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'Avengers: Endgame' Cast and Crew Talk About Their Marvel-ous Experiences

24 Apr, 2019    added by : Kit Bowen
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Avengers: Endgame is the epic conclusion to a 10-year, 22-movie Infinity saga, and it’s simply the most excellent Marvel movie to end them all.

At the press conference, naturally the cast and crew – including stars Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Brie Larson, Paul Rudd, Danai Gurira, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige — couldn’t say much about the movie itself. Instead, they share what has made this Marvel experience so special. Plus, there’s a question on which cast member is the better Boggle player.

Moderated by Iron Man director and Happy Hogan himself, Jon Favreau, here’s what they had to say:

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. (“Tony Stark/Ironman”):

When you first suited up as Iron Man, could you envision Tony Stark’s arc and where you wanted to see the character go? And how did you approach building such a memorable character?

DOWNEY JR.: I’ve been thinking about this recently. There are always two tracks at least in my mind. One is the sky is falling and the other is the sky is the limit. And as we had those many discussions in the high desert and shooting the film, I’m reminded now that I was talking a lot of smack saying wait until you see where this goes. But in the moment, I was just hoping day to day we were making good scenes and getting good stuff in the can. The usual gobbly gook. I just wanted to not drop the ball.

Was it a surprise early on that Iron Man amassed an army of devoted fans and what do those fans mean to you today?

DOWNEY JR.:  Again, I’ve been just feeling like I’m kind of an oddball manny who I’ve been offered the opportunity to usher in this large crew. You’re seeing family and stuff. And I look around and we are close and growing closer by the moment.

 

KEVIN FEIGE (Marvel CEO):

When did you actually begin to realize that you had something big on your hands?

FEIGE: Well, big is relative. We hired a great director to do the first film in the MCU. And then we hired a great actor. We had fun making that first movie as you recall, and the bar for success was pretty low. It felt high at the time. But it was not that high. It was comparative to other Marvel films that had been out in that general area, which is what we wanted to compete with. But as we were making the movie and as we were looking at dailies and as we were looking at effects tests coming in, we realized that this was really going to be special and even perhaps more special than we thought. In that opening weekend, and in response to the trailer frankly with you coming out at Hall H at Comic-Con for the first time, showing that trailer. There started to be a much bigger sort of wind behind our back. Combined with Mr. Sam Jackson’s cameo that we secretly did on that Saturday at Playa. Then secretly leaked the next day. The response to that — people picked up that that meant this interconnected universe which everybody knew from the books, but had never been done in the movies.

What makes it so special? What about this movie in particular?

FEIGE:  Well, what’s special is all the actors on this stage, all the actors who are not on this stage. As you said earlier, the family that has come together this decade plus. The fact that in a — Robert said it so well in the trailer — part of the journey is the end. About four or five years ago, we all started talking about doing something at every turn including the first Iron Man film. We talked about, how can we do something that’s never been done before. What is a superhero outs his identity at the very last shot of the movie? We can’t do that? No one does that. You can’t do that. What would we do next time? I don’t know. Let’s do it. Four or five years ago, we talked about, what haven’t we seen in films based on comic characters? We haven’t seen an ending. A definitive conclusion to an overall saga. So that’s why it’s called Endgame and why I think it’s very, very, very special.

THE RUSSO BROTHERS (Directors)

Anthony specifically, how does the surprise ending of Avengers: Infinity War affect the tone of Endgame and the aftermath of Thanos’ destruction?

ANTHONY RUSSO:  First of all, Joe and I, we speak constantly about the debt we owe to you for starting this whole thing. And we both remember that moment that we sat in the theater and watched that first Iron Man for the first time. I remember that feeling of like, I wish we were a part of this. We had no idea that years later we actually would be. So that was an epic moment in a movie theater. Thank you for that.

Look, Joe and I have mentioned this before. One of our favorite storytelling adages is “Write yourself into a corner.” What we take that to mean is put yourself in a place on a narrative level where you have no idea how you could possibly move forward from here. And that’s a very exciting place to be. It forces you to come up with some really creative ways forward. We’ve tried to do that with the endings of every single Marvel movie we’ve done and never more so of course than Infinity War. We are very committed to the ending of that movie. We think that stories lose their meaning and relevancy and resonance unless there are real stakes. And for us, moving into this new movie, into Endgame, the story is very much about — how do these characters, how do these heroes deal with loss, resounding loss, true loss, devastating loss? That’s what they’ve experienced in Infinity War. That was a unique experience for all of them. And how does a person move forward from that moment, how does a hero move forward from that moment? And our road into this story is how is everybody on an individual level dealing with that experience and then how do they collectively deal with it?

