JoBlo: After a long run on G4’s Attack of the Show, Olivia Munn has begun branching over into the film world, making a big splash this year with both RIDE ALONG 2 and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Playing the fan-favorite character of Betsy Braddock/Psylocke, Munn talks about her costume, training, powers, and personality of the famed badass mutant. In terms of the costume, which is typically a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit, Munn weighed in on its importance and image.
“Everybody together decides what the costume should look like, so it's like an art picture of, ‘Here's like what we think Psylocke is going to look like.’ There's my head. I was like, ‘Oh, you're going to want me to work out more than I've already ...’ Munn trails off, then elaborates. “I think my first thought was it has to be purple, because we were going up against time and making it. It was black at first...The latex is in black and all the armor is in black and it's just easier, but I was like, ‘You got to make it purple.’ That was kind of my first thought when I saw myself in the costume, which is the Photoshop. When I first saw myself completely put together, it was a very nerdy cool dream. It's just like, "Whoa." It just doesn't really seem real.”
In terms of how Munn views Psylocke in the X-Men cinematic universe, she says, “The way that I see Psylocke is as a very powerful weapon that has been used and abused by different people so that they could use her powers and she's somebody who's just looking for righteous purpose." As for Psylocke’s powers, Munn describes how they held back on certain elements, particularly her telepathic powers.
“Psylocke is telepathic and telekinetic. In the movie, we see her being a telekinetic. We don't see her being telepathic. It's a decision because this is the first time we've really been able to see the character of Psylocke and have her really, truly exist in the movie. I talked about it with Simon Kinberg. There's just so much going on, especially with Apocalypse's power, and then trying to take on all of the X-Men. When you are telepathic, I feel that it's a power that you want to hold close to your chest. It's a card that you don't want a lot of people to know about because it's so much more powerful when people don't know that you have this power.”
Munn elaborates on the sword fighting aspect, as well as Psylocke’s deadly psi-blade, saying she will utilize both in the film.
“Yeah, which is why I had to learn to use a regular sword with both hands, so I can switch in between. It's more work for the special effects guys but it's pretty cool. That was actually James McAvoy's idea. He was like, "’f you can use both hands,’ he's like, ‘Then you can go, you can switch, you can...’ Because the thing about sword work is that you're always keeping somebody off. Like they don't really know it's happening. You're really throwing people off. Your opponent. He was like, "Well, you can really throw them off if you're going from your real sword to your psychic sword and then just switching hands and it's just...’ I was like, ‘That sounds awesome.’”
In terms of Psylocke’s personality, Munn says, “She’s methodical and very loyal and she's very calm and she's fearless. Her aggression is below the surface, but it's like, it's bubbling ... It's right there at any moment to access. She's a very calm, easygoing, kind of person within this world of insanity, but she's so powerful and strong. That feeling of when did anything where you're learning a skill. Once you learn it, you feel really powerful. She's very comfortable in her skin.”
Don't expect to see much about Psylocke's comic book past, however, as her origins as Betsy Braddock, sister of Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain, and the events that led to her becoming this version of Psylocke are not explored here, but hinted at. "There's small, subtle references to it with Apocalypse," says Munn. "For people who love and know Psylocke, they will know who she is fully formed. You would know her storyline."
ScreenRant: The actress pointed out that each of the Horseman is lost in some way, which is a fact that Apocalypse – like any other successful cult leader – is able to sense, and exploit to his own ends. Of course, that doesn’t exactly mean that Psylocke is forced to do anything she doesn’t do willingly (unfortunately, the story of how she came to be recruited and re-costumed may not be given much screen time in the finished film).
Munn explains: That’s the amazing thing about cult leaders. They can really see when people are weak and how to prey on that and capitalize on that. You see that with Magneto and Storm and Angel and myself. We all are in a place where we’re really needing somebody to come in and say, “This is the way.” [Apocalypse] first meets her and she’s the bodyguard. She’s got this amazing skill and she has zero fear when she goes against him, so he needs her. What he sees in her is that she is someone who can protect and has no fear and is an amazing fighter and has amazing abilities. She’s doing things because she wants to do them. She’s like, “I want to join you. You haven’t fooled me into joining you. I get it, I see what you’re doing, and I want to be part of it.” In the end, they manipulate her, but it’s always her choice to join it.
Collider: The producer/writer Simon Kinberg used the addition of Olivia Munn’s Psylocke as an example, revealing that the character was a late addition to the Apocalypse ensemble:
“Psylocke was quite a late addition to the script and the movie. Bryan Singer and I were up here in Montreal and we felt like we needed a different Horseman, and we just started going through the cycling of the different Apocalypse Horsemen over history. We felt like we wanted it to be a female character and we pretty quickly settled on Psylocke. And super randomly I think a week or two earlier I was in Los Angeles and we were casting Deadpool. I had met with Olivia Munn for a character in Deadpool that ultimately wasn’t the right character for her, but we were like ‘We’ve gotta keep in touch, she has to do something in the X-Men world.’ And Bryan and I were sitting in Montreal a few weeks later and saying we should do Psylocke and I was like, ‘Dude, I just met with Olivia Munn two weeks ago. She’d be great.’ Then we looked at pictures of her online and I emailed her and I said, ‘I think this is a great character for you’ and she immediately emailed me back and sent me all this fan art online that fans had done of her as Psylocke. So that’s how that one came to be.”