Famke Janssen on Losing Jean Grey to Sophie Turner and Sexism in the ‘X-Men’ Franchise

To those who have been following the X-Men franchise since its glory days – featuring then state-of-the-art cinematic technology that we now jokingly scoff at – you are well aware that Famke Janssen was the first actress to take on Jean Grey. Famke Janssen played the iconic character from 2000 to 2006 (at which point she bid farewell to the role after transforming into the Dark Phoenix in The Last Stand).

Famke Janssen and Sophie Turner
Famke Janssen photo by Archive Photos / Stringer | Sophie Turner photo by Joe Maher/ Stringer

While The Last Stand was critically panned and deemed a hurried mess, Famke Janssen was consistently adulated, for she portrayed the character with a sense of ease and confidence. However, with X-Men Apocalypse, Janssen was out and Turner was in. She got swapped for a younger performer.

Famke Jannsen recently spoke up about the matter, stating, “I didn’t give up, they (the producers) gave up on me. There’s a big difference,” according to Us Weekly. Janssen went on to state that, just like women often do in romantic relationships, she got traded in for a “younger model version.”

Janssen discussed the new actress chosen for the role – Sophie Turner – and the conversation she had with the former Game of Thrones star preceding X-Men: Apocalypse.

Famke Janssen Relinquished Jean Grey to Sophie Turner way before ‘Dark Phoenix’

Famke Janssen told Entertainment Weekly that Sophie Turner emailed her before “she started filming, wanting some pointers.” Jannsen told Turner, “You don’t need any. You’re perfect. You’re great,’ before going on to explain that she can’t wait to see what Turner has done with the role.

So, as far as Famke Janssen and Sophie Turner are concerned, there’s no bad blood between the two actresses, as the former has given her blessing. However, based on Famke Janssen’s continued comments, it’s clear that she’s not too happy with the producers behind the X-Men franchise, and the blatant sexism apparent in their casting decisions.

Famke Jannsen talks X-Men franchise and sexism

Famke Janssen, while explaining that she can’t wait to see Sophie Turner in the role, may have a bone to pick with the X-Men producers. She told Entertainment Weekly that, when it comes to the  X-Men series, women have been getting swapped out for younger actresses since the beginning. Speaking on behalf of her replacement, Janssen stated:

“In the X-Men series, they’ve been doing this for years. Although women, it’s interesting because they’re replaced, and the older versions — or more mature, whatever the politically correct version of that is — are never to be seen again. Whereas the men are allowed to be both ages. Sexism. I think that I should be back along with my younger version and the way that we’ve seen it with Magneto and Professor X.”

Entertainment Weekly

Famke Janssen makes a very valid point here. While the men in the X-Men series have been allowed to exist at both ages – combining the younger and older casts into an intricately weaved narrative with Days of Future Past – when a female’s younger version takes to the silver screen, the “more mature” actress is sent on her way.

If this isn’t a blatant example of sexism, what is? While you can argue that the story would not work that way, or featuring the older female counterparts would have been out-of-line with this, that, and the other thing, if the filmmakers wanted both actresses, they would have both actresses.

Supposedly, Famke Janssen has pitched the idea to producers – bringing in both the younger and older actresses to share the screen – and has been met with “radio silence.”