Wolverine’s next of kin, Laura aka X-23 is finally revealed in “Logan,” the defining chapter in the cinematic saga of one of the greatest comic book heroes ever created from visionary writer-director James Mangold. Hugh Jackman stars in the title role, alongside Patrick Stewart (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”), Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant and newcomer Dafne Keen. The film is produced by blockbuster filmmakers Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner.
When the film opens, Logan is in a vulnerable and broken state, the curse of his immortality wearing heavy on him as he cares for a weakened Charles Xavier (Stewart) in a derelict smelting plant at the edge of an abandoned oil field. They’re joined there by a third mutant, Caliban (Merchant), sheltering in obscurity at a time when the world believes mutants have passed into history. But Logan’s days of drinking in relative solitude are interrupted when he finds himself the reluctant guardian of a young girl, Laura (newcomer Keen) who has powers remarkably like his own: from her hands as well as her feet spring the same adamantium claws as Wolverine’s. Not that he’s exactly eager to accept this newfound responsibility—he’s far too weary to play the hero once more.
Tasked with protecting her from the murderous cybernetic criminal Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), Logan and Professor X set out to cross hostile territory to ferry Laura to a place called Eden, where young mutants are said to enjoy safe haven.
Jackman had especially kind words for his young co-star, Dafne Keen, who makes her feature film debut with “Logan” with a virtuosic performance. “She’s a phenomenal actress, and it’s an honor to share the film with her,” Jackman says. “Laura, genetically, has Wolverine’s DNA, so there are elements of him in her personality and her physicality and that’s not easy to pull off. I found it hard to pull off when I was 30, let alone an 11-year-old-girl, and she’s not like that at all. She’s very bubbly, vivacious and energetic. Playing this constantly pissed off, rage-filled mutant who will take your head off if you look at her sideways is nothing like who she is, and she nailed it.”
Stewart, too, was impressed by her professionalism: “She’s a child who performs with the weight and seriousness and intensity and diversity of a very experienced and worldly actress,” Stewart says.
“Laura at the beginning is a very silent child,” Keen says. “She can’t express sadness like a normal child would do so she gets really angry and starts killing people. It’s fun doing that and at the same time loving pink T-shirts and unicorns and rainbows and stuff.”
The film is packed with brutal, visceral fight scenes, which presented some unique opportunities for Keen as Laura, who trained near her home in Spain before arriving to the U.S. for filming. “When she got here, we had about one month with her,” says stunt coordinator Garrett Warren.
Keen’s background in gymnastics and aerial arts helped her master the fight choreography, and Jackman was wowed by his young co-star. “Dafne did most of her fighting in the film,” he says. “She worked hard. When I say work, she loved it. She didn’t want to leave stunt training. I looked over one day and she had my claws on and she was beaming.”
“The other actors and filmmakers were like family to me,” Keen says. “I felt safe. I was always more focused on my character and what her longing for a normal family life which is what she is so desperately fighting for.”
Rated R-16 by the local censors board (MTRCB), Logan is now in cinemas nationwide, from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.