X-Men: Apocalypse marks the end for some cast members

By Michele Manelis

The stars and director of X-Men: Apocalypse look back at their time on the franchise and what’s in store in the closing chapter to the second trilogy for the mutant superheroes.

Of this is her last X-Men movie, Jennifer Lawrence will be a little blue. Then again, if she ever returns as the shape-shifting Mystique/ Raven, she'll be even bluer.

Her mutant character's default setting is an all-over cobalt covering, yellow eyes and red hair. That's required the Oscar-winning actress and Hunger Games star to have spent her time on the superhero films - First Class, Day of Future Past and now Apocalypse - in three or more hours of makeup before every Mystique scene.

She's got used to the regime through the trilogy, a prequel to the X-Men films, which now arrives in the early 80s after Mystique went public while saving President Nixon from being killed in the back-to-the-1970s Days of Future Past.

Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.
Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.

Still, while she might be on blockbuster wages, Lawrence had to suffer for her art. Though she wouldn't mind having to do it again, even with Mystique's skintight covering requirements.

"Having to go to the bathroom is always a problem. And taking it off is really hard, and because they glue it and it's intense glue that is supposed to hold all day and you sweat 15-16 hours, getting it off always leaves a mark. Plus, I am allergic to adhesive, so that is nice.

"But you don't ever get bored when you are playing the same character because the character is always growing and changing so you are not playing the same person in the same place. So I still feel that now, like, where would we even be next? But creatively I don't feel done with the character."

Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.
Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.

Apocalypse marks the end of their three-movie contract for Lawrence, as well as for James McAvoy (Professor Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and Rose Byrne (CIA agent Moira MacTaggert), who all began with 2011's 1960s prequel First Class.

Fassbender, currently filming in Sydney, won't miss some aspects of playing the high-flying master metal manipulator.

"I don't like spending time in a harness if I'm being totally honest. It's pretty uncomfortable for the old private parts ... and I am not crazy about heights."

"If we don't make any more, that is sad but we have had an amazing time," adds McAvoy, who - spoiler alert - finally acquires the bald head to match Charles Xavier/Professor X's older depiction by Patrick Stewart.

"I have very much enjoyed subverting the archetype of Professor X and subverting even what Patrick did and I love what Patrick did. But I enjoyed presenting something different to the audience. I have always seen [my character] as Charles rather than as the Professor.

"But now he has kind of got to admit that he is the Professor. So hopefully [fans] will accept my Professor."

And no he didn't mind the chop.

"I liked being bald."

But it appears that McAvoy can keep his hair on for the forseeable future.

There's no word on any further X-Men ensemble excursions, though the spinoffs will continue to spin. Among them are a third outing for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine - who isn't a major player in Apocalypse - and a sequel to this year's runaway hit Deadpool, which has now grossed more than US$760 million ($1.12 billion), making it the biggest and, given its relatively small budget, most profitable X-Men movie yet.

So X-Men: Apocalypse has much to live up to. There's that name, which has a certain finality to it, for one thing. Plus it's the third superhero v superhero film of the year. It's also the second finale in an X-Men trilogy - the first one of those, 2006's Last Stand is regarded as one of the worst of the franchise.

Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.
Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.

Apocalypse is Bryan Singer's fourth X-Men as director, though he's been producer on every one since the 2000 original, the film that essentially kicked off the era of the serious superhero movie.

While the X-Men is a Marvel comic, the X-Men movies have been housed with 20th Century Fox and not Disney's Marvel Studios, home of The Avengers. Though there has been a small crossover between the teams. The character Quicksilver appeared in both X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Played by Evan Peters, he returns in Apocalypse.

Singer's new film pits Professor X and gang not just against old foe Magneto but the villain of the title. Apocalypse, was an original mutant born and regarded as a deity in ancient Egypt. He has woken from a long hibernation to fix - well, destroy - a world where mutants and humans now live side by side.

With his seemingly God-like powers, Apocalypse recruits Magneto to his cause.

Apocalypse is played beneath some serious makeup and digital effects by Oscar Isaac. It's the rising American star's second blockbuster franchise sign-on after Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

There are other newbies in the film, including Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones) as Jean Grey, Aussie actor Kodi Smit-McPhee (who starred opposite Fassbender in the NZ-shot indie Western Slow West) as Nightcrawler, and Olivia Munn (The Newsroom) as Psylocke, one of Apocalypse's accomplices.

Lawrence's Raven/Mystique is charged with acting as den mother to the new recruits.

Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.
Scene from X-Men Apocalypse.

"Fassbender, McAvoy and I, we are all very used to each other," says Lawrence. "So it was nice to bring in some young blood."

McAvoy: "I have only done X-Men for six years, but it was really interesting to see a whole bunch of new people come in because they are all having to deal with a very peculiar challenge, which is, how do you play a superhero? How do you take yourself and the story seriously when you are wearing spandex and all those kinds of things?

"X-Men can sometimes take itself very seriously and it's got a classical energy to it and there's a lot of deep emotional relationships that drive most of the storylines in the movie. So watching people try to struggle with that was quite interesting."

Meeting the younger version of characters was always Singer's plan with the prequels. But it had to be done in stages.

"I always knew when I pitched X-Men: First Class to the studio and I produced it, wrote the story for it, what I wanted to do. I wanted to eventually work our way to meeting Jean, young Scott, young Storm. But I didn't believe you could do it until we understood the origins.

"And so First Class was, step one - introduce the origins of the greatest frenemies in comic book history. And then from there, tell the Days of Future Past. And then, build to this moment."

Even with the trilogy coming to an end, Singer, for one, won't be departing the world of the X-Men any time soon.

"X-Men's been part of my life for 20 years. And I can't imagine just suddenly saying, 'this is my last one', or abandoning it. It's too special a place."

What: X-Men: Apocalypse
When: Opens in cinemas May 19

- TimeOut

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