the event dubbed “X-Men X-Perience” were New York, London, Moscow and
São Paulo. DOFP combines the
talents of the X-Men trilogy cast (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Jackman, Halle Berry, Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore) and the more recent prequel, X-Men: First Class (Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Lucas Till).

Naturally, the question of who had the biggest trailer on the set came up during The Star’s roundtable interview. “Embarrassingly, me,” admitted Jackman, who has been in all seven X-Men films as Wolverine, including the two solo Wolverine movies.

“And I say embarrassingly because I turned up on the first day of shooting and it must be in my deal because they just gave me the trailer I always had. Everyone else had a slightly smaller trailer, so it really looked like I said ‘I want the biggest trailer.’ I never saw myself as a diva but I may have just cast myself in that role,” he said with a laugh.

Jackman – who has neither Wolverine’s perpetual frown nor his penchant for snide remarks (Jackman’s pleasant personality couldn’t be further from Wolverine’s angry one actually) – was quick to impress that there was no ego on the set at all, as everyone is “really genuinely down-to-earth, who love acting. So it’s not like that really.”

Dinklage, who plays the film’s antagonist Dr Bolivar Trask, said that it can be intimidating to be part of a huge project like DOFP, even though he is a regular in the big-budgeted TV series Game Of Thrones.

“On the first day, for me, I sort of get nervous and I forget what I am doing. If it’s good company you are keeping and good story you are telling, the nerves settle and it’s a lot of fun. (Director) Bryan Singer and this group have really set up a warm environment and you really forget you are on a big movie that has a lot has riding on it,” Dinklage said.

DOFP sees Singer – who helmed the first two X-Men movies – return to direct a story based on Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s 1980
X-Men comic book tale.

Mutation, it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve into the dominant species on the planet. – Professor X, X-Men (2000)

Mutants in the near future are hunted down by unstoppable machines called The Sentinels, designed by Trask who sees mutants as a threat to mankind. Mutants who survive the attack have to be on the run, using clever manoeuvres just to stay alive.

Professor X (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellan) come up with a plan to send one of the mutants to the past – 1973 to be exact – to stop a major historical event from happening and hopefully change the awful future.

Wolverine is tasked to go back in time, where he has to find Professor X and Magneto’s younger selves to help him. The only problem is, Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) have great animosity towards each other.

Then, there’s the blue shape-shifter Mystique (Lawrence) executing her own dangerous mission which also affects the future of mutants. It’s up to Wolverine to guide the younger X-Men, especially Charles to become the revered man we know, and put the rest of them on a more hopeful path.

Jackman, 45, found the concept of Wolverine becoming a mentor to a broken Charles interesting. “It was (producer-writer) Simon Kinberg’s invention to reverse the first X-Men movie, when Professor X recruited me – encouraging me, mentoring me – and I am being very reluctantly taken down the path. It’s the same here except it’s done in reverse.

“It’s a very smart idea, setting Wolverine up, where the challenge is not to fight, not to take someone’s head off, not to get mad. He has to bring people together, and it’s something Wolverine is not good at.”

To convince Charles that things are bad in the future, Wolverine allows him to enter his mind so he could see it for himself. According to Jackman, that scene was largely ad-libbed.

“Because I do know the character pretty well at this point, Bryan would often say ad-lib it in. He likes what he had written but a couple of lines were missing. So (for that scene) he just came up to me and said, ‘I just want you to just change everything to what the essence of Wolverine is.’ So, it was all kind of ad-libbed.

“It’s a great way to wake up in the morning when you know you got one-page scene and to just go for it. If you are ever given a task like that as an actor, it’s like dancing, you are only as good as your partner. With James, the depth of his characterisation and the unusual choices he makes, he is always unpredictable. And he did an amazing job filming the scene with Patrick Stewart.”

Dinklage, an X-Men fan, agreed: “You are only as good as the other people you are working with. It was a true collaboration on this film … (which) is, by far, the best one in the series.”

Fan who plays the latest X-Men recruit, Blink – with the power of creating portals – was equally impressed with how all the cast members supported each other.

She recalled: “Everyone was a professional. Halle Berry was so cool about being hung up (on wires) for hours even though she was pregnant.

“And Hugh Jackman would be on the set even when he needn’t be there. He would come in just to play a scene against an actor who is in the shot. He would just stand there for about five hours. It was inspiring to be part of this ensemble.”

X-Men: Days Of Future Past opens in cinemas nationwide today (May 22).

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