While the actors playing the mutants in 20th Century Fox’ eight X-Men movies have stayed somewhat consistent (even if they have been played by and interacted with younger versions of themselves), the grounds of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters have not been so fortunate. Due to the films being shot in different countries and locations over the years, the X-Mansion has been brought to life through multiple buildings for exteriors, and Hollywood magic for the inside.
Ahead of X-Men: Apocalypse’s home release (available now on VOD and Oct. 4 on Blu-ray and DVD), Fox celebrated the film by going back to the house where it all began. The studio invited fans, press, and two of the newest members of the franchise to Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Canada, the original grounds of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, for an “Orientation Week.” Digital Trends tagged along to get our X-Men on, and catch up with cast members from the new film.
On hallowed X-Men ground
Bryan Singer’s original X-Men movie introduced Professor X’s mutant school to cinema in 2000. The director actually shot the interior scenes of the school at the Gothic inner-city mansion Casa Loma (located in Toronto), but there’s no denying the nostalgia of the original Parkwood building.
“I love the idea that there’s a group of people who were ostracized from society and are forced to fight back.”
A national historic site of Canada, Parkwood was the home of the McLaughlin family from 1917 through 1972 (Samuel McLaughlin was the founder of General Motors of Canada). Fun fact: The building also served as the home and outdoor playground for Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison in the 1995 comedy of the same name.
Fox closed down the popular Canadian tourist attraction for three days for the event, recreation classrooms, the student dorms of some of the more popular characters, and Professor Xavier’s office with props from Apocalypse. For those who haven’t seen the film, it’s set in 1983 and pits the young X-Men — including Professor X (James McAvoy), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) — against Apocalypse, the original mutant, as well as Michael Fassbender’s Magneto.
The ‘80s theme opened up a lot of cool retro props for the film, including Cyclops’ visor, Quicksilver’s silver Nike high tops, and Jubilee’s collection of cassette tapes (including Rod Stewart and the soundtrack to the ’80s Tom Cruise flick Cocktail).
An archery range was also set up outside that ties into a deleted scene from the film (that’s naturally on the home video release) featuring Jean Grey using her mutant powers to control an arrow. The new black and silver armored suits were at the foot of the stairs, and Xavier’s wheelchair and Cerebro helmet were located in his office.
Fox also enlisted U.K. tech company Myndplay to create an exclusive Oculus Rift virtual reality experience that was set up in the drawing room. Guests were able to sit in a replica of Professor X’s chair, slip on the Rift, and try to stop Magneto from starting a nuclear holocaust in VR Cerebro Challenge. While the experience uses video sequences from Apocalypse, Myndplay’s expertise is in using brainwaves to “control” interactions. So there weren’t any controllers to use in this three-minute VR experience, just your brain (a la Professor X).
“I’d like to see Jubilee kill people … to prove to everyone that she can be super epic and cause problems.”
X-Men in the flesh
Two of the actors from the new film were also at the mansion, including Lana Condor (Jubilee) and Carolina Bartczak (Magdato), to talk about the X-Men franchise and the new Apocalypse release.
Fans of Jubilee will get to see more of the yellow-jacketed hero in the film’s deleted scenes, including an extended mall sequence montage featuring Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Jubilee going to the Space Port arcade, named after the real New Jersey arcade Singer haunted as a kid.
“I wish it had been in the movie that came out in the theaters, but that was really, really fun (to shoot),” Condor told DigitalTrends. “I wish Jubilee had been in more of it, but I’m not the writer. I’m just happy for what I got, so it would be cool to see more of her (in the future). But I’m biased.”
Condor is actually the third actress to play Jubilee in an X-Men movie, following in the footsteps of Katrina Florece in X-Men and Kea Wong in X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand. She hopes more of the plasmoid-shooting mutant will be incorporated into future films.
“I’d like to see her like kick some booty,” Condor said. “You know how Quicksilver always has his moment? We should have a Jubilee moment. I’d like to see her kill people, and it’s not because I’m a violent person, it’s just because I want to prove to everyone that she can be super epic and cause problems.”
Fans of the X-Men comic books will note that Singer went in a different direction with Magneto’s wife, Magna, in Apocalypse. But Bartczak was just happy to be part of the X-Men universe.
“I’ve been a fan of X-Men since it came out in 2000,” Bartczak told DigitalTrends. “I love the idea that there’s a group of people who were ostracized from society and are forced to fight back to be welcomed into society. That’s something that has been happening in all of history, so I liked the fact that the creator of X-Men took a problem that we have in society and heightened it in a superhero way.”
X-Men producer Simon Kinberg said the next mainline X-Men movie will be set in the ‘90s, which follows the timeline the films have set, exploring the ‘60s (X-Men: First Class), the ‘70s (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and ‘80s (X-Men: Apocalypse). Kinberg should know as he’s writing the script after he wraps Deadpool 2.
Fans also have Wolverine 3 to look forward to in March of 2017. And there’s a Gambit spinoff starring Channing Tatum in development. Plus director Josh Boone’s working on a New Mutants spinoff featuring Magik, Wolfsbane, Dani Moonstar, Cannonball, Sunspot, and Warlock. That film will reportedly have some Apocalypse ties with the inclusion of Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Professor X (McAvoy) from the latest X-Men movie.
With several new films in the works and a sprawling list of characters to explore, the franchise isn’t slowing down anytime soon, but it’s always fun to take some time to get back to your roots.