X Men: First Class

Wednesday 18th May 2011

X Men: First Class charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.
James McAvoy, Laurence Belcher, Michael Fassbender, Bill Milner, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Beth Goddard, Morgan Lily, Oliver Platt, Álex González, Jason Flemyng
Matthew Vaughn
Tom Cohen, Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Stan Lee, Josh McLaglen
Twentieth Century Fox
2 hours 12 minutes
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X-Men: First Class brings together the epic scale and action of a summer blockbuster with a character-driven story that unveils the beginning of the X-Men saga - and a secret history of the Cold War and our world at the brink of nuclear Armageddon. As the first class discovers, harnesses, and comes to terms with their formidable powers, alliances are formed that will shape the eternal war between the heroes and villains of the X-Men universe. Like all great X-Men stories, X-Men: First Class takes on ambitious themes and issues while offering a rich and personal look at an unusual superhero team.

The film is set in the 1960s - the dawn of the Space Age, and a time filled with the hope of JFK's Camelot. But it was also the height of the Cold War, when escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union threatened the entire planet - and when the world discovered the existence of mutants.

It is also during this period that Charles Xavier met Erik Lehnsherr. Before Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers. Before they were archenemies they were the closest of friends, working together and with other mutants to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. Some of these young mutant recruits are fan favorites from the previous X-Men films, while others are classic heroes from the comics but new to the film series. X-Men: First Class provides answers to questions that have long intrigued fans of the movies or comics: How did the X-Men come together? Why is Charles in a wheelchair? Where did the X-Mansion and Cerebro come from? But its themes and historical context will resonate with those unfamiliar with the other films in the series.

X-Men: First Class is a new beginning for the X-Men. The story is by Sheldon Turner, an Academy Award nominee for co-scripting Up in the Air, and Bryan Singer - whose work as the director of the first two films in the series, X-Men and X2: X-Men United, was hailed by critics and audiences around the world for their skillful and seamless blending of drama, action, scale and social-political themes. Singer's X-Men films became a template for the resurgence in comics- to-movie adaptations, and landmarks in the new age of superhero films.

Most of X-Men: First Class is set in the 1960s, an apt period for an origins tale because it was during this decade that Marvel Comics editor, head writer and art director Stan Lee, along with Jack Kirby, created the X-Men comics. The X-Men, like many of their Marvel predecessors, are an unusual heroic group - at times sarcastic, anti-social and clearly flawed, yet sympathetic when battling the demons of their love lives, tackling the traumas of self-esteem, or taking on powerful villains in their universe of special powers. They are the children of the atom, homo superior, and the next link in the chain of evolution. Each mutant was born with a unique genetic mutation, which at puberty manifested itself in extraordinary powers. In a world increasingly filled with hatred, prejudice and fear, they are scientific oddities... freaks of nature... outcasts who are feared and loathed by those who cannot accept their differences.

"The first order of business in conceiving the story", says Singer, "was figuring out the era in which both Charles and Erik would have met, when they were in their mid-twenties. We decided that would be the early '60s - the height of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Both aspects of that period provided an exciting opportunity to explore events that would shape our modern world". One of the Cold War's flashpoints was the Cuban missile crisis, during which the threat of sudden global extinction loomed large, and which provided the ultimate stakes for mutants to reveal themselves to the world and prevent a conflagration that would engulf the planet.

An equally important context for the film is the issue of civil rights - will the mutants be accepted by humanity, or will they be seen as threats to be imprisoned or even eliminated? Should mutants embrace their differences and reign as the planet's superior beings, or should they become part of the fabric of society? "I've always been fascinated by the concept of assimilation versus aggression - and when the civil rights movement of the day becomes the mutant rights movement of tomorrow" says Singer. The relationship between Charles and Erik connects to that theme and exemplifies the ideological and philosophical differences of that era. They are essentially cut from the same cloth, and both see mutants as potential subjects of persecution. However, Charles lives to protect those who fear him while Erik lives to destroy them. Each believes his side is right. Neither is willing to compromise. Says director Matthew Vaughn: "Erik is very suspicious of humans, and Charles thinks everything is going to be fine, and that they can trust humans to accept the emerging mutants. Erik replies, 'They're going to turn on us and kill us.' And he's right".

Infusing X-Men: First Class with humanistic, character-based elements was another priority for Vaughn and Singer. "The magic of genre films is you can tell stories about the human condition from an unexpected vantage point, dressed up in spectacle and wonder", notes Singer. "That's especially important for the X-Men films because that universe presents characters with a lot of depth. The best X-Men stories celebrate that complexity, and that's what we all wanted for this film". "In every film I do", adds Vaughn, whose credits include the acclaimed independent films Layer Cake and Kick-Ass, "I ask, 'Where is the human angle? Every character and action beat must have one. If I can slip in something that helps audiences connect with and care about the characters, it will only enhance the experience of watching the movie. If you don't care about the characters, then what's the point?

"X-Men: First Class has big ideas and big moments", Vaughn continues. "We're not always relying on huge visual effects to make the movie work. The effects support the characters. The film is a great character piece - with some huge action scenes". Singer began thinking about an origins story when was directing the first two X-Men pictures. "I would always think about the histories of the characters when telling the actors how to inform their characters' behavior. So to be able to go back and execute those backstories I had in my imagination was very satisfying". One of those actors who had asked Singer about a character history was Patrick Stewart, who portrayed Charles Xavier in the first three X-Men films. "Patrick was wondering about the origins of Charles, and even then I had an idea about it, which was very different from the comics' version", Singer recalls. "I explained the comics' version of the origins, which was set in Tibet and involved an alien agent named Lucifer, and then I explained my ideas. Patrick said, 'I prefer it your way!'".

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who has been with the X-Men film franchise since the beginning, also remembers the origins for X-Men: First Class dating back to the production of the original films. "During the making of X2 we were chatting between scenes about some of our younger cast members, and I said, 'Wouldn't it be great to see a young Professor X or Magneto. We should do a film about the X-Men when they were young.' Everyone went, 'Yeah, good idea, good idea.' And we all talked about it for quite a while, and then of course went back to making X2".

