Ahead of today’s UK digital release of Spider-Man Far From Home, which now is available to buy & keep from Sky Store, the editors at HeyUGuys signed James Kleinmann’s permission slip for a special movie related field trip in Los Angeles. Like Peter Parker himself in the billion dollar sequel who travels Europe on a science trip, James and fellow film journalists were accompanied on their field trip bus by Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr) and Mr. Dell (JB Smoove). As well getting to chat to Martin Starr and JB Smoove, James was also treated to a special scientific based magic show at LA’s legendary Magic Castle club by illusionist Jason Latimer, given a demonstration of the pre-visualisation work done on the movie at Third Floor Studio, and got an insight into the manufacture and design of superhero costumes at Ironhead Studios.
Firstly we found out what the movie’s teachers Martin Starr and JB Smoove had to say about working on Spider-Man Far From Home, which HeyUGuys’ Scott Davis called “one of the studio’s best sequels”.
James Kleinmann: What was it like shooting in the UK?
JB Smoove: “Oh, we had a great time.”
Martin Starr: “Yeah, we had a great time. I’ve never spent that much time in London before, so to have two months to really get settled in London was really a lovely experience. I stayed in London. Where were you?”
JB: “Saint Albans. I stayed there while we were shooting.”
Martin: “They didn’t give options, but I thought if I’m going to be that close to London I’m going to stay in London! I had a great time getting to know the city and the people and I was surprised at how good the food was! Now it’s ancient history, but when my dad went to London thirty years ago it was obviously a different place and not known for their food! But now I think London is becoming known for it’s food. Maybe it’s just me starting that rumour!”
JB: “We had some amazing locations there. Some amazing restaurants. What made it even more fun was that while we were shooting Spider-Man Far From Home, we also had friends who were in town shooting other big blockbuster movies like Men in Black and Wonder Woman and we would all link up and hang out and go out and have drinks. That made being away from home so much better. It worked out really nice. We hung out at Annabelle’s which is absolutely amazing. That place is like Alice in Wonderland!
Martin: “JB loves the exclusive clubs.”
JB: “We had so much fun. Several Soho Houses. What was that wild place we went to? The crazy place, The Box!”
Martin: “You don’t want to talk about that!”
JB: “Oh man! Although I’m from the States, I’m very European minded. I’m very neat. I like the fashion. We loved everything that we did over there.”
Did you ever go on a field trip that you modelled these characters after?
Martin: “These particular characters? I would hope not! The first movie, I didn’t think of it in that context because there was no field trip, well, we went to the Washington Monument I guess. My dad was a teacher, so to some degree it was brining him into this for me, but a lot of it was on the page. And talking to Jon Watson. I think in the comics it was Mrs Harrington, and this was an amalgamation of a few characters together to embody Mr Harrington. There was a Harrington reacher in the comics, but it was different to the way he was portrayed in the movie. So talking to Jon completely educated what I did with the character and most of it was the jokes that resonated that ended up being a big part of the movie and him losing a student and him being a clutz, but trying with all of his heart to be present and he cares for the kids you know. The embodiment of that was a lot of teachers I had growing up. Teachers that cared.”
JB: “I always believe in playing it real and allowing the funny to come from the real of it.”
Martin: “That’s why I actually lost a kid! Just so I had something.”
JB: “Right! Otherwise it becomes too “slapsticky”, you know what I mean? And I always believe in playing it real and allowing the funny to come from the content and you feel your funny moments as oppose to telegraphing them. In my case, on my way to the set I would always say ‘how would I react as a real teacher?’ My thing is I really wanted to feel like I was there not just for a European trip, but that I was there to do a damn job. I’m a science teacher, damn it! And these kids are going to learn some science. So when we were having arguments about everything that was going on, that he was messing up and losing tickets and didn’t have the hotel reservations, I played it like I was mad as hell at this guy for not doing his damn job! He had that damn fanny pack around his waist, what’s in that goddamn fanny pack?! Do your damn job Mr Harrington! We had a responsibility as teachers as administrators to make sure these kids learned some science on this damn trip, we have not incorporated any science in this damn trip. We were looking at elementals, which in hindsight was a bit of science, so somehow we ended up getting science in there, even though we were terrified running from elementals and doing all this stuff and running for our lives, in hindsight, it was a little bit…”
Martin: “It was a science trip!”
JB: “It was a science trip! Got some dude levitating and flying around with a snot bubble on his damn head, it turned out that this all really was science. So we were just playing it like we were trying to keep these kids safe and get them back home to their parents. Even though Peter kept disappearing here and there, we worried about him a little bit. In hindsight we find out that kid is Spider-Man, that kid had been lying to us the whole damn time! Big problem. So I feel that when you play it like that it comes off way better, you show you really care, you show heart, you show anger, you show all levels of your emotions and it comes across a different way. There’s so much that we did that didn’t make the movie, that was really grounded but really funny. I think that’s what made the relationship work so well, we both had a purpose there.”
