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The X-Men are coming to the big screen in an action-packed X-travaganza on Fri, Jul 14.

The $75-million film was shot here in Toronto through the fall and winter of 1999, and stars Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry and Sir Ian McKellen. It was directed by openly gay Bryan Singer, who also made the critically acclaimed The Usual Suspects.

The film’s story centres on the struggle between two conflicting philosophies. Professor Xavier (Stewart) and his X-Men fight for their dream of peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans. But Xavier’s old friend Magneto (McKellen) has other plans. As a Jewish holocaust survivor, he knows the evil men are capable of, and he will not allow history to repeat itself.

Magneto believes that the only way for mutants to live with humans is to rule over them. As these two opposing forces are drawn into battle, a Republican senator launches his campaign for the presidency on a mutant-bashing platform. Senator Kelly is pushing for the registration of all known mutants, and he may be the greatest threat of all….

On his website (, Sir Ian says, “Any member of a minority facing discrimination can relate to the mutants’ dilemma. So before I even saw the comic, I knew what would be central to the film script – an ever-relevant political argument. That attracted me as a gay man and as an actor.”

I was lucky enough to visit the X-Men set last fall, to meet the cast and watch it all go down. The set was so top-secret that I had to sign a confidentiality agreement! I can tell you that everything looked just as I imagined it would all these years, and I can’t wait to see the movie. Check it out when it opens.

In the meantime… get to know the mutants.


Name: Professor Charles Xavier

Played by: Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart

Mutant power: mental telepathy

Professor X serves is the team’s founder and mentor.

Name: Jean Grey

Played by: Bond-girl Fammke Jansen

Mutant power: telepathy, telekinesis

The first X-Man and the team’s resident scientist.

Name: Cyclops (aka Scott Summers)

Played by: teen idol James Marsden

Mutant power: Optic blasts

Team leader, in love with Jean Grey.

Name: Storm (aka Ororo Munroe)

Played by: Halle Berry

Mutant power: controls the weather

In the comic book, become team leader after beating Cyclops in a duel.

Name: Wolverine (aka Logan)

Played by: Hugh Jackman

Mutant power: healing factor, extendable steel claws housed in forearms, heightened senses

Wolverine has no memory of his past, and Hugh Jackman should appeal to leather-boys everywhere.

Name: Rogue (real name unknown)

Played by: Oscar-winner (and former Winnipegger) Anna Paquin

Mutant power: Absorbs her opponents’ memories and powers by touching



Name: Magneto (aka Erik Leshnerr)

Played by: Sir Ian McKellen

Mutant power: master of magnetism

Survivor of the Holocaust; an old friend of Xavier’s, now his nemesis.

Name: Mystique (aka Raven Darkholme)

Played by: supermodel Rebecca Rojmin-Stamos

Mutant power: Shape-shifter In the comics, Mystique is rumoured to have turned into a man and fathered (!) one of the X-Men, Nightcrawler.

Name: Sabretooth (aka Victor Creed)

Played by: WWF wrestler Tyler Mane

Mutant power: healing factor, animal senses

Once Wolverine’s partner in the Canadian secret service, now his ultimate foe.

Name: Toad

Played by: Darth Maul Ray Park

Mutant power: agility, sticks to walls, long prehensile tongue.