The X-Men franchise is a bizarrely unique thing in the world of big budget Hollywood franchising. Increasingly, the Hollywood machine is about rebranding and rebooting a product just when it gets the whiff of age to it. Yet after 15 years, the X-Men movies aren’t only going strong, they’ve managed to recast without changing course. It’s why Kodi Smit-McPhee can play the same Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse that Alan Cumming originally created for the screen in 2003’s well-received X2. Except, it’s not the same Nightcrawler—at least according to Kodi-Smit McPhee himself who opened up to us about recreating the role in an exclusive interview.
While sitting down to discuss his new western that co-stars Michael Fassbender, Slow West, the subject invariably went to X-Men: Apocalypse, and Smit-McPhee had some curious insight about how he is getting away from what Cumming did in X2 to find the fun-loving character from the comics.
“I think I’m really going to make it my own because it is kind of going back and its seeing the younger character,” Smit-McPhee said. “I realize the Nightcrawler that is portrayed in X2 is one that has been through quite a bit more and has really embraced the superhero part of him—a kind of violent part. Whereas I think what they’re trying to show here is the more vulnerable Nightcrawler and the one we all kind of related to in the comics. It’s really the fun, happy, swashbuckling Nightcrawler that we all love, so I really can’t wait to portray that. He’s just very vulnerable and truthful, and grounded in his faith. I think it’s something new though that we’ll see. But as I said, all of the traditional things that we want in it—it’s still there. Hint, hint.”
During our discussions about Slow West, the young actor also talked about the unique experience of going from a very elegiac film like Slow West where he worked intimately with Michael Fassbender to something like X-Men: Apocalypse, which will most likely find their characters at extreme odds.
Says Smit-McPhee, “I’m definitely going to enjoy being with him again in such a different environment with superheroes surrounding us in the western world. It’s going to be interesting, but I think it’s going to be fun…He’s such a cool guy; he’s just like a kid at heart, and he’s always very positive, and when it comes to doing work, it’s always professional.”
For fans that don’t want to wait until next year to see Smit-McPhee and Fassbender onscreen, Slow West is currently playing in the Tribeca Film Festival; it also opens in theaters on May 15th.