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X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

The New Characters
The X-Men comics universe is populated by hundreds of characters, many of whom could not be used in a two-hour motion picture, due to the medium's time constraints. With the announcement of each new "X-Men” movie, fans have weighed in with their thoughts about which characters should appear. Beast and Angel were always at the top of their lists. As plans began to take shape for a third film in the series, the filmmakers at last had a story big enough to accommodate appearances by those much-requested characters.

Once it was decided to include Beast, there came the formidable challenge of casting the role. Beast, who as the story opens is Secretary of Mutant Affairs in the U.S. president's cabinet, is one of the world's experts on mutations and evolutionary human biology. He has extensive knowledge of genetics, biochemistry, and a variety of other scientific fields, and he possesses superhuman strength, agility, endurance and speed, despite his bulk. "Everyone had ideas as to who should play the role,” says co-screenwriter Simon Kinberg. "The most difficult thing about Beast wasn't writing the character, but casting it. To me, the great casting genius of the film is Kelsey Grammer. He inhabits Beast with his voice, demeanor, physicality and eyes.”

Grammer was intrigued by the character's combination of brain and brawn. "Beast is very intelligent,” Grammer recalls. "And he's very slow to fight. But when he does fight, he is magnificent. So I thought, okay, I'd like to play that.”

Known around the globe for his five-time Emmy®-winning role as Dr. Frasier Crane on the classic sitcoms "Cheers” and "Frasier,” Grammer is almost unrecognizable under the multi-layered prosthetics that transformed him physically into Beast.

"When I signed on for the job I realized that I would be doing my first full prosthetic foray, and I must say I had mixed emotions,” says Grammer. "It's very effective in playing the character, and at the same time it's a bit stilting. You have to work a bit harder to get that mask to take on some of your energy. On the plus side, the prosthetic has helped me realize the dynamic power of stillness in a performance. I made a decision to not bring in too much facial energy and instead to rely more on my eyes. It's through his eyes that we see Beast's intellect shine.”

Grammer's makeup took three hours to apply, says Bart Mixon of Spectral Motion, one of the industry's top makeup effects houses, which also designed the special makeup for Angel, Colossus, and Juggernaut. Mixon worked with prosthetic makeup artist Thom Floutz. "Beast's makeup is quite complex,” Mixon explains. "There are five pieces that comprise Beast's head. There's a neck, the skullcap with ears, one big piece for the cheeks and jaw, the forehead, and the lower lip. Then there's the body suit, gloves and feet and…. six hairpieces. The nature of the character required the makeup to be very flexible.”

To comics fans, Angel, played by Ben Foster in the film, is nearly as beloved as Beast. Angel's father, billionaire industrialist Warren Worthington II (played by Michael Murphy) cannot accept Angel's mutation – he has fully feathered wings that span nearly 16-feet, which enable him to fly – and his distress over his son's mutant powers leads him to spearhead the development of the cure.

The introduction of the character in the film, depicting him (as a young boy) trying to do away with the source of his mutant powers, is one of the most telling scenes – a powerful moment of unwarranted shame. "Angel's actions point out how much young people want to fit in, to be liked, and to be like everyone else,” says Foster. "In a way, it sums up what the X-Men are all about: that we all feel like we're different, and that the only course is to accept those differences. If we don't, the results can be ruinous.”

According to Ratner, Foster "really put across Angel's torment

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