Bryan Singer Talks X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST; Says It Will Be the Biggest Film He’s Ever Made and Reveals Richard Nixon Is a Character

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With the critical and commercial success of director Mathew Vaughn’s 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the X-Men franchise had been sufficiently revitalized and fans were eager to see more of the First Class characters in a sequel.  Though it would have been easy for 20th Century Fox to simply continue the story in the 1970s as we follow the rift between Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and James McAvoy’s Professor X, the studio is taking a more ambitious approach to the follow-up.  X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer is onboard to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the film’s story will follow the comics arc of the same name that involves time travel and dystopian futures, with a number of past actors from the X-Men franchise reprising their roles.

Steve recently spoke with Singer in anticipation of the director’s upcoming fantasy adventure Jack the Giant Slayer, and the filmmaker talked at length about X-Men: Days of Future Past, revealing that filming will take place from April to October of this year and talking about how he assembled the giant cast and how he came to replace Vaughn as director.  Singer also revealed that he’ll be shooting the movie in 3D (not at 48 fps), Richard Nixon is a character, and it will be the biggest movie he’s ever made.  Hit the jump to read on.

bryan-singer-x-men-days-of-future-pastSteve first asked Singer if he knew their shooting dates yet, and the director revealed that Days of Future Past will have a very long production schedule:

“I start shooting April 15th in Montreal, probably until October.  It’s a big movie.  It’ll be the biggest movie I’ve ever made.”

The director went on to confirm that he’ll be shooting the film in native 3D but not in 48 frames per second (or “high frame rate”), and talked a bit about adapting such a beloved comics arc:

“Well you have to capture the essence of those stories, and if you try to do every single detail that’s in this story, that can be too much for a movie.  But if you can grab the essence of that story and those characters, and then realize it’s a movie it’s not a comic book so there are certain parameters that are different, it’ll still be satisfying to fans and non-fans.”

jennifer-lawrence-nicholas-hoult-x-men-days-of-future-pastPrevious reports pegged the film’s timeline as taking place in the 1970s, and Singer confirmed this fact while also revealing that Richard Nixon is a character in the pic:

“Part of it takes place in the 1970s.  And Richard Nixon’s in it, that’ll be an interesting casting choice…  There’ll also be some more science-fiction-type aspects to the story and, without giving it away, some technology that we haven’t seen yet in the X-Men universe.”

The filmmaker also talked about putting together the film’s massive cast, which mixes the First Class cast members with actors from the earlier X-Men films: 

“I got the impression that everyone was kind of excited to come back.  The actors from X-Men: First Class are contracted to, but the ones I’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic.  Jen’s very excited, I’m with Nick these past few days and he’s excited, and Hugh, Ian, Patrick, Anna—they remember we felt very good about those first two X-Men films back then and I think there’s a good feeling about all of us working together again, and I’m very excited to work with the new cast members as a director as opposed to just a producer.”

x-men-days-of-future-pastMatthew Vaughn was set to direct Days of Future Past for quite some time, but when he abruptly dropped off the project, Singer quickly stepped in to take the helm.  The filmmaker talked about making the leap from producer to director while on a working vacation in Hawaii:

“I was on a boat off the coast of Hawaii on a working vacation, I was with John Orloff, the screenwriter of the Battlestar Galactica movie which I’ve had to step away from at the moment, obviously for this, and I was working with him and Jason Taylor who runs my company.  We were on a boat and we were doing some work but also relaxing a bit and I had had a drink, so I was a little relaxed, and I didn’t even realize I had phone service so I took the phone out of my pocket and it was a call from Emma Watts at the studio.  She just said, ‘Matthew’s not doing the movie, would you like to direct it?’  I wasn’t sure that was actually the case, I thought maybe it was a momentary issue they were having.

I didn’t know what to think, and then [screenwriter] Simon [Kinberg] called me up to prepare me to get the draft, because I needed to get the most recent draft at that point to make that decision.  And then Matthew called me the next day and that’s when I realized [it was real], and I said, ‘Are you sure?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah I’m sure,’ and he explained his reasons and I thought, ‘Okay, well I need to get into this.’  So it was a little like, “Oh, okay well now I know what the next year will be.’”

Read the transcript of Steve’s conversation with Singer regarding X-Men below, and look for the full interview closer to the release of Jack the Giant Slayer.  Fox will release X-Men: Days of Future Past in 3D on July 18, 2014.

bryan-singer-x-men-days-of-future-pastCollider: Do you have your shooting dates yet?

Bryan Singer: Yeah I start shooting April 15th in Montreal.

And how long are you gonna be up there for?