JOE RUSSO: This is I think a really unique experiment in movies, this grand mosaic. Depending on how you count it up, 11 franchises that have been interwoven into one big narrative. I think a lot of people have invested a lot of heart and soul into the characters. When we take these movies around the world, it’s really heartwarming to see people come up to you and say, “Hey, I started watching this with my classmates when I was 10-years old. Now we’re all 21 and we’re all going to go see this together.” Or “My parents have taken me to every movie or my grandfather has taken me to every film.” It’s a real sense of community and sharing in these stories and believing in them. I think with Endgame, we get the opportunity to think to finish off one of the grandest experiments in movie history and bring it to, as Kevin said an epic conclusion. So what we’re hoping for is that people feel satisfied with the conclusion.

ANTHONY RUSSO:  At the end of the day, my brother and I, we came to this material because we’re fans. We grew up loving the comics. We came to the MCU already fans of the MCU. So like the energy, we move on is our own passion and our own excitement. That’s how we tell stories. We learned long ago that you have to tell stories for yourself. You can’t be thinking about how others might receive them. For Joe and I, because we have such an intimate relationship with the material because we have so many amazing collaborators starting with Kevin, we are able to just really fashion the story around what we want to see as fans. How do we surprise ourselves? How do we excite ourselves? How do we challenge ourselves? How do we force ourselves to keep digging deeper and keep exploring this narrative and these characters in ways we never imagined. That’s sort of how we guide ourselves through the process. And once the film is complete and we put it out into the world, we really have no idea how it is going to be received. Then sort of once that complete film is experienced and digested and responded to, I think that’s the moment where we are then filled up with a reaction. But as we’re executing, once we conceive the film and start executing, we’re not really second-guessing what we’re doing. We’re really focused on chasing the initial vision that we had for it.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH (“Thor”)

What has made Thor such an entertaining and beloved character through his own franchise and in the Avengers as well? What do you like best about playing him?

HEMSWORTH:  Well, just to echo something you were saying before Anthony about the first time that the Marvel Universe came into my universe back in Australia, I was sitting there. I would have been just straight out of high school and watching Iron Man and thinking the same thing. Thinking oh my God, imagine, I wish I could be a part of that world. Then a few years on, getting cast in it, as Thor and having the opportunity to embark on this thing, and at the time I thought, was this film even going to make it past DVD? Or make to the cinemas? Or was I going to be recast and all those sorts of questions. Look, I think the answer to the question, what made is so special for me was just the different people I was able to work with. From Kenneth Branagh to, that first film was really sort of completely in his hands. He was basically willing to do whatever it takes and wherever he needed me to go for the character. And then through the films with each director and in each different cast member, I would learn something different from them. By the time about Ragnarok, I felt like I finally had enough sort of confidence to go okay. What is it that I could possibly bring to this? Then have this great collaboration with Taika Waititi. We really decided to do something different to see how we could make it unexpected and unique. Then I had been calling Joe and Anthony and saying “Look, I’ve got this new version of Thor that we’ve just shot, and I want to continue that version. I don’t want to do the old version.” And he said “We’ve got an even newer version for you.” And it was. It’s just about the people that’s made it so special and I think unique each time with any of our characters. Everybody you get to interact with. The fact that we’re all willing to be open to what new possibilities lie ahead of these franchises and these characters. It’s been a pretty remarkable journey.

CHRIS EVANS (“Steve Rogers/Captain America”)

Being Captain America, you always have this tendency to be a leader. How does that change or maintain continuity as you meet other characters like Captain Marvel or Black Panther who are both leaders in their own way?

EVANS:  Sure. I think he tends to lean on those people who are of like mind and nature, who kind of are intrinsically selfless. I mean, all the heroes up here have their baked in the cake flaws. And I think a lot of that makes for really good conflict in storytelling. That’s why my favorite stuff in this arc has been my stuff with Downey. Because we are such a dichotomy between how we approach things. But at the end of the day, our hearts are both in the right places. But it provides a lot of great friction. But introducing characters like Captain Marvel and like Black Panther, people who also kind of align very similarly to Cap’s nature. I think it creates a nice, it reinforces Cap’s sense of purpose and home. It’s an environment that feels more natural for him. So I think it’s nice to see the certain pockets where he feels at peace and the certain pockets where he feels his buttons might be getting pushed.

MARK RUFFALO (“Bruce Banner/Hulk”)

This cast has met up many times now. Either in part or whole. Some describe it as a family. Is that how it feels to you and why is that or is that not the case?

