Can you believe it’s already been 17 years since the X-Men film series made its debut? The series is the second-highest-grossing film series based on Marvel Comics and has gained a cult following. It seems like we’ve reached the end of an era, though, with both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart retiring from their iconic roles as Wolverine and Professor Xavier, respectively. Although we’ve watched them on the big screen over a span of nearly two decades, there is still so much we don’t know about them—and the rest of the cast. Speaking of the cast, what a diverse one it was! It included everyone from Halle Berry to Ian McKellen and Jennifer Lawrence. The chemistry between the various cast members was undeniable and they each brought something special to one of the greatest superhero stories ever told. In honor of this incredible series, we’ve searched high and low for 15 surprising facts about the cast members of X-Men for your reading pleasure. Let us know which one surprised you the most!
15. Patrick Stewart Grew Up In An Abusive Household
Patrick Stewart plays the calm and collected Professor Xavier in X-Men. But growing up, his home life was anything but calm. Patrick witnessed domestic abuse in his household. He says, “As a child I witnessed his [his father] repeated violence against my mother, and the terror and misery he caused was such that, if I felt I could have succeeded, I would have killed him. If my mother had attempted it, I would have held him down.” He also recalls feeling helpless and upset that the police didn’t do anything either. He says the experiences gave him a sense of guilt and loneliness, but acting was his refuge. Patrick is now a patron of domestic violence charities, speaking out against violence, raising awareness, and donating his money to the cause.
14. Olivia Munn Is A Black-Belter
In the X-Men series, Olivia Munn plays Psylocke—a master martial artist with telepathic abilities. But, it seems as though in real life, she isn’t so far off from her character. You may be surprised to know that even before training for the action-packed movies, Olivia Munn could have probably beaten you up. She revealed in an interview, “I’m the fourth of five children. All of us started karate at around age five and studied it until we were about 16—and we weren’t allowed to stop practicing until we had achieved black belts.” Wow, Talk about looks being deceiving! Seriously, who would have guessed this? We definitely don’t want to mess with Olivia!
13. Olivia Munn Suffered From Mental Illness
Speaking of the beautiful actress, we were pretty surprised to learn that Olivia suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and trichotillomania (which is characterized by compulsions to pull out one’s own hair and eyelashes). Many celebrities suffer from mental illness, though. And it’s always admirable when they speak out about it, raising awareness, and showing others that they are not alone in their struggles. It definitely makes us more aware of the fact that celebrities are humans, too.
Thankfully, Olivia is doing much better these days and has her hypnotist to thank for that. That’s right—she has a hypnotist—and that hypnotist encouraged (hypnotized?) Olivia to start working out, as it helps alleviate anxiety. She says, “I was working out every day at six in the morning. If I missed a session, I’d double up and do it the next day. Now I feel so much stronger.” Hey, it may be unconventional, but we’re glad it worked for her!
12. Hugh Jackman And Halle Berry Made Six Movies Together
It was hard to ignore the chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry (who portrayed Storm) throughout the X-Men series. And if you purchased the X-Men: Days of Future Past Blu-ray and DVD, you’ve seen the deleted scene in which the two actually kiss (and Halle Berry goes crazy, in a fan girl kind of way). The two actually get along quite well in real life, which makes sense, considering they’ve appeared in six movies together! These include four X-Men installments, Swordfish (2001), and Movie 43 (2012). At the New York premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Jackman gave the greatest shout-out to Halle, who couldn’t make it due to other commitments. He said he misses her, loves her, and that she’s the best. How sweet! Here’s to hoping the talented and good-looking pair continue making movies together!
11. James Marsden Wasn’t Tall Enough
In the X-Men comics, Cyclops is supposed to be taller than Wolverine (an entire foot taller, to be exact). However, James Marsden (that actor who plays Cyclops) is actually three inches shorter than Hugh Jackman. James is five feet and 10 inches, while Hugh stands tall at just over six feet. Marsden is shorter than Famke Janssen, his character’s love interest, too! So, in order to make James appear taller beside Hugh (and Famke, of course), the movie makers made him wear lifts for most of the scenes.
