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Rebecca Romijn Said Filming "X-Men" Turned Her Into an "Evil Woman"

The actor had to spend up to nine hours in the makeup chair daily.

Getting into character to play Mystique in the first three films in the X-Men franchise took Rebecca Romijn to dark places as she dove into the mind of the angry, ostracized shapeshifter who turns against humanity. But the emotional work was only part of what it took to become the scaly blue mutant. Read on to learn why the model-turned-actor said that transforming into Mystique for the '00s movies turned her into an "evil [expletive] woman" and why she questioned whether successor Jennifer Lawrence had what it takes to take over the character.

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The makeup process took as long as nine hours.

Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in X-Men
20th Century Fox

Achieving the shapeshifter's aesthetic—which includes red hair, yellow eyes, and blue skin—was a grueling, complex process, involving layers of head-to-toe body paint, glued-on body and facial prosthetics, and contact lenses, per a behind-the-scenes look at the achievement posted to YouTube. According to a 2014 Fox News article, that meant Romijn often found herself in the makeup chair around midnight just to be ready in time for 9 a.m. filming.

However, getting in the headspace for marathon makeup sessions was old hat for Romijn, who had already endured intense makeup sessions as the first model painted for Sports Illustrated's body paint-themed Swimsuit Issue the year before she appeared in 2000's X-Men.

"You sort of have to go to a zen place," Romijn said of her approach to the process. "You have to get into some fairly awkward positions to help out the person who's painting you."

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One particular part of preparation made her "evil."

Rebecca Romijn and James Marsden in 2000

After the premiere of X2 in 2003, Romijn gave Entertainment Weekly details about what it was like on set of the sequel, including the difficulty of acting while wearing Botox-like prosthetics and the mortifying time director Bryan Singer walked in on her getting her "crack touched up." While she was able to shave a few hours off of her daily prep by the second film, she said constantly having people working on the look and contending with on-set gawkers was transformative—and not in a good way.

"Still, there are four women who do [the makeup and costuming], and having them in my personal space for that many hours a day is crazy-making," the star explained. "You can go from being perfectly happy and having a nice time to just being, like, evil [expletive] woman: 'If one more person stares at me, I'm gonna pull my eyes out!'"

She found solidarity with a co-star.

Rebecca Romijn and Alan Cumming in 2003
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Despite her blue mood, Romijn found one bright side in the filming of X2: a comrade in the makeup chair via Alan Cumming, who joined the franchise to play Nightcrawler. Like Mystique (who is revealed to be one of his parents in the comic series), the demonic-looking mutant's look included cobalt skin and yellow eyes in addition to pointed ears. Getting into character meant that the Scottish actor likewise had to spend hours in the makeup chair. (He later called the on-set situation "dangerous" and "abusive" and lamented his time as a "miserable blue mutant," per Yahoo! UK).

Romijn said their similar trials led to the co-stars forming a special bond. "We would hang out together like an old, [expletive], blue married couple, like, 'No one understands us!'" she recounted to EW. "It was great because I was totally by myself on the first one, and I felt isolated."

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Romijn wasn't sure about Lawrence's take on the character.

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in X-Men: First Class
20th Century Fox

When Jennifer Lawrence stepped into Romijn's shoes to play the younger version of Mystique in 2011's X-Men: First Class, Romijn was all too happy to pass the torch to the Hunger Games star. "I love sharing that role with that girl," she told Fox News in 2014. "She's as cool as they come."

However, the original Mystique did question whether Lawrence's preparation—she used a body suit after reportedly having a bad reaction to the body makeup—gave her the bite she needed to play the flame-haired character. "But I do think nine hours of makeup makes you the villain you need to be to be Mystique," Romijn added.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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