After having interviewed John Bruno about the visual effects of X-Men: The Last Stand, we headed off to see Kelsey Grammer being turned into Beast.
As we weaved through the trailers, I saw a number of the trailers for the actors. Each was labeled outside. Ironically, Pyro and Iceman share two halves of one trailer. We also passed one trailer that was labeled “Quills”, thus giving us a sneak peek at another X-Mutant. Finally we made it to the makeup trailer. As we walked in, I saw Kelsey Grammer halfway made up into Beast. It was out very first look at what he looked like. I was somewhat relieved to see that they went with the traditional look of the character rather than the catlike version. His face and head were made up, but he had no hair on him yet. (We saw a wig, beard, and eyebrows on Styrofoam heads nearby.) In the stage of makeup that he was at, he looked like a blue gargoyle of sorts. His face was painted blue, his ears were pointy, his neck had a little blue hair on it, and his head was covered with a pointy bald piece. Despite all this, upon first glance, it didn’t look like he was buried in prosthetics. His mouth looked blue and his naturally blue eyes were visible. However, the longer you stared at him, the more you noticed that his brows were furrowed, his cheekbones were pronounced, and his chin was a little bigger. Only on close inspection did you realize how much he had on despite the fact that I was only a foot or two away from him. The makeup guys (one of whom had on a Silver Surfer shirt, the other a Hellboy shirt) were that good. On the walls nearby were photos of Beast in character. There was a shot of him in a business suit grinning, another shot of him in what looks like a meeting room and wearing glasses. Another shot showed him in a coat similar to the one that the more recent catlike Beast wears. Also nearby was a photo of Vinnie Jones in the Juggernaut costume and a signed soccer photo of the actor.
As we walked in the narrow space and gathered around the actor, the Q&A began.
Q: How long does it take to get made up?
Grammer: Long is about 2 Â½ to 3 hours, but that’s the final product there. (Points to a photo of Beast on the mirror, the first time anyone off the set has seen it.)
Q: You’ve had some personal battles along the way in life. How are you connecting the Beast on that level?
Grammer: Actors always use everything about their own lives and sort of loan it to whatever mask they’re filling. It’s just an automatic thing. A sense of loss, a sense of pain, a sense of success, a sense of joy, all of those things feed into whatever the part is and give it it’s authenticity. So I guess I’m employing, making liberal use of my past, but nothing so specific as to think that, “Oh you know, I’m such an outcast”, or “Oh I’m happy”, or you know. But, somebody told me in an interview a while ago that Bryan Singer said that the movie was all about being gay. I think it minimizes the story actually to just isolate it to one uniqueness. I think it’s about everybody being unique and there are different manifestations of that for each character.
Q: You’re not really buried in makeup here. We see a lot of your facial features.
Grammer: No, I think my persona is evident underneath the mask, even when it is fully realized. So, certainly I am not trying to disguise my voice in any way. So that some of what people assume about me, Kelsey Grammer, is evident in Hank McCoy, or Beast. You know, a kind of innate intelligence and a well spoken way of communicating.
Q: Did you go out and start reading the comics when you got the role?
Grammer: No, no I checked out a couple of things and got a little back story from aficionados as far as one piece. (Pointing to one of the makeup designers wearing a Silver Surfer t-shirt.) He’s a big comic know it all.
Q: I’ve heard that Beast has an interesting point of view in the film, can you elaborate on that?
Grammer: Beast is more interested in exhausting every diplomatic possibility before finally standing shoulder to shoulder with his comrades and fighting for what he believes is a good cause. Because it takes him a while to enter the battle.
Q: How does he feel about the cure?
Grammer: He has mixed emotions about it because Beast has had a lifetime of being extraordinarily different visually, as well as knowing he’s a mutant and that some of those powers, of course, are admirable and beneficial. He’s got extraordinary intellect and great strength, but it might be tough for him to get a girlfriend. And so maybe that desire to be loved is something that he’s had to shelve since his blueness has become his primary hue. So, to answer your question a little more accurately, he is drawn to the idea of being normal again, and of course, whatever that entails is part of his dilemma in this piece.
Q: This is one of the heavier makeup jobs you’ve acted with. How has it been acting through the makeup, with the makeup?
Grammer: Right, it’s limiting in some ways, the prosthetic pieces. But you can still, I mean because they are my eyes, you still have 80% of my communicative powers are still pretty evident, and so, you know what’s going on. I think in some ways it actually helps the character achieve that stoic presence that I think he has, at least that I have chosen for him to have throughout most of the film.
Q: How does it feel coming into a film where most of the actors have done this twice before?