10. Halle Berry Is Diabetic
Did you know that the gorgeous Halle Berry is a diabetic? Yep, it goes to show that even celebs are not immune from illnesses. She was diagnosed at the young age of 22. Sources are conflicted as to whether Halle is a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic and the reason may be because Halle herself is confused. She believes she has worked her way up from Type 1 to Type 2 Diabetes, thanks to a change in diet. She says, “I’ve managed to wean myself off insulin, so now I’d like to put myself in the Type 2 category.” Um, that’s not how it works…Type 1 Diabetes is currently incurable. Doctors now believe that Halle was misdiagnosed and always had Type 2 Diabetes. Due to her condition, Halle stays away from sugar and she actually credits that (along with her exercise regime) to her anti-aging.
9. Multiple Cast Members Studied Journalism Before Breaking Into Acting
You’d think that all actors and actresses went to performing arts school; but that isn’t the case. Some of them went straight into the entertainment industry after high school and some went to college for a regular degree, but found their passion in acting later on. You won’t believe which X-Men cast members studied Journalism—there are actually three of them!
Hugh Jackman graduated from the University of Technology in Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, but shortly realized he wasn’t cut out to be a journalist. He then pursued drama at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. James Marsden (who plays Cyclops) studied Broadcast Journalism at Oklahoma State University. However, he dropped out after one and a half years to pursue acting. We’d say he made the right choice! It may also come as a surprise that Olivia Munn (who plays Psylocke) also studied journalism and got her start on television as a journalist. She interned at Fox Sports Networks and appeared as a correspondent on The Daily Show from 2010 to 2011. She said she disliked the experience of being a journalist because she was “trying to be something [she] wasn’t.” She then pursued acting and we can all enjoy watching her on both the big and small screens.
8. Jennifer Lawrence Almost Turned Down The Role Of Katniss
Can you imagine Hunger Games without Jennifer Lawrence? How about Twilight with JLaw, instead of Kristen Stewart? Neither can we! But, if things went the way Jennifer wanted them to go, that could have been the case. So, how did the actress end up with the role of Katniss? According to her, her mom made her do it! She said, “I always got asked why I did indies, not studio films, and I said it was about the script, it’s not about how big it is. And she [her mom] was like, ‘This is a script you love, a character you love, and you’re about to turn it down because of the size of it? You’re a hypocrite!’” We’re so glad that Jen’s mom told her like it is! Look at where she is now—at the top of the list of highest-paid actresses! Not bad for someone who has never taken a professional acting class!
7. Patrick Stewart Is Licensed To Race
At the age of 76, Patrick Stewart is still one the coolest actors in Hollywood. He likes things that you wouldn’t believe, like Beavis and Butthead and race car driving! He revealed that one of his fantasies is “driving a Formula 1 racing car in the Monaco Grand Prix and just beating Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button by a nose.” Patrick holds a Motor Sports Association (MSA) license and competed in a celebrity race in 2012, finishing in ninth place. He also met one of his racing heroes—Stirling Moss—in 2012, while working on the documentary, Racing Legends (which Patrick presented in the film).
6. Michael Fassbender Started His Own Production Company At Age 18
Speaking of racing, Patrick Stewart isn’t the only member of the X-Men cast who enjoys it—Michael Fassbender does, too! The actor who gave an awesome performance as Magneto in X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, also enjoys racing and narrated a documentary about Formula One racing.
Another interesting fact about him is that he started his own production company (Peanuts Productions) at the age of 18! Although the company didn’t last long (and someone else now owns the copyright to the name), it’s still pretty impressive to think he even had the idea and ambition to go through with it. Michael says, “I loved Reservoir Dogs, so I just called it Peanut Productions. I’m hopefully forming a company soon and developing my own ideas. I have to find a name for it though.”
