"... it just seems like a home run if you could keep making 'X-Men' movies forever ..."

James Marsden is one of Hollywood's unsung players -- a versatile character actor trapped in a leading man's body.

He's been a superhero ('X-Men'), a prince ('Enchanted'), a singing-and-dancing TV host ('Hairspray') ... and now, in the upcoming raunchy teen road-trip comedy 'Sex Drive,' he's Rex, the thirtysomething big brother from hell, with a mullet and one helluva sweet, sweet ride.

When Moviefone chatted with the refreshingly down-to-earth married father of two (he and actress wife Lisa Linde have Jack, 7 and Mary, 3), he revealed what drew him to playing a loser jerk, what perfume commercial he sang for -- and what '80s teen idol inspired him to pick up and move to L.A.

15 Questions With James Marsden

    James Marsden is one of Hollywood's unsung players -- a versatile character actor trapped in a leading man's body. He's been a superhero ('X-Men'), a prince ('Enchanted'), a singing-and-dancing TV host ('Hairspray') ... and now, in the upcoming raunchy teen road-trip comedy 'Sex Drive,' he's Rex, the thirtysomething big brother from hell, with a mullet and one helluva sweet, sweet ride.

    When Moviefone chatted with the refreshingly down-to-earth married father of two (he and actress wife Lisa Linde have Jack, 7 and Mary, 3), he revealed what drew him to playing a loser jerk, what perfume commercial he sang for -- and what '80s teen idol inspired him to pick up and move to L.A. -- By Angie Argabrite

    Gail Burton, AP

    1. In 'Sex Drive,' you're Rex, the big brother from hell. Do you have any experience with a big brother from hell? Or were you a big brother from hell?

    No, I have a brother who is a year older and a brother who's a year younger. We're very close in age, and I wasn't bullied ... but there was a lot of fighting going on. We were very physical with each other and, you know, beat the shit out of each other a lot growing up. But no, I was never really bullied by anyone. A few times in elementary school ... I was not a big kid, I was a skinny kid. I was usually the smallest guy in my class. So just innately being that guy you're going to get pushed around a bit. But I could always defuse it with some humor. I was funny enough that I could hang around with the cool guys.

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    Summit Entertainment

    2. What interested you about 'Sex Drive'?

    I grew up with [guys like this] and I was like "Oh, I'd love to play that character." I know who he is, what he dresses like, how he acts. It was fun to do something so opposite of who you are and what you've done before. My wife [actress Lisa Linde] was reading the script, because I was "busy"... watching TV, and she kept laughing, and I asked, "What's so funny?" and she said, "It's this teen road-trip movie." And I was like "Really? Are you really reading that?" She's more highbrow than me, and she said, "I know, but it's so funny; it's kind of classically funny." And so I read it, and thought "Oh, great -- this 34-year-old guy that still lives at home and beats up on his little brother, which people usually grow out of at 17 but he's still doing it." Just a loser. It was fun to just play an outright loser, a bully character.


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    Summit Entertainment

    3. Rex has a really sweet car. Have you ever had a car that you loved?

    I did, I was very attached to my first car, a 1986 Pontiac Firebird. Which was, you know, a big douche-mobile, but I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. So I kind of was that guy, now that I think about it. But I had great affection for that car. It was a piece of junk, but I loved it. Then you got smart and you went onto the Honda Accord. That just got boring. But [the Firebird] was like, you know, my visceral car. Then I sort of went back to that a few years ago when my son got into cars and relit that flame for me, and we got a '66 Corvette together and a '67 Austin Healy, a British roadster. It's a hobby of mine, so I sort of got back into that with my son.


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    Summit Entertainment

    4. You've been in so many genres -- comedy, action-adventure, romance, musicals and you're going to be in a thriller ... Is there any one of those that you prefer?

    I enjoy them all, and if I have the option to, I just do whatever I have the appetite for at the moment. You know, the last few years I've been lucky to be a part of, like you said, comedies, musicals and stuff and then that sort of satisfied that appetite for the time being. Then ['Sex Drive'] came along, and it was like "Oh I've never done a John Hughes-like-'80s-teen-sex comedy before, this would be fun." So I'm going down the buffet, taking all kinds of different stuff and seeing what flies and what I enjoy and what the public wants to see me do. So it's been sort of recreational, I've just been having a good time taking what sounds like fun.


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    New Line

    5. Are your kids old enough to understand what you do?

    Not in this movie they're not! [Laughs] I mean, they say they get it, but I don't know. My son sort of gets it, but I don't know if he really understands. My daughter has no clue, she's not really seen anything of mine. My son's been on set before, he gets the concept of making a movie and cutting it together and all that. So he gets that I'm an actor and that's what I get paid to do, but around him, nobody has a dad that acts in movies. All the other kids, their fathers are like selling insurance or money managers, 9 to 5 jobs. I think the concept is still a little strange to him when he sees me on screen, it's like "Wait, you're up there, but you're here."


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    Johns Pkl / Splash News

    6. Which of your movies has your son seen?

    He saw a little bit of 'Hairspray' he saw 'Enchanted,' of course, select scenes from 'X-Men' because he's really into superheroes now and all that. It is cool. He enjoys it, but it's still weird to him. The concept is still strange. I don't know if it spooks him or something. I try to explain to him how red laser beams fly out of my eyes with computers and they do this and that and they fake it and whatever. But the effect is so good that a 7-year-old is like "Wow, red giant laser beams are coming out of your eyes. How do you do that?" I don't want to freak him out too much. Those are the movies he's seen the least of. But I wanted to show him a few scenes from 'The X-Men' because he's really into 'Spider-man' and all these other action movies.


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    Johns Pkl / Splash News

    7. Would you encourage either of your kids if they want to be actors?

    I would, but a 7-year-old telling you that they want to be an actor is different than an 18-year-old telling you that they want to be an actor. What I mean is, you can't just let a 6- or 7-year-old do whatever it is they say they want to do because you don't know what you want to do yet -- you're 6, you're 7. I don't want to rob them of childhood. I want them to grow up, go to school and decide that if they want to do that, they do it later. And if that's the case, then [I'd support them] 100 percent.


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    Retna

    8. Do you know if there are going to be any more 'X-Men' movies, besides the 'Wolverine' spin-off?

    I don't know, to be honest. I know they're doing 'Wolverine,' but to me it just seems like a home run if you could keep making 'X-Men' movies forever; there's enough back story and all that. But I don't know if they want to go that route. I'd love to come back if they do, but I just don't know. Right now I haven't heard of any plans of them doing anything like that.


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    20th Century Fox

    9. Are there any roles you turned down that you now regret turning down?

    No, not really. There's not been many films that I've turned down [laughs]. Usually if I turn it down, it's because I really feel like I should not, like someone would genuinely be better for the role, because I know my limitations and my strengths and weaknesses and I try not to let my ego come into play in decision making. I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Maybe I shouldn't have turned down 'Titanic' and maybe I shouldn't have turned down 'The Bourne Identity' and the Jack Sparrow part in 'Pirates' [laughs], but I'm happy with what I'm doing.


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    Disney Enterprises Inc.

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