X-Men's Sabretooth lets you into his black mutant heart about playing a supervillain, Wolverine, and why feral is freeing.
July 11, 2000
Tyler Mane is a big boy. At 6' 10" he towers over you, even when he's sitting down. So it's intimidating to take a chat with a guy who looks like he could fling you across the room without a thought. Then he starts talking and you realize that this Sabretooth is a pussycat. Well, at least when he's happy. Still wouldn't want to go up against him on top of the Statue of Liberty.
IGN Movies was on set for X-Men, and Tyler took some time out after shooting a little snowy sequence at Rouge River to talk to us about his character. We gotta give it up to Hugh Jackman, who must have been channeling Wolverine pretty hard to take on the fight scenes with Mane's Sabretooth. We like our job at IGN, but if we had to face a snarling Tyler Mane every morning, we'd give serious thought to becoming bicycle couriers -- on speed bikes, jetting away from Tyler as fast as we could.
IGN Movies: What's it like to play a supervillain?
Tyler: [Playing a villain is] the funnest part, 'cuz you've just got a one-track mind, just tearing people apart. You don't have to worry about being a nice guy. Sabretooth, he's more action than speaking. He goes and takes care of business and then worries about the consequences later, which is what I like about the character.
Sabretooth is a mutant with superhuman strength and it's this is a fun thing. You get to do something totally, totally different from the normal acting roles: throwing people all over the place and beating the heck out of them. It's fun. It's a flashback to the wrestling days.
IGN Movies: Sabretooth's big fight is with Wolverine. What's the relationship between you and Logan?
Tyler: My relationship is every time I see him, I want to beat the heck out of him. I want to tear his arms off and flog him as best I can.
I believe Sabretooth is approximately 150 years old, and Wolverine's about, I think, 50-some years old. And they both go back to the CIA and all that together, and Special Forces, and they've got a long history together.
IGN Movies: Did it take a while to get used to the costume?
Tyler: Yeah, it took a little getting used to. But once I had it on and you see yourself in the mirror, you're definitely in character. I'm wearing four-inch lifts in it -- like 6'10" wasn't tall enough. And I've got the four-inch lifts on and then I'm completely in leather. It was pretty heavy and it took a little while to get used to it. But once it got all loosened up, it was okay.
IGN Movies: How did the comics get you in line with becoming this beast?
Tyler: I basically got from that an attitude. Reading the way it was written, the way Sabretooth's lines were written. If you've ever read the comic books [you know] he's not a very well-spoken person, more of a grunt and a groan and "I'm gonna rip your head off" type of attitude. And that's what I adapted to it.
IGN Movies: Did playing this role let your inner Sabretooth come out and play?
Tyler: Most definitely. Every day I would look at the comic books and read them and then I would go out and do my things. Once you're in character and you have the costume on, it was very easy to get into that kind of mode of a Sabretooth, animalistic, wanting to tear somebody's head off. And after sitting in the trailer for several hours, dressed like that, it really was no problem [laughs].
IGN Movies: It sounds very free. You don't have to worry about being polite when you're feral.
Tyler: That's pretty much it. Sabretooth doesn't really care that are on his side, he doesn't really think are on his side and he doesn't care. He's looking out for number one.
IGN Movies: Why's Sabretooth with Magneto's gang?
Tyler: Everybody's got ulterior motives and have to get to certain destinations by doing what they're doing.
IGN Movies: Meaning - ?
Tyler: [Grins] Well, you'll have to watch.
IGN Movies: How do you and Magneto work together?
Tyler: He's the leader of it. Sabretooth is his main henchman, destroyer. He's the guy that Magneto counts on to get things done. Everybody has a few drawbacks, and Magneto seems to look at them as if they were Sabretooth's fault -- which they weren't -- but it gets worked out.
IGN Movies: When you're wearing the costume, feeling like a mean mutant, do you get locked into that mindset even when you're not on camera? If you're in a fight scene, do you go remember it's just acting, or do you go medieval for real?
Tyler: No. I spent 11-1/2 years in a professional wrestling ring. So I'm pretty much able to control that and control the style and everything like that.
IGN Movies: What's your favorite Sabretooth scene?
Tyler: Well, there's several. There's a scene in the train station that you'll see with Halle Berry. I believe part of that's on the trailer. That was a lot of fun. That's the first time I'd met Ian McKellen and Halle Berry. It was interesting to see how they worked, and to work with them. It was all around a good environment. That's when I first started on the film, doing that with them.
IGN Movies: Anything parallels between you and Sabretooth?
Tyler: [I hope not.] I don't think they want a 6'10", 270 pound psycho running around the streets.
IGN Movies: Did you and Ray Park ever spar while you guys were working out?
Tyler: No. No, we never did. We never did.
IGN Movies: How was it working with Hugh Jackman?
Tyler: It's been a lot of fun. He's got stage fighting that he's worked at a lot. So when we got together, it was just a lot of fun from the get-go. We were just - experimenting, developing things and developing the fights. It was really good.
Hugh came in as Wolverine and with an understanding of how he wanted Wolverine to react to certain situations. And I came in with how I wanted Sabretooth to react to certain situations and to counter-react to things. And we both developed that. It was very, very open. If I felt that Sabretooth wouldn't do a certain move, we'd just change it and adapt it, and vice versa with him.
IGN Movies: How was playing Sabretooth like wrestling?
Tyler: When I was wrestling, I was playing the bad guy. So it was easy to adapt. It is a little different, because of course you don't have superhuman strength when you're in the wrestling ring. But all the fighting and things like that, and working on a four-sided stage, definitely did help with the fights. I think it put Hugh's mind at ease when he found out that I had 11-1/2 years of that background. To wrestle professionally, you need to know what the heck you're doing, without, hopefully, hurting people [chuckles].
-- Den Shewman thinks the Sabretooth-Wolverine action will be the best part of the X flick