KATIE STUART (Part 2 of 3) Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
June 9, 2005
Since its feature film debut in 2000, the X-Men franchise has gone through actresses to play the character of Kitty Pryde as quickly as they allegedly went through puppies and kittens on the set of Milo and Otis. In this second segment of our exclusive three-part interview with Katie Stuart, she talks about taking on the role of the mutant girl-next-door in X-Men 2, and speculates with us on casting prospects for Kitty in X-Men 3.
[NOTE: At the time of this interview, there were rumors that Lost star Evangeline Lilly was being tapped to play Kitty in X-Men 3, though it now seems that her Lost co-star Maggie Grace is really the leading candidate for the role. So for purposes of this interview, we're talking Evangeline Lilly, whether it's wrong or right. And who knows, there may be more Kitty swapping by the time X3 actually happens. At least one actor, though, is definitely out of the running: Abe Vigoda. So you can cross him off the shortlist, since you were really wondering.]
[ANOTHER NOTE: The Kitty carousel continues, as it looks like Maggie Grace is now out of the running for the role as well.]
RadioFree.com: You have at least one thing in common with Kitty: your birthname is Katherine. Has anyone ever used "Kitty" as a nickname for you?
KATIE: [laughs] Actually, no. I have a friend who calls me Kats, and my mom calls me Kit. I go by Kit occasionally, but I have never gone by Kitty.
So in real life, you feel more like a Katie than a Kitty?
I've always been a Katie, yeah.
Going into X-Men 2, how familiar were you with your character's background?
When I first got the role, I had seen the first movie. Other than that...I never really got into comics, except for the obvious Archie comic phase that I'm fairly certain every girl goes through. And not just girls...I don't want to be exclusive here. I think most people go through an Archie phase.
Betty or Veronica?
Aw! It was always Betty! Come on! That's why everyone read those. Everyone was like, "When is Archie going to figure it out?" But you know, I have to say, if I could get away with dating both Betty and Veronica, I'd do it. I mean, why not have your cake and eat it too, if you can get away with it?
[Aside: I have no snappy response, as I'm too busy contemplating, "Yeah, why not?"] Did you know that in most incarnations of X-Men, Kitty is usually "the cute one"?
I didn't know that until just now! Kitty's the cute one?
[shrugs] Well, sure...she was usually one of the younger X-Men, and it often seemed that being cute was one of her roles.
Wow. Well, now I'm gonna fall over. My head's all swollen.
Hmmm...I was going to ask, "What's it like being the cute one?" But I guess you didn't know that was part of the deal.
Totally unaware. I'm so angry no one told me I was the cute one! [laughs]
Did your X2 scene involve being rigged on wires and thrown around a lot?
Yep, pretty much. It was quite a bit of wire work. I was stunt doubled for part of it, but then they had me do the stunts again myself. The second unit stunt coordinator was Marny Eng, who's a fantastic stunt performer and coordinator who I've worked with a number of times. She doubled me in just about everything I did from the time I was 14 to the time I was 17. So we worked together a lot and she had a pretty good idea of what my abilities were. I had done a lot of wire work with her on A Wrinkle in Time, and she knew that I was fairly comfortable in the rigging, so she let me do it. And it wasn't too bad.
What was involved in the stunt work?
It was an eight foot drop to the floor. I started out on my back. They had me lying flat out, totally horizontal with the floor. And then they hoisted me up so that I was just above where the ceiling would have been, but, of course, there was no ceiling. And I was attached on either side of my hips. So I'm lying on my back and they drop me. And as I come down, someone from behind me would pull on the pick on my ankle, which would sort of flip me upright. And I would just land it and get up and run. It was a lot of fun to do.
And immediately after landing, you have to strike that dramatic pose for the camera.
[laughs] Yes! "Quick, scare take! Go!"
Do you mind seeing yourself on screen?
No. Particularly, if I'm just doing a stunty scene, I love to see that. I love seeing how it turns out.
Near the end of the movie, Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier says, "I know a little girl who can walk through walls." Were you upset that they simply referred to your character instead of actually showing her?
[laughs] No, of course not! It'd be too easy to be like, "By the way, here's Kitty Pryde. Watch her do something shiny!" You've gotta leave something to the imagination.
Did you have much interaction with the rest of the cast?
