Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What You Don't Know About Laura From Logan

After 17 years, Hugh Jackman is finally setting aside his adamantium claws with the gritty conclusion to the Wolverine movies. Logan brings together two of the most recognizable X-Men in the movie world, Jackman's James Howlett and Patrick Stewart's Professor Charles Xavier, giving both actors a respectful final bow as their beloved mutants. At the same time, the dystopian X-film also represents a new beginning because it introduces a brand new character, Laura Kinney (aka X-23), played by Dafne Keen. But what do we know about this fresh mutant hero and the impressive young actress who portrays her?

Who exactly is Laura Kinney?

Born (or rather, created) by the Transigen Corporation—known as The Facility in Marvel Comics—X-23 is very literally the 23rd attempt to create a viable clone of Wolverine. Laura Kinney was engineered to do everything her forebear is capable of, gifted with Logan's superior strength, agility, and preternatural healing abilities. Similar to her predecessor, Laura was imbued with dual adamantium claws on each hand and a sole claw on each foot.

In Logan, X-23 manages to escape from Transigen thanks to a kindly nurse, who takes pity on her and the company's other child experiments. Professor X quickly realizes that she is special in that Wolverine kind of way and implores his caretaker, who happens to be Logan, to watch after her. In the film, as in the scope of Fox's X-Men franchise, Laura represents hope for the future and could even star in her own series of spinoffs. With Hugh Jackman's departure, she may even assume the mantle of Wolverine at some point.

Where does X-23 come from?

Writer Craig Kyle first created X-23 during the four-year run of the WB animated series X-Men: Evolution. Since her cartoonish origin, Laura Kinney rapidly cut a swath through the superhero world, landing two miniseries and an ongoing solo comic, written by Marjorie Liu. One of X-Men's most successful recent upstarts, Laura has done time on several superhero squads, including the hyper-violent X-Force, the All-New X-Men (along with the time-displaced classic mutant team), and the Avengers Academy comic series.

When the classic X-Man James Howlett was killed in the aptly named "Death of Wolverine" from 2014, X-23 remained the sole genetic duplicate in the Marvel Universe—at least until the Secret Wars event introduced Old Man Logan. Laura was officially knighted the "All-New Wolverine" when the Marvel Universe rebooted in 2016, a title she carries to this day.

Who is Dafne Keen?

Born in 2005, Dafne Keen Fernandez is the child of a British father and a Spanish mother. As a result, she's bilingual–one of the requirements for the role, since James Mangold envisioned a half-Hispanic X-23. She's also well-versed in gymnastics and martial arts, which were obviously requirements for the role. Keen, who was impressing audiences even before Logan hit theaters, started production on the movie at the tender age of 11.

Her extended bloodline is also chock full of creative people. Both her parents are actors, and she has relatives working as writers and directors. Although barely a tween now, Keen says she's been acting—even if only on an amateur level—since she was a child, putting on performances for her family and even forming a makeshift "theater troupe" with her friend at 4 years old.

Who are Dafne's parents?

Dafne Keen comes from an actor's pedigree. Her mother is Spanish actress Maria Fernandez Ache, while her father is English actor Will Keen. They've been married since 2002 and have been working in the industry for a while.

Her mother is an actress and playwright and has acted extensively for theater, film, and television in Spain and the U.K. Fernandez most recently played a part in the English crime drama Anti-Social and the dramedy Lost in Karastan. The actress also had a recurring role on the BBC TV series Holby City, as well as number of one-off and smaller parts on English and Spanish television.

Will Keen's career is primarily composed of English and Spanish theater and television acting gigs, much like his wife. Most recently, he landed a prominent recurring role as Michael Adeane in the Netflix biographical drama, The Crown, about the early years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. Keen has played on the longtime 1940s-era mystery series Foyle's War and the TV series The Refugees, in which he co-starred with his daughter.

How did she get the role?

In Logan, Dafne Keen's evocative characterizations and feral intensity were leaps and bounds beyond most child actors. Apparently, her spirited behavior and acrobatic abilities caught the attention of helmer James Mangold right away. According to the director, Keen's audition tape included moments where the young actress clambered up bookshelves, prowling and tumbling around her parent's house. After watching her run through a few scenes, the director was mesmerized enough by her performance to immediately request a screen test. He admitted: "The biggest question to me, was will you believe that this little girl is capable of doing what the comics have proposed she can do? I think in many ways, that's Dafne's amazing achievement is holding it all together."

