Valuable X-perience - The Famke Interview

An interview With X2's Famke Janssen wh
Like Jean Grey, the character she plays in X2:X-Men United, Famke Janssen is evolving.

Born in Holland, she began modelling at an early age so she could study literature and creative writing at Columbia University.

She also studied acting both in New York and Los Angeles.

After small and forgettable roles in Fathers & Sons, Model By Day and Lord of Illusions, Janssen was cast as Bond girl Xenia Onatopp in Golden Eye.

It made her an instant celebrity but it didn't get her choice film roles.

Instead she languished in independent films such as Rounders and Snitch and exploitation flicks like Deep Rising, The Faculty and House on Haunted Hill.


In 1999, director Bryan Singer cast the statuesque beauty as Dr. Jean Grey in X-Men and that made a significant difference.

"The offers definitely got better. I didn't take them all but it was nice to get them," says Janssen.

She chose to play the villain in MIB II the sequel to Men in Black, but had to be replaced when a family member became seriously ill.

She was offered the role of the female cyborg in T3: Rise of the Machines, but considered it too much of a scheduling conflict with her X-Men sequel to jump on board.

"I have a firm commitment to the X-Men movies. They are my priority. I've signed for a third. If, and when, it happens I'll arrange my schedule around it."

Janssen has reason to hope there will be a third and even a fourth X-Men movie.

In the first two films Jean Grey is evolving slowly, but that promises to speed up considerably in future films.

"I'd never read a comic book before I got offered X-Men. When I told people I was playing Jean Grey they were all excited for me," recalls Janssen.

"In the comics her arc becomes quite dark. She turns into Phoenix and then into Dark Phoenix. The battle within her is the battle that exists between the two factions of mutants. I have no idea where the writers will go with Jean's story, but there are some great possibilities and ones I'd really like to explore."

There's another arc Janssen wouldn't mind exploring. "In the comics she and Cyclops (James Marsden) have a child. That's now a possibility since we at least got to kiss in X2: X-Men United."

In X-Men, Jean Grey found herself torn between the attentive advances of Cyclops and the wild howlings of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).

"In real life there are a whole bunch of women who go after the wild, bad guys and actually stay there. Movies tend to have them correct their ways and settle for the gentler, good guy," says Janssen, who was married for five years to writer and director Tod Kip Williams. They divorced in 2000.

The first X-Men was filmed in Toronto; this sequel mostly in Vancouver, with the final scenes shot last November in Kananaskis. "Not to be too unfair to Toronto, but it was an entirely different experience and a far more enjoyable experience," says Janssen. "For one thing we filmed in the summer in Vancouver as opposed to that devastating winter in Toronto.

"Because the first film was such a success, we all got houses to stay in and other perks. It was also far more relaxed on the set because people trusted Bryan's vision for the story and the characters.

"We could tell instantly we were working with a bigger budget because everything was scaled up."


It was during the filming of X2: X-Men United that Halle Berry, who plays Storm, won her best-actress Oscar.

"There was no attitude at all from Halle on her return. If anything she was even more humble and even more low-key. She is much too incredible a person to let something like that affect her.

"It just meant we then had two Oscar-winning actresses in our movie," says Janssen referring to Anna Paquin, who plays Rogue and won her Oscar in 1993 for The Piano.
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The Calgary Sun