Lenore Zann Breaks Down Rogue’s Emotional Journey In X-Men ’97 & Hints At Season 2 Storylines

Rogue XMen 97 SR Exclusive

X-Men ’97 star Lenore Zann shares her thoughts on Rogue’s traumatic journey in season 1 and teases what lies ahead for the Marvel series. With Marvel Studios owning the X-Men rights once again, 2024 marked the beginning of their exploration of the iconic mutants by revisiting one of the most beloved animated shows of all time. Serving as a sequel to X-Men: The Animated SeriesX-Men ’97 continues the journey of the Marvel icons, inviting back old fans and welcoming a new generation of viewers to the franchise.

However, the world of this particular Marvel universe experienced an emotional roller coaster, as their lives were changed forever in X-Men ’97 episode 5 following the mutant genocide in Genosha. One of the beating hearts of X-Men: The Animated Series, as well as in X-Men ’97, is Rogue, whose world was shattered by the tragic loss of Gambit, taking the heroine down a complex path. While Bastion was defeated, Rogue and several other X-Men will now be forced to face a completely different obstacle in X-Men ’97 season 2.

Following the end of X-Men ’97 season 1, Screen Rant recently interviewed Rogue herself. Zann spoke about returning to this universe and continuing her legacy as the popular mutant hero, reflecting on Rogue’s emotional trajectory, sharing how a personal tragedy in the actor’s life played a crucial role in the makings of episode 5, and teasing what X-Men ’97 season 2 may have in store for her character. Zann also discussed the MCU’s X-Men movie reboot and offered a fun idea for a potential cameo.

Lenore Zann On X-Men ’97 Season 1 & The Journey To Episode 5

Magneto dancing with Rogue in Genosha in X-Men '97

Since season 1 ended, how much have you kept up with social media to see how people are reacting to this first season of this beloved franchise coming back?

Lenore Zann: Yes. and in fact, the beauty of doing X-Men ’97 is that we actually get to hear and see the fan reaction on social media, which we were not able to do back in the 90s, which is why I oftentimes say we really didn’t know until about five years ago how popular the original series was until we started being invited to some Comic-Cons, and meeting fans who grew up on the show, who told us that it made their childhood. We were just overwhelmed by the love and the warmth from the fans, so now, to be able to see it and also to interact with fans, both online and at Comic-Cons, is just such a gift.

Rogue face angry about Gambit's death in X-Men '97

Even with the original show, it had a lot of mature and very dark moments. But this season with X-Men ’97 was the most incredibly emotionally charged season, especially for Rogue. For you coming back as an actor for this character, how did you prepare for that, did you get told by the creative team in advance, like, ‘Get ready because Rogue is going to really go through it,’ or where you’re taking it in script by script?

Lenore Zann: I just took it script by script. We talked about some of the ideas for the first season, every now and then, but really, just like in the old days in the 90s, we never really knew what was going to happen until we got the scripts. It was just so exciting to be able to get to season 5 [of X-Men: The Animated Series,] and then seven and realize ahead a time that this was a place where I could really put all of my emotion and passion and my skills for acting into that piece.

Not to mention, I had been suffering from depression, and I was grieving because my young 17 year old niece had just passed away about eight months beforehand from cancer. I was deeply deeply grieving, so I figured that I could use my grief and put it into my voice, so that it would be authentic when Rogue loses the love of her life. And that I hoped that people would feel that, and it would resonate with them. And that hopefully, since many people have lost dear ones, because of the COVID pandemic, wars, displacement, that hopefully they would also feel it, and it might help them cry, and release their own grief, and hopefully get some healing.

My condolences. You’re returned to this iconic hero to everyone around the world, when you met with the creative team, what was something that you were hoping to bring to Rogue this time around after all these years that you didn’t get to do during the first five seasons, like, ‘I want to make sure I can do it now,’ whether it was for the writing to acknowledge that or for your performance to include that?

