July 6, 2000
We all felt confused when we heard that sexy Southern belle Rogue was going to be played by 18-year-old Anna Paquin. Sure, she won the Oscar for The Piano at age 11, but how was she going to play a sassy twentysomething mutant who can suck out your thoughts, powers and mind with just a brush of her fingertips?
The answer, of course, is that she won't be playing the Rogue we know, but a Rogue at the beginning of her mutant career. Suddenly the casting of this slight, and slightly shy, actress makes a lot more sense. She's isolated from humanity, a runaway in both physically and emotionally. In Bryan Singer's version of the X-Men, Rogue takes refuge under Logan's watchful eye (and claws), and finds a place of her own at Professor's X's mutant menagerie. While on-set for the X flick, we found a place across the table from the cute Ms. Paquin, and we found her to be amazingly down to earth for someone who's been acting during the years when most of us were acting out.
IGN Movies: How would you describe Rogue's powers in the movie?
Anna: She can absorb people's energy and abilities and power. So if she comes in contact with a mutant, she can take on their power for a certain amount of time, depending on how long she comes into contact. She can basically drain a person's life force.
IGN Movies: So if she touches a regular person, would that person drop dead?
Anna: Depends how long she touches them for. If she touches them for too long, bye-bye. If it's a short amount of time, maybe they'll recover, maybe they'll not. But she will feel the things that they feel and will feel connected to that person, take on memories. Which I think would be an incredibly confusing thing, to suddenly feel an intense bond with someone you've never met.
IGN Movies: Yeah, like being a teenager isn't confusing enough, right?
Anna: Yeah. Exactly.
IGN Movies: Does absorbing life forces ever whack her out, hit her in a bad way?
Anna: There's at least one moment in the film where -- and maybe it was only in my head, maybe it won't translate -- but where she has an understanding of a character that she would not have had anything in common with or understood in the slightest. And yeah, I think that's kind of a scary thing.
IGN Movies: And the character is -- ?
[Anna bats her eyes and gives us an oh-too-innocent smile. Meaning, not a snowball's chance of getting an answer on this one.]
IGN Movies: Let me guess -- you can't tell us, right?
Anna: I don't want to ruin the whole movie [laughs].
IGN Movies: We don't want to ruin it, either. We just want to have something to write about. Okay, how about this: in the movie, Rogue is a runaway. How long has she been on the road?
Anna: Maybe three, eight months. Somewhere between the two. It's only a matter of months, I think. Not like years or anything.
IGN Movies: Do you see anything about her home life, her parents, her friends?
[The sweet Anna Paquin smile/stare.]
IGN Movies: Unfortunately the microphone doesn't catch the batting of eyes and the Cheshire smile.
Anna: I'd love to tell you, but I don't want to give anything away that might --
[And now a word from the ever-present Fox publicity guy and all around info-guard who presided over our interviews:]
Fox Guy: We can say that there is a scene with Rogue's parents. There is a scene at Rogue's house.
IGN Movies: Tell us about Rogue's character.
Anna: I think she is more complex than just one thing that completely sums her up. She's very strong, because she's had to be to survive being a young girl by herself and the people that she will come across in her travels. The fact that she's still around, that she hasn't gotten lost somewhere along the way and ended up dead somewhere - it's not exactly the safest thing to be a young person on your own. She has good survival instincts and she knows how to protect herself. And also, she is very unselfish to make sure that she doesn't hurt anyone. She takes precautions, you know, she is very careful about the whole physical contact thing.
IGN Movies: It sounds like a lot of time Rogue is covered head to toe: a cloak, gloves, all sorts of protection so she doesn't accidentally touch someone. How did it feel the first time you slipped into the costume? Is it different than other films you've done?
Anna: A lot of gloves [laughs]. The gloves were a big thing for me, because you're wearing gloves for five months. That whole kind of mentality of skin and gloves, covering everything up.
IGN Movies: Do you connect to Rogue on any emotional level?
Anna: I think the isolation that she feels. I think that I doubt I would be alone if I said that teenagers often feel isolated or different, even if it's only in their own head. And of course, this is an incredibly exaggerated situation. But feeling like you don't fit in or that you're just having moments of feeling you're just different.
IGN Movies: You've felt that way?
Anna: Everyone's felt that way. Whether they've changed schools and they're the new kid; or they're --
IGN Movies: -- an 11-year-old Oscar winner?
Anna: [Smiles] Well, that does it.
IGN Movies: If you could have Rogue's power and come in contact with anyone -- living or dead, real or fantastic -- and absorb their skills and memories, who would that be?
Anna: On a totally non-deep, sort of level - I think it would be really cool to play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix for a day. That would be fun.
IGN Movies: How do psych yourself into the moment when Rogue is touching someone, getting flooded with memories and powers?
Anna: In the moment, it happens. Thankfully [chuckles] it happens. I've found something that will make me -- you know, just -- I have no idea.
IGN Movies: What does it feel like? Do you feel like you're opening yourself and letting somebody in? I mean, you're intuitively doing this -
Anna: It's just -- it's kind of -- in a way, I imagine that it's kind of like a surge of someone else's power, what the person is thinking and feeling and their experiences. Suddenly just getting all of this information and power, entering your brain and your body; and that's really physically draining.
IGN Movies: When X-Men hits, Rogue posters are going to be plastered across the walls of every teenage boy's room in America. Are you prepared for that kind of recognition?
[Anna smiles a big smile. A very big, very uncomfortable smile.]