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  • - So a lot of people ask if you were...

  • You know, if I was scared.

  • It was a scary move to just uproot yourself from Oklahoma

  • and move to California without really knowing anybody,

  • and I say, "No, it was the opposite.

  • "It was thrilling.

  • "It was exciting because I was doing what I wanted

  • "to be doing."

  • I wasn't mature enough or old enough to know

  • how badly I could fail.

  • Going back to Oklahoma and finishing school just wasn't

  • an option in my mind.

  • I'm very grateful that the business

  • and the fans have allowed me to play around a little bit

  • and not just do one thing.

  • I'm James Marsden and this is the timeline of my career.

  • [upbeat music]

  • - Maggie! - Daddy.

  • - Mr. Sheffield, I was just--

  • - You were just leaving!

  • - Right.

  • - My very first job was the pilot episode

  • of The Nanny, starring Fran Drescher.

  • I had two lines.

  • I had just moved to Los Angeles from Oklahoma.

  • I was 19 and...

  • I was just young and, I guess, naive enough

  • and confident enough to make the move.

  • I got an apartment and, luckily, I had a friend

  • of my father's, who was a manager at the time,

  • he agreed to get me new headshots

  • and send me out on auditions,

  • and this was one of the very first audition I went on.

  • Again, it was a couple of lines.

  • I was making out with the daughter on a balcony,

  • I was asked to leave the party.

  • It didn't...

  • It wasn't really any big stretch

  • but if you weigh that between staying in Oklahoma

  • and working at a fast food restaurant,

  • I was excited and over the moon just to be doing something,

  • anything at all as a paid actor.

  • - So you studs lined up who you're taking

  • to the Homecoming dance yet?

  • - I was going to take Julia Roberts

  • but she got married on me.

  • Har-dee-har-har.

  • - Chad Westerfield in Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

  • Got to check that off the old career bucket list.

  • That first year of my career in '93,

  • I did a lot of episodic comedy TV, stuff like that.

  • I did Blossom, I did an episode of Party of Five,

  • so it was all like...

  • When you're starting out,

  • you kinda just take whatever comes your way.

  • I was a big fan of the original Saved By The Bell.

  • It was a cool kinda welcoming into the business

  • to be a part of something that I remember sitting

  • on my couch, in my living room in Oklahoma, watching.

  • - Har-dee-har-har.

  • - I made a mistake and I am never gonna be forgiven for it.

  • I am always suspect because I screwed up!

  • - My So Called Life was just starting to take off.

  • They wanted to sort of Jared Leto kind of young,

  • long haired teenager who is one of several adopted kids

  • by this family, who also adopt all these animals,

  • hence Second Noah.

  • You know, we shot it on film.

  • It was a ABC primetime family show.

  • Like, that's when I started showing up

  • in Tiger Beat magazine.

  • Remember all those teen beat magazines?

  • I remember after we shot the pilot,

  • we had a big, kind of, dinner party with the cast

  • and the producers at this steakhouse in Tampa, Florida,

  • I think I probably had a drink

  • and I probably shouldn't have been drinking at the time,

  • and I got up and sang some old standards,

  • and the producer looked at me and she goes,

  • "When this goes to series, you're gonna be in a band."

  • And sure enough, the series got picked up

  • and she had me singing every episode with my guitar,

  • looking all smoldering and singing about all my...

  • My sadness lurking inside.

  • - See what I mean?

  • - Where's my sister? - She's upstairs sleeping.

  • - Where are my parents? - At a meeting.

  • - Yeah, what meeting? - Steven, you're hurt.

  • - I'll live.

  • - So I started auditioning for more film roles

  • and Disturbing Behavior came along.

  • That was David Nutter,

  • who was a really great television director,

  • did a lot of The X-Files.

  • David really wanted to make it really smarter

  • than your run-of-the-mill teen horror flick, I guess.

  • So it was a little more psychological

  • than some of the other jump scare teen horror films.

  • And there was this young newcomer to

  • the business named Katie Holmes,

  • and she had done this show called Dawson's Creek.

  • I was like, "Well, that seems like really good company.

  • "That show is just blowing up."

  • It was the first time for me to be cast

  • in a lead role, really, as like the guy.

  • I'm on a poster.

  • I'm on a movie poster at a bus stop.

  • There was a building on the side of Sunset Boulevard

  • that was my face plastered on it with Katie Holmes as well,

  • and Nick Stahl.

  • I didn't wanna get cocky because I always felt like

  • as soon as you get comfortable,

  • they're just gonna pull the rug out from under you

  • and it's all gonna go away.

  • But this was my first foray into doing a film

  • that was gonna end up in theaters,

  • which was pretty damn exciting at the time.

  • - It's fine.

  • - Gossip and news are the same thing,

  • they've always been the same thing.

  • People tell stories, that's what makes us human.

  • - I was still trying to find my footing

  • as far as what type of roles I really wanted to pursue.

