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X-Men: First Class - Jason Flemyng and Jane Goldman interview

X-Men: First Class

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JANE Goldman and Jason Flemyng talk about the making of X-Men: First Class, some of the film’s themes and working with director Matthew Vaughn.

Q. Jason, how familiar were you with X-Men prior to being in the film?
Jason Flemyng: Matt [Vaughn] was going to do one of the other X-Men films earlier on, so I was aware of them then and I was going to play The Beast. So, originally I was going to be big, blue and hairy and now I’m bright red and slightly out of focus.

Q. And Jane, how tricky was it to ensure this origins story seamlessly fit within the X-Men universe and real history?
Jane Goldman: I think it would actually be impossible to write any story that fits in with every single part of the X-Men universe because even the comics don’t do it in terms of different storylines and timelines and different writers doing their own take. The films have their own world as well. So, I don’t think there’s any script that could fit in seamlessly with the movie world and every iteration of the comic book world. So, I think the most important thing is to tell a good story but be respectful of the source material and be true to the spirit of it.

Q. How much input do you have on casting?
Jane Goldman: We certainly had conversations about it. Ultimately, of course, the choice is always the director’s but I stick my oar in whenever I can [smiles].

Q. Jason, you’ve worked with Matthew since the early days, so have his working methods changed at all now that he’s directing something as big as this?
Jason Flemyng: I don’t think his methods have changed. Matthew’s not very nomadic and he has this team of people who fluctuate through his movies. Unfortunately, I’ve done them all because I’m always available! But his working method has stayed the same. It’s amazing to be on a movie this big and look out from the stage and see the same sound boys from Lock, Stock and some of the costume people from Lock, Stock...

So, to plot that thing all the way through is amazing. He likes to work in short-hand… Basically, the truth is I was cast so that when he got annoyed with this lot, he could turn to me and say: “Flemyng, you’re an idiot!” So, I just took the abuse. But his method hasn’t changed. He’s got great taste, he casts well and that’s the sort of basis of what he does. He’s managed to change genre and still nail it each time. He’s been brave about it.

Q. This is a 12A rating and yet there’s some strong material in it? What is the youngest age you’d be comfortable with allowing your children to see it?
Jane Goldman: I think it depends on the individual child. And I think only the parent can make that decision for their own child. I wouldn’t want to put a number on it. But as long as kids don’t think that the Cuban missile crisis had anything to do with Mutants [laughs]!

Q. But it’s all about bullying, isn’t it?
Jane Goldman: Absolutely, and there are a lot of things in it that are exceptionally relevant to children.

Q. And Jason?
Jason Flemyng: Well, what was Stardust? That was 12 and there were some witches who had their heads cut off, which disturbed me! So, I think it depends on the kid. I used to get scared by frogs and stuff but something that scares one kid doesn’t scare another. My god-son, when he was nine, watched all the Romero zombie films and wasn’t disturbed by it at all. So, it just really depends on the kid so you can’t really make that decision until you get the tears or they walk out of the cinema. It’s difficult.

Q. So, how did the film’s themes about identity and bullying resonate with you, Jason?
Jason Flemyng: Some of this film is about prejudice and about how people are perceived… you know self hate and some of the other things that have been talked about. So, being part of the unknown minority of ginger haired people… obviously, as I’ve got older it’s faded, which is very depressing! But my wife said that when she was asked about me when we first got together said: “He’s ginger but he’s really lovely!” I think that’s a real indication of how racism and how people judge people without even realising they’re doing it still applies and that’s a big part of this story really.

Q. How did you feel about such an important historical event such as the Cuban missile crisis being appropriated for this movie?
Jane Goldman: Well, I wouldn’t want it to be a gimmick. It was a brilliant idea that Bryan Singer came up with to use the Cuban missile crisis as a backdrop.

Read our review of X-Men: First Class

Read our interview with Michael Fassbender