Alan Cumming: The 'X-Men 2' set was a 'dangerous, abusive' situation

·4-min read
This movie really set the standard for all superhero sequels to be measured against. Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter and inspired by the graphic novel <em>God Loves, Man Kills</em>, <em>X2 </em>sees the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants team up to stop a genocidal Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox) from building his own version of Xavier's mutant-tracking computer Cerebro, in order to destroy every mutant on Earth. Great script, even better acting and an ambitious moral exploration with memorable action set pieces. (Credit: 20th Century Fox)
Alan Cumming as the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler in X-Men 2 (20th Century Fox)

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Alan Cumming says the working situation on Bryan Singer's 'X-Men 2' was 'dangerous' and 'abusive'.

The actor, who appeared as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler in the 2003 X-Men sequel, said he would go home and cry after a day at work.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast, Cumming said: "We were really in a very bad working situation. 

"It was dangerous, it was abusive, and the studio didn't care. All the actors said something and they still just went: 'Oh, nevermind. It's only gonna be a few more weeks, don't worry. And it's gonna make a lot of money.' 

"They actually said that and also 'you're under contract'. And I said: 'I don't want to feel dirty about going to work'. I would cry, it was just tragic. 

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"I would be in that awful blue makeup. I put on loads of weight during that because I would just eat, I was exhausted. My boyfriend at the time would make all these crazy big meals. 

"I would go home, eat a ton, have a couple glasses of wine, burst into tears and go to sleep. And then go and be a miserable blue mutant [the next day]."

An exposé published by The Hollywood Reporter in 2020 claimed that Tom DeSanto, a producer on X-Men 2, attempted to shut down the production "when he learned that Singer was incapacitated after taking a narcotic." This led to the shooting of a stunt scene that left actor Hugh Jackman 'bleeding'. The film studio behind the film reportedly sided with Singer, and threatened to remove DeSanto from the set. 

Aaron Stanford, Anna Paquin, Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming and Kelly Hu (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Aaron Stanford, Anna Paquin, Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman, Alan Cumming and Kelly Hu at an X-Men 2 event (J. Vespa/WireImage)

The actors — including Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry — then converged on Singer's trailer the following day and threatened a walkout if DeSanto left the film.

Filmmaker Bryan Singer was fired mid-shoot from the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody for allegedly not showing up for work, which Singer denies. He's also been accused of sexual misconduct by at least four men, all of which he continues to deny.

Talking to Thornton, Cumming says he no longer wants to work in blockbuster movies.

Listen to the full episode to hear Alan tell Kate Thornton why he was devastated when his first marriage ended and the story of his disastrous first flight to work in America

He says: "I don't care. In the book [his latest autobiography], I talk about stopping going on the trajectory that I was on, and being in blockbusters and becoming one of those sort of movie stars, or that kind of actor being in those films. 

"You get quite famous, you do this film, then you get the big blockbusters. But I don't want to do those films. I really don't."

Read more: Alan Cumming recalls how Halle Berry 'confronted' Bryan Singer on X-Men set

Thornton questioned his agent's reaction to this, pointing out that 15 per cent of a blockbuster movie is more than on a solo dance show. He explained that he does earn a lot of money, though accepted his business plan may be flawed.

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 1170A -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Alan Cumming during an interview with host Seth Meyers on July 15, 2021 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC)
Alan Cumming during an interview with host Seth Meyers (Lloyd Bishop/NBC)

He explained: "I do concerts and stuff like that, that I like because they're short and I'm very lucky to get asked these things. I got paid a fortune to sing three songs for the opening of a watch boutique during fashion week."

He said some filming schedules worked better for his life than others and that when he was playing Eli Gold in The Good Wife very often his scenes would all take place on one day of filming, giving him a good few days before he was next needed on set.

He said: "The Good Wife was great because I was able to be at home. I wasn't in it that much, it was Julianna's show and I was in a separate stream of story. I was in the political bit. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 03: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Julianna Margulies and Alan Cumming pose at MCC Theater's Inaugural All-Star
Julianna Margulies and Alan Cumming pose at MCC Theater's Inaugural All-Star "Let's Play! Celebrity Game Night" in 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

"Sometimes I could be in it a lot, but all the scenes would happen in my office. So that'd be all shot in one day. That was my favourite thing. 

"I would be able to go and do other things [like] write and do other jobs even and also just have a life. And then after that after The Good Wife finished, I got my own show on CBS called Instinct. I did that for two seasons. I hated it, because I had to be in every day at like 5.30!"

But it: Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming | £13.04 (Was £15.19) from Amazon

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