  • You know, I was young and I wanted to be taken seriously

  • as an actor, and I still do,

  • but I think every guy goes through that James Dean period

  • where they just...

  • They want to be Marlon Brando or James Dean

  • and to do that, you have to prove that you're

  • a dramatic actor.

  • That cast was Lena Headey,

  • who we all know now from Game of Thrones,

  • Norman Reedus, who we all know now from Walking Dead,

  • Josh Jackson, Kate Hudson, Eric Bogosian.

  • I mean, it was an insane cast,

  • And Davis Guggenheim directed the movie.

  • And he had me and Lena, and Norman share an apartment

  • in Soho in New York City

  • because these three were roommates.

  • It was the first time I felt like I'm being treated

  • like a significant actor,

  • like someone whose got skills and natural ability

  • and can kind of flow on set.

  • It turned out to be a good film.

  • - And I like gossip, it's fun.

  • - It must just burn you up that a boy like me saved

  • your life, huh?

  • You gotta be careful, I might not be there next time.

  • Oh, and Logan,

  • stay away from my girl.

  • - On Gossip, the costume designer,

  • she was getting ready to work on this

  • new Fox film called X-Men,

  • and I was like, "What's X-Men?

  • "You mean, like, the comic book X-Men?"

  • She was like, "You'd be great for one of the roles.

  • "You should come in and audition," that's how she talked.

  • I immediately called my friends from Oklahoma

  • that were big comic book nerds and I said,

  • "Who is this guy, Scott Summers, Cyclops?

  • "Tell me more about him"

  • and they gave me every edition comic that I should read.

  • "This is very insightful into who he is

  • "and where he comes from and..."

  • I also realized that the guy is like six foot five

  • in the comic and I'm, you know, five ten,

  • five ten and a half, five ten and a quarter.

  • So I remember going into the first audition,

  • they were having me read with Famke.

  • Famke's really tall so I wore big boots,

  • to give myself a little extra height,

  • and a tight T-shirt, did push ups,

  • and I did these curls with my arms to get all pumped.

  • And, you know, it's just what you do as an actor...

  • Or I did anyway, I don't do it anymore.

  • I auditioned for X-Men, I think, four or five times.

  • My last audition,

  • I didn't hear back for a while and I thought,

  • "Oh well, I'm not even gonna ask my agent who got cast.

  • "It'll just bum me out."

  • I remember getting a call, thinking that

  • that ship had sailed,

  • and I remember them saying,

  • "Congratulations, you booked Cyclops, you booked X-Men."

  • And I thought, "There's no way, that's...

  • "How?"

  • I think what originally had happened was

  • that Jim Caviezel had been cast.

  • I still thank him to this day for that.

  • For whatever reason he had to drop out for, thanks

  • 'cause that was a big one.

  • But this cast with Ian McKellen and Halle Berry,

  • Patrick Stewart, very fresh faced Hugh Jackman.

  • Hugh and I, we put our suits on for the very first time

  • and they were these one piece, leather suits

  • that had no side-to-side movement at the waist

  • because it was all just one piece,

  • and we had to vault over this wall

  • and none of us could get over the wall

  • because our suits were so stiff.

  • Add to that, that I couldn't see out of these glasses

  • or the visor that I was wearing.

  • I've never felt less like a superhero.

  • I think, at some point, we all were scared

  • that we might lose our jobs on the first one.

  • During the process, no one really felt like it was working.

  • Like, this could be cool or it could be a disaster.

  • And we had our premiere on Ellis Island,

  • overlooking the Twin Towers with fireworks going off

  • and it was just like, this is what I imagined

  • when I was a kid of what Hollywood,

  • or having success in Hollywood, would look like.

  • It was pretty spectacular and a lot of fun

  • to watch it take off.

  • And then even more fun to step into the second one.

  • - No, no, no, it's okay. It's okay, it's me.

  • I'm so sorry.

  • - We came back and the scope was bigger,

  • the script was bigger,

  • the costumes were more fine-tuned and refined

  • and there was a little more muscle built-in to the leather.

  • A little more mobility in the movement of the suits.

  • It was feeling like the train was just starting to take off.

  • They just had the following formula.

  • The recipe was spot on and it worked

  • and I got to be a part of it.

  • - Scott!

  • - [shrieks] Stop!

  • - Something big happened that made us all think,

  • "Well, we're not sure that they're gonna do a third one."

  • There hadn't been a script yet.

  • Bryan Singer left the franchise to go do Superman.

  • They asked if I wanted to play a role in that movie.

  • - That article that you wrote...

  • - "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman."

  • - No, no, no, no, the other one from years ago,

  • before we met. - Well, which article?

  • I wrote dozens about him.

  • I was practically his press agent.

  • - "I Spent The Night With Superman."

  • - Superman had left, Lois Lane had stayed behind

  • and found a guy, a human, who is close as to Superman

  • as possible,

  • and I was like, "Sure, I'll take that role."

  • And then I heard the wheels started turning much faster

  • on X-Men three.

  • There was a moment where it felt like it might've been