Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart Rave About Dafne Keen, Young Scene-Stealer in 'Logan'

Ethan Alter

Logan, the latest X-Men adventure, marks both an end and a beginning. Hugh Jackman says it’s the last time we’ll see him pop his claws as Wolverine, the signature mutant role he’s played for 17 years. But Logan also serves as our introduction to a “new mutant,” X-23, an 11-year-old wild child armed with Wolverine’s bad attitude, claws, and healing factor. A favorite of comics fans, X-23 is played on screen for the first time by Dafne Keen, who makes her big screen debut in Logan. “She’s a miraculous actor,” Jackman raved to Yahoo Movies when we spoke to him and Patrick Stewart about the film (watch the clip above). “In some ways, she’s an ordinary kid, but there’s nothing ordinary about her on camera.”

Related: Meet X-23: A Primer on the ‘Logan’ Secret Weapon

Keen may not have acted in a film before, but acting’s in her blood. Her father, Will Keen, has appeared on such high-profile TV shows as Sherlock and The Crown, while her mother, María Fernández Ache, is an actress and playwright. Maybe that’s why she took to her role, and the intense action sequences it demanded, so naturally. “I didn’t teach her anything,” Jackman says of his co-star’s proclivity for butt-kicking. “Dafne trained like a madwoman and loved doing the action. They used to drag her out when it was time to go to tutoring.”

Related: ‘Logan’ Director James Mangold Is Interested in an X-23 Spinoff

There are two lessons that the veteran actors did try to pass along to Keen, though. The first involved not indulging in candy and other sweets in the middle of a long day of shooting. “[I told her] if you have that now, in an hour, you’re just going to be crying,” Jackman remembers. (As the father of two kids, that’s probably a familiar conversation for him.) For his part, Stewart encouraged the young actress to add live theater to her growing resume, in order to experience the thrill of playing a great scene over and over again on a stage instead of just for one day on a film set. “I think she got it,” Stewart says, smiling. “Smart kid.”

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