RUFFALO:  It doesn’t feel like family to me because we all really get along well. [laughs] There’s not that much drama. It’s like a family that you wish you had in a way. I don’t know if you could tell. But it’s a little bit different press conference than the last time. It has a little bit sort of sadness to it. We’re all talking about like we’re dead. I loved working with these guys. It was great knowing them. They were great Boggle players. There is something very bittersweet about this moment. Because as actors, we’re like vagabonds. We kind of bounce around. We have these intense relationships. And then you don’t see anybody until you get nominated for something or you’re nominated in something and you end up in an award ceremony. This is the closest thing that any of us really have to unless you’re in several franchises. It’s the closest thing you have to continuity and friendships and watching people grow up and have children and get married and then get divorced and then get remarried.

JOHANNSON: All right. You don’t have to just direct that at me. Like very tacky.

SCARLETT JOHANNSON (“Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow”)

You have been part of this since Iron Man 2 — and your character has always represented women as strong and equal.

JOHANNSON:  I was talking with Danai about this yesterday. We spent the whole day together analyzing this whole journey. But the character really started as a sort of sexy secretary with a skill set on the side. And we didn’t know. Or I certainly didn’t know how the audience would react to the character, my interpretation of the character. Obviously a very beloved character for a long time. I feel, and then the next time that we saw her in Avengers, she was sort of one of the boys, for better or worse. That made sense then, and as I think the fans and the audiences have really pushed, certainly Marvel, but pushed all the studios and filmmakers to really throw up on the screen what represents, what’s going on in the zeitgeist and wanting to see diverse films and casts that represents their own aspirations and how they feel. I feel the character has sort of grown in reaction to that. The movies have really grown in reaction to that kind of fan encouragement. Honestly, I have to say, I remember when Lizzie [Elizabeth Olsen] signed on. Cobie [Smulders] was there. We were all clinging to each other just to, I felt like I had been in this testosterone fest for such a long time. It was so nice to see other female cast members. Then with Brie [Larson] coming on and Karen [Gillan] and Danai [Gurira]. I feel like I’m in just this, I’m amongst so many wonderful actors, so many strong actors, and such a… it’s just grown beyond my wildest dreams. I could never have imagined where this would take us. All of us. It’s been quite a journey.

DANAI GURIRA (“Okoye”)

FAVREAU: Black Panther introduced your character Okoye to the world, and now she is fighting beside the Avengers. What makes her such a respected and well-liked character?

GURIRA: It was just an amazing honor and joy to be a part of it. Once again, it was the beauty of being here today, being amongst this amazing franchise that’s done all this work over this course of time, and we got to be embraced in this universe. That was such an amazing part of it. What I can say about Okoye, because I can’t speak to… What I can say is what I love about her is that she is very unapologetic. She’s a traditionalist in the sense that she believes in the sovereignty of her nation. I guess that really resonated with me because I was born here, but I was raised on the continent. So seeing a country like Wakanda, which has had no history of colonization and became so powerful and that she is like the guardian of that nation in a sense was something that really resonated with me. I really got to work collaboratively in a gorgeous way with the awesome Mr. Ryan Coogler, who really allowed me to imbue her with the idea that she has a good time. She doesn’t have rage issues. She doesn’t have that going on. She loves her life. She loves her country. She loves her people. And she’ll do whatever it takes to take care of what must be done. At the same time, there is a fierceness that I think she has that also she kind of unapologetically also embraces her femininity. So it’s been really fun to get to see her in all these different ways. Because when I got to, I was talking about this yesterday with Scarlett. The first day of Infinity War when they all came to Wakanda and we were coming onto their set and we opened that tent door, that tent whatever flap. There inside are like all the Avengers sitting there. Like oh, hi. That’s the minute you realize you’re a part of a universe, which was pretty darn awesome.

KAREN GILLAN (“Nebula”)

Nebula is such a complex character. What excited you about bringing her back for Avengers: Endgame?

GILLAN: I think it’s maybe safe to say that she suffers from some daddy issues. Because her dad is Thanos, so who wouldn’t? I think I’m excited for her to finally face the source of this abuse. This has sort of been building through multiple movies through the Guardians movies. And she’s talked about how she wants to inflict revenge. So we all know about that. I would like to see her try and face that. I don’t know if she will. Maybe she won’t. I’m not saying anything. I just got really nervous I gave something away, so I’m going to stop. Potentially.

PAUL RUDD (“Scott Lang/Ant-Man”)

What can we expect from this time around? And how does he fit in with the remaining Avengers?

