Scaly, head-to-toe azure body paint was not among the many looks Rebecca Romijn-Stamos flaunted in her days as host of MTV’s ”House of Style.” But it speaks well for the former Victoria’s Secret model’s acting chops that her biggest movie role has turned out to be the ”X-Men” franchise’s blue-hued, shape-shifting baddie Mystique — who looks more like a buff Smurfette than anyone’s idea of a centerfold. In the wake of ”X2”’s formidable $85.8 million opening weekend take, Romijn-Stamos discusses her blue days on set, her intimate scene with Hugh Jackman, and her camaraderie with Alan Cumming, who played the similarly tinted Nightcrawler.
How arduous was it to wear all that makeup?
The first one, it was eight or nine hours every day just to get into costume. It’s a little less now. Still, there are four women who do it, and having them in my personal space for that many hours a day is crazy-making. You can go from being perfectly happy and having a nice time to just being, like, evil bitch woman: ”If one more person stares at me, I’m gonna pull my eyes out!” But having Alan as the other blue person was great. We would hang out together like an old, bitchy, blue married couple, like, ”No one understands us!” It was great because I was totally by myself on the first one, and I felt isolated. It felt like I was doing a different movie than everyone else; my character didn’t even interact with anyone.
You’re not really wearing any clothes as Mystique, right?
I’ve been in denial about the nudity: ”No, no, I’m VERY covered up.” I kept checking with the rest of the cast, ”You guys, I’m totally covered up, right?”’ And they’d tell me, ”No, Rebecca, you’re naked.” I’m hoping by ”X3” they can do it digitally. Maybe I won’t even have to show up [laughs]. One time, [director] Bryan [Singer] opened the tent where I was literally bent over a chair getting my crack touched up. And I was like, ”Don’t come in here, Bryan! You don’t need to see this.” And he said, ”You really need some white wine.” And he brought me some.
How evident was it from the start that ”X2” was a much larger-scale movie than the first one?
I think we all came back with a little more confidence. We didn’t know what we were doing last time, except for Bryan and the producers. You read all the special effects in the script and you have no idea what it’s going to look like. So we all went to the screening of the first one and looked at each other and went [in amazed voice], ”Wow, this is not bad! It kind of came together!” On the second one we knew what it would look like, and what the tone is supposed to be.
What’s the hardest part of playing Mystique?
What’s hard is acting behind all those prosthetics on my face, because I don’t know if I’m getting across what I’m trying to, because of all the silicone. It’s like exterior Botox without the needle. I should market it. At least I didn’t have to wear contacts in this one. I did in the first one. I couldn’t see, and it’s really hard to kick ass when you can’t see the ass you’re trying to kick. They did the eyes in post-production this time, but Alan had to wear his. I told him it’s a rite of passage.
How did the scene where you try to seduce Hugh Jackman come together?
Filming that was hilarious. It was Famke Janssen, me, Halle Berry, and Anna Paquin sitting in our chairs with our Altoids, getting ready. Because it was a morphing scene, we all had to match our movements perfectly, so it took a very, very long time. If you’re off a fraction of a millimeter, you have to do it again. But Hugh’s lying flat on his back in front of the green screen and he’s like [claps], ”All right, next!” Famke went first, then I went, and then it was like, ‘”All right, Halle, you’re up. Sloppy thirds!” Hugh LOVED it. And we did, too, frankly.
Ian McKellen can be pretty demanding of his directors, right?
Ian definitely likes to know his motivation. There was one day we’d been there for hours, and the day was almost over. In this scene, which had just been written that morning, Ian walks in and bursts the door down. And [as Magneto] he’s supposed to say to me, ”Have you found it?” But Ian kept asking Bryan, ”But what is IT? What is it that she’s found?” And we were like, ”Just say it!”
Meanwhile it’s appropriate that you and Alan got along so well, since Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother in the comic books…
We’re hoping that in ”X3” there’ll be a flashback of Mystique nursing a little Nightcrawler — this baby with Alan’s face on it. He’ll have little sharp teeth, and I’ll be like, ”Ow, Ow.” And he’ll teleport from one breast to the other!