Singer not only co-wrote the story for X-Men: First Class, he joined the project as a producer, along with Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg, a skilled writer in his own right whose credits include Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the upcoming This Means War. But who would direct? Singer was unavailable due to his commitment to another project, but a chance meeting he had in London with Vaughn led to the latter agreeing to take the reins. X-Men: First Class is not Vaughn's first encounter with the film franchise. After making his directorial debut with the acclaimed independent film Layer Cake, Vaughn came close to helming the third film in the X-Men series, X-Men: The Last Stand, before moving on to direct the critically hailed fantasy epic Stardust and the graphic novel adaptation Kick-Ass.

Vaughn says he took on X-Men: First Class because he sparked to Singer's idea of setting the story during the Cold War. "I was immediately struck by the cleverness of Bryan's idea, which was an interesting way of integrating the characters into recent history", Vaughn remembers. Adds the director's writing partner Jane Goldman: "One of the things that excited us most about the project was the political backdrop - the idea of integrating that aspect with the X-Men backstory really captured our imaginations". (Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz, a screenwriting duo who recently co-wrote Thor, receive screenplay credit, along with Vaughn & Goldman). Vaughn the screenwriter certainly didn't make things easy for Vaughn the director. "We had to recast every role, recreate the '60s and redesign all the iconic X-Men sets and costumes", he explains. But his biggest challenge was casting the two young leads to portray Charles and Erik, who years later, as Professor X and Magneto, and as depicted in the vast X-Men universe of comics and films, were enemies with irreconcilable viewpoints.

In casting the characters of Charles, a gifted young Oxford graduate in genetics, who is the world's most powerful telepath; and Erik, who as a young man - and under horrific circumstances - discovered his power to control magnetism, the filmmakers were mindful that they had to find two young actors whom audiences would accept in roles Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen had made their own. James McAvoy, who moves effortlessly between roles in independent films such as Atonement and The Last King of Scotland and blockbusters like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Wanted, got the nod to portray Charles. McAvoy embraced the challenge of essaying the character at a transformative moment in his life. His Xavier is dissimilar in key ways from the confident, patriarchal Xavier from the original trilogy. "In those films", explains McAvoy, "Professor X is selfless and egoless. He is focused on humanity, on the rest of the world, and on helping others. When we meet him in this film, as a younger man, he's self-centered, has an ego, and is a little bit lost. X-Men: First Class is about Charles finding his purpose, and that was very much what attracted me to the role - to see who Charles was, and to explore the reasons why he became the person he did. Matthew made it very clear at the beginning he wanted both me and Michael [Fassbender, as Erik] to play the characters, and not play Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen as younger men".

"I thought James had everything the role required", says Vaughn. "In the previous movies, Charles was the ultimate teacher, with a Zen-like air. Our younger Charles is a bit more fun. He's running around and he's more proactive. Charles is caught up in himself. He enjoys success and is prideful". Adds Jane Goldman: "The real challenge in delineating Charles was finding his flaws and making him a multi-layered character. James McAvoy came up with some wonderful ideas about the character because he has such a good handle on Charles". When we meet Charles in X-Men: First Class, mutants have not yet revealed themselves to the world; in fact, Charles is uncertain if there are mutants other than himself and a young woman named Raven he had befriended years earlier. "As far as Charles knows", says McAvoy, "he is just a guy who can read minds, and while he hopes there are other mutants, his path has not yet been set on rousing the mutant race and seeking acceptance from humanity".

Charles discovers the purpose of his formidable powers when he connects, telepathically, with other mutants around the world. He does this through a device long known to the legions of X-Men fans: Cerebro, a metallic, high-tech headpiece that amplifies Charles' telepathic powers. X-Men: First Class' Cerebro is an early prototype of the streamlined device seen in the X-Men films set in contemporary times; young Charles' '60s-era Cerebro has been cobbled together with tech and equipment from the period, including toggle switches, cathode ray tubes, and old antennae. Production designer Chris Seagers backward-engineered the original films' Cerebro, to be, says the designer, "a very simple structure with its center core coming from the design of the later films, and the dome itself based on observatory domes dotted about the English countryside". Cerebro provides a kind of epiphany for Charles. "He realizes for the first time that there are thousands, if not millions of mutants out in the world, and that humbles him", says McAvoy. "It crystallizes his mission and his purpose in life: to find other mutants and help them".

Charles has already become embroiled in a looming war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, when he saves the life of a mutant possessing formidable powers and a haunted past that has already set the mutant, Erik Lehnsherr, on a path that will soon take him to a war with Charles. But for now, they are friends and kindred spirits. "This is the first time in their lives they've met someone who is an equal, someone who understands the other and can push the other, too", says McAvoy. "Charles is fascinated with Erik's potential". In fact, Charles is the first person with whom Erik has ever connected. Says Michael Fassbender, who portrays Erik: "There is a very strong bond between Charles and Erik, and a deep respect. But from the beginning, their ideologies are at odds. Erik is very wary of new elements in his life and of getting close to someone again. He does so with Charles as much as he can with anyone. We wanted to have a believable journey to the point where their devastating rift begins. When Erik and Charles have their parting of the ways, audiences will realize that great things could have happened if they had joined forces forever".

Erik is also hesitant to join Charles on his mission to save the world from itself. Why, asks Erik, is humanity even worth saving? "Erik is quite Machiavellian; he believes the end justifies the means", Fassbender explains. "He has no regard for humans, and feels they're inferior". Erik's cavalier attitudes about humans stem from his childhood, which couldn't have been more different from Charles' life of privilege. Erik had to survive without parents, and as a youngster was forced to endure unimaginable hardships. X-Men: First Class introduces Erik with a recreation of the scene that opened the original X-Men, set at the Auschwitz concentration camp, in the 1940s. There, young Erik, horrified when the Nazis separate him from his parents, reveals his mutant abilities, bending the camp's metal gates. X-Men: First Class then picks up after that scene, as Erik, still a youngster, becomes the test subject of a Dr. Schmidt, who is determined to fully unleash and harness Erik's powers. "Matthew and I had always admired the power and impact of the concentration camp scene in X-Men, which really informs the character of Erik", says co-screenwriter Jane Goldman. "And Matthew wanted to explore what happens next to Erik. What you see will change the way you feel about Erik, and allow you to see him through fresh eyes".