In a role as physically and emotionally demanding as X-23, one with minimal dialogue, Keen was clearly more than capable of bringing the rage-filled mutant to life. With this much raw talent, she certainly has a long career ahead of her, both as Laura Kinney and as an actress in general.

How tight is she with Hugh Jackman?

Auditioning is a nerve-wracking event, even for seasoned veterans of the trade. After director James Mangold was awestruck by Dafne Keen's tape, he invited her and her parents to New York to audition. Clearly nervous, the tween actor said she was literally bouncing around on their hotel room beds (or was it method acting?) before reading for the part. To make matters worse, she said her brand new and very disobedient wristwatch began acting up at the audition. During the reading, Hugh Jackman had to grab her wrist, which would cause the watch to beep several times. Embarrassed, she tried to ignore it, but Jackman eventually figured it out and asked her about her watch. After a hearty, tension-breaking laugh, they got back to work. From that point on, though, she was quickly bonded with Jackman and the rest of the crew.

Their amiable rapport also helped her later, during the audition, when Keen got a little too into her scene. Apparently, director James Mangold egged his young would-be actress on, trying to get her to hit Hugh as realistically as possible. Her enthusiasm carried through, battering Jackman's shoulder. (Now that's dedication!) Bruised egos and arms aside, their on-set friendship lent a great deal of authenticity to their onscreen relationship, giving Logan a necessary emotional density.

What else has Dafne Keen done?

Moviegoers who marveled at Dafne Keen's ferocious yet vulnerable performance in Logan might be a little shocked that X-23 is only the young thespian's second role. Despite Keen's strong family background in film, theater, and television—and literally growing up on and around movie sets and stages—she only has one other acting credit to her name.

Before costarring alongside legends like Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, Keen had a recurring role on the BBC Worldwide-Atresmedia coproduction, The Refugees. On the show, she starred as Ana Cruz Olivier. (Her character's nickname, "Little Ani" is infinitely more tolerable here than it was in The Phantom Menace.) Her real-life father, Will Keen, also played her television father, Samuel Cruz. A drama with a touch of sci-fi, the plot revolves around three million expatriates of the future who are suddenly shunted back in time before an imminent catastrophe strikes. In order to keep the peace and not unravel the future (gotta love time travel), the titular future-folk must refrain from revealing what led to the calamity or seeking any contact with their relatives.

It's a shame The Refugees only stuck around for one season. But at the same time, its cancellation also freed Keen up for her biggest role yet.

Will Dafne Keen play X-23 again?

Logan is already a success at the box office and has garnered high marks from the critical set. But because Hugh Jackman decided to step away from his 17-year, nine-movie run, though, Logan 2 is extremely unlikely. (Never say never. This is Hollywood.) Even if Jackman does leave his legendary mutant character behind entirely, it doesn't mean X-23 won't get her time in the sun—especially if the precocious preteen has anything to say about it.

Recently, Keen and director James Mangold were both asked about their interest in the continuing saga of Laura Kinney, in particular, a spinoff or standalone movie. Mangold says he's "wide open to" the concept of more X-23, and his young starlet also sounds interested in pursuing the role as well. Keen explained her relationship with the character, saying "she's complicated—she tries to be so strong but she feels so ... vulnerable at the same time. I really love her. I'd love to keep playing her." Apparently, Laura's claws aren't the only sharp aspect of the character.

Of course, who wouldn't love to have a starring role in a comic book movie franchise, especially at the age of 12? Hopefully, Mangold and Fox can repeat their successes. X-23 by way of Dafne Keen could have a long future ahead of her.

What does the future hold for Dafne?

Fox's X-Men producer/writer Simon Kinberg already admitted an X-23 solo movie is a very "real possibility," but at this time, the studio hasn't finalized any plans for a follow-up. If the boundless interweb and the social media landscape hold all the information cards, young Ms. Keen doesn't appear to have any roles in the works. But everything could change rapidly, given her tour-de-force performance in Logan. The explosive success of the final Wolverine outing will undoubtedly light up all sorts of new possibilities for the talented tween.

On the other hand, Keen is a sharp 12-year-old. She might be biding her time and waiting for the right opportunities. After all, her parents are longtime actors. Or she might be keeping her workload light so she can keep up in school. No matter what the case is, Keen's star very much on the rise.