Exclusive insight into the latest Marvel Studio’s release – Avengers: Age of Ultron
from Director Joss Whedon!!
I was really looking forward to interviewing Joss Whedon because this would be a different viewpoint coming from the director, not one of the actors. The person responsible for so much in making this movie the blockbuster I am confident it will be.
When Joss entered the room we gave him the same warm welcome we afforded the actors, to which he joked; “Thank you. Wow. That doesn’t happen when I walk in a room a lot.”
Of course everyone is under a time crunch on this press tour and we dive directly into questions. Joss was asked about his interactions with his brother, Jed, producer of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, who we’d interviewed the day before (stay tuned for that interview, coming up, on Africa’s Blog). Joss was asked if they had late night phone calls to strategize.
Joss laughed and said; “Um, well, I just made a movie and he just had a baby, so not lately. We did, when we were first starting out, but at some point this movie consumed me, not unlike a whale.”
The iconic shot from Avengers: Age of Ultron is the opening scene with the Avengers all jumping in slow motion, which fanboys and fangirls have gone wild over. Joss was asked how it came about, whose idea was it?
He explained that it was caught by accident. He hadn’t yet said action, everyone was clowning around and somebody had a phone. This was the last shot that completed because it is over a minute long and he wanted to create some frames that were unabashedly comic book frames that would speak to their love of them. Joss continues saying that he wanted this right at the beginning of the movie to show that they have everyone back already, no going to look for anyone and bring them back. “Instead just go boom, we’re back!”
When questioned on his influence on pop culture and who he looks to for inspiration and to reach further and higher. Joss states that he has had a weird relationship with pop culture; he doesn’t feel he was really a part of it until suddenly HE WAS. Most of his influences are a little left of center, or very old. The directors that he looks at when thinking about a movie are people like Vincent Minnelli or Sam Fuller.
“Ultimately, the only person who’s ever really going to inspire me to go further and do better is, is me. I have to sort of like gear up and I, I should actually have two chairs because at some point, I always do go, okay, you need to work harder, you need to do more, you need to be better. I’ll tell you who’s inspired me, of late, is Lin-Manuel Miranda because seeing Hamilton at the Public Theatre was just such a breathtaking experience. And the amount of work that he did for six years to put that together, I just thought, oh, gotta bring up my game. There it is. The bar is higher again. Dammit.”
When asked about the Hulkbuster scene, being that it is one of the most epic Avenger versus Avenger battles we’ve ever seen, was there any difficulties filming that? Watch a sneak peak of this scene below.
“Uh, well, there’s. There is some slight enormous difficulties in the fact that neither of those people exist, so there’s a lot of, with the camera, there’s a lot of guys, we’re here. Now he’s over there. We had the thing mapped out very carefully, so it was, in a way, simpler because they weren’t like I need another. I need to go again, but you shoot all of this stuff sort of with the faith that this will work physically and then the hard work comes, you know, up at ILM where they’re dialing in this action you’ve described.
In a way that looks human and believable, yet completely over the top, the work they did with those guys and with the Hulk, in particular, who’s not just the Hulk there, but is angry, even for the Hulk. He’s unhinged and it’s a different performance than he’s given before and the way they captured that, to me, was breathtaking, but it took it took a little time.”
From this question I asked what it was like filming the movie in numerous countries, including South Africa, where the Hulkbuster was filmed. Joss’s reply was that it is FUN. He got to go to a lot of countries that he had never been to and see beautiful cities and places and eat really good food. He doesn’t get to take vacations, therefore, he states that location scouting is definitely the next best thing.
I mentioned in my interview of Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen yesterday that they didn’t audition for their roles as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Joss was asked what he saw that made them perfect for their roles.
“In Kick-Ass where he (Aaron) is playing kind of a weak character he just commands the screen and it was, I think Nowhere Boy, where I just said, oh, this is, this is my guy because he’s, he’s an old school movie star. He’s that commanding and beautiful.
But he also, he looks like he could be kind of an arrogant d**k. He’s not. He’s the sweetest puppy I know, but he’s great at playing that sort of like, ‘oh, I got this’ and that’s Quicksilver to a tee. Quicksilver is that sort of, he’s always hotheaded, he’s always being a pain for everyone, but is essential and very cool. And Lizzie, I sat down with Lizzie ‘cause, I had not. I’d just seen Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene and, I hope I got those in the right order, you know, you spend two minutes with Lizzie and you not only don’t want anybody else for the role, you think maybe she should play all of them.”
When asked if there were any scenes planned at the beginning of production that didn’t make it into the movie Joss laughed, asking if there was something they didn’t do in this movie, because there is SO much movie (final movie run time is 141 minutes). He continues;
“There’s always stuff you, you sort of, you either give up on, or you realize is ridiculous, but I can’t really think of something we didn’t do. There’s stuff we cut out, but the first cut of the movie was an hour longer than the one that’s in theaters. Yeah, I think it’s the length it ought to be.”
Joss jokingly continues that he is very happy that Age of Ultron is actually 1 minute shorter than the first movie, which is a point of personal pride for him, as much as he really wanted this to be bigger, he didn’t want to bloat, like they were full of themselves, “Like, oh, you love us. Here’s three hours. You’d like to pee? Tough. (lots of laugher)”
After we had the opportunity to watch Age of Ultron some of us were wondering if any of the fun and laid back scenes in the movie have the actors doing any ad libbing or if it is all scripted. Luckily Joss was there to clear this up for us;
“There’s a little, they’re throwing stuff out. They definitely, you know, with Robert in a situation like that, I’ll usually give him like five or six options just to see what tickles his fancy and he’ll sort of run through them. Most of it is scripted but I like to leave a little room for those guys. First of all, they’re all funny, articulate people who really know their characters and second of all, it sort of, it helps the flow particularly in something like that.”
Once you get a chance to watch this movie I am confident you’ll agree, it sure seems that this truly is a group of people hanging out, having a few drinks and kicking back after a long week at work. Well except that one is from Asgard, one was frozen for 70 years, one turns green and gets huge when angered, yeah, except for those sorts of things, it seems just like a bunch of friends hanging out on a Friday night.
Now that we are just 3 short days away from the May 1st release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I hope that this interview of Joss Whedon gets you even more excited then I know you already are to head out to watch it opening weekend!!
Don’t forget – Avengers: Age of Ultron in theaters May 1st
DON’T Miss it!!!
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Disclosure: Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are my own.