Over six years and three films, Patrick Stewart created an unforgettable representation of Professor X: austere, commanding, lacking a single hair on his head. Four years after Stewart's appearance in "X-Men: The Last Stand," a new film in the franchise — "X-Men: First Class" — is in production in England.
James McAvoy faces the challenge of reinventing Professor X for a story that takes place before the character lost his hair or adopted his scholarly nickname.
How is the 31-year-old actor approaching that challenge? "I'm basically going to try and bury Patrick's performance," McAvoy laughed during a conversation with MTV News at the Toronto Film Festival while promoting the historical drama "The Conspirator."
"I think the fun about these films, when you go back and you either reboot or do a prequel, is you get to see how people became who they are," he continued. "That means that you have to do them differently and by the end of the movie you have to do them the same way. The interesting journey is what happens to them, what changes them, what makes them evolve — not just mutate, but emotionally and psychologically evolve."
Last month, producer Bryan Signer said that McAvoy's version of the character — here still named simply Charles Xavier — will be neither bald nor confined to a wheelchair, and McAvoy confirmed both those facts for us. "They wanted me to have hair," he said. "They didn't want me to go bald and I walk as well."
Apparently, however, "First Class" will tell the story of how Xavier lost the ability to walk. The film will also go a long way toward explaining how the shaggy-haired Xavier became the stern-faced Professor X.
"I would suggest by the end of the movie and the start of the next movie, it'll be more like what Patrick does," said McAvoy, adding, "Or maybe not. Maybe it will still be in a period of flux, if there is a new movie."