Martin: “There are so many funny moments in it period.”
JB: “When we showed up to set we both had beards, and they said you can’t both have beards but since Martin was an established character I cut my beard off and when I did I almost became Mr Dell, who he’s supposed to be, he felt more vulnerable, more open and more honest.”
Were either of you comic book fans going into this? What did it mean to you to enter the Spider-Man world?
Martin: “Yes, it was very cool. Spider-Man was the only comic book that I had a subscription to. I read a number of different comic books, X-Man and Spider-Man were the two I read the most, but the Spider-Man comic actually came to my house and so this was very cool to become a part of this particular story and I know JB is a big comic book fan.”
JB: “Oh man! I would hop on the train in Mount Vernon and go to Fordham Road in the Bronx. We would go there and we would spend three to four hours between buying stuff reading stuff until the guy told you to stop reading and buy it, you know, we would be in there all day. We were so into it that we would open the first page to see who the artist was because we loved certain styles of art, we made sure we knew who the editor was and we liked the writing as well as the images and also the characters. Back then when you read comic books it took your mind some place, we didn’t have the ability to have all these major movies like right now that paints this beautiful picture, and this amazing green screen stuff and effects, we had to use our minds. You read it and you saw the punch, you saw The Hulk hitting The Thing or Spider-Man fighting with the Fantastic Four or by himself, you see Luke Cage and all that stuff in your head. You had to animate the movements in your head. Now everything is a little different. Kids still collect comic books but now they have something to lean on, the movies, the TV shows, back then you had to create it all in your mind. I still have a few comic books somewhere, a few boxes of them in plastic. I might be sitting on a good hundred thousand dollars. If things go bad I will be selling those goddamn comic books!”
Martin: “Want me to take them off your hands?”
JB: “No, I’m good, I’m good. That’s rainy day stuff right there.”
Martin: “Well, don’t let it rain because that’ll ruin the comics.”
JB: “The Defenders, The Avengers. I even loved Alpha Flight, they were the Canadian Avengers.”
Martin: “Very polite! They were very polite.”
JB: “Even some of the one-offs were amazing. Wolverine had his own comic book, ten or fifteen episodes. He was in Alpha Flight for a little while too. Black Falcon had his own book. Cloak and dagger. I remember when the New Mutants came out. I thought that was the greatest thing ever, these young people who all part fo the X-Men family, were all young, made mistakes. In my mind I started casting. When these movies first started coming out you can’t tell me that Angela Bassett wouldn’t have been a great Storm, because she was a little bit older than some of the X-Men and at that time she was the mature one. Angela Bassett would’ve been so bad, she’s got the muscles already, she’d have that white hair blowing in the wind, she was an authority figure. I thought that would’ve been amazing, but I’m not doing the casting.”
Martin: “I’m going to call Halle Berry right now and let her know.”
JB: “And I’m weird about criss-crossing characters, that just drives me crazy because I always feel like… ‘you were Catwoman’, I get weird like that! When Ben Affleck got to be Daredevil and Batman it drove me crazy, because I’m so into it! I’m so grounded in how these books are written and how these movies are made to the point where I get jaded; you can’t be Daredevil and Batman!”
Martin: “Don’t tell him I was in The Hulk, don’t bring it up!”
JB: “I always look at it like ‘oh, man I can’t watch him as Batman because he’s locked in as Daredevil in my brain!’ That’s how deep it goes with me. But it’s still a great time to be a hero and and it’s all about bringing it to life as Marvel is doing.”
Who’s your favourite Avenger?
JB: “Oh, that’s a heard one…! I like Captain America, he’s just the man. But how can you not love Tony Stark?! Robert Downey, he played this character to like… I can’t even think of anyone else who could have played this dude. And then when I heard the story about how he got it. He actually forced their hand to hire him as this character, because he is Tony Stark. I couldn’t envision anyone else else playing him. No one could play this dude except him and that’s how deep it runs when you’re invested in these characters, you see them as a kid, you read all the books and you just get invested in it. That’s the fun part about Marvel, about what they’re doing.”
The participants on the Spider-Man Far From Home field trip were also treated to a special intimate performance by illusionist Jason Latimer who spoke to us about his work following the show. “Every illusion I’ve created is a different field of science and it’s all about trying to see if we could get the impossible to happen and a lot of it was inspired by science fiction. I was a big fan of special effects growing up and I actually worked as a practical effects special effects artist. Then I transitioned and I was loving magic, so I went to school to be a better magician. After the world championships I thought I had a better chance at inspiring someone to ask a good question than trying to trick people.”
