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25 May 2005 @ 02:43 pm
XMEN 3...Casting news! Kelsey Grammer to play The Beast...  
...and other Comics to Film news in an interview with Avi Arad...

Strange Mutations
We chat X-Casting, FF and more in an exclusive 1:1 with Marvel's Avi Arad!

May 18, 2005 - The name Avi Arad might not be a household one, but you've probably got a few movies bearing his name on your DVD shelf – X-Men, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Daredevil are just a few.
As the president and CEO of Marvel Studios, he heads a production juggernaut that's currently nurturing two franchises and hoping for a few more with the imminent arrival of the long awaited big screen debut of The Fantastic Four.

Avi took a break from his hectic schedule to announce an important piece of X-Men 3 casting, plus The Thing, Marvel's Hollywood future, and more…

IGN FILMFORCE: So, I hear you've got some news…

AVI ARAD: I've got some news… Basically, it's casting news. Kitty Pryde is in this movie, but we didn't pick the actress yet, so that will be a couple of days. The same with Angel. You already know we're looking for Angel. After the weekend, I think Angel will be done. Juggernaut is Vince Jones, which, I think, there's some prior knowledge, but that's now done.

IGNFF: That's confirmed…

ARAD: That's confirmed. The big news is that we have Beast in the movie in a major, major role, and Beast is Kelsey Grammer.

IGNFF: Really… I'm stunned… That's actually brilliant casting.

ARAD: That's what I thought!

IGNFF: Am I to assume this is a voiceover role with a CG character, or is there talk of make-up?

ARAD: No, there will be make-up and prostheses. It will be a combination of artforms to bring it to life, but a lot of it will maintain around his face – his eyes, his mouth, and so on. It will be very much like the kind of stuff we did with The Thing…

IGNFF: Well, I hope it comes off better than The Thing…

ARAD: Well, you didn't see it finished yet – Give us a shot, man!

IGNFF: Well, when all of the advertising looks nothing like The Thing that I fell in love with, that certainly turns me off to it…

ARAD: Which part of it that you fell in love with didn't you get?

IGNFF: Any emotion in the face – much of which, as a design element, is conveyed by the missing brow…

ARAD: Okay, so here's the deal we make – let's make a pact. As soon as you see the movie, you give me a call, and let's see what you tell me about the emotion out of the face.

IGNFF: I will make this pact with you, and ring you up at the office…

ARAD: Absolutely. Because I think when you see what Michael is doing with his face in the movie, emotionally, you're going to be blown away.

IGNFF: When you talk about realizing the Beast with similar kinds of techniques, what is your belief on this sort of redesign process on these iconic characters – because The Thing has had an iconic look that's been rather consistent for 99% of the book's history…
ARAD: So will be Beast, by the way… So will be Beast…

IGNFF: As a character, the Beast underwent a redesign a few years back to look more like the Ron Perlman Beast character from the Beauty and the Beast TV show from the late 80's…

ARAD: Right…

IGNFF: That more feline kind of look. Whereas the original blue version of the Beast looks much better in the sense that it wouldn't be perceived as ripping off the design from that TV show, which the current visual iteration of the character most certainly does.

ARAD: Right. What you'll see in the movie, it will be a combination of – we'll call it the "90's Beast" – more like, if you remember, from our animated show.

IGNFF: The classic more canine look…

ARAD: But even more important, it has the supreme intelligence look. You're going to get really close to his eyes, to his face, and so on. And obviously Kelsey has this delivery of a college professor. You expect his intelligence and warmth and calming ways, and as important with Beast is the way Beast reacts to adversity and violence, and so on. Knowing how powerful he is, he can almost be forgiving of it, and in some ways make fun of it in a gentle way without trying to hurt anybody.

IGNFF: As a character, I assume he's going to be presented as always being this blue, hairy version of the Beast – or is it showing the same transformation that the comics did years ago?

ARAD: You mean as young Hank?

IGNFF: Right.

ARAD: Ummmm… Well…

IGNFF: Since obviously a reference was made to the character in X2…

ARAD: Correct. So obviously, young Hank wouldn't be Kelsey… If there is a young Hank! If, if, if there is a young Hank! But the idea is that what you're going to see is that Beast is a major, major role, and I do believe we're going to outdo 1 and 2, because we have a bigger idea – a bigger concept 0 for this movie.

**Rest of interview behind the cut**

IGNFF: So what are all these rumors going around regarding casting for Young Xavier and Gambit? Has that been locked down yet?

ARAD: Hmmm… I cannot comment on it. That takes away all of the fun out of the mystery!

IGNFF: But I would be remiss in my duty if I didn't at least ask…

ARAD: No, no – you should! Absolutely.