Twenty years later, Erik now a grown man, has one mission in life: track down and kill Dr. Schmidt (whom we'll again meet in a very different guise). Erik is a force of fury and hate, hunting Schmidt and the other Nazi doctors whom he believes turned him into a kind of Frankenstein's monster. Even as Erik finds his first friend in Charles and is embraced by the other members of the team that will become the X-Men, he never veers from his mission. "Erik is totally driven; if Charles or anyone gets in his way, he's going to put them down", says Fassbender.

Vaughn had seen Fassbender's critically acclaimed performances in 300, Hunger, and Inglourious Basterds, and after Fassbender's impressive audition, cast the actor as Erik. "Michael gives Erik an interesting attitude, and Erik is really straight-up cool", says the director. Fassbender, who was eager to play the complex character, notes that when he got the script, he thought it was "truly clever". There were real consequences to each action in the film. It wasn't all guns blazing. There was so much more going on, many layers in the writing, and I was very impressed with that". Fassbender also notes that he did not draw on the previous films to develop his interpretation of Erik. "The source material is in the comic books. We were really starting from scratch in order to present a fresh look at the material".

After Charles, joined by Erik, recruits the "first class" of young mutants, these gifted students learn to control and direct their powers for the greater good of mankind. But harnessing these powers is not easy, nor is their coming together as a team. In the first X-Men film trilogy, the mutants have long honed their abilities and were a smooth-running (well, mostly) team. But when we meet the young mutants in X-Men: First Class, their powers are untamed and unfocused. Moreover, says Bryan Singer, like most teenagers, the mutants are uncomfortable with being different from their peers. "Their situation is a metaphor for how uncomfortable teens feel in their skin, and how difficult it is when you're 'different' from the societal ideal".

Charles' first mutant ally is Raven, a blue-skinned shape-shifter with superhuman agility. The two mutants had met as youngsters, when Charles discovered Raven rummaging through the kitchen of his family's mansion. (In addition to setting up the critical Charles-Raven relationship, the idyllic setting of the lavish Xavier home provides a stark counterpoint to the circumstances of Erik's childhood). Charles makes Raven a member of his family, and they grow up as a kind of brother and sister. But as we know from the first films, their relationship will change dramatically. Explains Bryan Singer: "Because Charles is young and at times naïve, he sometimes doesn't pay as much attention to Raven as he should, and she sometimes becomes resentful. And that takes her on the path to where we find her in the original film trilogy [played by Rebecca Romijn], as part of Magneto's Brotherhood".

Jennifer Lawrence, a Best Actress Academy Award® nominee for her breakout performance in the 2010 drama Winter's Bone, portrays Raven, whose mutant name is Mystique. "Raven has learned to live with her secret, but much like most insecure teenagers who react to something they perceive makes them different, she hasn't really faced up to her unique abilities", she says. "Raven is mostly ashamed of them. She slowly starts to realize it is a blessing and becomes proud of her mutant abilities, as do the other young mutants of their powers. At the beginning we are isolated and alone, and each mutant goes through a huge evolution. We join together to become this iconic X-Men team, and then separate. It is fascinating to see the journey each character takes and which side they ultimately join".

As Charles and Erik become aware of the existence of other mutants, they discover a plot that puts them in the middle of the escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which is hurtling the world toward disaster. This, in turn, creates an uneasy alliance between the mutants and a covert U.S. government agency. At the agency, Charles and Erik meet Hank, a brilliant scientist with only a few mutant features - until a serum unexpectedly unleashes the superhuman Beast within. Hank, his mutant powers as yet unrevealed, works at the top-secret agency developing world-changing technology, like Cerebro and the X-Jet. Hank has been alone for much of his life, in hiding and embarrassed by his big simian-like feet and superhuman agility. When he meets Charles and Erik, Hank's life takes an unexpected turn. Explains Nicholas Hoult, a rising star who takes on the role of the mutant whom fans would come to love as Beast: "Charles tells Hank he must release his full mutant powers. Hank has been trying to suppress his powers and convince himself they don't even exist. He is too afraid of what he might be capable of if he unleashes them. Charles makes Hank confront his mutant abilities, learn to control them, and use them to help both mutants and humans".

Hoult, who is now before the cameras in Bryan Singer's adventure Jack the Giant Killer, understands how Hank's feelings about his unique abilities are so relatable: "Everyone has been embarrassed or felt like an outsider, at some time in their life. The feelings these mutants have about their powers are no different. When they find each other, and can share their talents, they can finally be proud of who they are". Rounding out the team that become the first class of X-Men are Lucas Till as Alex Summers, aka Havok, who can emit concentric rings of super-heated energy waves, causing his targets to burst into flame - and whom Charles and Erik free from solitary confinement in a penitentiary; Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy, aka Banshee, whose unique sonic blasts carry him into flight; and Edi Gathegi as Armondo Munoz, aka Darwin, whose "reactive evolution" enables him to adapt to any situation or environment.

Charles and Erik lead these mutants in an epic battle against Sebastian Shaw, a powerful mutant who can absorb energy and re-channel it into superhuman strength. Shaw moves among the shadows with a secret agenda that threatens the entire planet: he will stop at nothing to start a war, and if he succeeds, mankind is doomed.

X-Men: First Class imagines Shaw to be the puppet master behind the Cuban missile crisis. In Cuba, the Soviet Union was beginning to install intermediate range missiles, capable of carrying nuclear payloads to the United States, which demanded that these installations be dismantled immediately. The ensuing face-off between the two superpowers took the world to the edge of extinction. "Shaw's plan", says Kevin Bacon, who takes on the role, "is to escalate the Cuban missile crisis, to get Russian ships and submarines into the Bay of Pigs, and have the Americans and Russians fire at each other - triggering a nuclear war that will eradicate humanity and allow mutants to take over the world. It's a fantastic plot device. It was an incredibly tense moment in world history, and to suggest that it was Shaw's idea is a very cool way to set up the X-Men world during this era".

"Shaw is an extremely powerful man and essentially a sociopath", Bacon continues. "But he sincerely believes that he is trying to create a better world, without humans, run and populated entirely by mutants. Conventional morality does not apply to Shaw. In his mind he believes that mutants and humans will never be able to live together, so it is survival of the fittest, and Shaw is determined to protect the mutant race. He is driven by his firm belief that he thinks he is the right leader for the new world".