Lenore Zann:I didn’t talk about that with the creative team, because when X-Men 97 begins, it’s really a very short time after “Graduation Day” after the end of the first animated series. So Rogue hasn’t really had much character development in that time. The only thing that’s really happened is Professor X is gone and now Cyclops is basically leading the team, but they’re trying to figure it out. There’s power struggles going on, so no, I just knew that I needed to pick her up where we left her so that there would be no gap. And I focused on that for the first few episodes, and then as I said, when I got the script for episode 5, and then episode 7, it was a real gift for an actor.

Rogue’s Trajectory Beyond X-Men ’97 Season 1

Rogue Avenges Gambit in X-Men '97 Episode 10

Maybe this is just how I interpreted it, but I felt this season was really the end of innocence for a lot of the characters, including Rogue. We start to see her really going down this dark path now that we’re not really used to seeing. Would you say there’s no point of return anymore at this point, or do you still think that she can come back to that lightheartedness and bubbleness that we’ve all come to know for all these years?

Lenore Zann: When somebody is grieving, you go through a major emotional roller coaster and you feel anger, you feel, sometimes revenge. We see that in Rogue in the beginning, she’s broken, then she starts to just turn her energy into her anger and let her anger out and become the avenging destroyer like Kali, the goddess of death and reincarnation who dances on the bones of the dead. She really goes on that journey, which is what a lot of people go through when they’ve lost somebody that they really care about.

At one point, in my own grief, I said, ‘Will I ever be happy again? Can I ever feel joy again?’ My sister who lost her only daughter – she’s still going through it – and it’s very difficult. But I have come out on the other side. I am now honoring her memory, and I feel glad that I can channel the blues into my work and that is actually very therapeutic. I think Rogue will as well, but it’s a journey that she has to go on and we just have to keep watching to see where it takes her.

Will Rogue Vs. Gambit Happen In X-Men ’97?

Rogue cradling Gambit's dead body in X-Men '97 episode 5

Speaking of that, with the finale cliffhanger, I think all of us were just waiting for that season 2 premiere day announcement. When Apocalypse picks up the card, I’m thinking, can Rogue survive Gambit coming back as a rival? How detrimental would that be, and how would she deal with a resurrected Gambit?

Lenore Zann: Well, I guess you’re just going to have to watch and find out if that happens! Nice try, my friend! [laughs]

I had to try!

Lenore Zann: I know, but I want people to watch the show. It’s a story, let it play out and let’s see what happens and you’re going to have to wait till season two to find out.

Have you finished work on season 2, where are you right now with production?

Lenore Zann: I have recorded my lines for season two. I’ve done them and I will be brought back to do pickups with some line changes or some just different once they get the animation done. It’s the animation that takes a long time, they usually start with our voices first, it’s called pre lay, we do the voices first. Then they do the the animation to it and then we come back in for cleanups.

We know X-Men ’97 season 3 is also in the works. I know you can’t spoil anything, but have you started getting the scripts for season 3, or are you waiting patiently?

Lenore Zann: They’ve just begun working on season 3, so I’m looking forward to that one as well.

Word Of Advice For Marvel Studios’ Live-Action Rogue & Potential MCU Cameo

Rogue from X-Men '97 with Anna Paquin's Rogue from the X-Men movies

You have played Rogue longer than anyone and I’ve always been curious to hear from you, since we know that Marvel, is getting ready to bring back the X-Men to the big screen in live-action. Whoever takes on the role of Rogue, what is an advice that you would give to that actress who takes her on?

Lenore Zann: Whoever gets chosen, I’d love to meet with them and have a coffee and we could chat about Rogue and what makes her tick. What are her foibles? What’s her Achilles heel? I think every actor brings their own talents, passions, and experience to each role. So I wouldn’t want to tell them what to do, but I would want to have a conversation with them, if that’s possible, discuss it and brainstorm, and I think that would be a lot of fun.

We love those moments where we get to see actors [who play the same character] kind of meet each other on the screen, so if Kevin Feige gave you a call tomorrow, since the movie is in the works, would you want to show up in a cameo?