IGNFF: Does that mean you're going to confirm Venom and Sandman as the villains for Spider-Man 3?
ARAD: Who? Ohhh boy…

IGNFF: Is that a no?

ARAD: Of course not! Venom? Venom is not even a Marvel character. And Sandman? Isn't that from DC?

IGNFF: Oh, of course… that's it…

ARAD: That's it. No wonder. You're good, man! You're good! (laughing)

IGNFF: So while we're full of assumptions, I shouldn't bandy about names like The Vulture…

ARAD: Vulture is a bird… (laughing)

IGNFF: You play this game far too well…

ARAD: Oh, man, you know… Years of following you online. You have to understand that, in my life – first thing in the morning, some people look at Wall Street or the news. I start with, "Okay – who wants me dead today?"

IGNFF: Well, I have to be honest – I've been less than thrilled with the direction of the Fantastic Four project.

ARAD: I'm telling you – I cannot wait for you to call me and say…

IGNFF: Are we putting a bet on this? I'll put a bet down on it…

ARAD: Yeah, I'll put a bet!

IGNFF: A symbolic $1 bet…

ARAD: No problem! A happy dollar… You got it! I'm telling you that Ben Grimm – the characters I really love in our universe, believe it or not, is Ben and Beast. I love the "Don't judge a book by its cover." Add a dollar to the bet that Ben is going to make you cry.

IGNFF: So a $2 bet…

ARAD: Yup. And if you choke on a tear and you say, "Oh my god" – okay? – that makes the bet two bucks.

IGNFF: I will be brutally honest with you… I have no reason to lie to you about it…

ARAD: Oh, I know. Listen, you speak your piece and that's how it should be. Listen, I try to be honest about my feelings about our movies – as much as I can do it politely without hurting anybody.

IGNFF: Hey, nobody wants you guys to succeed more than I do.

ARAD: Oh, I know – but I can tell you that this is going to be the feel-good film of the summer.

IGNFF: Are you at all worried that the Fantastic Four, at this point – for the uninitiated that don't know the characters or their long history, which also contains a good deal of the mainstream press – is largely being seen as derivative of The Incredibles?

ARAD: No no… I like that. We've taken the bull by the horn and we are educating a whole new generation. If you turn on kids TV, for example, you'll see the stuff that we are doing through Toy Biz. One of the most successful things we did this year – we have this thing called "Do The Right Thing," which is a school program, and the Fantastic Four deal with science and different things, and it is sent directly to schools. So kids are getting to know it… Everybody is getting to know it. Listen – after Thursday night, with the new trailer on Star Wars, there'll be no place to hide. Everybody's going to see it and enjoy it, and as new trailers come in, you'll see more of the effects, and The Thing with the retouching, of course, which you didn't see yet. But most important, the whole idea behind this contraption with Chiklis is never to lose the emotion – and you will see the frowning and the smiling and the loving, and all this stuff, come to life completely.

IGNFF: Obviously the character has a history of a progressive changing in his appearance when he first became The Thing – are you going to surprise me and, at the end of the film, he looks like the way The Thing should be, brow line and all? Because there was a piece of advertising artwork that went out a few weeks back that had a slightly more pronounced brow ridge – not like it should be, but certainly more than it was…

ARAD: You will have to wait and see.

ARAD: I promise you one thing – the one thing I can guarantee you…
IGNFF: That you'll be winning the bet?

ARAD: Well, you know what? I think I will. But more important, I think you're going to fall in love all over again with Ben Grimm.

IGNFF: God, I hope so. As you know from dealing with these properties, everybody has one that their more attached to – the touchstone – be it Spider-Man or X-Men…

ARAD: I know you are FF. I know that. And therefore I am so confident that you will feel the tragedy and the victory of Ben Grimm…

IGNFF: But if I don't…

ARAD: Then I lost two bucks! What can I do?

IGNFF: And I'm going to go and cry over those two dollars.

ARAD: There's nothing I can do about that! All that I can do is really try and capture the character and use Ben for what we should, and introduce Alicia, and make sure it's what you wanted from the books. What does it mean to be him, after? And what does it mean to want to be normal? And then having to make some decisions…

IGNFF: On a side tangent, what is the current thinking behind what to do with Captain America? Are you looking at it being a period piece – which is what I would hope – or are you going to make it a mostly modern piece?

ARAD: Well, it's a little early, but I can tell you that there will definitely be a period piece within it.

IGNFF: As a framing device?

ARAD: Not necessarily… Listen, it's an origin story – it can't be a framing device, it's too big a part. But I can not go into more detail, other than to tell you that, trust me, you're going to see how this man became who he is – how this young lad became who he is. And for that, you have to go somewhere in the past.