Grammer: They were very warm and welcoming and most of them know who I am, so they weren’t, “Who is this guy?”
Q: Frasier fans.
Grammer: Yeah, right, they may even be Frasier fans. But, no, so they were very, very open to the idea. There may have been reluctance at first, who knows. You know, I don’t know how many people thought, “Frasier as Beast, oh my!” But, I think they rapidly put that behind them upon first viewing.
Q: How did the part come up for you?
Grammer: Well, actually, the previous director, the one who originally was going to do the film, Matthew is his name I think, Matthew Vaughn. He was insistent that I play the part, so I guess, he just knew something that most other people didn’t. But, I don’t know all the reasons why he was asked to step aside and why they brought Brad on, but, I’m enjoying working with Brad and I think he’s going to deliver a good movie.
Q: Could you give us a reason why he wanted you so badly?
Grammer: I don’t know, I think it might have just been a certainty. You know, like a lightening rod kind of thing where he just thought this is the only guy for the part.
Q: Beast is a very athletic character. Have you been doing a lot of action scenes, being kicked around?
Grammer: All the time. There is another guy that dresses up like me and jumps around, but I have always been a fairly athletic guy myself, so it’s not hard to buy that I’m capable of rending people in half. (laughs)
Q: You said it takes about 2 hours to put everything on. How long does it take to get everything off?
Grammer: About 45 minutes. So it’s not so bad. We’re the first on deck, and the last to leave. That’s a distinction in this film.
Q: Is it difficult to stay warm out there?
Grammer: No, not in the suit I have, so actually it’s a blessing in that way. There’s another bodysuit and pants I put on to make me more shapely.
Q: The photo looks like it’s a combination of the previous Beast look from the comics as well as the newer costume there from the more recent X-Men issues.
Grammer: Well they tried to make this an older, like sort of vintage X-Men suit from Hank’s time when he was, you know, younger and still not in politics yet. So there’s a distinct difference between this and what the guys are wearing now. I think they’ve upgraded the X-Men suits for this one. They’re more sexier, and leatherier, you know.
Q: Was Beast a member of the X-Men before?
Grammer: Yes, he predates almost everybody. He and Magneto, or Eric, and Xavier. He was one of their first students, so he goes way back as Jean does, I guess. Jean was recruited early on.
Q: What Shakespearean character would you most liken Beast to?
Grammer: Well, actually, in history, I think he’s most like Frederick Douglas. I just see him as that he even kind of resembles him when he gets fully done up, and he’s a pioneer of mutant rights. Shakespearean character, well, he’s a cross between several. He’s very wise, so he’s a bit like Jaques in As You Like It. And he’s a little bit like Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida, because he understands the evils of society. And he’s also a bit like Henry Pride, because he likes to rally around a cause.
Q: Have you connected with the character on that level, from the Shakespearean standpoint?
Grammer: Well, I think these shows are Shakespearean, these films are that big. They have big heart and that’s one thing I was really drawn to. It’s not just about the special effects, and about the faces and the looks. It’s about the love between these characters and what they are willing to sacrifice to preserve that love, and that’s terrific.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve jumped into a role where the character had an established fan base, and high expectations from fans?
Grammer: (laughs) Well, yeah, but you can’t live up to those can you? You just have to put it out there with your soul and your heart, and hopefully people will respond. But I’m used to doing that.
Q: I think everybody thinks you’re the perfect person for the role, the actors, the fans.
Grammer: That’s cool, I’m glad to hear that. I heard there was some consternation in the very beginning.
Q: It was much more positive actually.
Grammer: It’s great to be able to play another role, I mean a role that is obviously so full and fully realized before you get to it. It’s almost like playing a famous person, like playing Orson Wells, or playing Winston Churchill. It brings that kind of associative power with it. And, so that’s kind of fun, and hopefully people will be pleased.
Q: Did you get a body scan?
Grammer: We did all that scanning stuff, yeah, it was really cool.
Q: Are you going to be an action figure now?
Grammer: Most likely, but I’m a little worried about my lack of merchandising contract on this. (laughs)
Q: The associate producer said that your character is so good in this movie that you could have your own movie after this.
Grammer: I made a deal to do another one if they want. But, that may be a blessing or a curse, but we’ll see what happens. (laughs) That’s flattering words, it’s very nice to hear.
That concluded our meeting with a very blue Kelsey Grammer. We then left the makeup trailer to go watch some filming of X-Men: The Last Stand. Read more about Wolverine vs. Magneto in Part 6 of our set visit report!
Source: Scott Chitwood