This week, in the run up to the release of Avengers Assemble, we’ve been running interviews with the stars of the film. With the movie finally hitting multiplexes today, we’re running our fourth and final interview – Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo.
As with our other interviews, we begin by discussing the environment on set, but quickly move on to the subject of Hemsworth reuniting with Whedon, and Mark Ruffalo becoming the newest cinematic Hulk, as well as his views on award recognition for motion capture performances.
WORKING AS PART OF AN ENSEMBLE CAST
Ego wise, was it a big battle on the set?
Mark Ruffalo: Not in the least.
Chris Hemsworth: I think that was probably the most common question before shooting. All the trailers were the same size. We went out and measured them.
MR: Once we realised all the trailers were the same size everything calmed down.
CH: I think everyone knew what a big opportunity, and what potential the idea and what the ensemble in the film had. We were all equally excited. I know that’s a boring answer, and not what you want to hear.
What’s the advantage and disadvantage of being in a film with lots of heroes, as opposed to carrying a film yourself?
CH: I just saw it all as an advantage. To share the workload, the responsibility of being the sole, title character rests on your shoulders, whereas this was nice to stand in amongst these guys. Everyone brought a different audience to the table. Being able to work with that kind of talent only lifts your game. People I’ve watched for years and wanted to work with, so it was a huge plus.
You weren’t unhappy?
CH: I wasn’t counting my lines and how many words I had versus someone else. I saw it all as a plus. The challenge was rising to the occasion and not dropping the ball, because a lot of those scenes depended on the back and forth between the group, and keeping up your part. It was exciting.
HEMSWORTH ON REUNITING WITH WHEDON WHILE RETURNING TO THOR
Was it difficult to get back into Thor? You played it not that long ago.
I had finished shooting, and I think we started shooting Avengers ten months later. But I had just come off the Thor press tour so it was all fresh in my mind, and I really did hit the ground running in that I finished the press tour Friday, and started shooting on Monday, so there wasn’t the prep time and the lead up I had with Ken. So I was thankful that I’d already shot the film and established who the character was.
And what about having worked with Joss before? His dialogue?
Yeah, I did. I had a rapport to begin with, and it was funny how we’d all come full circle, when doing Cabin in the Woods he’d called Ken and put in a good word for me, and then here we are sat with him directing this film. It’s just great. He’s very similar Joss, and even Drew Goddard who directed Cabin, and JJ Abrams, they all have this witty sense of humour and intelligence, and know this sort of genre, this type of film, and comic books and that world so well. It’s the best kind of resource we could have in films like this.
BECOMING THE RUFFLEHULK
Mark, as a newcomer to the group, how did you feel?
MR: I definitely felt out of place, and I felt very nervous and was questioning if I belonged there, but quickly I realised that’s probably how Banner’s feeling as well. It worked really well to the advantage of the performance.
When you first came onto the project, or during filming, were you asked to look at the most recent previous Hulk, or has it now been orphaned by Marvel?
MR: I’d seen them already. I wasn’t asked to look at them .We considered this a continuation of them, both great Banners. This is just an older version of the guy who’s been on the run longer, who has developed a sort of irony and wry sense of humour about his position, and he’s just ready to turn and face the beast that he’s been running from inside himself. The other thing I did was I went back and watched the TV show. Joss really wanted to use that Bixby template for this iteration.
Everyone’s been raving about Hulk. Why do you think people have been identifying with him so much?
CH: Because Mark’s awesome.
MR: Because I’m awesome. I think people had a great expectation of The Hulk for a long time, he’s such a beloved character to so many people. I had the advantage of the technology advancing to a point where an actor can actually inhabit The Hulk. There’s a seamlessness between Banner turning into The Hulk, but also I have to say, Joss Whedon really make this Hulk funny and accessible and tender – almost, in a moment, and scary, and all those elements. And then the genus of ILM and Marc Chu at ILM. All of those elements together, I think, brought The Hulk that we wished was around, and we’ve been waiting for. We have a Hulk.
