'Dark Phoenix': Famke Janssen Explains What 'X-Men: Last Stand' Got Wrong
It’s been over a decade since X-Men: The Last Stand offered comic book fans a poorly received (58 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) live-action adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga. Now, with Fox set to retell the iconic X-Men storyline in Dark Phoenix, starring Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, one actor has a surprisingly optimistic outlook on the upcoming film: the original face of Jean Grey, Famke Janssen.
In an interview pegged to the release of Janssen’s new movie, Asher, the actress reflects on what went wrong in her own portrayal of Jean Grey in The Last Stand and tells Inverse why she’s hopeful Dark Phoenix (out June 7, 2019) can correct those mistakes.
“I’m glad that the Dark Phoenix saga is finally getting its due,” Janssen says. “When we tackled it in The Last Stand, it wasn’t given enough time. I remember hearing from fans after we finished the film that they were disappointed that an enormous moment in the comics was given so little screen time. I’m happy for them to give Phoenix the due that she deserves.”
As Janssen points out, the Dark Phoenix Saga was just one plotline in the over-crowded conclusion to the original X-Men live-action trilogy. With the new Sophie Turner film (her second as Jean Grey), we’ll finally get an entire movie devoted to the story, which was written by prolific X-Men writer Chris Claremont and originally ran from 1976 to 1977 in Uncanny X-Men.
Long past her own stint in the X-Men franchise, Janssen has moved on to other new and exciting roles. She’s set to star in The Poison Rose, a 1970s noir also featuring John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, and Brendan Fraser. And in her latest film, Asher, Janssen plays a ballet instructor who falls in love with a Brooklyn hit man played by Ron Perlman.
“Everyone in the movie is kind of sad,” Janssen says. “They’re just sad people who’ve experienced a lot of loss and are trying to find a way to move forward. This is not one of those comedic sets where everyone is having the best time.”
In Asher, Sophie struggles to take care of her mother, who’s suffering from dementia, and Janssen says that’s what drew her to the role. In real life, her acting coach of 30 years was also dealing with dementia and passed away soon after they finished filming.
“For me, the way into that character was I lost someone very dear to me to dementia,” Janssen says. “That’s the reason I wanted to be in the film to play Sophie. Obviously this is not a movie about dementia, it’s a hitman film, but it still deals with loss and letting go. From the moment I read it, I realized the writer had first hand experience. It was so authentic and rang true from my experience.”
Sophie’s mother only plays a small role in the film, but she helps set off a romance between Janssen and Perlman’s characters that might seem impossible in any other context.
“I always felt it was a stretch,” Janssen says, “but the reason that made it believable to me was the enormous sense of loss Sophie was dealing with and the inability to connect with anybody. So to have someone else come in who experienced loss. Sometimes people connect over a shared experience and it doesn’t mean it lasts, but that particular moment in time is very important.”
Asher is available now via On Demand/Digital HD.