Shaw's right-hand... mutant... and romantic interest is Emma Frost, long celebrated as the sexiest woman in comic book lore, ahead of other femmes fatales like Catwoman and Elektra. Portraying Emma, a telepath with diamond-like, indestructible skin is January Jones. Jones embraced portraying the iconic character as a chance to break out of the '60s world of the acclaimed television series "Mad Men", in which she stars as Betty Draper. To say Jones was surprised when she read the X-Men: First Class script - set, of course, during the same period as the acclaimed series - would be an understatement. "Oh, god, you must be kidding me!" she remembers herself exclaiming. But Jones quickly realized that Emma was a far cry from Betty. "I am really excited about being part of this incredible world of X-Men", she says. "It is something very new for me to combine all the physical challenges the role offers, as well as the dramatic aspects. Emma is technically a villain, but I think her motives are genuine and from the heart. She thinks she is doing what is best for her race and will do whatever it takes to keep mutants alive and form a stronger species".

The fact that the comics' incarnation of Emma features impressive cleavage - and little else - didn't faze Jones, who was delighted to wear the outfits costume designer Sammy Sheldon created for her. "In the comics, Emma's clothing seems like it's painted on", says Jones with a laugh, "but Sammy has done an amazing job making the costumes true to character but also something I can move around in". Adds Sheldon: "We wanted to give Emma a period 'coolness,' and at various times she wears a bikini, a funky cape, a cat suit, crystal underwear, and thigh-length boots that attach to her clothing".

Joining Shaw and Emma as part of Shaw's Hellfire Club are: Azazel (Jason Flemyng), a demonic figure who can teleport by opening a portal into another dimension; Angel (Zoe Kravitz), who possesses a stunning tattoo of insect-like wings, which become actual wings growing from her back, giving her the gift of flight; and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez), who creates powerful whirlwinds that can uproot even the most formidable of foes.

To stop the threat Shaw and his team have put in motion, Charles, Erik and their young mutant recruits work with a secret group within the CIA, known as Division X, devoted to investigating the application of mental telepathy and paranormal power in military defense. The mutants' principal contacts there are the operative known only as MIB, played by Oliver Platt. "MIB has long been a laughing stock of the Agency because of its out-there investigations", explains the award-winning and peripatetic actor. "When Charles and Mystique become ensnared with the agency, MIB diverts them to his division with a deft bureaucratic sleight of hand. Erik soon joins them and the X-Men flourish under MIB's protection".

The mutants and MIB work with Moira MacTaggert, portrayed by Rose Byrne, a CIA agent at a time when female operatives were few in number. After Moira becomes among the first humans to witness the powers of mutants, she tracks down Charles, who helps Moira convince her superiors of the existence of mutants and that the agents should be working with them to stop Shaw. "Moira is very tenacious, ambitious and driven, as she must be to exist in a man's world", says Rose Byrne, whose numerous film credits include Get Him to the Greek and the recent hit Insidious. "She is innovative in that way and inspirational. Pretty ballsy too".

Principal photography began in August 2010 at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom. Production designer Chris Seagers created more than 80 sets - including 20 complicated composite sets - at Pinewood and on locations throughout the U.K. and the United States. Seagers' work is informed by the optimism of the '60s. "That era was groundbreaking in terms of design", explains Seagers. "Everything was new. Colour, shape, and modern lightweight materials like plastic burst onto the scene. We were starting to see these new materials in the architecture. Matthew was also very keen to inject some colorful '60s style into the look of the film, while preserving the somewhat darker landscape of the X-Men world". To maintain continuity with the previous X-Men films, specific designs were created through a backward engineering process. "We looked at some of the iconic designs of those films, like Cerebro, the X-Jet, Magneto's helmet, as well as the characters themselves, and asked ourselves what would their prototypes have looked like", explains visual consultant Russell de Rozario. "We felt a responsibility to make the evolution of the designs credible".

One of the film's most eagerly anticipated sets was the X-Jet, built on a stage at Longcross Studios, in Surrey. Based on the XB-70, a prototype long-range, supersonic bomber developed in the U.S. in the late 1950s, the immense structure measured some eighty feet in length. Another iconic location/set is Charles' mansion, located in Westchester, New York, which will become Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where mutant children learn to find their place in a society that has shunned them. Finding a house in England to match the mansions from the original films' Canada location proved to be a considerable challenge, because English mansions are much older than their Canadian counterparts. Eventually the filmmakers decided on Englefield House, a beautiful Tudor mansion in Berkshire with a long and fascinating history of its own, and which offered breathtaking views of the English countryside.

Other principal sets built at Pinewood include the MIB headquarters and a massive submarine. Also at Pinewood, the filmmakers painstakingly reconstructed the concentration camp set utilized in the original X-Men. "It was amazing how perfectly they've recreated the set", Bryan Singer comments. "I thought they had the original dailies up on the monitor while I was watching the scene being shot for X-Men: First Class". Then there's The Hellfire Club, the swinging '60s hotspot that serves as headquarters to Sebastian Shaw and his minions. The Hellfire Club scenes encompass a Vegas-style casino entrance (built in the U.S.); on-location filming at London's Café de Paris, where hundreds of lingerie-clad women served as extras; and a circular set of Shaw's inner sanctum, built at Pinewood. The club's bold and bright colors and use of pop art vibrate with the feel and flavor of the 1960s.

Augmenting the film's international scope, the filmmakers also recreated locations in Argentina, London, Switzerland and Russia. In early December, a reduced unit relocated to the U.S. to shoot the Cuban beach set on Jekyll Island at the southern tip of Georgia. Legendary visual effects supervisor John Dykstra, who created the magical work on Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope and Spider-Man, among other notable films, came aboard to bring to life the mutant powers, some of which are yet unseen in the film franchise. "We have some characters new to the X-Men movies, and their powers had to be compelling", says Dykstra. "There also had to be a link between a mutant's personality and the nature of his or her power. We wanted the characters and their abilities to be more than just visually powerful; there had to be an intelligence behind their tactics". Dykstra appreciated that the X-Men films, particularly this new one, "poke a hole in the notion that having a power is always a positive thing. The X-Men film series treats the mutants like they're unique, and with that comes a feeling of being a misfit", he notes.

