- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure
From scene-stealing turns in ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘Get Him To The Greek’ and ‘Spy’ to leading roles in ‘Neighbors’, Australian-born actress Rose Byrne has drawn the attention of audiences for her versatility and impeccable comic timing.
But Byrne is more than just a comedy mainstay. The 36-year-old actress received two Golden Globe nominations for her breakout television role in ‘Damages’, which she played a law school graduate locked in a dysfunctional relationship with her “tor-mentor”, played by Glenn Close. Other serious roles include horror flick ‘28 Weeks Later’ and the sci-fi thriller ‘Sunshine’ and horror franchise ‘Insidious’.
This week, Byrne returns to the ‘X-Men’ franchise for the first time since 2011’s ‘First Class.’ She plays the smart, strong and mutant-friendly CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, who despite having portions of her memory wiped by Xavier 20 years ago so she couldn’t reveal the location of his school and sanctuary for mutants, is still obsessed with those who have unique abilities.
And she’s a handy resource for information about the Apocalypse’s long, storied history.
The actress explains how she had fun with Moira’s look, getting to be part of the action again and what a spin-off for her character would look like…
Moira's back - where do we find her when we meet her again?
Rose Byrne | Photo: Getty
She's working for the CIA and she's lost her memory, so she doesn't have the advantage, but she's still smart and investigative and has devoted her life and studies to mutants, which is ironic given everything she went through!
But it provides a great setup for when Xavier comes to meet her, since she's a specialist in the whole area of Apocalypse and also provides a bit of humour, which is fun.
Does she remember anything about Charles?
She absolutely knows who he is, because he's a famous guy and a champion of both the safety of mutants and the importance of them and integrating them into society. So she geeks out when he comes in.
He has a history with her that she doesn't remember, so is that an interesting dynamic to play?
It was! It was great – James is such a fun actor and so playful and really into exploring all of that stuff, so we had a really good time with that setup and bringing lightness to the whole situation. He's got such a cheekiness about him, so fans will appreciate the setup as being kind of romantic but also a bit tragic at the same time.
It's been 20 years since the events of ‘First Class’. Back then she was fighting sexism and making her mark on the world. Have things changed for her now?
I think so, a little bit. She's a little bit more experienced, and it's not the 1960s anymore, so there's a bit more of a women's lib movement. But she's been categorized as this woman who is trying to buck the system and there is something of a witch-hunt because she's female, so things haven't changed as much as she'd like.
Rose Bryne in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Photo: 20th Century Fox
We're slap in the middle of the 1980s here, so what is Moira's look in this one?
It's the most fun era, and everybody was just gleefully dressing in their clothing and we were all just laughing so much. And the movie just should be called "hair" because everyone's hair was so hilarious! I got a kick out of that. And Moira's really taking inspiration from Working Girl, she's very shoulder pads and big hair and big glasses and is very Baby Boom too. Diane Keaton/Working Girl, that kind of world.
How was it coming back and seeing the gang?
It was a really warm welcome! My favourite part was getting to see this incredible cast again. It’s such a great ensemble. Just look at what has happened to all these actors -- many of whom have gone on to great heights. I was really happy that they asked me back and I felt so lucky.
You get to work with Bryan as a director this time. How was it?
No one knows that world better than him. He's created that whole universe and has been working on it for years, so you're just in safe hands. He's incredibly smart and creative and you get the feeling he has the masterplan.
Was there something you wanted to bring to Moira this time?
Yeah, I know it doesn't look like she's aged that much, but I wanted to figure out how you portray 20 years having passed, so that was something I was trying to do. And also playing up her amnesiac quality, having those gaps in her memory and what that means and how it presents itself in people.
Did you get to go into more of the action this time?
I get a little bit of action, which was really fun. I'm not necessarily good at it, but it is always interesting to do physical work because it takes you out of your mind and it's a good acting exercise. Instead of thinking, 'oh yes, I also have to act...' and feeling self-conscious, I enjoy it!
Rose Bryne (second from left) in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' | Photo: 20th Century Fox
The scale of ‘Apocalypse’ seems to be huge. Did it feel that way on set?
They really are huge, really. It never fails to impress me, the amount of work that goes into it, and people and patience and passion, so you can't believe how they co-ordinate all those different departments. I hadn't done a film that big for a long time.
Was there a lot of reacting to things that aren't happening?
Yes, there was a lot of that! We have an incredibly passionate First AD, Josh McLaglen, and he would often narrate what was happening, and he would do this incredible performance, describing the action or saying the dialogue for other characters. We would often clap after a take was done, because he'd be giving such a wonderful performance off camera. It was an incredible morale booster!
What would you say fans can expect from the movie?
It’s bigger, better, more emotional and dramatic than ever. It's a real penultimate moment with Xavier, Raven and Magneto again. So it's a real one for the fans to savour.
And you have Apocalypse as the big new villain. Did you work with Oscar at all?
It’s a shame that I had only one scene with him. He's a great actor, and he's bringing so much to that character.
If the chance came up, would you come back for another, or do you want a Moira spin-off?
I want to see Moira day to day! Maybe we could do a little domestic comedy about Moira and what she's up to at the CIA! I'd love that.