Lenore Zann: I’d love to! I’ve always said I’d love to play Rogue’s mother, like her original mother, because when you look at the cartoon, comics, the drawings of her, she looks a lot like me, actually! [laughs] She looks like a 70s hippie mother with long blonde hair, [with] golden skin and green hazel eyes. So I was thinking, ‘Wow, that would be really fun.’ But who knows where they’re gonna go with the scripts, but that would be a blast.

We know Kevin Feige is so nerdy for X-Men: The Animated Series. I mean, how many times have we now heard the theme song throughout the MCU? We keep hearing it and it wouldn’t shock me at all, by the time they start filming, they’re like, ‘Hey, let’s bring some of y’all in for some fun cameos!’

Lenore Zann:It’d be a blast! I just met Ron Wasserman who’s the original composer of the iconic X-Men theme, it was so nice to be able to finally meet him and thank him for creating that beautiful music that now is an ear worm for so many people! [laughs] It’s interesting, our fans from the 90s, of course, most of them are now in their 40 and they have children of their own, many of them, who they are now turning to our show. So at Comic Cons, I’m meeting fans, new fans who’ve just watched X-Men 97, who now are watching the original show because of X-Men 97.

But I’m seeing fans who are 6-7 years old, who are telling me it’s their favorite show of all time, that they love Rogue and I say, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ and they’re like, ‘No, it’s exciting!’ One little six year old girl, the other day, said, ‘I’ve watched episode 5 six times!’ [Laughs] It’s so heartwarming, you have the young children, you have teenagers, you’ve got the parents, and sometimes grandparents as well, who are big fans of the show. So it’s a whole new world and I’m just so thrilled that there’s so many more X-Men fans out there. I look at us like a community, like a family, where people know that we all belong. It’s okay to be who you are. If you’re different, great! Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Let’s celebrate it, as opposed to trying to make other people feel bad because of who they love or the color of their skin. [There is] no room for bigotry in X-Men, in our community and in our world, so I’m just really grateful to be back.

Lenore Zann’s Future Adventures Beyond X-Men ’97

Rogue arguing with Captain America in X-Men '97

Amen to that, I could not agree more! Before I let you go, besides X-Men ’97, where can fans look forward to hearing or seeing you next?

Lenore Zann: I have a movie that’s coming out in September probably, called The Legend of the White Dragon and it’s the last movie, sadly, that Jason David Frank did, who was the green Power Ranger, so it’s his final movie and I’m in that. Also, I have my memoir coming out in September, called A Rogue’s Tale, so keep an eye out for that. It’ll be available on Amazon and stuff like that. I did another movie that’s an animated feature film for children called Space Bears, which will be coming out in 2025. That’s about these little bears from outer space, whose mission is to go to dying planets and try and save them and try to tell the inhabitants to protect and preserve the environment. So that’s a lot of fun and I got to sing in that one too, it’s a musical!

I did read that you’re a singer as well, you’re a woman of many talents!

Lenore Zann: Thank you, I started off doing musicals. That’s how I started, I sang in musicals and in bands, then I found out I could act so then I was acting, and I was doing theater. Then I did film and television and finally animation.

I’m just putting this out there but… X-Men: The Musical, maybe?

Lenore Zann: I know, right? [laughs] Or maybe even as an episode [of X-Men ’97]?

So many TV shows are doing musical uploads these days, I would love to see that maybe in X-Men ’97 season 3 where y’all get together, sing your feelings out, because these X-Men have gone through some stuff!

Lenore Zann:I know! If people want to follow me, I’m on Instagram at @LenoreZann or Twitter at @ZannLenore , I often at times talk to the fans and interact so I’m always happy to have a chat with people!

About X-Men ’97

X-Men ’97 revisits the iconic era of the 1990s as The X-Men, a band of mutants who use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them, are challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

Check out our X-Men ’97 other interviews here:

Jake Castorena
Emi/Emmett Yonemura & Chase Conley
The Newton Brothers
Brad Winderbaum
Alison Sealy-Smith (Storm)
Brad Winderbaum (X-Men ’97 Season 1 Finale)
Emi/Emmett Yonemura & Chase Conley (X-Men ’97 Season 1 Finale)

Every episode of X-Men ’97 season 1 is now streaming on Disney+.

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