Did Ageism And Sexism Force Famke Janssen Out Of ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’?

As is true with most reboots, the X-Men franchise introduced a younger cast of characters, beginning with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, in which a time travel story arc was created in order to bring in younger actors and eliminate more mature performers. Famke Janssen points out that this was unnecessary and that some actors, namely Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, outlived some of the other actors in the later X-Men films. While Janssen is fully supportive of Sophie Turner, who takes up the role of Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse, she still wants to reprise her own role as an older version of Jean Grey.

Sophie Turner And Famke Janssen – From One Jean Grey To Another

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A photo posted by Famke Beumer Janssen (@famke_janssen05) on

Famke reveals the Game of Thrones actress contacted her, when she was first cast as the younger Jean in X-Men: Apocalypse, eager for some direction, asking Ms. Janssen for anything she might have to suggest by way of advice. Famke says she wanted Sophie to make the role her own, so she told her that she was already prepared to become a new version of Grey.

“She emailed me before she started filming wanting some pointers,” says Janssen of Turner. “And I said, ‘You don’t need any. You’re perfect. You’re great.’ So I can’t wait to see the movie and what she’s done with it.”

Famke adds that she’s really excited about seeing X-Men: Apocalypse and in seeing how Turner has made the character her own. When asked, she says she doesn’t feel it will be at all awkward for her to watch a younger version of the character she made famous on the big screen. In fact, Janssen cites that as a prime motivation for watching the film.

X-Men: Apocalypse May Have Recast Her Role, But Famke Janssen Still Wants To Return


A photo posted by Famke Beumer Janssen (@famke_janssen05) on

Ms. Janssen seems more than willing to give Sophie Turner all of the support she needs in her X-Men career, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to pass the torch just yet. Famke feels there’s room for two Jean Greys in the X-Men franchise. In fact, she says there’s a big difference in the way the male characters are treated in respect to the younger and older versions of the same mutants. She added that, even before X-Men: Apocalypse, the franchise has cast younger actors and older actors together to play the different versions of the same characters.

“In the X-Men series, they’ve been doing this for years. Although women, it’s interesting because they’re replaced, and the older versions – or more mature, whatever the politically correct version of that is – are never to be seen again,” says Famke. “Whereas the men are allowed to be both ages. Sexism. I think that I should be back along with my younger version and the way that we’ve seen it with Magneto and Professor X.”

This isn’t something Ms. Janssen has brought up on a whim. She’s given serious thought to the ways in which her X-Men character might be brought back and she says she has pitched those ideas to the studio.

“Yes, I have,” Janssen responds, when asked if she also brought her thoughts to the X-Men: Apocalypse producers. “I have not heard any feedback on that, other than total radio silence.”

This could very well be the most finicky age Hollywood has ever faced with some studios showing a more progressive attitude towards eliminating sexism and ageism in casting practices, while others still cling desperately to the misogynistic ways of the past.

Famke Janssen is far from over the hill, as is proven by NBC’s willingness to star Ms. Janssen in a new Blacklist spinoff. It would be a mistake to assume Famke can no longer a compelling, sexy, and powerful Jean Grey, but that’s an issue to which only X-Men producers can respond.

[Image by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Bentonville Film Festival]