Five years after its release, 2015’s ill-fated reboot of Fantastic Four is still serving as a teachable moment for everyone involved. In a new interview with Emmy magazine about the FX on Hulu series, A Teacher, Kate Mara — who played Sue Storm — describes the famously difficult production of that Marvel superhero movie a “horrible experience.” And she places the blame for the movie’s failings largely on the shoulders of its controversial director, Josh Trank, saying that he engaged in “power dynamic” politics behind the camera.
“The fact of the matter is that my two horrendous experiences with directors were male directors,” she remarked in the interview. “Have I not gotten along with a female director? Absolutely. But there was never a time that I felt, ‘This is happening because I’m a woman.’ Where with the male directors, it 100 percent was only happening with me; it was a power dynamic thing. On both of my bad experiences, the movies were 95 percent men and I was the only woman in the movie.”
In a separate conversation with Collider, Mara opened up about what her experience on Fantastic Four taught her for future projects. “The thing that I always go back to on that one is that I think I should have followed my instincts more. Like when my gut was telling me, ‘You probably shouldn’t let that slide, what that person just said,’ or if you’re feeling a certain way about what an energy is like and how that is affecting your performance. You’re being paid to do a certain thing and if something is in the way of that, you have the right to speak up.”
Mara added that she hopes to impart that lesson to her daughter with Fantastic Four co-star, Jamie Bell. (The two met on the set of the film, and were married in 2017.) “If my daughter ended up acting, and was in a situation like that where she felt she couldn’t speak up — meanwhile I’m a pretty tough person and I really do advocate for myself ...If I was in that situation today, it just wouldn’t have happened.”
Trank has also discussed the lessons he took away from the wreckage of Fantastic Four. While promoting his new film, Capone, Trank told Yahoo Entertainment that he remains proud that he cast Michael B. Jordan as Sue’s brother, Johnny Storm — a character who had traditionally been portrayed as white both on the page and onscreen. No less an authority than Johnny’s creator, Stan Lee, loved that choice. “I said, ‘I think Michael B. Jordan is the best actor for this character, but I can see that there might be backlash from certain fans.’” Trank remembered. “And he said to me: ‘Who cares about what they have to say? That’s really inspired casting — I love it.’”
In another summertime interview with the Geeks of Color podcast, The Meaning Of, though, Trank confessed to being “embarrassed” for not casting a Black actress as Johnny’s sister. Instead, Mara played the role, and their relationship was redefined as adopted siblings. “I found quite a bit of heavy pushback on casting a black woman in that role,” Trank said. “When I look back on that, I should have just walked when that realization sort of hit me, and I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t just out of principle.”
Fantastic Four is currently streaming on Disney+
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