Interview: Adan Canto Talks Sunspot in X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Though a relative newcomer here in the States, actor Adan Canto has racked up a number of film credits to his name in his native country of Mexico though he's set to make a splash here with his Hollywood debut as Sunspot in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. SuperHeroHype had the pleasure of speaking with Canto about his involvement in the film, his familiarity with the character, and how he acted in a film against enemies that aren't really there. Read on for the full interview!

SuperHeroHype: So how did this all happen? Was it really quickly for you or was there an extensive audition process?

Adan Canto: We were fortunate to get the meeting with the casting director. I was shooting “The Following” in New York at the time and we were able to line it up on a trip back to LA. Yeah, it was basically reading for it and auditioning for it and it happened fortunately.

SHH: How familiar were you with the X-Men before you got cast?

Canto: I had read the comics as a kid. A bunch then. My restless nature just didn't allow me to sit down and keep reading comics. I was very playful, I was just moving around all the time when I was a kid. I did follow the movies years later after the 2000 "X-Men," but I've always been a fan. I did have to dive in again to understand the character of Sunspot, and I didn’t know what the level of involvement of this character in the film at the beginning, so I just wanted to be very, very secure. Just have more information than necessary.

SHH: So are you at the age where the "X-Men" cartoon was more influential on you than the comic books? Because there are a lot of people that remember the '90s cartoon more than anything else.

Canto: Yeah, I can see why though, but no. Fortunately, I did try to watch cartoons as well but I didn't like the way Sunspot was depicted necessarily in the cartoons. I thought there was so much more depth within these comics and there was a lot more thought to it, and less distraction, less visual distraction.

SHH: Did you know what character it was you were going in to read for or was that a surprise when you got the role?

Canto: Yeah, I believe the first time we didn't, but then the second, once we got a little bit more into the meetings we were aware of it, yes.

SHH: You said you were familiar with the X-Men, did you know Sunspot specifically before you got cast?

Canto: No I was not. Like I said, I immediately started to read more about it to understand. I had heard about him but I wasn't familiar with him.

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SHH: So what exactly can you tell us about Sunspot, the character, in the movie?

Canto: Well he's a mutant from the future. We're basically starting off in the future and we're seeing the mutants surviving. They have to be fighting these Sentinels, these 15-foot Sentinels, that are quite invincible. We're keeping together, there's been a lot of loss of mutants and the remainder of us are fighting together to beat these guys. Mainly our sequences are just action, action, action, we have to protect them, but once we come together with your "A" X-Men, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, then we come together to find a solution for this. That's when the travel to the past comes about.

SHH: Talk about working with the rest of the cast on the film. It's quite a group they've assembled for the movie.

Canto: Oh absolutely, I have to say it was overwhelming, in only good ways, once I knew I was cast in the movie. Fortunately before we started filming we were able to meet up and have a dinner, the production scheduled this. We got to break the ice a little bit and got to know each other on a more personal level. These people are amazing, they've very warm, and it kind of seems like a family. They use that word to  describe themselves, “family,” they're “the X-men family.” So once we started working it was just swift, it was smooth from there on out.

SHH: Based on the trailers, it seems like you'll get to take on some of the Sentinels. What was it like fighting things that aren't really there?

Canto: (Laugs) It's like going back to those days where I just got scolded left and right at school. I tell my parents all that stuff they used to reprimand me for is paying the bills now. It's kind of funny. I did have to channel that seven-year-old boy again and just completely let my imagination loose and just not allow any adult preconceptions of anything limit me.

SHH: On the flip side of that, quite a bit of your character is done in post-production, how does it effect your performance on set to know that it's going to be altered significantly afterward?

Canto: Fortunately they showed me a few ideas of what they were going to do and because of that I knew that it needed to be very physical, very wide. Kind of like movement in a big space so you could actually see his body because it's just a ball of fire if I kept everything constrained. So I was aware of this. I love to run and cycle so I just brought it into a higher level just so I could back it up, I didn't want to fall short with all this physical conditions.

SHH: How many different versions of how your character was going to look do you think they went through before they got to where they ended up?

Canto: I saw a few pictures of them and everything was along the same lines. I wasn't radically different at all. They stayed true to the sun pretty much. Just becoming the surface of the sun and so we won't be confused with fire, because this guy is completely lava, he is magma, and he can channel all these energies. So they just showed me what my skin was going to look like and I just thought if it's going to look that way I better give this guy a lot of space, a lot of wide movements. Even when you run or move from side to side, I thought in that way. I took that into consideration.

SHH: What was the thing that surprised you the most about doing a big summer blockbuster like this?

Canto: So many things, so many things. From the start, reading the script, and this particular storyline was fascinating because it takes place in the past, present and future. You always have to think of a movie in three acts but in this particular case it was not just the three acts but the three moments in time and all the obstacles in the way. Then getting to know everyone I was working with, it just heightened my admiration. These people are just so great to work with, they work like clockwork and are very warm. It did just make me feel sheltered. I felt very confident along the way because of their attention to me, I was fortunate in that matter. But also towards the end of it, coming to New York for the premiere and witnessing all these fans, it's overwhelming. I had heard that X-Men fans were die-hard fans. There are fans, and then there are X-Men fans. They're the highest you can go. I think I just had to land in New York to see that for myself and witness it. It really is an amazing thing.

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SHH: Now I imagine when you were working on “The Following” you had to be very mindful of secrecy and not spoiling anything. Is that a totally different world when you're working on an X-Men movie or was it relatively the same?

Canto: It was also top secret. I remember I got the script much later after I learned I had the role of Sunspot, that's when I just went to town investigating everything I could and doing my research on this character since I didn't know the level of involvement of Sunspot in the movie. Then a few weeks later I got the script. They were very secretive and I can completely understand why.

SHH: Are you the kind of actor that you wanted to create a back story for the character?

Canto: Absolutely, yes. That's one of the things I noticed in the cartoon, he was very affable. I would say too care free in the cartoon. It took me a few minutes to see that so that's why I just didn't want to do it, because when you read the comic books and see everything this guy went through it's just too much. So I wanted to find a balance between this guy being affable and a good guy at heart but at the same time he did face all that disillusion and all that abandonment when he was young, so I wanted to keep all those things in mind, and also his passion for making things right and surviving helping his friends.

SHH: How surreal is it to go to a movie theater and see a poster with your face on it or look at a magazine rack and see yourself on the cover of Empire magazine?

Canto: That was amazing, I love that picture. Really. It was so much fun to do that as well. I remember when I was first discovering Sunspot's body movements when we were on stage at the photo shoots. It was when I was really going crazy as a kid, experimenting and at the same time just letting go. It was so much fun to do it.

SHH: They've already announced the next couple of X-Men movies to follow “Days of Future Past." Are you hopeful we'll be seeing Sunspot once again?

Canto: I would love, I would really love it. There's a lot of stuff in the stories, every character's storyline, but definitely with Sunspot as well. I hope that we come back.

SHH: What else have you got coming up in the future that we should look out for?

Canto: There's a few things and I think pretty soon we should have more information on that, but yeah it's been a little bit crazy with the release of the movie and a lot of meetings and readings that we've been having to do at the same time. It's been a lot of fun these last days. A lot of late nights and early mornings.

X-Men: Days of Future Past arrives in 2D and 3D theaters on Thursday, May 22.

(Photo credit: Daniel Tanner/WENN.com)