Actually, it's kind of funny, I was on set a lot more than my part would show. Originally, there were a few other scenes that were scripted where I actually had dialogue with Anna Paquin and Shawn Ashmore, but they got cut before we actually went to camera. But I was on set for a lot of it. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go out with them one night, which was a lot of fun. It was pretty intense. I was a little bit out of place there. They took us to the [Queen Elizabeth Theatre] to see Jerry Seinfeld live, which was really fun. He's very funny. And then after that, we all went down to a restaurant nearby for dinner. And as we were leaving the Queen E, a huge chunk of the people we were with were still outside the doors because people were having them sign things. Hugh Jackman was there, and of course everyone recognizes him, so he's out there signing things away, and his wife and his friends are all standing around like, [feigns growing impatience] "Come on, Hugh..."
If you could have any one X-Man's powers, who would you pick?
Ooo...that's a good question. Ummm...I think it would probably be Jean Grey.
Nice choice--she can pretty much do anything.
Exactly. She can warp people's minds! And make them do stuff! She's pretty bad ass.
It's been said that Lost star Evangeline Lilly has been tapped to play Kitty in X-Men 3.
Yeah, Evangeline Lilly! That's rumor. That's just what I've heard. No one's actually told me anything officially other than I won't be reprising the role. That is what I've heard. And I'm pretty excited because as I said on my LiveJournal...Man, she's wicked hot.
Wow, you seem very supportive of your replacement.
Lost, the TV series that she's doing right now...I love that show. I think she's really good in it. Of course, I would love the opportunity to reprise my role. Anyone would. If I can't finish what I started, it's a little frustrating. But if they had to pick anyone, I'm really glad it was her. Lost is the first thing that she's done, so it's not like they dropped me for some huge name, like, "Let's go for fame and glory." I think it's a really good pick because she's fairly new on the scene. People do know of her, so that's good for the movie. She isn't just incredibly good looking, but she actually looks a lot like Kitty Pryde if you look at the comic books.
She is good looking, but it remains to be seen if she can be "the cute one."
[laughs] We know she can be "the tough girl." We've seen that. Now can she be "the cute one"?
It would seem that her version of Kitty would have to be a little older than yours, who was a teen.
Yes. Well, from what I understand, I believe she's in her mid-20s somewhere.
This will be the third actress playing Kitty in three X-Men movies (Sumela Kay in the first, you in the second). What's with all the Kitties?
It's like the Bond thing. [laughs] "We've seen you do Bond, we need a new one!"
You mentioned that if you did play Kitty in X-Men 3, which will apparently feature her prominently, it might have generated a lot of unwanted publicity. Are you worried about getting too famous and attracting a gross sort of fame?
It's not a huge concern for me, just because I don't really see that happening for me at this point. I don't see me ending up in huge, huge blockbuster films really. Or, at least, not prominently in them. Which is fine by me, because I like to do my own grocery shopping, and I enjoy having the freedom of just being able to go out and enjoy myself. I already have to censor myself online. There's certain information that I have to sort of withhold, and I never use my real name for e-mails because I've had people hack into accounts--not specifically my e-mail, but a friend of mine had his e-mail hacked into as a means of getting my e-mail from him. So it gets a little sketchy. But for the most part, the people who go to my website and go to my LiveJournal are just really, really supportive fans and really cool people that are a lot of fun to chat with.
What's your take on the cultural phenomenon of people wanting to know inappropriately personal things about celebrities?
It's funny how that happens, and I'm not exactly sure what it is that causes that. But I've never really had any particular interest in knowing...aside from maybe someone's basic biography, or, generally more important, their filmography. I don't really find it necessary to delve into people's personal lives unless you know them really well. The benefits of being friends with a person is you get to find out things about them, and it's like, why would you really care about someone's personal life who you're never going to talk to?
And why on earth are some people obsessed with celebrities' kids?
Yeah, it's hard enough being in the limelight, but I can't even imagine trying to have a family in the limelight, you know? You want your kids to be able to go to school and to grow up healthy and normal and away from the publicity that comes with being a blockbuster star. That's hard on kids, it's hard on the parents. You want your kids to be able to go to school without worrying that some crackhead is going to come up to them and start harassing them.
Unless you accidentally fathered the kid, why would you be interested?