5. Two Main Actors Had Real Mutations
The X-Men are known for being mutants who possess an X-gene, which allows them to develop superpowers. But comic book characters aren’t the only ones with mutations. Many humans have mutations, too! Some go unnoticed while others are rather obvious. Some are harmless, while others can be fatal. Cancer is one such fatal mutation. Unfortunately, both Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen have had the disease. Earlier this year, Jackman posted a photo on Instagram of his nose with a bandage. The caption read: “Another basal carcinoma…looks worse with the dressing on than off…#wearsunscreen.” This is the actor’s fifth encounter with skin cancer, but thankfully, he was successfully treated.
Ian McKellen also stated back in 2012 that he’s had prostate cancer for six or seven years, but hasn’t received treatment as the cancer hasn’t progressed. However, he states that he gets it checked regularly.
4. James McAvoy Considered Becoming A Priest
James McAvoy played the young Professor Xavier in X: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. He also played the leading role in the recent thriller, Split. It’s hard to imagine James as anything other than an actor, isn’t it? He is just so good at what he does! But surprisingly, James didn’t always want to be an actor. As a teen, he actually considered becoming a priest! James says, “I wanted to be a missionary, but it was only because I wanted a free ticket to go and explore the world. I realized I was using God and religion to get my kicks so I knocked that on the head.” James then continued working in retail and a bakery and “by luck,” landed an audition in the film, The Near Room. He decided to pursue acting and began attending the Royal Scottish Academy. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. Famke Janssen Broke A Rib Twice
When an actor or actress decides to take on their own stunts, they risk getting injured. Famke Janssen, who plays one of the most popular X-Men characters (Jean Grey) knows that all too well. The actress broke her ribs, not once, but twice! She explains how, while filming Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), she broke a rib: “I was lowered in a scene and there was a last little jolt, and that jolt broke my rib.” She also broke the other rib while filming Goldeneye (1995). The actress recalls, “Pierce [Brosnan] was supposed to throw me [during] a scene in a spa…I said to Pierce–and the walls were padded–‘Just really toss me hard against that wall,’ and he goes, ‘I can’t do that,’ and I said, ‘Of course you can.’” Well, Pierce sure did throw her against the wall—causing her to have difficulty breathing. Poor Famke! But, thankfully, she is doing fine and is still acting. You can catch her on Blacklist: Redemption on NBC.
Even on the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past, there was an injury. But, it wasn’t Famke who was unlucky this time around; it was James McAvoy. The actor tripped in an airplane scene, cracking his knee. Sounds painful!
2. Anna Paquin Is The Second Youngest Academy Award Winner
Anna Paquin appeared in the first few X-Men movies as Rogue—the mysterious, young mutant with so much power, she can barely control it. While she played the part well and became well-known among X-Men followers, it wasn’t her first critically-acclaimed role. In fact, her very first role in a film was so highly praised, it won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. At the age of 11, Anna became the second youngest Oscar winner in history. She won for her part in The Piano, a movie about a mute piano player and her daughter, Flora (played by Anna Paquin). She was only second to Tatum O’Neal, who won for her part in Paper Moon (1974). Now that’s pretty impressive!
1. Sophie Turner Had A Twin Sister Who Died
We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Sophie Turner. After all, the actress portrays Sansa Stark in the popular TV show, Game of Thrones. But, she also played a young Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse. We’re so used to seeing her with red hair but she is, in fact, a natural blond. The red hair definitely suits her nicely, though. However, that’s not the interesting thing about Sophie. What you may not have known is that she had a twin sister who died due to a miscarriage! It actually still affects her to this day, but she uses it to help her when on the set of Game of Thrones. Sophie says, “I always felt as though…something was missing. I have two older brothers who are close in age and I always felt as though I needed someone or should have had someone there. I guess there’s a sense of loss there that I have used to conjure emotions onscreen, such as when it came to Sean [her on-screen father] dying.”