RUDD:  Well, I did see the trailers. I do know that I’m in it. How I fit in, how any of this works, it remains to be seen. It’s going to be fun to have audiences discover it along with us. We haven’t seen it either. It’s not part of the question. But I must say, everyone is kind of echoing the same sentiment, which is this sense of like this completion, this story. But the relationships that are forged. It’s a weird thing to kind of be hired in any job and then to get to, for somebody like me, step into it as it’s already picked up speed. It’s like having the Beatles say, “Come on. Jam with us for a while.” It’s an unreal sensation.

It’s hard to put into words honestly. I sit and listen to Joe and Anthony speak. I’ve gotten to know Kevin. We’ve known each other for a long time. Getting to work with all of these actors in this series of films is a one-off. It will never happen again. Not for me. I keep taking steps back and try to recognize this for what it is. It is so surreal and profound and incredible to be a part of it. It’s amazing to meet so many people who are so passionate about it. It’s incredible to meet so many kids whose lives are affected by these characters. To play a small part in that. Pun intended. It’s just something I will always treasure. To be here on this panel today, amongst all of you, is really just an incredible feeling. I’m just honored to be a part of it.

DON CHEADLE (“James Rhodes/War Machine”)

Rhodey has been there since the beginning. What do you like best about playing him and suiting up as War Machine?

CHEADLE:  Well, you know, you were there from the beginning obviously. And Rhodey obviously started, I think it’s fair to say, as a lighter toned. In a visual, sort of bigger than life than I am in real life. But as the character sort of darkened and things became more compact, the narrative, I think we’ve seen a real growth of this character. We’ve kind of, as he’s gone through his trials and tribulations obviously over the course of these films and come out the other side now and has his legs under him, no pun intended, literally, and is able to really be a part of this team and really contribute at a high level, it’s been a lot of fun to see where he’s come from and to see where he’s gone and see what else happens next. We’ve had a great time this whole time. Being together and having the Downey lunches that we have, that he’s put together and to get to know these people. I’ve always known their work. But to get to know them as individuals and get to know them as people and get to be friends and to come back, to get to keep coming back to these relationships again and seeing where everybody is and people that have kids and kids going on to college and people having kids and relationships starting and ending. It’s rare to have that kind of experience over the course of 10 years with the same group of people. So it’s really nice.

BRIE LARSON (“Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel”) 

Everyone is waiting to see Captain Marvel in action with the Avengers. Did working with them on this film connect you to the bigger MCU picture? And how did that feel?

LARSON:  How am I supposed to answer that without ruining everything? Sometimes I feel like this is all like a test. Like Willie Wonka. They’re trying to see what I’m going to do. I came at just the most magical time I think. To come exactly at this 10-year anniversary and really my first introduction to everyone was the 10-year photo, which was a really remarkable and special day. And super surreal and also like not allowed to talk about it. The whole thing has always felt like a dream, and this film will always be personally dear to me because it was my first time playing Captain Marvel. We shot this first. I had to stumble and try to figure out who this character was with no script for this and no script for Captain Marvel either. And perform for the first time in front of legends. But it was incredible. I think the other part of it, too, the set feels like this balance of as big as it is, it still feels like a bunch of kids. Just like what I was doing over summer break. Making movies in my garage. There is still this sense of wonder and play and encouragement. Of course this film deals with some heavy subject matters. You’re bouncing in between things that feel very deep and serious. Then we’re going off and playing Boggle, which I am very good at. Just to be clear. There is no other word I can describe it as other than surreal. I’m super excited for this to come out. Mostly just so that I can talk about it. I want to be able to talk about my experience, which I haven’t been able to do for a very long time.

So, who is the better Boggle player?

EVANS: Brie, let’s be real. Nobody can beat Don. Paul is good, too.

JOHANSSON:  I feel like Paul definitely was like sleeper Boggle champ.

LARSON:  I have a selective memory. I feel like I crushed the whole time. Did I not?

FAVREAU:  What is the most impressive Boggle word that had been?

EVANS:  Mark Ruffalo. You would be lucky if he finds cat. He found asbestos. Literally. Mark, he has nothing else, but he found asbestos. That was a lot of points.

RUFFALO:  What would you rate me as a Boggle player?

EVANS:  It’s not good.

FAVREAU:  What about Don?

EVANS:  We were flying on a plane one time, and we were playing. Don found “Avengers” in the Boggle word. Like that’s…

FAVREAU:  That’s a good sign.

EVANS:  That’s pretty good, yeah.

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