Dykstra's digital work is complemented by the special (practical) effects created by Academy Award® winner Chris Corbould, whose recent credits include The Dark Knight, Inception and Casino Royale. Corbould's visually arresting effects in X-Men: First Class can be seen in scenes set at the concentration camp, in the X-Jet (whose 360-degree spirals were perfected in Inception), and in Shaw's submarine. Also adding to the film's visual dazzle is the work of costume designer Sammy Sheldon, who was charged with maintaining the thematic '60s-era "cool". Sheldon's biggest challenge was developing the X-suits, worn by Charles, Erik and their young recruits during their climactic epic battle against Shaw and Hellfire Club. Vaughn wanted to remain faithful to the first X-Men comic book cover, which saw the mutants dressed in blue and yellow suits. "Matthew and I also had a strong desire to make the suits utilitarian, using 1960s technology", Sheldon notes. "So it turns out that Kevlar, a bulletproof substance, was developed in the early '60s - and the material happened to be processed in the color yellow. (Sheldon added blue to the final costumes).

As post-production work - including Henry Jackman's score, which includes new "X-Men" and "Magneto" themes - began to wind down, Vaughn took a few minutes to discuss his hopes and expectations for the film once it hits theaters in June. "I think what distinguishes X-Men: First Class from other comic-book films is we have multiple characters", he points out. "And each of our characters has unique powers, personalities, dramas, ideologies, ethics and relationships - and all that is critical to the X-Men universe".

James McAvoy (Charles) was born in the Scotstoun area of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1979 and is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. In his short career, he has tested himself with a wide variety of work, on stage, television and film, and is regarded as one of the U.K.'s most exciting acting talents. Although he cut his teeth with small parts in high-profile projects like the World War I drama Regeneration (alongside Jonathan Pryce and Dougray Scott) and the hugely successful HBO series Band of Brothers (produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg), McAvoy first came to prominence in the U.K. with the role of Josh in the Channel 4 adaptation of Zadie Smith's popular novel White Teeth, with Geraldine James, John Simm and Naomie Harris. This brought McAvoy to the attention of Hollywood and, in 2002 he was cast as Leto Atreides II in the Emmy® Award-winning hit miniseries Children of Dune, directed by Greg Yaitanes and co-starring Susan Sarandon and Steven Berkoff.

As McAvoy's body of work grew, the roles being offered to him grew more and more significant, and he soon found himself playing the role of Dan Foster in the BAFTA-winning BBC One political-drama series State of Play, with Bill Nighy, John Simm and Kelly Macdonald. Written by Paul Abbott and directed by David Yates, the series ran in the U.K. in autumn 2003 and on BBC America in 2004 and became one of the most successful U.K. television exports of recent years.

While impressing on the small screen, McAvoy also proved to be a hit on the big screen, when Stephen Fry's much anticipated comedy Bright Young Things was released in October 2004. The film had an all-star international cast, including Emily Mortimer, Dan Aykroyd, Peter O'Toole, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant and many more. Bright Young Things was released in the U.S. in August 2005. McAvoy's popularity grew with his portrayal of a car thief in the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 series Shameless, which aired in early 2004. Written by Paul Abbott, the series tells the story of the fortunes and misfortunes of a family living on a Manchester council estate. McAvoy was nominated in the Best Comedy Newcomer category at the 2004 British Comedy Awards.

In 2004, McAvoy took his first feature film lead role in Inside I'm Dancing (U.S. title: Rory O'Shea Was Here). Directed by Damien O'Donnell and also starring Romola Garai, the film tells the story of Rory, a young Irishman with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, who leads his cerebral palsy-stricken friend in a fight for physical and emotional freedom. The film received critical acclaim, with McAvoy's performance being especially noted; he received a nomination in the British Actor of the Year category, at the 2005 London Film Critics Circle Awards. The film was released in the United States in February 2005. December of 2005 saw the long-awaited arrival of Disney's big-budget The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. McAvoy played Mr. Tumnus the Faun in this adaptation of the C. S. Lewis classic, directed by Andrew Adamson, also starring Tilda Swinton. The film became a massive international success and is one of the 20 highest grossing films of all time. McAvoy won the Rising Star Award at the 2006 BAFTAs, and he was nominated as the British Actor of the Year in a Supporting Role at the 2006 London Film Critics Circle Awards for his performance.

In the summer of 2005, McAvoy traveled to Uganda to take on the lead role in The Last King of Scotland, directed by the Oscar®- and BAFTA-winning Kevin Macdonald. The film tells the story of Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor on a Ugandan medical mission, who becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures, Idi Amin, played by Forest Whitaker. McAvoy was nominated for a BAFTA, a European Film Award, a BIFA and a London Film Critics Circle Award for his performance. Upon returning to the U.K., McAvoy took the lead role in the adaptation of the hugely popular David Nicholls book, Starter for 10, for HBO Films. The film was directed by Tom Vaughan and produced by Tom Hanks; McAvoy's co-stars included Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Benedict Cumberbatch and Catherine Tate. The film premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. The actor's next project was Penelope, directed by Mark Palansky, also starring Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci and Richard E. Grant. McAvoy played a man called upon to save a young woman cursed with the snout of a pig.

In April 2006, McAvoy moved to Dublin to start work on Becoming Jane, directed by Julian Jarrold and co-starring Dame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. McAvoy played the brilliant and roguish Irishman Tom Lefroy, whose affair with Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) inspired her to write Pride and Prejudice. From Dublin, McAvoy returned to the U.K. to begin work on Atonement. An adaptation of the popular Ian McEwan novel, the movie is directed by Joe Wright and also stars Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn and Romola Garai. McAvoy played Robbie Turner, a Cambridge graduate falsely accused of rape, who goes on to fight in World War II with the accusation hanging over him. Atonement had its world premiere at the 2007 Venice Film Festival ahead of the September 2007 U.K. and December 2007 U.S. releases. McAvoy received Golden Globe and BAFTA Best Actor nominations and won awards from the London Film Critics' Circle, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the U.K. Regional Critics for the role.

