TAIPEI - New X-Men film Logan will mark the end of the road for not just Australian film star Hugh Jackman as the eponymous mutant superhero, but also for acclaimed British thespian Sir Patrick Stewart as his mentor and father figure, the powerful psychic Professor Charles Xavier.
At a press conference in Taipei on Feb 28, Stewart, 76, said he, too, made the decision to leave the franchise recently, after watching the film premiere with Jackman, 48, in Berlin last month.
"Experiencing the emotional impact of the end of our movie while the credits rolled, I knew there would be no more perfect way to say goodbye to this franchise than Logan. By the time the credits were over, I had made my decision."
In Logan, which opens in Singapore on March 2, Jackman plays an ageing, weakened version of his iconic character Wolverine in a near-future America, where mutants like him have nearly vanished.
Working as a driver for hire on the dangerous Mexican border, he cares for the ailing Professor X, whose psychic powers have spiralled out of control as age erodes his extraordinary mind.
They are forced to go on the run after mysterious young mutant, Laura, enters their lives with a villainous corporation in pursuit. Laura, who is played by 11-year-old newcomer Dafne Keen, takes after Logan in more ways than one.
Stewart apologised that his health had not allowed him to attend a red carpet event on Feb 27, where 10,000 fans packed the space outside Taipei 101 for the chance to meet him and Jackman.
He said: "I am not Charles Xavier. He is much older than me and very frail - he is unwell. However, last night I suffered a setback entirely due to the travelling and the 19-hour journey from New York to Taipei. I was so disappointed not to see everyone last night, but there was nothing I could do. If you had seen me, it would not have been a happy sight."
Jackman, who in Stewart's absence had spent the evening working the crowd and also eating Taiwanese street food such as smelly tofu and chicken hearts, joked that theirreplacements in the franchise might have been in the crowd.
"There was an entire section of people dressed as Charles Xavier and Logan. I think there will be a lot of people who will be able to take over fromus. They were literally auditioning for us last night."
Stewart asked if they had shaved their heads, to which Jackman responded that they had - not just the male fans, but a woman too.
Jackman has spent 17 years and nine films wearing Logan's claws, but announced he would be sheathing them after this film. He and Stewart started working together on the set of X-Men (2000).
Asked if he has his eye on a successor in the way Scottish actor James McAvoy has stepped into the role of a younger Charles Xavier, he said: "Somewhere in this movie, you see the boots of Wolverine being filled in a most unusual and unexpected way.
"If Logan was to fight Laura in this film, I'm pretty sure Laura would win."