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Illustration: Bob Kelly

The Hot Seat: Liev Schreiber

Wherefore art thou, Weapon X?


Liev Schreiber is the kind of actor producers must love, because he has the uncanny effect of lending instant credibility to any film. Such is the gravitas he gives X-Men Origins: Wolverine, ostensibly the story of a pint-size Canadian who likes to say "Bub." In the film, Schreiber plays Victor Creed, known more popularly as Sabretooth, the archnemesis of everyone's favorite beclawed Canucklehead. The 41-year-old Shakespearean-trained actor lives in Soho with Naomi Watts, the mother of his two children, and last year appeared between these covers in TONY's list of top 40 New Yorkers ("I remember talking to you guys about New York," he laughs, "and I think it was a lack of sleep, but I couldn't answer. Suddenly I looked through my entire life and I could not remember one thing about New York"). We gave him another chance.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews

Time Out New York: What's happening, Liev?
Liev Schreiber: I've been mostly working at home for the last few weeks, which is good. It's always nice when you shoot in New York, especially with two kids.

Oh, man. They're still at that fun age, right?
There's nothing fun about the age they're at right now. Each one on their own is insanely fun, but the combination of the two of them after hours is just chaos. I don't remember the last time I slept like a human being.

What's the age gap?
They're really close. Sasha is 21 months and Kai is four months now.

You've got a good decade of brother-against-brother infighting to look forward to, though.
Well, right now it's just brother-waking-up-brother, which is really the nightmare.

Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, and your character, Victor Creed, are also warring siblings.
That's right, and one is bummed out that he is not as cool as the other one. I think they represent two aspects of a single person. They are two sides of the same coin. Victor, and this is what attracted me to the story initially, represents the animal side, and Logan represents, to a degree, the man that's fighting to escape from that. If he possesses both qualities, Victor represents that darker, more animalistic one inside of him. And Logan is the guy who's trying to find the humanity in his mutation.

Poetic. You have this classical-acting background, and your costar Ryan Reynolds comes from the Van Wilder school of acting. Did you guys discuss Coriolanus over beer pong?
[Laughs] We didn't at all. But Ryan is insanely quick on his feet, which I admire, having lost that ability years ago. Well, not years ago, precisely 22 months ago. The older I get, the harder it is. It's like I have PR Alzheimer's. And you know, I hate to admit this, but I don't always think in terms of Shakespeare. When I eat, I do. When I'm at a restaurant, I'll think, Hmm, what would Macbeth have ordered?

Blood pudding.
Exactly! But you can only have blood pudding just so many times.

Sounds like a meal Sabretooth would enjoy.
He's a bad dude. After going on about how I'm not really Shakespearean, I'll say that Victor Creed is a pretty Shakespearean character. They [Wolverine and Sabretooth] remind me of Edgar and Edmund from King Lear.

The brothers again. You're saying that there is a Sabretooth in all of us?
Yeah, the berserker rage, as they call it in the comic.

Berserker Barrage was a sweet move in the old Marvel vs. Capcom video game.
But it was so hard. [Laughs] I'd look those things up, and go like [In dramatic voice dripping with despair], "That's so many buttons!"

Creed and Logan use that technique in this movie to disembowel people in several wars, including members of that same Nazi gang you fought in Defiance. Creed seems a likely subscriber to National Socialism.
I don't think so. I think it would be hard for mutants to accept fascism. More particularly, the idea behind the Aryan supremacy. Kind of rules it out. Being a mutant is about as good as being gay or Jewish to the Nazis.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens Fri 1.

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