On whether he feels like his has any superhero abilities himself, he responded: “I am absolutely one hundred percent sure that I have no superpowers, I’ve tried, it doesn’t work! And so in the science world it’s great for kids to see that, to realise regardless of how impossible something seems there must be a solution. As you get older you become the easiest person to fool because every answer you’ve ever had is reinforced by every answer you’ve ever had, so when you feel like you’re right, you genuinely feel like you’re right because all your answers line up. But you may not know everything.”
On the inspiration behind his illusions Latimer revealed, “a lot of them started with movies. I saw something I was extremely inspired by and I just wanted to know could I bring that illusion to life given, what I knew about applied science. It started off with ‘could I do it with physics?’ I wanted a solid beam of light, like a lightsaber and then I was like ‘oh I want to shape water’. Back then the movie was The Abyss. I’ve been working on a face in water for almost seven or eight years now and about 40% of the time it works and about 60% of the time I make Quasimodo! But the idea was that all it takes is something fantastic to inspire something real and one of my favourite quotes from Spider-Man Far From Home is when he’s talking about right now people will believe anything, at the end of the movie and for me it’s true because there’s so much disinformation and information out there that I can get away with anything, like shaping water [like in my show] that was applied chemistry, just putting that out there. The idea was I take a science fiction idea and I see if I can bring it to life, but if I get it close enough to looking real it all of sudden becomes real to everybody, that’s my main thing I’m inspired by science fiction, but I am limited by the world that I live in.”
At Ironhead Studio we were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the facility by its driving force Jose Fernandez who has been the lead creative artist behind some of the most memorable movie work of the last two decades. He collaborates with different designers and has worked on finished or unfinished concepts for many superhero and other charcater costumes on the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Batman Returns, Thor. Fantastic Four and Tron: Legacy. “Suit work generally begins with a body” Fernandez tells us, “a human coming in, an actor we will scan them, before it was plaster bandage, now it’s scanning and we’ll output a body of theirs so we have something to work on. And typically we’ll get two to three fittings and usually three or four is what it takes to make these types of suits that fit really well. Spidey hanging up there was Andrew Garfield’s suit so that one we worked on that from start to finish, the designer came in and asked us what our capabilities were. At that point we were just doing skull caps, web-shooters and shoes for the other films and then we explained we could do it all so then she allowed me to take this thing and run with it. That was for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then after that we helped them with more technical things like the skull caps and web shooters, eyes, all of that kind of stuff.”
On what first got him excited about the possibility of costume design, Jose took us back to his teenage years. “The first thing I made was a Gene Simmonds costume because Kiss was cool and I was a kid and I started carving these boots when I was like 13 years old. So my in my bedroom for a year and a half I whittled on these boots, my parents were not happy because there was sawdust everywhere and glue and after I made them, I bolted them on to my brother’s old boots and every day when I got home from school I’d walk around the block to learn how to walk in them. What a dork! I eventually finished the entire suit and then one day a year I’d get to wear it at school and I was the big hit for the day, but it kind of got me on the idea of making stuff and you get this reaction which was also kind of cool. I like problem solving.”
What has been his proudest achievement so far when it comes to problem solving? “I did three earlier Batman films, and I was trying to solve the neck issue where he couldn’t quite turn his head very well. Then it went to England so they did the other films, and they ended up putting like a skull cap and neck rings and he could turn, but to me…I actually had that idea but I threw it away because it wasn’t Batman to me true with the cowl. So I thought to myself, ‘if I ever had the opportunity I would figure it out’. Now, twenty plus years later, I had more things in my head and I heard someone in England say how they solved it. So when I did get that phone call, other than being excited to be doing Batman, I was really excited to actually solve that problem.”
“My problem to solve was the cowl’s thickest point is the neck, because you’re trying to cover his ears and his head so it’s the thickest part of the foam, so it’s the strongest and you need to make it the weakest part. It has to buckle, but it has to look strong. So I figured I had to mount the head, stabilise the head. I did about three of four tests in different versions of it, then we had a fitting with Ben Affleck, I went to his house and put it on his head. I held it down and asked him to turn his head and he turned and I was sitting there looking at him and it mostly looked right and I was thinking to myself ‘holy crap, this is it, finally’ and I remember him saying ‘ah, it’s a little tough…’! You’re the first Batman to turn your head, a pretty big deal. He was happy. Most actors don’t want to be uncomfortable, when they get into super suits they’re excited for about an hour. But the stunt guy who lives and works in these things, he came back and he said ‘this is the most agile, mobile suit I’ve ever worn’ he just loved it. There’s a scene in Batman vs Superman where he’s in this warehouse and he just decimates all these people, that was all action and that was him and his head was just spinning around that was to me worth everything to me that moment in the film. Seeing him like as Batman.”