IGNFF: Since we last spoke, have you figured out yet exactly what Marvel project Joss Whedon is going to work on?

ARAD: You know what? He's been so busy. Recently, we got together, and I cannot wait. Let him release his movie, clean up his head…

IGNFF: Get past that DC character he's working on…

ARAD: Well, you know, that's okay. All guys as talented as him are looking at many, many projects, and who knows? So it's a year from now. A year in our business is nothing.

IGNFF: So post-Fantastic Four – and excluding the marquee titles like X-Men and Spider-Man – what is the one film you're most looking forward to getting off the boards, and why?

ARAD: You're talking about non-sequels… new stuff?

IGNFF: Right.

ARAD: There's so many of them that excite me. One of them is obviously Sub-Mariner, because it takes you to a new world. Nick Fury & SHIELD is a project we've been working on for quite awhile, and we now have a direction that makes that very interesting for Marvel. I don't want to spell it out because other people read your site! I don't want to give anybody an idea!

IGNFF: What are you trying to say?

ARAD: We like what we are doing with Nick. They're all exciting in their own ways.

IGNFF: So what will be Marvel's first CG project?

ARAD: I don't know yet. We're looking at a bunch of things. In some ways, every project we do is CG in some ways…

IGNFF: Well, obviously there were those talks you had with Pixar last year…

ARAD: Yeah… Well… You know what? You have to have something that looks right. Shrek was so smart because they took human features and put them on imperfect human features, so they didn't have the same responsibility and aggravation of making things look perfectly human. So I thought that was pretty smart. The Incredibles was very smart. We have to find something that is unique to us, and we're looking at different things. We're not going to rush into it just because there seems to be a trend. We have to find something that translates right and still represents our universe. I don't think anything for us, at this point, replaces the opportunity of Thor, Sub-Mariner, Deathlok, or all this stuff that we are working on, that is all so different.

IGNFF: And what of Mort the Dead Teenager?
ARAD: It's holding for other reasons. It's moving forward, because there's something we want to do, but right now it's on hold because of all this Paramount thing. You'll figure it out.

IGNFF: And reflecting back on where it all started, is there a plan in place yet to finally translate ticket sales to comic sales? Because there still hasn't been that crossover of people who love Spider-Man: The Movie flooding into buy Spider-Man: The Comic.

ARAD: Well, actually, after Spider-Man: The Movie, there was a huge spike in children reading Spider-Man.

IGNFF: But it was just that – a spike. Those new readers went away shortly thereafter.

ARAD: Part of it is distribution, in all fairness, and as maybe you do or don't know, our distribution is now going to 7-Eleven…

IGNFF: Has it decided which titles are making that transition, and when?

ARAD: That will be announced pretty soon. And the product is right for that – for the right age.

IGNFF: Which has been a considerable problem in the past, regarding bringing new young readers in. There simply wasn't anything appropriate for them in the Marvel line…

ARAD: Well, some of our titles are doing very big numbers…It's starting to remind me of the 90's…

IGNFF: But those are big numbers for the current depressed market – not big numbers for what the industry once was…

ARAD: To have a 300,000 piece book in our market today – that's a huge number.

IGNFF: But that's 300,000 for a single issue…

ARAD: Avengers…

IGNFF: But that's not sustained readership. That's a spike again…

ARAD: Yeah, but you can put excuses on either side of this assumption. People are reading them. There are more and more books now getting into the numbers where we would like to see them, and this demand is happening because the books are better. Listen, I am very proud of what we are doing with comics. I think we are writing better books than we wrote 10 years ago, and it shows. And we worked very hard to get distribution in place where younger kids can get to it, and we are going to the schools. It's such a beautiful artform. If it's written right, we want more and more kids to get into it. We are proud of this.

IGNFF: Beyond just the distribution, arguments are beginning to flare about the extreme rise in price point for a single book – how can you expect a kid to pay $3 for a single 22-page comic? Are there thoughts of introducing a lower price point comic line?

ARAD: Yes – something like that is definitely coming. We're going to do it with a major chain. I cannot go into details on it right now until it is all done. Listen – our job is to put a book into the hands of kids. Kids should read these things. These are fun. These are great. We all grew up on it, we love it, and we want other people to experience it. The only reason they didn't experience it, obviously, are choices – television, videogames, you name it. You will see the major chains going back into the comic book business in a major way, and that will take care of this issue.

IGNFF: Well, in a little over a month, I'll let you know if you won the bet. I'm hoping you do…

ARAD: Okay, man!


Another article about the Xmen 3 casting...

Grammer, Grace in X3
Beast and Kitty Pryde cast but what of Colossus?

