James Spader & Paul Bettany
Sit down with mommy bloggers for an Exclusive Interview!!
We were lucky enough to sit down with Ultron and Vision – AKA James Spader and Paul Bettany, as a part of the Avengers Event press junket. This is the last of my interviews to share with you, what a fun time this has been.
The minute these two men entered the room I could tell this interview would be different. Paul entered first, and a few seconds later James. As with the other interviews, they were pleased to see a table full of mommy bloggers (and 2 dads too).
As had become the routine, we began firing off questions for these highly talented actors. Let me just tell you that James Spader is extremely entertaining to interview. He gives long, detailed answers, which is great; I just hope I do them justice as I attempt to share them with you today.
Paul was asked what his reaction was when he found out that he’d be playing Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, as we’d known him as the voice of Jarvis in previous Avengers movies.
It was sort of vindication really because I had just come out of a meeting with a producer who told me my career was over. And I, this is a true story. I sat on the curb in Hollywood with my feet in the gutter and my phone went (off) and I looked at it and went, “Hello?” I didn’t recognize the number and it was Joss Whedon. He said, “Do you want to play The Vision?” And I went, “Um,” it’s so quick these days, “yeah, I kinda do.” True story. So it was lovely.”
Paul was then asked how it is different for him on the Avengers set, as opposed to just being the voice to a character.
What was the difference? The difference was I had to go to the gym. I had to stop eating carbs. I finally got to be on set with a bunch of really lovely, creative, talented people. However, it also means that I have to show up at junkets now, you know? [laughter] The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
James joined in to say; “I did not have to cut back on carbs. Somehow amazingly enough, those animators were able to slim me right down.”
James, did you have to be convinced to play Ultron or were you, like “HECK YES” the moment you were asked?
I had met about two to three years prior to the telephone call to me from Joss Whedon, I had met with Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham. My agent is also Sam Jackson’s agent. And so she’s very in tune with what’s going on in the Marvel world.
I have three sons and I have never, in my entire career, ever chosen a film to work on for the sake of my children. And most of the films that I’ve done they really shouldn’t watch. I remember I took my mother when she was in her eighties to go with me to Sundance to see this film I did called Secretary, an erotic romance. Both my mother and father have sat through some… they’re both passed away… but they both have sat, lovingly, through an array of perverted little movies that I’ve made.
But in any case I wanted, you know, my second, he was about seven. He’s now 21 or 22. I’m terrible at ages, but in any case he was about 18 at the time, something like that, 18 or 19. And he had all, he loved comics and loved superhero movies and fantasy and all that stuff. He just loved it. And then by circumstance I also at the time I had a three-year-old son, again, and he was already sort of raiding his brother’s little figures and little things like that and was excited about it. And I just thought, I just want to make a film for them, you know? So I went in and I sat down with Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham and they had reached out to my agent and said, “You know, we’d love to sit down with James.”
And those sorts of meetings are always just so brutal and fruitless. I had said, “Really?” But, I mean, do they, and, and then my agent said, “Kevin doesn’t really meet with anybody unless there really is a genuine interest. And, and I said, “Great. Well then I’d love to talk to him.” So I sat down with him and I said, “I just would love to do one of these things and just be such fun.” And I told him the reasons why and I think he really responded to that ’cause that’s his fan base, you know?
There’d be things that came along, along the way over the next like two years or so and, and he (agent) would be like, “I know what James is looking for. He wants a really great bad guy and something really great.” All of a sudden, like, about two or three years after that meeting, Joss Whedon walked into their offices and said, “You know, I don’t really have anyone else for this role except for James Spader.”
And they said, “Well, funny you should mention that ’cause we’ve been trying to find the, the right thing. And so the next thing was a phone call from Joss and as soon as I spoke to him and he, he, he… I’m sorry. I’ve never been able to answer anything in a short and precise… But anyway I said, “What the hell can I bring to, to an eight foot robot, you know? I don’t… That’s not my skill set.”
He told me sort of what he was looking for in terms of the character. But he said, “You know, let me send you some- something to, to look at ’cause the script is in revisions right now, but let me send you something so you can get a sense of what this character really is.” And he said, “In the comic books, the guy’s just sort of this raging robot. ‘I am going to destroy you’ you know?” He said I really want to extrapolate on that. He sent me these scenes that were threatening, intimidating, crazy, funny, quoting Emily Dickenson.
It was just such a weird, complex amalgamation of things. And as it turns out, Kevin Feige told me, you know, a couple of days later he said, “You know, Joss, those aren’t even scenes from the movie. Joss wrote those scenes just to send you, so, just so that you’d have a sense of the character.” I thought, what a lovely thing to do, you know, that he just wrote these scenes as this is what this character’s going to be like, an example of sort of who he is. And they were really tailored for that. And he was absolutely right. It was all of that. Just a weird mix of crazy, scary, funny, poetic, you know, just a weird guy.”
Paul was asked how much of Vision was makeup and CGI?
It was a lot of makeup, ha ha. I would sit in the chair and then you would wait for eternity to come and then you’d be done. So it was all real. Um, from about here (motioning on his face) forward the prosthetics, well the prosthetic actually stops here, and then this is (again pointing at his face) was painted purple. They would have tracking dots on so that they would then move the circuitry on my face and my musculature could move and, and you could still see me express things, ‘Cause we tried, having full prosthetics that went over everything and we lost a lot of expression in the face. Thankfully, because that was really, really uncomfortable.”
Question for James. You have always played the bad guy we love to hate in so many of your films. But with Ultron, is there any part of your humor in Ultron? Because we definitely see your mannerisms.
Paul joked – “And his world view, in fact. Global devastation”
I think that if the casting works, you’ve been cast because that director intuitively knows that what they need, you’re going to be able to provide. And he was specifically looking for that.
He was looking for that sense of humor. And he was looking for that irreverence in marriage with the other aspects. He took advantage of it and we would play with things and I’d make a suggestion. But I really was very faithful to what he was writing because he was really writing it so specifically to me. And I think it’s the reason why he probably walked in to Kevin Feige and said, “James Spader’s who I’m thinking about for this and I don’t really have anyone else on the list,” is ’cause I think he probably, he’d already written to that.”
James made my day when he stated the following, at the conclusion of our interview; “Is that it? Oh my God. It seems like we should dump something else and just stay here for a little bit.”
Stop by and check out the other amazing interviews we had as a part of the Avengers Event back in April, they’re listed below, along with my review of the movie.
- Avengers Interview with Chris Evans & Chris Hemsworth!!
- Getting the Scoop from Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch!!
- Exclusive insight into Avengers: Age of Ultron – from Director Joss Whedon!!
- Sitting down with Kevin Feige – President of Marvel Studios!
- 5 reasons you MUST go see Avengers: Age of Ultron – Before your friends!!!
- *Exclusive* Jeremy Renner & Cobie Smulders chat with Mommy Bloggers!!
As always – I encourage you to follow along on social media –
- THE AVENGERS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avengers
- THE AVENGERS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/avengers
Remember, Avengers: Age of Ultron is now playing in theaters nationwide!!!
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.