Singer: Probably until October.

That’s a healthy shoot.

Singer: It’s a big movie.  It’ll be the biggest movie I’ve ever made.

I’ve been so impressed that you’ve been able to put together this incredible cast for the sequel.  How difficult was it for you to get all these people involved?

Singer: I got the impression that everyone was kind of excited to come back.  The actors from X-Men: First Class are contracted to, but the ones I’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic.  Jen’s very excited, I’m with Nick these past few days and he’s excited, and Hugh, Ian, Patrick, Anna—they remember we felt very good about those first two X-Men films back then and I think there’s a good feeling about all of us working together again, and I’m very excited to work with the new cast members as a director as opposed to just a producer. 

Are you shooting the film in 3D and might you be using high frame rate?

Singer: I don’t think the high frame rate would make sense for this movie, but I will be shooting native 3D, yeah.

Are you gonna use the same camera package, are you using Red Epic?

Singer: I’m not sure yet, I haven’t made that decision yet.  I’m looking at a few systems, so we’ll see.

x-men-days-of-future-pastI’m such a huge fan of the John Byrne/Chris Claremont comics, I think that it’s probably, if not the best, one of the best of the X-Men storylines.  How challenging has it been for you guys to adapt what fans love into a successful movie?

Singer: Well you have to capture the essence of those stories, and if you try to do every single detail that’s in this story, that can be too much for a movie.  But if you can grab the essence of that story and those characters, and then realize it’s a movie it’s not a comic book so there are certain parameters that are different, it’ll still be satisfying to fans and non-fans. 

One of the things that excites me about you taking on X-Men again is the advancement in technology.  What technological advancements in the past few years might you be able to apply to future films like X-Men or another thing in the future?

Singer: Well I love the motion capture technology, that’s exciting for certain things.  But just qualitatively, you can do more qualitatively.  I was rewatching the X-Men films and I realized how poor the quality of Mystique’s transformation was, for instance, in those early films.  It’s almost like the blue animation was just resting on top of her skin and there was no incorporation with the actual flesh.  So just stuff like that, just better quality visual effects. 

x-men-shawn-ashmore-ellen-pageI’ve seen on Twitter that you’ve been working on the script.  Are you pretty close to having a locked screenplay?

Singer: There’s no such thing as a locked screenplay (laughs).  Maybe with Aaron Sorkin, but it’s really an ever-evolving process.  The actors haven’t had a draft yet so I’m trying to get a draft to them soon, and I just wanna do one more pass with Simon [Kinberg] before I give them a draft and then keep working from there.  That’s how you get double golden rod, triple salmon colored pages.  You’re always just coming up with stuff.

When we left at the end of First Class it was in the late 60s, and rumors have been online that the sequel takes place in the 70s.  Are those rumors true and have you guys figured out when it takes place?

Singer: Yeah we have and part of it takes place in the 1970s.  And Richard Nixon’s in it, that’ll be an interesting casting choice.  I can tell you that, that’s a little confirmation I guess. 

How far into the “future” are you planning on going?  Is that something that you’re really looking forward to exploring?

Patrick-Stewart-Ian-McKellen-X-Men-days-of-future-pastSinger: Yeah, and there’ll also be some more science-fiction-type aspects to the story and, without giving it away, some technology that we haven’t seen yet in the X-Men universe.

What was it like for you getting the phone call from Fox saying, “Hey, would you consider directing this thing?”

Singer: Well it was very weird.  I was on a boat off the coast of Hawaii on a working vacation, I was with John Orloff, the screenwriter of the Battlestar Galactica movie which I’ve had to step away from at the moment, obviously for this, and I was working with him and Jason Taylor who runs my company.  We were on a boat and we were doing some work but also relaxing a bit and I had had a drink, so I was a little relaxed, and I didn’t even realize I had phone service so I took the phone out of my pocket and it was a call from Emma Watts at the studio.  She just said, “Matthew’s not doing the movie, would you like to direct it?”  I wasn’t sure that was actually the case, I thought maybe it was a momentary issue they were having. 

I didn’t know what to think, and then Simon called me up to prepare me to get the draft, because I needed to get the most recent draft at that point to make that decision.  And then Matthew called me the next day and that’s when I realized, and I said, “Are you sure?” and he was like, “Yeah I’m sure,” and he explained his reasons and I thought, “Okay, well I need to get into this.”  So it was a little like, “Oh, okay well now I know what the next year will be.”  Jason Taylor, the head of my company, looked across the table at me on the boat and he just saw my facial expression, because suddenly when you know that your whole next two years are gonna change, it does cause a reaction.

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