BLINK! And they’re gone. With a Q&A session that clocked in at 14 minutes, the X-Men: Days of Future Past press conference in Singapore, taking place the morning after the movie’s Southeast Asian premiere, was one of the shortest media events I’ve ever been to.
You’d think that it would have been a more drawn out affair, considering that it was a rare opportunity for regional media to interact with Hugh Jackman, Peter Dinklage and Fan Bingbing. But I guess the hardworking actors must get on with the grueling X-Men X-Perience global tour schedule, which will see Hugh returning to home ground Australia (Melbourne, to be precise) for the premiere there on 16 May.
The media turned up in throngs with representatives from countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China and even Germany. They filled up all the seats and eventually a number of latecomers had to stand around the Millenia Pavilion at the Ritz-Carlton. Being a cinephile who is always after the best seats in the house, I got there early and secured a nice spot at the centre of the second row (the first was reserved). Yes, there’s a bit of Sheldon Cooper in all of us.
As the minutes passed, the air grew thick with anticipation and about 20 minutes after the doors were closed, Hugh, Peter and Bingbing emerged to meet us. I was almost disappointed that they didn’t dance their way out onto the stage to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. But I guess they’d need McFassy (the delectable combination of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) for it to be as magical as it was on The Graham Norton Show!
The trio was then asked by moderators Utt and Peifen to give a brief introduction to the characters they play in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Greeting the crowd, Hugh first joked that it would be deeply appreciated if the press could convince his two children Oscar and Ava that he’s a very important person. “They didn’t even get that memo!” Hugh exclaimed in mock horror.
Despite having portrayed Wolverine for 14 years in the X-Men and Wolverine series of movies, Hugh says he is more excited than ever about the latest installment in the X-Men franchise describing it as “the most emotional and character driven” piece. “You see a whole different side to Wolverine in this movie. He’s more of a diplomat and encourager, a mentor – he has to be the guide, which is not really his skill set, so it’s fun to play!”
Peter gave a concise brief on Bolivar Trask adding that the creator of the Sentinels (giant mutant-hunting robots) has a “dark agenda” and he has “done his Darwinian homework”. How sinister!
Speaking in Mandarin, Bingbing shared that she plays Blink, a new character introduced in DOFP who can teleport. I’ve always fantasized about having that ability during rush hour.
The press conference might have been rather fleeting – only five or so questions were asked – but Hugh and Peter made up for the lack of conference stamina by being entertaining, hilarious and infectiously charming.
When asked by a journalist from Germany about his thoughts on Channing Tatum being cast as the X-Men’s ragin’ Cajun Gambit – a role that was previously portrayed by Taylor Kitsch in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Hugh feigned ignorance and asked about Tatum who just happens to be People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2012: “I’ve never heard of him. He’s an up and coming actor, is he?” Peter offered innocently: “He’s a dancer, I think.”
Of course the ever-diplomatic Hugh had to be supportive of a potential future colleague but no, Hugh. NO. Channing Tatum is soooo NOT Gambit. Are you not hearing the nerdrage echoing throughout the realm since the casting news was confirmed?
A much talked-about scene in DOFP where Hugh as Wolverine bares all from the back was sorta the elephant in the room. So of course someone had to ask if he had done anything “special” to prepare for that moment of… revelation. But before Hugh could answer, Peter exclaimed, “I was his body double for that scene!” The hall erupted into LOLs.
Perhaps the highlight of the Q&A sesh was when Singapore DJ Joshua Simon from Hot FM 91.3 asked to speak to Wolverine himself. “Logan, when you order a steak, do you use the cutlery or do you just stab the ribeye?” asked Joshua sassily. Without missing a beat, Hugh went into Wolvie mode and replied menacingly, “You makin’ fun of me?” Guys, you simply have to watch the whole thing to believe it.
The gag ran into Peter’s moment as he was telling a journalist from the Philippines about his familiarity with the X-Men Universe. But he was interrupted by Hugh who walked back into the hall dragging a disheveled Joshua, making it look like they had exchanged harsh words and blows outside.
As everyone dissolved into chuckles, and moderator Peifen tried to steer the conversation back to Peter, he joked good naturedly: “I was saying something really boring!”
As Ron Burgundy once said: well, that escalated quickly! So there you have it, fangirls and fanboys – the laughs and the antics of the DOFP press conference in Singapore, and the warmth that these megastars and accomplished actors have extended to their fans here.
Next up, look out for Head Geek Nic’s review of X-Men: Days of Future Past. I caught the premiere too and found it surprisingly decent (not a big fan of Bryan Singer’s earlier take on my favourite mutants) but before I start nitpicking on the little details, this is Cinemaniac signing off!