What The X-Men Cast Has Said About Working With Bryan Singer On The Marvel Movies

X-Men 2 Promo Image
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

While Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a widely loved superhero franchise, there are still plenty who pine for superhero flicks of old like Fox’s X-Men saga. The long-running film series had its ups and downs but is regarded as being instrumental in helping to kick off the modern comic book movie craze. Though the features are a lot of fun, the stars themselves have since revealed that working conditions weren’t always easy. Many have attributed this to Bryan Singer, who helmed four installments. Much has been said about how he allegedly operated on set, and we’re going to discuss comments from the cast. 

Franchise OGs Halle Berry And Hugh Jackman Have Been Honest About Working With Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer’s work in the superhero genre began with X-Men, which dominated the box office in 2000 and was met with considerable praise. Based on the quality of the production, one might think that the set was harmonious, though Halle Berry has since claimed that she and Singer had fights amid production. Berry once detailed just how serious their behind-the-scenes confrontations would get: 

I would sometimes be very angry with him. I got into a few fights with him, said a few cuss words out of sheer frustration. When I work, I’m serious about that. And when that gets compromised, I get a little nutty. But at the same time, I have a lot of compassion for people who are struggling with whatever they’re struggling with, and Bryan struggles.

It should be pointed out that the Oscar winner didn’t specify the productions on which they had their disagreements. Though what she did say is that the flair-ups were partially initiated by “because of whatever he’s struggling with.” Based on what’s been said about Bryan Singer (who previously sued for alleged rape), he’s been known to disappear from set from time to time. Berry even mentioned that he didn’t always seem “present” when he was around. Considering the stories that have circulated in the past several years, one can’t help but wonder how the stars now feel about the legacy of the films. Hugh Jackman was asked whether Singer’s reputation taints them and provided a diplomatic answer: 

You know, that’s a really, really complicated question. There’s a lot of things at stake there. X-Men was the turning point, I believe, in terms of comic-book movies and I think there’s a lot to be proud of. And there’s certainly questions to be asked and I think they should be asked. But I guess I don’t know how to elegantly answer that. I think it’s complex and ultimately I look back with pride at what we’ve achieved and what momentum that started.

It’s hard not to empathize with Hugh Jackman – and his colleagues as well – as they produced some beloved films that clearly left a dent in pop culture. It’s easy to understand why the Australian actor would be somewhat conflicted when reconciling his pride over the work and his feelings on the director. Though some of the actors who worked on the later movies provided answers that were a bit more clean-cut.

Additional Comments Have Been Made By Sophie Turner And Olivia Munn

The two prequel films that Bryan Singer directed, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, brought in an array of new faces. One of those actors is Olivia Munn, who portrayed Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke in the latter film. It was her first major studio movie and, as Munn explained, she had her share of struggles with Singer while making it:

When we shot X-Men, I never shot a huge movie like that before. I didn’t know what was right or wrong, but I did know that it seems strange that Bryan Singer could check out and say he had a thyroid issue. Instead of going to a doctor in Montreal, which is a very high-level, working city, he said he had to go to L.A. And he was gone for about 10 days is my recollection. And he said, ‘Continue. Keep filming.’ We’d be on set, I remember there’s a big scene that we’d have, and we’d come back from lunch and then one of Bryan’s assistants would come up and show us a cell phone with a text message on it.

The actress further claimed that he’d send texts to the actors, in which he’d tell them that he was busy but that they should continue filming without him. While making those comments she also mentioned Fox’s eventual decision to hire him as the director of Bohemian Rhapsody, which he was later fired from. In that case, he reportedly clashed with lead actor Rami Malek, and Jean Grey actress Sophie Turner cited Malek when discussing her experience with the director on X-Men: Apocalypse:

Our time together was, like Rami said, unpleasant.

The various comments that have been documented so far indicate that the stars’ time working with Bryan Singer was less than favorable. Singer was even called out by Jennifer Lawrence, who played Mystique in the prequel films, when she discussed the “emotional men'' she'd work with on film sets. Amid all of these sentiments, another X-Men alum provided a different kind of outlook more recently.

Brian Cox Recalled Working With Bryan Singer On X2

X2 is still revered as one of the franchise’s best installments, and one of the reasons for that is Brian Cox’s pitch-perfect performance as the villainous William Stryker. Cox was recently asked about what it was like working with the Usual Suspects director and, while speaking with Yahoo! Entertainment, he mentioned that the filmmaker was “under a lot of strain” during production. He also shed some light on his creative process: 

He'd have a thought, and then have to rethink [the scene]. So that was always a difficult transition for him. But once he cracked it, he cracked it very quickly and was able to get on with it. I think he's an extraordinary director — really, really gifted. Certainly I will always be grateful to him because he had confidence in me and got me the role. I played a waiting game and it worked.

Despite everything that’s transpired with Bryan Singer over the years, few would deny that he’s produced some memorable films, X-Men-related or otherwise. Singer hasn’t been credited as the director of a movie since 2018 and, after the allegations and array of comments from actors, one can only speculate as to whether he’ll ever helm another motion picture.

The X-Men movies (which we’ve sorted chronologically) can be streamed using a Disney+ subscription. As you wait for news on the upcoming MCU reboot, read up on other upcoming Marvel movies.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.