Having appeared in a wide range of films over the course of his career, James Marsden (Fred) continues to carve out a distinctive place in Hollywood with both comedic and dramatic roles.
Later this year, Marsden will appear, opposite Kate Bosworth, in Screen Gems' remake of Straw Dogs, for director Rod Lurie. In the film, Marsden plays Los Angeles screenwriter David Sumner, who relocates with his wife (Bosworth) to her hometown in the deep South. Soon after they arrive, tensions build and a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both. He will also star, opposite Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener and Tracy Morgan, in David O. Russell's upcoming film Nailed. Marsden will play the Biel character's small-town boyfriend. Biel stars as a naive waitress who gets a nail shot into her head, causing erratic and outrageous behavior, and heads to Washington, D.C., to fight for better health care.
Most recently, Marsden appeared as a guest star in an episode of the award-winning comedy Modern Family. He played Mitchell and Cameron's mysterious neighbor who was quite the charmer. He also recently appeared in Neil LaBute's Death at a Funeral. He received a 2010 Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Movie: Male Scene Stealer for his role as the Zoe Saldana character's boyfriend, who finds himself a fish out of water at a family funeral.
He previously starred, opposite Cameron Diaz, in Richard Kelly's psychological thriller The Box. In 2008, he starred alongside Katherine Heigl in the box-office hit 27 Dresses, a romantic-comedy for Fox 2000 Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment. In 2007, Marsden received rave reviews for his singing and dancing in Disney's box-office smash Enchanted, opposite Susan Sarandon, Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, and in Adam Shankman's box-office hit musical Hairspray, opposite John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. Marsden played Corny Collins, the host of a television dance show.
Marsden was also seen in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns as Richard White, a new rival for the affections of Lois Lane. Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Brandon Routh and Frank Langella also starred in the film.
Marsden's diverse film credits include the X-Men trilogy, as Cyclops; the Nick Cassavetes romantic drama The Notebook; Merchant Ivory's Heights; Sex Drive; Disturbing Behavior; 10th and Wolf; and Sugar & Spice.
Marsden currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children
Q. HOP is a lot of fun for the audience, but from what I hear, with all of the physical comedy and visual effects, this was the toughest, most demanding role of your acting career.
It was a different kind of tough. Technically it was the most difficult.
Q. The CG characters were incorporated into the film later so you were largely flying blind in your scenes.
It required so much imagination and discipline - all at the same time. I had to section off my brain into four quadrants. One was to remember my lines. Another was to remember where the rabbit goes. Another was to make sure the acting was good and seemed normal. The other was all of the technical elements you have to remember.
Q. I'm getting exhausted just trying to process it myself.
It's kind of like acting while juggling on a unicycle. It was an exhausting process. Before we started, I told Chris Meledandri (producer) that I feel like I'm going to work harder on this movie than I have ever worked. The responsibility as an actor seems so much greater than a lot of other roles. To me, the bar is normally here (points to just above his head) because you just have to worry about being a good actor. With HOP the bar was way up here (points far above his head) because you have to be a good actor and you also have to be aware of so many other technical elements.
Q. It's interesting because it is not like you are new to acting in films laden with visual effects. You have been in three X-MEN movies, SUPERMAN RETURNS, ENCHANTED and others.
It's one thing to be reacting to a green screen of a landscape, explosion or space ship flying over you. It is another thing to have chemistry with something that you can't see.
Q. So how did you know where E.B. was going to be in the scene
Sometimes they gave me a black bean bag if the scene required me to hold E.B. But, most of the time it was a little wire with some green tape at the end of it where E.B.'s eyes were going to be.
Q. Your HOP co-star, Kaley Cuoco, was saying that you were so happy when she arrived on set to act with you because you were excited there was a human being to share a scene with.
That's true. Yeah, any scene with Kaley or Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Chelsea Handler or the other human cast I was like 'Oh, other humans!' (laughs).
Q. What do your kids think about Dad starring in a movie with the Easter Bunny?
They're excited. They haven't seen the movie yet but they have seen the ads on TV and on billboards. They'd rather see me with the Easter Bunny than being in X-MEN and firing lasers out of my eyeballs.
Q. I'm thinking when your children see HOP they'll discover Dad is good friends with the Easter Bunny, so will be expecting a lot of chocolate eggs this Easter.
They'll see that Dad has actually been to Easter Island.
Q. Are your kids the toughest critics of your films?
Will they tell me the truth if they didn't like the movie? Oh yeah. I love that. They'll tell it to me straight.
Q. What's Easter like at the Marsden household each year?
My kids always get a nice visit from the Easter Bunny. Our ritual is we do an egg painting session the night before. The next morning, the Easter Bunny drops off some cool baskets full of chocolate eggs. Then we take the eggs the Easter Bunny gave us, and the ones we painted, and we hide them in the yard for an egg hunt.
Q. Every year we see a new Christmas movie, but it's rare to see an Easter movie.
Yeah it is interesting, isn't it? Up until now the Easter Bunny has been pretty much left up to interpretation. He could be eight feet tall, have white or brown fur. With HOP, we have defined what the Easter Bunny looks like.
Q. The very funny Russell Brand voices E.B. When you were filming, Russell wasn't on set, so did you get to meet him during the production?
I sat in on some of his recording sessions so I knew what he was doing with the character and I recorded it in my head so when we got on set I knew what I'd be reacting to. I actually asked if there was a Russell Brand impersonator we could hire to do his lines off camera and they got a great British actor to come in and read lines with me. That was really helpful.
Q. When you met Russell at the recording sessions, did you do any improv with him?
Yes, we did a little improv.
Q. When Jeff Bridges was making the recent TRON sequel he said that he basically went back to when he was a kid and had to use his imagination because of all the green screen. Can you relate to that during the making of HOP?
I can see what he is saying - using your imagination. But I felt like I never had the freedom to just imagine what I wanted to imagine. There were boundaries and parameters like, the rabbit is here, now he's there. It was more about keeping in the forefront of my mind things like how is Russell saying this line? What's E.B. going to do? I also had to treat him like a human. For the story to work I couldn't treat him like a rabbit, I had to treat him like a human being.
Q. It was all worth it.
Yes, I wanted it to be the best family movie. I wanted the relationships to really work.
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