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Famke Janssen gets 'ugly' for 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters'

Famke Janssen as Muriel in a scene from

Famke Janssen as Muriel in a scene from "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters." Credit: Famke Janssen as Muriel in a scene from "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters."

Actress Famke Janssen has played villains before, but her turn as the witch Muriel in "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," opening Friday, offered an entirely new acting experience.

The 47-year-old - best known for playing Xenia Onatopp in "Goldeneye" and Jean Grey in the "X-Men" films - was subjected to three hours of makeup a day while working on the flick, which also stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.

That duo plays the grown-up fairy tale siblings who are now hunting witches.

"I'd never played that kind of part before," Janssen says, "fully in prosthetic makeup in a way that I'm totally disguised. I thought that could bring some added challenges, which it did."

And Janssen knows a thing or two about challenges, having taken time away from acting to write and direct her first film, "Bringing Up Bobby," starring Milla Jovovich and Bill Pullman.

amNewYork spoke with Janssen about "Hansel".

What drew you to the role of Muriel? I took three years off from acting to get my own movie ... off the ground. After the film was done and started to go into the festivals and all that kind of stuff, I thought, "I have to get back to work. I need to make money." So this was the first film that kind of came along where I would do something that at least makes some kind of sense, not just purely financially based.

Was it hard to act with all that makeup on? The makeup did so much for me already, because I'm extremely scary-looking with this prosthetic stuff on. Whatever I used to rely on in the past - facial expression, eyes, all of that kind of stuff - none of that I could draw from anymore. It was an interesting new perspective on acting.

What was it like being under all that makeup? It's strange because I really kind of felt like this bad person nobody wanted to talk to because I was so ugly.

Did writing and directing your own film teach you anything as an actor? Yeah, the one big lesson - and I'm saying this literally because I learned too much to ever talk about in this conversion, and let alone in a week's worth of time, because you learn so much. Particularly as it relates to acting, one of the things you become acutely aware of as a filmmaker is the notion of money and time ... It's really good for actors to go behind the camera and understand the whole process of it.

Any word on if you'll be involved in the new "X-Men" movie? I hear that Bryan Singer is doing it, and I hear he's asked some of my ex-colleagues to be in the film. I'm really insulted that I haven't received a phone call from him yet (laughs). I don't know what's going on! But I'm available if he wants to put me in the movie.

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Any word on if you'll be involved in the new "X-Men" movie? I hear that Bryan Singer is doing it, and I hear he's asked some of my ex-colleagues to be in the film. I'm really insulted that I haven't received a phone call from him yet (laughs). I don't know what's going on! But I'm available if he wants to put me in the movie.

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