Patrick Stewart Explains Why He Came Back For Logan

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By my reckoning, the best superhero film of 2017 came early on: James Mangold’s Logan. It gave us a moving, pared down and satisfying conclusion to Wolverine’s story and was about the best send off you could imagine for Hugh Jackman. But it wasn’t just the Aussie actor’s swansong, as the film also marked the final appearance of Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X.

Clearly invigorated by the great material, both individuals blew us away with their best turns as the characters yet. Now, in an interview for Deadline Hollywood’s The Contenders, Stewart has explained how he approached his final turn in the franchise:

This was the culmination of 16 years of living with this character and working on these movies, and absorbing who Charles Xavier was. And, then along comes James [Mangold] and says, ‘OK we’re gonna do another one but we’re gonna turn you upside down.’ … You know for an actor, it’s just jam on your bread to have a role which is the same man underneath but dramatically transformed by illness, by fear, by loneliness, by desperation and by a horrible black humor that he possesses.

Anyone who’s seen the film will know that Stewart is speaking of the character’s battle with dementia, which is causing his vast psychic powers to spiral out of control with tragic consequences. Only a heavy regime of tranquilizers and antipsychotics can contain them, leaving him trapped, miserable and confused, in an isolated desert hideout.

There’s a tragedy that lurks in the character’s past that’s never fully explained, though we eventually understand that Xavier lost control of his powers in the Westchester incident. This resulted in the deaths of dozens of students and left him riddled with guilt and on the run. It’s a deeply sad end for a man who only ever tried to help young mutants in need. Stewart carefully layers all this in his performance, resulting in one of the emotional high points in superhero cinema.

If there’s any justice in the world, we might see some awards nods in his (and Jackman’s) direction early next year. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, there’s no denying that Logan is one of the genre’s finest efforts to date.

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