The motion picture academy has held its “Academy Conversations” series since 2012. Dozens of screenings are held yearly at various academy venues that are followed by conversations with the casts and crews behind those films. On March 11, “Logan” director James Mangold, producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parkeron, and co-star Patrick Stewart discussed the unconventional superhero film at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and the academy shared that conversation online on April 5 (watch above).
“Logan” has more in common with westerns than it has with many of the films that have previously been made in the “X-Men” franchise over the last 17 years. Director Mangold admits to those influences — he even references “Shane” directly in this film. “[Co-writer Scott Frank] and I share a real love of old movies — an almost pathological love,” he says of his creative inspirations. What appeals to him about classic westerns is their simplicity. Like those films he wanted to reduce “Logan” “to its essence: the struggle to live, the struggle to love, the struggle for freedom … how can you not love a western when you describe it that way?”
Stewart didn’t have high expectations that he would get a chance to return to his role as Professor Charles Xavier, having been killed off in a previous film. “He was obliterated by Jean Grey, and it was very uncomfortable,” says Stewart, “but when the call came, ‘Hey, there’s going to be a Wolverine movie and they would like to talk to you about it,’ I was delighted because every part of this experience has been exciting, stimulating, warm, funny and crazy. And then as word began to filter down from the production that this was going to be a different [kind of] movie, my interest peaked and peaked and peaked.”