May 18, 2005 - Variety reports that Emmy-winner Kelsey Grammer has been cast as loquacious, furry mutant Dr. Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, in X-Men 3.
"Kelsey was born to play the role," Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad informed the trade. "This is a big role in the new movie, and when we met with him, you can see that Kelsey has that you'd-better-have-a-dictionary-handy intelligence."

IGN FilmForce's own Ken Plume also talked to Avi Arad about Grammer's casting, and Arad discussed how Beast will be brought to life onscreen, saying "there will be make-up and prostheses. It will be a combination of artforms to bring it to life, but a lot of it will maintain around his face – his eyes, his mouth, and so on. It will be very much like the kind of stuff we did with The Thing." Check out our exclusive interview with Avi Arad discussing the new X3 casting, Fantastic Four, and more!

Variety also confirms that Vinnie Jones is in talks to portray the villainous Juggernaut in the sequel, and that Maggie Grace (TV's Lost, The Fog remake) is in talks to play Kitty Pryde. The trade adds that 20th Century Fox "is also searching for an actor to play Angel, a handsome winged mutant who is ashamed of his feathery appendages."

IGNFF's trusty X3 source advised us that the only major parts left to cast are Angel and Colussus. Yes, that's right. X2's Daniel Cudmore will not be returning and the role of the steely Russian strongman will be recast.

In related news, Superhero Hype claims that unknown actor Scott Madej has been cast in X-Men 3 as either Gambit or young Professor X (possibly in flashbacks to Juggernaut's origin).

X-Men 3 begins filming this summer for a Memorial Day weekend 2006 release.
-- IGN FilmForce

monetrenee on May 25th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC)
Ooh I think Kelsey Grammer would be really good!!! I can't wait for X-3!!!!!
Markboywondermark on May 25th, 2005 11:17 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't have thought of Kelsey, but what a cool choice!
Dan the gnomebrewergnome on May 25th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC)
Hmm... perfect personality, I'm not sure how they'll maneage the physicality of it, but I'll hold my optimism, since I like him.
Mark: slenderboywondermark on May 25th, 2005 11:19 pm (UTC)
It's an inspired choice...I leave it to the makeup folks and the CGI team to make him believeable! :)
Dan the gnomebrewergnome on May 26th, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC)
Definately. As I said, he's TOTALLY got the personality for it. The wise and brilliant professor type.
Mark: coyoteboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see who they cast as The Angel and, if he's in the movie, who they cast as Gambit! It also says they are recasting Colossus!
Dan the gnomebrewergnome on May 26th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
Aww, but colossus was adorable!
Mark: Bathtimeboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
I thought so too, Dan! When I saw X2, I was hoping to see more of him!
Dan the gnomebrewergnome on May 26th, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
You mean, of course, more of him... shirtless.
Mark: Riverboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
LOL...I wouldn't have been adverse to seeing him shirtless, pantless, undie-less, etc! Would satisfy an odd curiosity when he went to 'organic steel'! :)
Dan the gnomebrewergnome on May 26th, 2005 03:28 pm (UTC)
You mean, "is it still soft?"
Mark: Hanboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 03:35 pm (UTC)
LOL! Yep!! I mean...his hair gets all hard and all!
dendroidmandendroidman on May 28th, 2005 09:05 am (UTC)
lol prepar to experiance the hardest stiffy you have ever had. lol
Mark: farmboyboywondermark on May 28th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
LOL...and just imagine the 'discharge'!
dendroidmandendroidman on May 31st, 2005 02:06 am (UTC)
lol dear god!!! gives a new meening to "pissing bullets" ;)
A.M.ultimategirl on May 26th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC)
When I first heard of the casting of Kelsey Grammer as Beast I wasn't too sure about it. But on further consideration I think it's a really good choice.
Mark: Riverboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 02:21 am (UTC)
That's kind of how I took it...a bit startled...then skeptical...then, "Hey, this could really work!"
Jamar <3's youdiamondshadow on May 26th, 2005 01:20 am (UTC)
Patrick Stewart and now Kelsey Grammer!!! Yeah, I'm DEFINITELY in heaven ^_^
Mark: Hanboywondermark on May 26th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
YAY! I can't wait to see this, Jamar!
dendroidmandendroidman on May 28th, 2005 09:09 am (UTC)
i bet he'll make a great beast. a good choice i think. that sucks that they are getting a new colossus. i like the last one alot. but hay they might make up for it with gambit. hes always been the cool guy. and i thought he was so hot back in the day. lol
Markboywondermark on May 28th, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'll be interested in seeing who they will get to play Gambit...I have my own choices! :)
dendroidmandendroidman on May 31st, 2005 02:10 am (UTC)
ha ha ha. how bout you show us some of your suggestions? ;)