On Stage with The AVENGERS – AGE OF ULTRON Press Conference

PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount


It’s nearly here! AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, Joss Whedon’s sequel to 2012’s AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, the third biggest Box Office smash in movie history, finally arrives in UK cinemas this week (and in the US early next month). Tuesday April 21st saw an exhausted-looking Joss joined by cast members Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Robert Downey Jnr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlet Johansson (Scarlet Witch), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) and Paul Bettany (Jarvis/The Vision) on stage at the Corinthia Hotel in London to discuss the movie with representatives of the Press from all over Europe. Never one to be left out, STARBURST hitched up its skirts and made its way to That London for an audience with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes...

For a while it looks as if we’re not going to get any straight answers to the questions fired by the ladies and gentlemen of the Press with Joss Whedon visibly drained from the rigours of writing and directing the sequel to one of the most successful films of all time and with his cast clearly in a playful mood. The thirty-minute Q&A got off to a slow and confusing start when newcomer Elizabeth Olsen, responding to an audience question about what the cast get most excited about when starting filming a new Avengers movie, replied “cooking and eating” – later admitting she hadn’t understood the original question. Some form of order was eventually restored and, in between the on-stage banter, joking and occasional evasiveness, Joss and the cast offered up a few nuggets about the experience of reassembling the Avengers for their second big-screen adventure. Here are some of the highlights, entirely in their own words...

 

Joss Whedon on deciding to bring Ultron into the new movie as its Big Bad...

“I decided that we should have Ultron in the second movie before I decided to make the first! He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s angry, he’s metal, he’s strong enough to take these guys on and he’s been angry for so long that I think he might be a little unhinged and I can write that!”

Joss Whedon on the pressures of delivering a movie anticipated to pull in over a billion dollars at the Box office and the future for superhero movies...

“If I had a key on my computer that said ‘billion dollars’ I would press it. I don’t really think about those things. The restrictions are sometimes frustrating and sometimes very useful because the page is not so blank. The thing I loved about Marvel Comics is the thing I love about what Kevin Feige [Producer and President of Marvel Studios] is doing with the Marvel Universe which is that he approaches every movie as a completely new idea; as a movie of some particular genre which happens to have a superhero in it. He’s not interested in creating a formula, he’s interested in creating a Universe so as long as he can stay alive – which I think is probably a few months more! – then I think it has legs as someone who really cares is at the head trying to create new versions of the superhero movie and not just fall into a pattern then I think it can sustain for quite a while.”

Joss Whedon on leaving the Marvel Universe and his plans for the future...

“I don’t think I’ll ever get that far away from the Marvel Universe because I love it so much. After my long rest, I plan a longer rest and possibly an eternal rest. I have no immediate plans which is the best thing I’ve ever said.”

 


Chris Evans on returning to the world of The Avengers...

Marvel does a great job in bringing a lot of the same people together, not just in front of the camera but behind the camera so coming back together as a group kind of feels like a family. There’s a lot of familiar faces, like a High School reunion or something.

Chris Evans on the difficulties of acting in a heightened reality superhero movie...

“In an action movie there not be quite as many tangible opportunities to play off as an actor. Some actors where the reality is a little more grounded, given the environment you’re in or the characters you’re playing off, you may have something more to pull from. In a movie like this, you may sitting in a green screen or talking to a tennis ball but I think everyone here has a very healthy imagination and everyone here grew up running around their backyard with a cape around their neck, so it’s a different muscle, but I think it’s a very similar approach.”

 

Elizabeth Olsen on joining an established cast...

“I’m thrilled just to be part of this whole group and world. It’s a franchise that I’ve been watching since the first Iron Man. They make such great films which have such a balance of depth and humour and action and that’s a given but they’re all humans who have weaknesses and strengths and especially in this film I think there’s a special highway on everyone‘s own personal worlds and lives and what makes them human which is what makes this film so great. It’s mind boggling to be part of this cast.”

Scarlett Johansson on the appeal of playing Black Widow and how she’s changed since she first appeared...

“What’s great about playing this character is that she’s based in something deep and something that I could hold onto, she’s grounded and very real. She has experienced a lot of trauma and she’s never really been able to make active choices for herself and now she finally is and she’s ready for it. Unfortunately it’s just kind of bad timing, but these are the kinds of things we can hold on to so that when we’re fighting the good fight and shooting five-eighths of a page over two weeks, it keeps us involved and keeps our head straight so I’m looking at it as an actor looking for material that’s substantial and not just a female actor looking for substantial work. Thanks, Joss! One of the qualities in the Widow that I love  and am interested in is that she’s at a place where she can do something for herself and maybe even have a relationship with someone if they’d open up in that way. There’s this greater calling which is pulling her and she very selflessly chooses that and it’s heroic. She’s really in herself which is interesting because she’s also very slippery fish in her job but as Natasha she’s in her sexy self which is kind of cool. A Black Widow movie would be cool, I’m always ready to put the catsuit back on!”

Jeremy Renner on Hawkeye’s expanded role in the new film’s story...

“It’s a huge testament to Joss to be able to write a movie to put all of these characters that are extremely interesting and flawed and fantastic. It’s like a chessboard and you need all these pieces for any of them to make sense and I’m just appreciative that we were able to dive into and deepen the characters a bit more.”

 

Paul Bettany on making the transition onto the screen as The Vision...

“It was lovely to finally be on set with a bunch of people I’ve been supposedly working with for ten years but hadn’t really met so that was nice. It’s a double-edged sword. Initially my job was turning up at the end of the movie with the superhero power that if anything was still unclear I could clarify it by just talking and then it would take two hours, and they’d give me a big bag of cash and then I’d go home and I couldn’t imagine the contract could ever be better than that. But it was a dream; everyone was so welcoming. They’re a bunch of lovely happy, well-paid actors and that’s a nice environment to work in.”

Favourite story arcs in Age of Ultron...

Robert Downey Jnr: “Hawkeye has a heck of an arc this time and also I think I can say from us who have gone before, the arc of what happens to Paul takes an interesting turn and also  with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I feel that Paul, Lizzie and Aaron came out and they exceeded expectations  out of left, right and centre field and I felt in watching the film that in many ways they’re the big triumph of the film.”

Mark Ruffalo: “Hawkeye’s storyline I found great as an actor who’s often away from home fighting imaginary evil guys and with a wife who’s at home saying ‘Where the Hell are you? Why aren’t you here?’ I’m very sympathetic to that.”

Chris Evans: “I like Scarlet and Ruffalo, you get some nice intimate moments in this challenged relationship between a team of superheroes where you don’t normally get to see romance, especially within the group.”

Paul Bettany: “The Hawkeye arc is for me the heart of the movie and I found it really moving and Jeremy is fantastic in it.”

Elizabeth Olsen: “The first time we watch Black Widow ‘talk down’ The Hulk I think is such a beautiful moment in the entire film. I’ve seen that moment twice now and I think it’s one of my favourite moments in the film.”

A potentially-awkward question from a German radio presenter about the size of Robert Downey Jnr’s trailer is expertly fielded and the Press Conference is brought to an end. Joss and the cast slip away to continue a Press tour which will take them around the globe as Avengers: Age of Ultron is rolled out all around the world in the weeks to come.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is released on April 23rd in the UK and May 1st in the USA.


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