EXCLUSIVE: Famke Janssen Slams ‘X-Men’ for Lack of Older Women, Expresses Her Hopes for Dark Phoenix Film

by Stacy Lambe 11:05 AM PDT, April 22, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

The actress opens up to ET about uniting both generations of women on screen.

After a limited run in theaters, Jack of the Red Hearts, an independent drama starring AnnaSophia Robb and Famke Janssen, premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, April 23.

The film, about a teenager (Robb) who talks her way into a caretaker position for an autistic child, is earning rave reviews for Janssen’s performance as a beleaguered parent looking for a reprieve from raising a developmentally-challenged kid.

MORE: Famke Janssen Is Headed to 'The Blacklist' for Possible Spin-off

But don’t bring that up to the 51-year-old actress, who’s probably most famous for her turn as Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise and most recently as Eve opposite Viola Davis on How to Get Away With Murder. “I’m a non-review person,” she admits. “I’m sort of a non-watching the movie person too. It’s about the experience, and then I move on.”

However, one experience that hasn’t quite left her -- whether by fans or the media -- is that of Grey, who she originated on screen in the first three X-Men films, before unceremoniously leaving the character behind as the franchise rebooted itself with a younger generation of actors. 

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Grey, who is returning to the franchise in X-Men: Apocalypse, is now played by Sophie Turner (Sansa on Game of Thrones). Admittedly, Turner was hesitant about taking over the role, revealing she reached out to Janssen to make sure they were “cool.”

“She’s so sweet. I told her she did not need my blessing,” Janssen said of the exchange, adding: “She’s perfect for the part. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do with it. But I thought it was super sweet of her to reach out to me.”

While Janssen has been very diplomatic about turning over the part to Turner (“Those things happen”), she does lament that the series has yet to let the two generations of women play the same character in a film. “We've only seen that with Magneto and Professor X,” she says. “I think it's time to do that with one of the females.” (While Halle Berry briefly reprised her role as Storm in Days of Future Past, her part has been recast in the new film.)

“Why not Jean Grey?” Janssen offers.

Of course, Grey is the perfect character to revisit, especially after The Last Stand was slammed for its handling of Grey’s alter ego, Dark Phoenix. And for Janssen, there’s no defending it, even 10 years later. “It’s a pity the Dark Phoenix wasn’t explored in a better way, because it really should have been its own movie,” she says. “To wash over it so quickly, as they did with that many other storylines, I don’t think it got the attention that it deserved.”

When rumors of a Dark Phoenix film are mentioned, Janssen just hopes “they do focus on that character.”

While the actress may have issues with the lack of older women -- Berry, Rebecca Romijn -- in the new films, she does celebrate X-Men’s focus on female superheroes. “There have been so many female characters in the X-Men movies, which is really the first that you ever saw that,” Janssen says. “There were female superheroes that weren’t just arm candy. I’m proud to have been part of it for that long.”

Jack of the Red Hearts premieres Saturday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET only on Lifetime.