In 2007 McAvoy was cast opposite Angelina Jolie in Timur Bekmambetov's Wanted, a blockbuster based on the comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. The film grossed more than $340 million worldwide. In 2008 McAvoy moved to Germany to begin filming The Last Station, a historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things; the film is directed by Michael Hoffman. McAvoy has the lead role in Robert Redford's The Conspirator as a young lawyer who defends the lone woman in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln.

Ichael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr), born in Germany, grew up in Killarney, Ireland, and studied and strained at the Drama Centre. Fassbender's breakthrough role came in the epic Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks production, Band of Brothers. Fassbender's big screen debut was in director Zack Snyder's hugely successful 300, and offers for other film roles swiftly followed.

Fassbender's performance as Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's Hunger won critical acclaim and, following the film's Camera D'Or winning premiere at Cannes in 2008, Fassbender scooped up numerous international festival awards. He went on to work with Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds, opposite Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger. Other credits include Francois Ozon's Angel, Joel Schumacher's Town Creek, James Watkin's Eden Lake, Neil Marshall's Centurion, and Jimmy Hayward's Jonah Hex. Later this year, Fassbender will be seen as Carl Jung opposite Viggo Mortensen's Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method. In March 2011 he starred as Edward Rochester opposite Mia Wasikowska in Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre. He is currently before the cameras in Ridley Scott's original science fiction epic Prometheus.

Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw / Dr. Schmidt) is one of the foremost actors of his generation. His talent for balancing starring roles with powerful supporting characters on both film and stage has allowed him to build a varied and critically acclaimed body of work. With the support of his parents, Bacon left his native Philadelphia to become the youngest student at Circle in the Square Theatre in New York, where he studied until he made his film debut as Chip in National Lampoon's Animal House. This led to roles in Diner and Footloose, the latter propelling Bacon to stardom.

Bacon has proven his talents in a wide range of film genres, from action thrillers to romantic comedies to heavy dramas, and even the occasional musical. Bacon's film credits include She's Having a Baby, The Big Picture, Tremors, Flatliners, JFK, A Few Good Men, The River Wild (Golden Globe nomination), Murder in the First (Best Actor by The Broadcast Film Critics Association and Best Supporting Actor nominations by The Screen Actors Guild and the London Film Critics Circle), Apollo 13, Balto, Sleepers, Picture Perfect, Telling Lies in America, Wild Things, Stir of Echoes, My Dog Skip, Hollow Man, Trapped, Mystic River (Academy Award and Golden Globe® nominations for Best Picture), Beauty Shop, Where the Truth Lies, The Air I Breathe, Death Sentence, Rails & Ties, My One and Only and Frost/Nixon, which reunited him with Apollo 13 director Ron Howard.

In 2004 Bacon starred in The Woodsman, a compelling drama that premiered to great critical acclaim at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and Bacon received an IFP Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor. Up next he will be seen alongside Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell in Crazy Stupid Love. Bacon starred in Taking Chance, a compelling film based on a true story, in which he portrayed Marine Lieutenant Colonel Mike Strobl, who volunteers to escort the body of a young Marine killed in combat back to his final resting place. The film was also selected to screen in-competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. For his work in Taking Chance, Bacon was awarded the Golden Globe and the SAG AwardT for Best Actor in a mini-series or made for television movie. Also recently on HBO, Bacon appeared in an episode of Bored To Death in which he played a hilariously exaggerated version of himself. Bacon's other television credits include the American Playhouse version of Lanford Wilson's play Lemon Sky, a production that teamed him with future wife Kyra Sedgwick. Other television credits include the The Gift and the cable film Enormous Changes at the Last Minute.

In 1996, Kevin Bacon made his directorial debut with, Losing Chase starring Kyra Sedgwick, Beau Bridges, and Helen Mirren. Produced for Showtime, Losing Chase was honored with three Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture made for television, and Mirren won the Golden Globe for her performance. The film debuted on Showtime and was also screened at the Sundance Film Festival and the 1996 Toronto Film Festival. Bacon directed his second film, Loverboy, which he also produced and appears in. Based on the acclaimed novel by Victoria Redel, Loverboy had the honor of opening the Gen Art Film Festival in New York City. Bacon's most recent project as director has been for several episodes of Kyra Sedgwick's hit TNT show The Closer. Bacon's stage work includes such Off-Broadway productions as Album, Poor Little Lambs, and Getting Out. He made his Broadway debut in 1983 with Sean Penn in Slab Boys, and starred in the 1986 production of Joe Orton's highly touted play Loot. Bacon then starred in Theresa Rebeck's comedy Spike Heels.

In 2002, he starred in the Broadway one-man show, An Almost Holy Picture, written by Heather McDonald. With his musician brother Michael, Kevin is the other half of The Bacon Brothers, a successful band with a sound that Kevin describes as Forosoco (which is the title of their first album) - Folk, Rock, Soul and Country. The band has enjoyed success on the national club circuit, and has recorded six CDs and a concert DVD. At the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Bacon launched SixDegrees.org, a web site that builds on the popularity of the "small world phenomenon" to create a charitable social network and inspire giving to charities online. He started the network with celebrities by highlighting their favorite charities, and he encourages everyone to be celebrities for their own causes by joining the Six Degrees movement. To date, the site has succeeded in raising over three and a half million dollars for charities around the world.

Last year, Bacon received the Joel Siegel Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association in recognition of his outstanding film career and his charitable work with SixDegrees.org. In 2000, the Film Society of Lincoln Center honored Bacon for his extraordinary career in the film industry.

Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert) has established herself as a rising star of the big screen. The Australian native commands the attention of filmgoers and television viewers with her beauty, talent, versatility and poise. For the second consecutive year, Byrne was nominated for an Emmy® for her portrayal of Ellen Parsons on the critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated series Damages. The third season finished airing in May 2010. DirecTV has recently announced that it will air the fourth and fifth seasons of the Sony-produced series in the summer of 2011 and 2012 respectively. Glenn Close also stars.

