SAN DIEGO — "X-Men: Days of Future Past" combines much of the casts from the first three "X-Men" films as well as the 2011 prequel, "X-Men: First Class," thanks to a time-travel plot straight out of the comics. But only Hugh Jackman — the dude who has held onto the same superhero role in more movies than anyone ever — had the opportunity to mingle with both casts.
"I'm so lucky in this film," Hugh Jackman gushed during his visit to MTV's studio at San Diego Comic-Con. "First of all, Bryan Singer is directing. He did 'X-Men' 1 and 2. He's the one who gave me the part. We're on set with him, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore — you name it. We're all there."
Omar Sy joined the future timeline cast as well, in the role of time-traveling law enforcer Bishop.
"It was like a reunion for about six weeks. We shot the future sequence," Jackman explained. "Because I'm the only actor who can play both time periods — because my character doesn't age — I actually play with all the younger actors."
Jennifer Lawrence, Paquin and Berry all have Academy Awards, to say nothing of the prestigious histories of Stewart and McKellen and the critic approved artistic bravery of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. "For the last three and a half months, I've literally been with an Oscar caliber actor — like, literally, every actor. I mean, it's crazy," Jackman said.
"X-Men" was Hugh Jackman's first American movie, way back in 2000. At the time, Marvel Comic movies were mostly known as campy failures, from the Dolph Lundgren "Punisher" to the never officially released Roger Corman "Fantastic Four." Bigger names like Russell Crowe passed on playing Wolverine. Dougray Scott had initially accepted the role, but shooting delays on "Mission: Impossible 2" forced the Singer to have to recast Logan at the 11th hour.
In the wake of the first "X-Men" and the overwhelmingly well-received "X2: X-Men United," comic book movies have risen to an all-time high, with movies like "Iron Man 3" and "Marvel's The Avengers" joining the $1 billion club. A-list actors, Oscar winners, highly respected auteurs and the like not only take on comic flicks now, they pursue them.
"I think it's a real sign of where these movies have come and how seriously they're taken," observed Jackman, who is often the first to admit that Wolverine launched his career. "How seriously actors take them as well as audiences."
That seriousness, of course, was counterbalanced by Jackman's own playfulness during his chat with MTV News correspondent Josh Horowitz. "[Wolverine] doesn't get on with anybody, but, he makes out with most of the females."
"I just kept saying, 'Listen, this is the way it works: if you're gonna go back in time for a short period and pretty much there's not much consequence, embarrassment wise? You're gonna try and make out with everyone. Is that wrong?" he wondered. "Because there's no awkward moment the next day. Wherever we are — and there are some cataclysmic moments — pretty much before every one, I say, 'Listen. Do you want to go into the jacuzzi? I'm just saying.'"
Ah, yes, the cataclysmic moments. The "Days of Future Past" storyline from legendary Marvel scribe Chris Claremont and equally iconic artist John Byrne is one of the best known arcs in the mythology, second only perhaps to the Dark Phoenix storyline that was teased at the end of "X2" (and sorta poorly played out in Brett Ratner's third "X-Men" movie). While not a literal retelling of that tale from the printed page, Singer's new movie certainly draws deeply from it.
"This movie, it's massive," Jackman promised. "And it's emotional, too. And it really is epic in every way."
Part of that gigantic scale involves the huge mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels, which were created by military scientist Bolivar Trask (portrayed by "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage in the movie). Comic-Con attendees got a taste of the Sentinels from the movie via super-cool propaganda posters and a large prop at a Trask Industries booth.
"I was going to keep [the Sentinels] a secret, until I found out they dropped a Sentinel in the street two days ago!" Jackman said, with a laugh. "What do I know?" The man who has a second Wolverine solo movie on the docket before audiences will get to see "Days of Future Past" did reveal that the Sentinels will be a mix of CGI and very real effects.
"Now I'm probably giving too much away," he teased. "There's definitely [at least] one incredibly practical one. I think Bryan Singer had always wanted to use the Sentinels and so he finally gets his wish, big time, in this."