Actor Ben Hardy shot to fame in the UK playing Peter Beale in the hugely popular soap opera EastEnders. Hardy spent two years on the show before forsaking Albert Square for Hollywood, almost immediately landing the role of Angel in the blockbuster sequel X-Men: Apocalypse. With that film hitting Blu-ray and DVD this week, we caught up with the 25-year old to discuss deleted scenes, the future of the franchise, making the transition from soap to superhero sequel, and Ben’s favourite ever TV show, which might come as something of a surprise.
Just BEWARE OF SPOILERS AHEAD as we do discuss the film’s finale.
Fandom: How did you make that transition from EastEnders to X-Men?
Ben Hardy: I was very lucky. I didn’t have any expectations of being so fortunate when I left EastEnders. I went over to America and my UK agent set up some meetings with U.S. agents, so that got the ball rolling, and it kind of went from there really. I was very fortunate.
Fandom: What was the X-Men: Apocalypse audition process like?
Hardy: It was quite long. There was at least four or five rounds. At first just like a self-taped type thing — I thought it was a real long-shot. And then leading up to screen-tests with Bryan Singer — the director — and then luckily enough I got the job. But with each round, more and more nerves and more and more pressure. I couldn’t believe I got the part.
Fandom: What’s the big difference between being on the EastEnders set and being on the X-Men set?
Hardy: Time. Definitely time. You have so much more time. You spend a day on a page on a film, and you’ll spend a day doing 12 different scenes — maybe 36 pages — on EastEnders. Just because they have to produce two hours of film a week. And, obviously, specific to X-Men you’ve got the special effects side of it — the fighting and the flying and all that kind of stuff, which is great fun.
Fandom: Were you a fan of the X-Men comics or did you have to do a deep dive when you got the role?
Hardy: I watched the TV show and films — I was a big fan of the films. But I hadn’t read the comics, so I did a deep dive, as you say. Went through the comics, and focused around the Apocalypse storyline in the X-Factor comics.
Fandom: Would you like to see any of those Angel storylines explored onscreen?
Hardy: I love the graphic novel Old Man Logan, but I think that’s the new Wolverine. I think that’s one of the best comic book or graphic novel storylines. So I’m excited to see that on film, definitely.
Fandom: What was your favourite scene to shoot?
Hardy: Probably my favourite scene was the cage fight at the very beginning of the movie. I got to fly around on various beams and engage in a fight with Kodi [Smit-McPhee] — who plays Nightcrawler —so that was really good. We were filming it in this theatre in Montreal which was supposed to be an underground fight club in East Berlin. It was great — having an actual crowd was pretty good. Having at least 300/400 background artists cheering you on — you felt like you were actually in a real fight. It was great.
Fandom: So have you got a future in cage fighting if the acting thing doesn’t work out?
Hardy: Have you seen those UFC guys? I don’t thinkg I’d stand a chance. But I wish I could. I’m not going to fight Conor McGregor anytime soon!
Fandom: Smart. And what was your least favourite scene to shoot?
Hardy: Because of the circumstances — and it was just for a brief moment — there’s a bit where I was trapped in a structure of some sort; some sort of cage, and I had to spin out of it. I was on wires and I had to do these three or four 360 spins and then land, and we actually shot the scene just after lunch, which I wasn’t aware of, so it was a little bit of a struggle not to throw up after that one, as we did quite a few takes. So I was a little bit dizzy.
THIS IS YOUR FINAL SPOILER WARNING…
Fandom: Big question now — we saw Angel go down in a plane at the end of the film — is he actually dead?
Hardy: Ah, that’s a good question. That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. Who knows? Could go either way.
Fandom: If he isn’t dead, any idea how he might have survived?
Hardy: There’s numerous things in the comics, but I really don’t know what they are going to do with it. They could leave it as it is, or they could bring him back. I know in the comics he gets raised from the dead by Magneto at one point. But who knows? That’s up to Fox to see what they want to do and where they want to go.
Fandom: We don’t actually see him die…
Hardy: True, true. I spoke with the director and the producers and they kind of dabbled with the idea of there being a possibility, but nothing is concrete, for sure.
Fandom: Would you be keen to do another X-Men movie should the opportunity arise?
Hardy: There’s definitely aspects of Angel that I’d like to explore more, for sure. After reading a lot of the comics there’s a lot of good stuff there?
Fandom: Does Angel have and deleted scenes that might be on the Blu-ray?
Hardy: There was one that we did that did have to be cut because we changed around the order that the four horsemen were recruited in — to make Magneto the final horseman recruited because that’s kind of an important plot-line. It’s a little bit of verbal sparring between Angel and Magneto.So that was one that I did enjoy.
Fandom: So Wikia is a site that’s built around communities and the entertainment they love, so what was your passion growing up?
Hardy: Growing up? My favourite thing? Good question. I feel like I should give a really high-brow answer here, but I’m going to have to say when I was younger I was obsessed with the TV show Friends. I’d watch at least two episodes a day. That was a staple of my day.
Fandom: Why do you love it so much?
Hardy: I can’t even tell you. I just think it’s hilarious. I think it’s brilliant. It’s such great writing. I can watch an episode and quote every line today. Me and a couple of buddies are often going ‘That reminds me of an episode of Friends where this happens…’ and we end up talking about it and laughing. I think it really did capture a generation.
Fandom: Do you have a favourite of the six Friends?
Hardy: I had favourites at different times. I didn’t like Ross to start with, then he becomes amazing towards the end. Chandler’s amazing at the start, but once he gets married he gets a bit boring. It’s a difficult one. I’d say maybe Chandler at the beginning would be my favourite.
Fandom: Have you ever met any of the actors?
Hardy: Oh, God I wish. I’d be more star-struck about meeting Jennifer Aniston than probably anyone else in the world.
X-Men: Apocalypse is out now on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.