No fan of the X-Men comics can call their collection complete without the works of Chris Claremont among them. As one of the key writers for the comics, Chris is known for having developed some of the most important and dramatic stories in the X-universe. When X2: X-Men United hit theaters, Chris was tapped to pen the film's official novelization, and he has reprised the role of author for the X-Men: The Last Stand novelization.
TheXverse: You're taking a break right now - how are you feeling? You've certainly been a very busy guy recently!
Chris Claremont: Im feeling fine. But actually, seems like Ive been a little too busy. Past time, I think, to look after the kids rocketing through school. And then get back to proper work!
TXV: The Dark Phoenix is basically your brainchild. What's it like knowing she'll be stunning and terrifying viewers on the big screen in just a few weeks?
CC: Dead brilliant, to start with. But then, Ive been a fan of Famke Janssens Jean Grey since the first film. Doesnt she look great?
TXV: Did you have any concerns when you learned that she would be one of the main focuses of the film?
TXV: What sort of access did you have to the production?
CC: I flew to Canada in September, to hang out for a bit and shoot my scene, and talk briefly with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and spent two weeks at the Fox Studio in LA writing the book. Both production and studio couldnt have been more helpful which is pretty nice of them considering how much I bugged them over those weeks of production.
TXV: Whose idea was it to have you in a cameo role?
CC: I honestly dont know. One day I got a call from (I believe) Avis #2 Kevin Feige asking if I was available to come out to Vancouver for a couple of days to shoot a cameo. Only problem for me, that very weekend was my kids birthdays. Heartfelt talk with my wife, outrageous promises to my kids, and I was good to go.
TXV: And what was your experience on set like?
CC: The funny thing was, I ended up bringing with me a full load of comics work, which had me spend both days I was on-set working in my trailer finishing it. What was even more interesting was that all the second-unit material shot the first day had to be thrown out by director Brett Ratner because the weather totally changed overnight, overcast skies one day giving way to bright sunlight the next. Oy! But as far as I could see, a great time was had by all and we even got to wish Bryan Singer Happy Birthday by telephone! How easily one comes to take calling from one end of the world to the other.
Then I flew home and got back to normal. Darn it!
TXV: Have you seen a cut of the movie? If so, what do you think?
CC: I havent seen a thing, Im afraid. But the book really looks good!
TXV: Moving on to the book, how strictly did you feel you had to follow the screenplay to write the novelization?
CC: Obviously, the screenplay is the defining element. Whatevers written there is automatically part of the book. On the other hand, characters need a history. Relationships need to be explained, and possibly expanded. Theres plenty of room to play, and the studio and Del Rey were generous enough to let be do so.
TXV: Characters can be written a certain way on the page, but what did you take from the actors' performances to write the characters in the book?
CC: Well. Their dialogue, for one, and their actions in the screenplay. Both of those combined with what Id already seen of the performances from the previous two films become the foundation of each characters behavior. Ian McKellen's interpretation of Magneto is far darker than I portrayed him in the comics, because my vision was of Magneto evolving into a hero. Yet at bedrock the two interpretations were remarkably consistent. I saw and see no real problem in evolving McKellens vision of the character into mine or vice-versa because the essence of the portrayal is true to what appeared in the books. I can pretty much say the same for all the characters; this has been a series of films whose vision of the core characters, and the actors portrayals have been remarkably faithful to and consistent with the source material. Which, being the primary author of that source material, and the greater of many of those characters makes me very proud. My sole regret is that there are no plans to keep the series going. On the other hand, who knows -- maybe even Hollywod minds can change?
TXV: Do you find that when you are writing the characters for the novelizations, they feel very different from when you are writing them for comic books?
CC: Actually, no. Theres a remarkable consistency between the characters as presented in the screenplay and as written by me in the comics. Which, Im sure, carried over to the performances.
TXV: Would you agree that fans wishing to not have their movie experience spoiled should pick up the novelization after they have seen the movie? Or do you feel that it veers away from the film enough to not spoil any major surprises?
CC: Well, those who assumed the X-Men 2 novel was gospel got a big surprise at the last scenes in Canada. And the X3 crew was still shooting for quite a while after we had to lock the book. So I think its safe to say that anythings possible. I think each version provides delights of its own and can be well enjoyed in and of itself.
TXV: You've written the novelization, you had a cameo in the movie and you worked on the game - can we expect to see an X-Men screenplay from you in the future?
CC: We can certainly hope.
TXV: Whats up next for you?
CC: Getting back to work, coming up with stories even better than those already in print. Ive just signed a four year extension on my contract with Marvel, which also allows the opportunity to do some creator-owned work overseas. So in addition to working on the usual assortment of X-projects, I have a three-book series in the pipeline from Panini.
TXV: Any messages that you would like us to pass on to the fans?
CC: Keep reading, and never be afraid to let us know how you feel.
A big thanks to Chris for taking the time to speak to us! X-Men: The Last Stand: The Official Novelization is a 352-page paperback and is available from Del Rey for a suggested retail price of $6.99. You can purchase the book through Amazon.com.
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