Byrne stars in the recent film Bridesmaids, which was written by and stars Kristin Wiig (Saturday Night Live). Bridesmaids marks Byrne's second collaboration with comedy producer Judd Apatow and Universal Pictures, with whom she previously worked on Get Him to the Greek. Byrne stars with Patrick Wilson in the recent paranormal thriller Insidious. The film is directed by James Wan (Saw), and screened at the Toronto Film Festival. In producer Judd Apatow's Get Him to the Greek, Byrne portrays an outrageous pop star. Byrne co-starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the mega-thriller Knowing. The film came in number one at the box office on its opening weekend.

Byrne also co-starred in Adam, a unique love story set against the backdrop of Manhattan, with Hugh Dancy and Peter Gallagher. Her additional credits include Marie Antoinette, 28 Weeks Later, Sunshine, The Dead Girl, Troy, Wicker Park, I Capture Castle, Casanova, and The Tenants, opposite Dylan McDermott. Byrne's fame in Australia began with her role in the gritty crime comedy Two Hands, in which she starred with Heath Ledger. She went on to star in Clara Law's The Goddess of 1967, for which she was awarded Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.

January Jones (Emma Frost) is a versatile actress who has gained the attention of fans and critics alike. Jones recently starred with Liam Neeson in Warner Bros. and Dark Castle's Unknown. Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) directed from a screenplay penned by Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell and Karl Gajdusek. Later this year, Jones will return for a fifth season of Mad Men, AMC's critically acclaimed Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award - winning series. Jones portrays Betty Draper, the wife of high powered philandering advertising executive Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm. Her performance has earned her a 2009 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama.

In 2010, Jones wrapped production on Hungry Rabbit Jumps for Endgame Entertainment, directed by Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job). She stars opposite Nicolas Cage in a story that centers on a man who becomes entangled with an underground vigilante organization after his wife (Jones) is the victim of a brutal crime. In 2009, Jones was seen in Pirate Radio, written and directed by Richard Curtis. The film is a period comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Sea in the 1960s. In 2006, Jones starred in the critically acclaimed festival hit Swedish Auto, as a woman torn between caring for her mother and leaving an abusive home. Also in 2006, Jones portrayed the real life character Carol Dawson in Warner Bros.' We Are Marshall.

Jones was hailed for her performance in Sony Classic Pictures' Three Burials of Meliquiades Estrada, for director and actor Tommy Lee Jones. The film debuted to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. Jones previously starred in Universal's American Wedding, Sony's Anger Management, alongside Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, Universal's Love Actually, with Colin Firth and Keira Knightly, MGM's Bandits, with Billy Bob Thorton, Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett for director/producer Barry Levinson and Miramax's Full Frontal, directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Oliver Platt (MIB) has enjoyed success in film, television and on stage. Most recently, Platt appeared in Edward Zwick's Love & Other Drugs and Roland Emmerich's 2012. Other recent credits include Nicole Holofcener's Please Give opposite Catherine Keener, Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon opposite Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon and Sam Rockwell, and the Harold Ramis comedy Year One opposite Jack Black and Michael Cera. Platt's feature film credits also include Casanova, directed by Lasse Hallström and The Ice Harvest with John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, plus Funny Bones, Bulworth, Married to the Mob, Working Girl, Flatliners, Postcards From the Edge, Indecent Proposal, The Three Musketeers, A Time to Kill, Doctor Dolittle, Simon Birch, Lake Placid, Don't Say a Word and Pieces of April.

Platt made his producing debut on the indie film Big Night, co-directed by actors Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. Platt would later reteam with Tucci in The Impostors. On television, Platt was seen playing the role of George Steinbrenner on the hit ESPN miniseries The Bronx is Burning, opposite John Turturro and Daniel Sunjata. His performance earned him a SAG Award nomination. Platt graduated from Tufts University with a degree in drama and immediately began working in regional theater, as well as off-Broadway in such productions as The Tempest and John Guare's Moon Over Miami. He also starred in the Lincoln Center production of Ubu and Jules Feiffer's Elliot Loves, the latter directed by Mike Nichols, and received rave reviews for his performance as Sir Toby Belch in Brian Kulick's Twelfth Night.

Platt received a Tony® nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor for his work on Broadway in Conor McPherson's Shining City, which was nominated for Best Play. Other accolades include a Golden Globe and back-to-back Emmy nominations for his portrayal of Russell Tupper in Showtime's Huff as well as an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal as White House Counsel Oliver Babish on the popular political drama The West Wing. He was nominated again for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his recurring role on Nip/Tuck, playing the flamboyant TV producer Freddy Prune. The son of a career diplomat, Platt was born in Washington, D.C. and spent part of his childhood in Asia and the Middle East.

Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique) is one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses. Lawrence was nominated for the 2011 Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Ree, a hardened teenager who takes care of her younger siblings and her mentally ill mother, in the absence of her drug dealer father, in Debra Granik's critically acclaimed film Winter's Bone. Lawrence was nominated for the Golden Globe Best Actress Award for her performance, as well as the Best Actress Award at the Seattle International Film Festival and The Blue Angel Award for Best Female Performance at the Bratislava Film Festival. The film was also awarded the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

Lawrence appears in The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster, starring Mel Gibson in a whimsical drama that centers on a grown man who wears a beaver puppet on his hand that he treats as a real person. Lawrence was recently cast in the leading role of Kantiss in The Hunger Games, a big screen adaptation of the phenomenally successful novel. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story is about a powerful government that holds the Hunger Games, an annual televised event where a young man and young woman fight to the death. Lawrence recently wrapped production on Drake Doremus' Like Crazy, starring opposite Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, and Mark Tonderai's House at the End of The Street, opposite Elisabeth Shue and Max Thieriot.

Other film credits include a lead role in Guillermo Arriaga's directorial debut The Burning Plain, opposite Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. The film premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival, where Lawrence won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actress or Actor. She also starred in Lori Petty's Poker House, opposite Selma Blair and Bokeem Woodbine, for which Lawrence was awarded Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival. Additional film credits include Jason Freeland's Garden Party, opposite Vinessa Shaw, as well as roles in Drillbit Taylor and Waverly Hills. On television, Lawrence co-starred on three seasons of the TBS series The Bill Engvall Show.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, where she had extensive theatre experience, Lawrence traveled to New York at age fourteen to explore a professional career in acting. She quickly caught the eye of casting directors and started acting in film and television during the summer of 2005 and hasn't looked back.

