This July marks the 20-year anniversary of 2000’s X-Men, the first domino to fall and the film that really ushered in the comic book movie age we still find ourselves in the throes of two decades later. In that film, actor James Marsden starred as the leader of the X-Men Scott Summers, but he didn’t get the role right away. James Marsden had several callbacks and had to audition multiple times to win the part of Cyclops in the popular franchise.
Reminiscing about the role, James Marsden reveals that he had a very specific bathroom ritual before every Cyclops audition to help him land the role. The actor recalled in a recent Big Ticket podcast:
I remember … wearing a tight-fitting tee shirt. And I remember going into the bathroom before the auditions every time and locking the door and putting paper towels down on the floor and doing as many pushups as I could and doing arm-curls in the mirror, just to kind of get a pump on.
That’s right, James Marsden approached his X-Men auditions like you might approach a first date, by doing a bunch of pushups to get a bit of a pump beforehand. He didn’t do his pushups at home before he left for the audition either, lest he look less impressive by the time the audition started. By the sound of it he would go into the bathroom at the audition itself to do his ritual.
As the actor tells Variety’s The Big Ticket podcast, he would lock the door of the bathroom and knock out as many pushups as he possibly could, smartly putting paper towels down on the floor before beginning. He would then do arm curls in the mirror, I assume by just tensing up and using his own bodyweight, unless he brought his own dumbbells or just lifted toilet paper rolls.
So, James Marsden may have entered all of his auditions for Cyclops red-faced and sweaty, but he had a good pump going on. The idea behind this was obviously that James Marsden wanted to look his best, so he wore a tight shirt that accentuated his muscles and then made them pop with his pre-audition ritual.
It makes a lot of sense actually. James Marsden was auditioning to play a superhero and since he doesn’t actually have the mutation that allows him to fire optic blasts, he had to use what tools he had available to him to sell himself. That meant his muscles and his little bathroom ritual made those features stand out to help him look as much the part of a superhero as possible.
It might sound silly to some, but who is to say that this ritual and that pump didn’t make the difference for James Marsden? Maybe that bathroom ritual and having that little extra bulk to his muscles helped push things over the edge for the actor, it's hard to tell. James Marsden did get the role after all, so he clearly did something right in those auditions. It also shows some preparedness, which fits with the Cyclops character.