How does it feel for you when you see yourself as The Hulk? Do you see yourself, move and it translated into the character?
MR: Yeah, I did all of that stuff, three times I did it, before we shot the movie, while we were shooting it and after. All motion capture, many different phases of it, facial mo-cap and then physical mo-cap, and then finally, just a sound mix. I really wanted The Hulk to be an extension of Bruce Banner and vice-versa, and really pushed hard to make The Hulk look like me. Marvel as a rule never wanted The Hulk to look like the actor that was playing Banner, and Joss and I fought against that, and to our avail it worked out really well. I was wildly thrilled with the final product.
Has the motion capture work you’ve done on the film made you sympathetic to the argument that there should be awards for motion capture performances?
MR: I never even thought about that, honestly. It’s a pretty big collaboration. There’s the performance, but then there’s the aspect of the animators too, which rarely gets talked about. They’re adding a lot to it as well. It would be cool if the whole team was considered, but I honestly never thought of that, and I do have sympathy for that.
HEMSWORTH – TRANSITIOING BETWEEN BIG FILMS AND SMALL, AND GETTING READY FOR RUSH
How physically demanding was that transition? How do you keep from getting overwhelmed by these massive movies that you keep doing?
CH: From Thor into Avengers I maintained the weight I put on for the role, then halfway through The Avengers, I started to slowly back everything off. The training, I did a lot more running and cardio to get rid of some of the bulk, and toned down my diet and what have you, and then over a little bit of time, and through Snow White I was dropping weight more for Rush, which is the 70s race car film with Ron Howard. I feel like – I keep talking to my wife about this – I had more symptoms of a pregnant woman over that period, I was really hungry all the time, I was really hungry, I was really moody, just because of this crazy restrictive diet, because I went from one extreme to another. I went from overeating to all of a sudden being under fed.
As far as the making big films, Avengers did feel that size, just because we’d been talking about it so much. We’d had our individual films, so everything was a piece of some other success coming together, and yeah, it was overwhelming. Snow White was another big film, a big budget, but it had a different feeling. We didn’t shoot in America, so the studio wasn’t on top of us or as involved, we shot here, so the people on set for the four months were the people who were on the film day-to-day. It felt like a little, small film. We had a great time. We shot a lot of real locations too. The green screen certainly makes you go, ‘I’m in a big 3D epic’, whereas Snow White, we shot that in Wales, then we shot in the Lake District, a lot of forests and cathedrals and things, these day-to-day real, organic, beautiful locations and places, so it felt a lot more personal I think.
How did you get in the mindset of James Hunt for Rush?
CH: I was never really educated on Formula 1, and then as soon as I started looking into it, what I loved about it, the 70s, that era for Formula 1, was passionate and indulgent, and James Hunt was the rock star playboy of that era. Even guys within the Formula 1 world admit that it’s become so sanitised and safe because of the sponsorship, censoring everything. I really admire his passion toward it, and the dedication, and the visceral approach he had, on and off the track, to life. It was such a contrast to Niki Lauda, who was much more intellectual, and James was more intuitive. It just made for a great story, and a great rivalry, and the fact was far more interesting than any fiction we could come up with. That 1976 season, when Niki Lauda was leading in points and then crashed, almost died, James then gained in points, and Niki came back with two races to go, and it came down to two or three points difference in Fuji, Japan, under horrific conditions – which was where Niki, in similar conditions, had crashed previously. It’s an incredible story.
HOPES FOR THE NEXT AVENGERS FILM
We set up at the end for Avengers 2, have you any hope for what your characters might do in the next one?
MR: I have no idea. It’s been a whirlwind up to here, and who knew it was going to work so well. We haven’t really had that conversation yet.
CH: That’s just really raised the bar on this. The origin of these characters coming together is such a highlight. I’m glad it’s not my job to figure that out.