In Scott Davis review for HeyUGuys he wrote that “Far From Home showcases some of the most astonishing visuals of the MCU thus far, mixing the fantastical with the grounded, the scientific with the horrific”. On the LA field trip we were lucky enough to visit The Third Floor, the world’s largest visualisation studio. The company worked on “forty sequences in Endgame, over seven thousand shots, thirty thousands iterations of those shots,” Christopher Edwards The Third Floor’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer revealed. While talking about Spider-Man Far From Home he said, “we really put our all in to this one, it gave us an opportunity to explore even more elaborate cinematography. It just really pushed us cinematically to think of new solutions to make it more “Spidey” in all the hero moments.”
On what can be achieved in the collaboration with filmmakers during the pre-visualisation process Edwards observed, “directors have always chosen things as they go into the shooting process they’ll do it with storyboards, or when they’re on set striking lights and being inspired by a new angle or riffing off comments from an actor and really working with them back and forth. So this work just really extends their capabilities into this really epic realm where they can conjure up anything they can imagine, which is very scary for the studios! We’ve been working with Marvel since Iron Man 2, so we’re on our 22nd Marvel movie, there’s a great level of trust that Marvel blesses us with. Sometimes we are so early that they’re just playing with ideas and that’s the best way we think to make a movie of this calibre is just to be able to find the movie, you can’t force it, you can’t manufacture it.”
Shannon Justison, Senior Visualization Supervisor at The Third Floor discussed brainstorming visuals for the epic drone scene in Far From Home, “there was a sense that if Spider-Man was going around smashing one drone at a time it was going to take him forever! Peter Parker does just have spider powers, he’s really smart and he’s good and pre-planning. Once we had Jon Watt’s confidence that the sequence was generally working in its shape and the grandeur was going to be there we moved into the final pre-viz phase. Often times in the script it’s like ‘and then they have a big fight and Spider-Man loses’ you just get that much, it’s massively open and that’s where we really get to play. Honestly we’re not involved in any of those interior character moments, those are written by the screenwriters and the director works on those with the actors and they are evolving those in a more traditional sense, but it’s the big expensive blowing stuff up that’s where we come in and there’s really a lot of space to play around. It’s very gratifying to see an idea that we might’ve pitched eventually make it all the way through.”
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Zendaya as MJ, and Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. Spider-Man Far From Home swings on to digital download today Friday 25th October and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD on 11th November.
The Blu-rayTM, DVD, Digital Download, and 4K Ultra HD release arrives filled with bonus materials for the whole family including a special short, alternate and extended scenes, gag reels and Easter Eggs! Additional special features include Teachers’ Travel Tips with Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell and interviews with the cast and crew focused on stunts and location in The Jump Off and Far, FAR, From Home. Explore how Spider-Man was introduced in the MCU in Stepping Up and get a closer look at the special chemistry between Jon Watts and Tom Holland in It Takes Two. Fans will want to dive into The Ginter-Riva Effect, Thank You, Mrs. Parker and Now You See Me features for more character focused details. The 4K Ultra HD also features Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio.
The SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME limited edition gift box, which goes on sale from 25th October, is available from selected Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda stores as well as Argos (online only) and Zoom.co.uk. It is a collectable SKU containing a Digital HD version of the film.
4K, BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ELEMENTS
Trailer & Bonus Materials Include:
- World Wide Web-Slinger: An in-depth look at Spider-Man’s web-slinging adventure around the world featuring new interviews and behind-the-scene with the cast and crew.
- New Original Short, Peter’s To – Do – List: Peter has a few errands to run before he can leave on his class trip.
- Teachers’ Travel Tips: Mr. Harrington & Mr. Dell present a few tips on how to traverse the European continent.
- Stepping Up:
- Suit Up: The suit doesn’t make the hero – but it does play a big role in who they are and who they can become. This piece examines all of Peter’s different suits in the movie, and with behind the scenes footage, we see why some suits are better than others.
- It Takes Two: A special look at the chemistry between Jon Watts and Tom Holland.
- Fury & Hill: MCU stalwarts Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson are back as Agent Maria Hill & Nick Fury!
- The Ginter-Riva Effect: A look at the villain sub-plot and how William Ginter-Riva ties Spider-Man: Far From Home all the way back to the beginning of the MCU.
- A quick look into some of the amazing work Tom Holland and his brothers have done through their charity, The Brothers Trust.
- The Jump Off: Interviews with the cast & crew take us through all of the amazing stunts of Far From Home.
- We examine the evolution of Mysterio and why Jake Gyllenhaal was the perfect fit for the role.
- Stealthy Easter Eggs: Allow E.D.I.T.H. to reveal some of the hidden Easter Eggs you may have
- Gag Reel & Outakes
- Never-Before-Seen Alternate & Extended Scenes
- Catch a first look at the all-new series “Alex Rider” coming soon!