The turnout was Famke Janssen’s Q&A on Saturday afternoon was surprisingly average. It was on the third floor of the convention center shoved all the way into one of the smaller, corner rooms, and the crowd was smaller than I expected, especially for a one-day only appearance.
But the Q&A itself was pleasant and brief (a little under 40 minutes, by my count). It was nothing groundbreaking or as exhilarating as Stan Lee’s on Thursday, but it was a nice little back and forth on some fairly interesting topics from a person we don’t see too much of at these conventions.
One of the first topics at hand was her relationship with Patrick Stewart. As several pointed out, she worked with on Star Trek: The Next Generation very early on in her career and then once again as Jean Grey in the X-Men films about eight years later. She didn’t comment on her personal relationship with him exactly – as she has the right not to do – but she did talk quite a bit about how he coached her through the beginning days on those X-Men seeing films, seeing as how she was still a relatively new actress and the pressure she felt playing that role was immense.
On that role, which was, as expected, one of the biggest talking points, she mentioned that when she took the role she had no idea who Jean Grey was or was supposed to be, and that reading the comics where she was one of the main players was extremely helpful to help her find that character. When asked how she played Jean Grey during the transition into Dark Phoenix, she said that her director (which, in we’re going off The Last Stand, was Brett Ratner) simply told her to play it as if the character had severe schizophrenia. That was an interesting surprise to hear.
Even more pressure than Jean Grey though, she mentioned, was playing Xenia Onatopp in 1995’s James Bond film Goldeneye. One doesn’t have to think hard to imagine way. She claims this was her most mentally challenging role, while the most physically challenging was the witch Muriel in 2013’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. She said this was mostly because of the heavy amounts of make-up, and because it was the first major role she’d taken up since being the taking time off from acting to direct the 2011 film Bringing Up Bobby.
With that film being brought into the conversation, she did mention in passing that she wants to do more directing in the future, as well as more comedy.
Another big topic of conversation was the Netflix series Hemlock Grove, in which she played Olivia Godfrey, head of the Godfrey Institute of Biomedical Technologies. To put it simply, she says it’s the craziest thing she’s ever been a part of, that’s why she loved it, and she wishes there was more of it.
The panel ended with some plugging of new material. I thought this was appropriate, since most of the people in attendance probably only knew her from X-Men, Star Trek and Hemlock Grove. Upcoming, she has Status Update and A Little Something For Your Birthday, neither of which have official release dates yet but are in post-production, This Is Your Death, directed by Giancarlo Esposito, also with no official release date, but it premiered at this year’s SXSW, and Once Upon A Time In Venice, co-starring Bruce Willis, John Goodman and Jason Momoa, coming out June 16th on VOD.