Exclusive: Ioan Gruffudd Looks Back On The Fantastic Four Movies
This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend AdventureCon in Knoxville, Tennessee where they had an impressive list of guests in attendance. I was able to get a few questions in with Ioan Gruffudd and Julian Glover (which you can look out for tomorrow). Ioan Gruffudd was kind enough to let me ask him a few questions and hold up the long line of people waiting to meet the man who played Horatio Hornblower, Lancelot, and Mr. Fantastic to name just a few great characters he has played throughout his career so far. This was Ioan’s first real convention appearance, so you can imagine he was a popular man. Mr. Gruffudd looked back on his time playing Mr. Fantastic in two movies as well as answering if he’d be up for tackling another comic book character in the future.
This is one of the first conventions you have been to, have you enjoyed it so far? Are you wanting to do more conventions?
After today, absolutely. What’s been amazing about it is the enthusiasm and the love that everybody has for the movies and the characters you have played. It’s quite a thrill to see the audience members having the thrills themselves to meet that character in the flesh. It’s been an incredibly flattering experience and there are so much positive vibes in the room. Its quiet infectious you know. It’s an interesting breed of people who just love escaping into these fantastic worlds we created.
It was an amazing experience because I was sort of a virgin to the comic book world. I wasn’t a collector as a young boy. My eyes were open to this incredible world where people have been in love with the comic books since the 60s I guess, when it first came up. So I knew there was a huge responsibility on my shoulders to represent this character that people loved so much. Playing him was a great pleasure because he’s a very bright and interesting and intelligent guy. The movie was full of action, that was a lot of fun too to create all that. Sometimes the process itself can be a little bit tiresome. It’s a labor intensive process, but when you see it all put together on the screen it sort of blew my mind and I’ll be forever grateful I had the opportunity to play this guy.
With Fantastic Four, as I understand, they were planning a third movie. Had that advanced enough that you had heard story ideas or knew anything about how that would have went?
No, I guess it’s interesting in the process the actors are the last people to know anything. I guess it has to go through concept meetings and then script meetings and then director meetings before it gets a greenlight to go ahead. I don’t know how far they’ve gotten down that road but the latest I heard is that they are going to reboot the franchise like they did with Spider-Man, which is a great personal disappointment but great for the fans because we get a new sort of look at the franchise, at the comic book. I’m very upset I don’t get a chance to play Mr. Fantastic. I really loved playing him. I wish the next group of actors that come to play these parts all the best because I know it was a very thrilling experience.
Can you think of anybody who could play a good Mr. Fantastic in the reboot?
You know, I’m wondering what they’re going to do with it. I was in my early 30s when I played him. I wonder if they’re going to go even younger with the franchise and have people in their late teens or early 20s. There are so many great young actors out there, I don’t know. Somebody bright and smart? Nobody comes to mind at the moment. You kind of put me on the spot there.
Yeah, I would love to. I think it’s hard because…I mean listen, Chris Evans has broken the mold because he has played Johnny Storm and he’s played Captain America. I can’t imagine them ever wanting to use somebody that’s so recognizable as one comic book character in another one, but I had such an amazing experience to play him. I’d kill to play another comic book hero.
Is there anything in the works right now? Something we should be on the lookout for?
Ringer of course got cancelled which is a big disappointment. There’s nothing I’ve filmed yet. There’s a possibility I might be working with Chris Evans again on a little independent movie. It’s sort of a quirky love story. I’ve been asked to play a cameo in that, but nothing concrete. So watch this space as it where.
Below are two fragments from Ioan’s panel later in the day. The room was full of people waiting to hear him recall his time on the Fantastic Four movies, how he got the job as the “wet work” specialist in Horrible Bosses, and his breakout role in Titanic. Here is what Gruffudd had to say about playing jokes on the set and the filming experience overall:
Chris Evans and I would goof around a lot. Poor Michael Chiklis was trussed up as the thing all day and he was boiling hot the whole time in that costume. So it was a pretty intense atmosphere on a daily basis, long hours shooting. The payoff though is when you see the movie put together and you just can’t quite believe your eyes. All that time and effort sort of standing there with my arm behind my back imagining my arm doing all sorts of things. That’s when the real actor comes in, when you’re standing there intently imagining this arm is being created. It’s a testament to what they can do know in the computer. The movie itself, the shooting itself, isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable of processes. When you see it all put together, you’re sort of blown away.
He was enthusiastic and so present and just loved the fact all this had come to fruition, to realize the dream I guess he had created on the page and with technology was able to be presented on the screen. He was thrilling to be around.
Ioan Gruffudd was an absolute pleasure to talk to, and he was such a nice guy. He seemed to be really happy with his time being the Marvel universe’s smartest man and was genuinely bummed he couldn’t keep doing it. I thought he was a great Mr. Fantastic, so it would be a real treat to see him return to the world of comic book movies in some way. What do you think about his retrospective comments? Can you think of anybody you’d like to see him play in another comic book movie?