Nicholas Hoult (Hank/Beast), since taking a notable role in the 2002 blockbuster About A Boy, has gone on to work in a variety of film and television roles. His film highlights include Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans and Tom Ford's A Single Man. Other credits include Kidulthood, Wah-Wah, and The Weather Man. Hoult's television credits include: BBC's Wallander, Waking The Dead and Silent Witness, the hit series Skins for Channel 4, Coming Down The Mountain, and Keen Eddie. In 2008 Hoult made his London West End debut in the lead role of Barry in New Boy at the Trafalgar Studios to outstanding reviews.

Zoe Kravitz (Angel Salvadore/Wings), the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, was born in New York City. Kravitz's love and interest in acting developed from classes she began taking while in school. Wasting little time, Kravitz began working on two films during her senior year in high school: No Reservations (2007) directed by Scott Hicks, and The Brave One (2007), directed by Neil Jordan, starring Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard.

In 2008, Kravitz completed work on Assassination of a High School Principal alongside Bruce Willis. She worked with Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan in The Greatest, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. Other film projects include Twelve, in which she starred with Kiefer Sutherland, 50 Cent, Chase Crawford, and Emma Roberts, and Beware of the Gonzo, opposite Amy Sedaris, Campbell Scott and Ezra Miller. The film premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Kravitz appeared in It's Kind of a Funny Story, released by Focus Features. Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, Kravitz plays the role of Nia and co-stars alongside Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Graham, Emma Roberts and Viola Davis. She also stars as Sweetness O'Hara in Yelling To The Sky, the story of a girl who has a sometimes-absent father and a present but mentally unstable mother. Kravitz most recently appeared on the acclaimed Showtime television series Californication. She has also announced that she has joined the cast of Fury Road, which will begin shooting in Australia next year.

Outside of her acting endeavors, Kravitz has kept busy with various projects. She currently serves as lead singer and co-writer with her band, Elevator Fight. Kravitz is also the new face of Vera Wang's Princess perfume. In 2008, Kravitz starred in Jay-Z's music video for his single I Know, off his American Gangster album. She was also featured with Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, Tyrese Gibson, George Lopez, John Leguizamo, and several other celebrities in will.i.am's We Are the Ones video during Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Jason Flemyng (Azazel) is an exciting and versatile actor whose talent and strong screen presence has marked him as one of the most compelling actors coming out of Great Britain today. Flemyng co-starred in the Warner Bros. hit Clash of The Titans, and in David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, opposite Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Flemyng co-starred in Twentieth Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, opposite Sean Connery, as well as in Rock Star, opposite Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston, The Hughes Brothers' From Hell, opposite Johnny Depp, and Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty, opposite Liv Tyler.

Earlier in his career, Fleyming starred in Guy Ritchie's directorial debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which earned Flemyng international recognition and critical praise. He worked again with Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn on Snatch, in which he starred opposite Brad Pitt. Flemyng collaborated three more times with Matthew Vaughn -- on Vaughn's directorial debut Layer Cake, co-starring opposite Daniel Craig, in Stardust, opposite Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes, and most recently in a cameo role in Kick- Ass. Other feature film credits include Below, The Red Violin, Deep Rising, The Hollow Reed, and Alive and Kicking.

Flemyng's television work includes roles in roles in the popular BBC series Primeval, the BBC production A Question of Attribution, directed by John Schlesinger, For the Greater Good, directed by Danny Boyle, and the BBC's The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag. Flemyng's theatre credits include several Royal Shakespeare Company (Barbican) performances, including Coriolanus, As You Like It, Moscow Gold, Barbarians, and All's Well That End's Well.

Lucas Till (Alex Summers/Havok) starred opposite Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door, in which he plays a young Russian spy. He starred opposite Miley Cyrus in Disney's blockbuster, Hannah Montana: The Movie, in which Till portrayed Travis, a former hometown schoolmate of Miley Stewart. Till has a leading role in Battle: Los Angeles, and starred as young Jack Cash in the Oscar-winning film Walk the Line. Recently, Till guest-starred on the high profile primetime series, House, with Hugh Laurie.

Caleb Landry Jones (Cassidy/Banshee) starred in Eli Roth's The Last Exorcism, the terrifying documentary-style hit which made over $20M its opening weekend. Jones also appeared in the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, David Fincher's The Social Network, and had recurring roles on the television series Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights. Jones was the guest lead in the pilot Gimme Shelter starring Skeet Ulrich, Amy Smart, Janeane Garofalo and Sissy Spacek. His most recent features are Summer Song and Contraband.

Alex Gonzalez (Janos Questad/Riptide) studied acting at the Juan Carlos Corazza International Academy. After working in several TV series, he made his cinematic debut in the lead role in Daniel Cebrián's Segundo Asalto. (Second Assault), for which Gonzalez received the Turia Award for Best Actor and was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Goya Awards. He made his American screen debut in Gus Van Sant's Milk. Other credits include A Rose of France, Luz de Domingo (Sunday Light) directed by Jose Luis Garci, and more recently Maggie Peren's Die Farbe des Ozeans (Colour of the Ocean) and El Libro de Las Aquas (The Book of the Waters).

Edi Gathegi (Darwin Armondo) had a notable recurring role as Dr Cole (aka Big Love) on FOX's hit television series House. Gathegi went on to portray Laurent in Twilight and in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He recently wrapped production on the feature film literary adaptation, Atlas Shrugged.

Gathegi's notable film credits include Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck, Death Sentence, opposite Kevin Bacon, Crank with Jason Statham, and My Bloody Valentine 3D. Other past television credits are: CSI, CSI: Miami, Veronica Mars, Lincoln Heights, and the critically acclaimed but short-lived re-imagined version of the BBC's Life on Mars. On stage he appeared in Two Trains Running at the prestigious Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and his regional stage work also includes King Hedley II, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Golden Boy, As You Like It, Twelfth Night The Crucible, Fade, A Maiden's Prayer (Santa Barbara Independent Award), A Raisin in the Sun, Othello, a Midsummer Night's Dream, Cyrano, and Dutchman. Gathegi graduated from New York University's famed MFA program for acting.

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