“X-Men Anime” debuts on G4 tonight (October 21) at 11 PM ET, starring the voice of “Friday Night Lights” actor Scott Porter as Cyclops. When the series premieres, viewers will find the X-Men field leader at his lowest of lows: his wife, Jean Grey, has died following the events of the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and poor Scott is questioning his reasons for continuing on. But when an international incident arises with the potential to finally bridge mutants and humans together or fully tear them apart, Cyclops has to look in the mirror and realize the kind of man he wants to be.
Ahead of the series premiere, MTV News spoke with Porter, a longtime comic book reader, about “X-Men Anime,” his views on Cyclops, his thoughts on what makes the perfect X-Men roster and much more.
MTV: Scott, I know you’re a big comic book fan, so this must have been a fun project for you.
Scott Porter: It was, it was. You know, there’s that old saying in Hollywood: you do one for them, you do one for you. This one was definitely for me.
MTV: How did you get connected with “X-Men Anime” to begin with?
Porter: I got a call from [head of Marvel TV] Jeph Loeb, and he said, “Hey, we’re doing some casting for ’Iron Man,’ ’Wolverine,’ and Cyclops for the ’X-Men’ cartoon. We’re wondering if you’d be interested in jumping on board.” And I said yes, 100% yes. Jeph and I have known each other for a few years. We met when he was doing “Heroes” and we were hoping to work together on that show, and it just never lined up properly. But to be able to work with him on this was pretty cool.
MTV: Cyclops is one of the oldest, most recognizable characters in the “X-Men” lineup, but he’s not necessarily the flashiest and doesn’t necessarily stand out as the coolest. On the surface, he’s no Wolverine. What is it about Cyclops that stands out to you? What elevates Scott Summers from being someone who can be a little bit vanilla, to someone really worth diving into?
Porter: It’s funny; growing up, I never really liked Cyclops. I was a Havok fan and an Iceman fan and a Nightcrawler fan. I liked all of these really great characters, and I always thought that Cyclops was, you know, this stick in the mud. As I grew up and as I read the books more, and when I got this role, I decided, hey. Let’s see what there is here, why writers like using him so much. Because there’s never been a period of “X-Men” without Cyclops. What is it about him that [people love]?
You know the leadership aspect, but what I really started to figure out was the amount of raw power this guy has. He has constant control over it, because he has to. With all of these outcasts that he rounds up and uses in a very military fashion, there’s something very cool about the level of control he constantly has. And yet, I looked back and read some of the stories he’s in; you look at the “Dark Phoenix Saga” when he kind of lost it a little bit, and when he lost the mantle of leadership to Storm in the ’80s, and “X-Factor” formed. Looking at recent events leading up to “Schism,” I’m now actually with Cyclops. I’m now a huge fan.
I hope people appreciate what this guy is. He’s a power of ultimate magnitude. He can shave mountains in half and can level towns if he wanted to, but he doesn’t. That’s very interesting to me. To see the first script for the first episode of the show, Cyclops is in this raw place emotionally. Getting to play varying degrees of this character as opposed to just the status quo was amazing to me.
MTV: Yeah, you’re actually playing this character in one of the most interesting periods of his history, right after “The Dark Phoenix Saga” has taken place. From both a fan and acting standpoint, I have to imagine that tackling Cyclops during such a low point in his life was a real treat for you.
Porter: It’s funny, it’s like the only time that Cyclops just wanted to give up, you know? That and losing his son was pretty rough for him in the books. But it’s weird as an actor; you relish the anguish of a character. It’s kind of twisted in a way. But it allows you to play a much larger range of emotion. It’s when Cyclops is at his most interesting, when he’s completely challenged and broken down. As a kid growing up, that’s when I had any interest in him. Now I like Cyke all the time, but that’s the greatest place to start: a place of pure anguish and very raw emotions. You build that hero back up, and that’s what we’re hoping to do in this series.
When the show begins, Cyclops has given up. He thinks everything that he’s done has been for naught. It’s not worth it anymore. He’s questioning whether all these decisions he’s made over time put him and his wife in this position where they couldn’t win. He really just doesn’t want anything to do with the X-Men, and they have to have a bit of an intervention with him, because at the end of the day, they need him. And he needs them—he just doesn’t know it yet.
It’s interesting as we bring other characters in, too. You’ll see Emma Frost pop up, some bits and pieces of that relationship start to play out, and that’s very interesting to me. She’s an enemy, she’s the complete opposite of Jean, and how he treats her is not with kindness at first. He’s just kind of bitter, throwing all caution to the wind and saying, “Screw it. The world doesn’t need a hero, and even if it does, I’m not the guy.” That’s a very fun place to start with him.
MTV: One of the great elements of the “X-Men” universe is the vast amount of characters, and as an extension of that, you can have infinite permutations of the team’s roster. For this round, it looks like Hank, Wolverine, Armor, Storm, and Professor X form the main crew with Scott. What makes this specific assortment of people interesting to you?
Porter: It’s teed off of the “Astonishing X-Men” lineup a little bit. Armor being involved is very cool. All of the stages of the “X-Men,” whether it was Jubilee or Shadowcat, having that really innocent naivete is at the cornerstone of what the X-Men are. For years and years and years, there was a new mutant who had to come to grips with their situation, and you get that [through Armor] with this new storyline. I think we turned Cyclops on his head, which then makes Wolverine and Beast have to step up a bit more. And Storm is always such an interesting character. I love this lineup. It’s sort of a marriage of Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis’ “Astonishing” runs, and I think you get a little bit of everything.
When you build an X-Men team — I know when I would always build an X-Men team as a kid — you look at who’s the leader, who’s your telepath, who’s your transportation, who’s your flyer, you need an energy guy and you need a brawler. That’s what you need. When I was a kid, I would always go with a five-man field roster and two people on support. That’s basically what you end up getting in this team. It’s cool to see these people matched, to see this perfect little team operate.
MTV: You set yourself up for this one: who’s on your X-Men dream team?
Porter: Havok, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Colossus, Forge and Longshot, probably. Those are all characters I absolutely think are awesome, and they’ve never been on a lineup together. Havok as a leader… he’s a flawed leader, and I love that. Psylocke isn’t your average telepath, she’s versatile. Iceman, I’ve always loved him, I think he’s one of those guys with untapped potential through the roof—which you saw in “Age of Apocalypse” when he went omega level. Nightcrawler is kind of the voice of reason, and he’s so interesting, being this saint in devil’s clothing. He’s been one of my favorites for years and years. And I’ve always loved the idea of Forge. If you’ve got a five-man active field team and two support players, who’s a better support player than Forge? I always really enjoyed him. And Longshot, man… I think it was in “Inferno” where I really started liking Longshot, this old storyline with Mister Sinister. Just the idea of one guy up on a ledge with a razor blade in his hand going, “I can turn this around,” I loved that.
Other than my lineup, Peter David’s [current] “X-Factor” is pretty much as close to my dream team as it gets. I loved his older run because Havok was involved and Polaris was there, but Multiple Man and Strong Guy in the hands of Peter David are genius. Bringing Longshot into the fold… Peter knows the way to my comic book heart.
Tune into “X-Men Anime” on G4 tonight (October 21) at 11 PM ET, and tell us what you think in the comments and on Twitter!