DF Interview with Nightcrawler

"...everyone in the world apart from me seems to have some idea about how this character should look or read," Cumming said. "So there's been a little pressure."
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Alan Cumming spins quite a tail in his next movie.

As Nightcrawler, the blue-skinned, teleporting mutant introduced in X2, the X-Men sequel, Cumming sports a long, pronged tail. In the film, the tail will be a combination of various prosthetics and computer-generated effects.

"Sometimes I'm wearing it and sometimes I'm not," Cumming says during a recent press conference for the film. "Because sometimes it's done afterwards (with special effects). There are tails of various consistencies of boinginess. If I don't have the full tail, I have this stub thing with dots on it for special effects people to do things with afterwards. And that's quite popular with the ladies (laughs) and the gentlemen as well. … And myself."

Nightcrawler's appearance takes many of the same makeup requirements of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' Mystique.

"Mentally, it's very difficult," Cumming says of the makeup process. "I have to get up very early and I have some lovely, lovely makeup people that do it. You just have to get into a zone where you don't mind people poking at your face for four hours and spraying you with stuff. Sometimes I watch films in the mirror, which is quite hard if they're sub-titled.

"Then I have these tattoos, and I rue the day that I was the one who actually said, 'Yeah, let's go with the tattoos. They're really great.' They take a lot more time to get stuck on. I'm hoping that maybe if there's a sequel there will be some sort of mutant accident that's taken place and Nightcrawler will have no tattoos and will be white.

"The technology in this film is quite incredible with the effects. And I thought maybe the next time I could do the film as me and they could put the makeup on afterwards."

"That's what I used to think," chimes in Romijn-Stamos.

"Yeah, there's also this thing with people who wear contact lenses in the first film," Cumming says. "There's sort of a thing where you pay your dues. Halle (Berry, who plays Storm) and Rebecca don't wear contact lenses any more. I noticed afterwards that I am wearing contact lenses. It must be a kind of rites of passage that you go through. Maybe next time I'll have no contact lenses."

Cumming wasn't aware of X-Men before the film franchise, but quickly has become aware of the characters' popularity. During his recent book tour, he was asked to sign Nightcrawler materials.

"It's quite impressive, actually, because not only am I playing sort of a blue mutant with all these odd physical things, but also everyone in the world apart from me seems to have some idea about how this character should look or read," Cumming said. "So there's been a little pressure.

"So, yeah, I read some comics and listened to some people. It's kind of hard because halfway through the film, I realized that Mystique is my mother. It's an ongoing learning curve."

Fox tried to keep the character's appearance under wraps initially, which created some humorous moments.

"Nightcrawler's always been an X-person, but he's not been in the film before," Cumming says. "So they're very, very secretive. I would have all this blue makeup on, and they would make me wear this sort of cloak with a hood. I looked like the Grim Reaper. I could sort of see through it, but I would have to work from my trailer to the set with this on, so in case of paparazzi in the trees, they would just see the Grim Reaper. And I used to call it my burka. Not only did I have to be in makeup in four hours, but then cover my head in public.

"But then, an official photo shoot that I did, the photo got leaked out. But I was squatting and I had a hole in my trousers for the tail to come out. You could see my underpants and then they were going to Photoshop the trousers on top of the underpants. And that photo with the underpants showing was leaked. It was on all the Internet and newspapers in Britain and everything.

"And there was a big thing on these fan sites, 'What's thing this with Nightcrawler showing his underpants? Is he gay? Is he gay?' And then they're going, 'I always thought he was gay.'

"It was just the weirdest thing. It was bad enough that even though I was wearing this burka for months and now everyone thinks that I'm going to be playing this gay super-hero with his Calvin Kleins sticking out of his costume."
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