Previously, you read our exclusive interviews with Chris Evans (Captain America) & Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and the newcomers Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) & Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver). Today, I want to share with you our exclusive interview with the mastermind behind the Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon. During our interview with Joss Whedom, whom also wrote and directed Avengers: Age of Ultron, we learned about many of the iconic scenes from the movie, as well as, the reason he cast Olsen & Taylor-Johnson as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. Without further a due, here is out Q&A with Joss Whedom.
Question: You have that iconic shot of the Avengers jumping in slow motion which, I think all the fan boys and girls have gone wild over. Can you talk about how that came to be?
Joss Whedom: “We just caught it by accident, you know. I hadn’t even said action yet. They were just clowning around and somebody had a phone, so that was great. That shot was the last shot we got finished, ‘cause it’s over a minute long, but I wanted to create some frames that were just unabashedly comic book frames that would speak to our love of the thing and that one took longer to create than anything else.”
Instead of shooting different scenes to show were all the Avengers have been, Joss decided to do one scene that in his own words said:
“Instead just go boom, we’re back. This is what you love. Are you having fun?
Good. Now we’re going to tear it apart.”
Question: You have so many amazing characters with all these great stories. Was it really hard to make sure everyone got enough screen time? How did you balance that?
Joss Whedom: “It’s hard. What’s important is making everybody integral to this story and not just have it sort of be a roll call where it’s like, and I’m also in the film. Making sure that the twins’ story was part of Ultron’s story and making sure that their perspective on the Avengers had something to do with Ultron’s and so that was always a reason for everyone to be together.
The good thing they worked so well against each other, so when you’re giving somebody their moment, it’s usually with somebody else. It’s usually playing against somebody else, either arguing with or having fun with or teaming up with and it creates its own little web, so it’s difficult, but it’s not like you’re telling, it’s not Magnolia where you’re telling all these separate stories that are just vaguely intertwined. BY the way, if it was Magnolia, it would be the best movie ever made, but I can’t reach for the stars, people. I’m just a man.”
Question: You’ve done so much to influence pop culture, but in doing so, who do you look to or who inspires you to reach further and to reach higher to make this entire universe and fulfilled vision the way you see it?
Joss Whedom: “I have a weird relationship with pop culture. I’ve never really been a part of it until I suddenly was and most of my influences are a little left of center and/or very old. The directors that I look at when I’m thinking about a movie, usually are people like Vincent Minnelli or Sam Fuller, or Frank Barseghian but it’s the people who, not just artists. It’s just the people in my own life that I see working four times as hard as I ever can.
And trying to do things they can’t. Those are the people that they never have. Those are the people that make me sit down and go, oh wait a minute, I can do better because ultimately, the only person who’s ever really going to inspire me to go further and do better is me. I have to sort of like gear up and I should actually have two chairs because at some point, I always 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 Theater 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.”
Question: In the movie, we saw the introduction of the Hulkbuster and one of the most epic Avenger versus Avenger battles, I think we’ve ever seen. Was there any difficulties filming that?
Joss Whedom: “Uh, there is some slight enormous difficulties in the fact that neither of those people exist. 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 up at ILM where they’re dialing in this action you’ve described.
They have to do it in a way that looks human and believable, yet completely over the top, and the work they did with those guys. Particularly with the Hulk, who’s not just the Hulk there, but he’s 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 a little time.”
Question: You’ve filmed in numerous countries, South Africa being one of them, what was that like?
Joss Whedom: “Fun. I mean, I got to go to a lot of countries I’ve never been to and see these beautiful cities and these places and eat really good. I don’t get to take vacations. Location scouting is definitely the next best thing.”
Question: We just met with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olson and they said that they didn’t have to audition for their roles. What was it about them that made them perfect for the roles that they got?
Joss Whedom: “Yeah, I didn’t want anybody else. I just wanted them. Aaron is too pretty to live, I’ve dealt with the Hemsworth problem, so I can forgive. He’s somebody that I just saw even in Kick-Ass where he’s playing kind of a weak character that he just commands the screen and it was, I think Nowhere Boy, where I just said, oh, this is my guy because he’s an old school movie star. He’s that commanding and beautiful.
He looks like he could be kind of an arrogant, he’s not. He’s the sweetest puppy I know, but he’s great at playing that sort of like, I got this and that’s Quicksilver. Quicksilver is that sort of, he’s always hotheaded, he’s always making or 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, I hope I got those in the right order, and 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.”
Question: What was the hardest scene to shoot? Do you have one that sticks out?
Joss Whedom: “I would say probably after the first attack by Ultron. Everybody’s in the lab kind of trying to figure out what’s going on. We referred to that scene as the “WTF scene”, it was just very difficult for me to put it together. It’s hard to explain why. There’s something about the way the light in the room, I could not find the focus of where everybody should be and how they should move and Robert had to do something really difficult which was start laughing in the middle of this scene, as sincerely become a little unhinged.
And getting there and sort of making that work, that was one that I struggled with. I struggled every much with the party scene. The after party scene which we shut down during shooting early one day because I started shooting it and I hated everything I was doing and then I was like what should I do? What’s wrong? And then I realized, wait a minute. Didn’t I just make an entire movie where people sit around and drink? Wasn’t that Much Ado About Nothing? Ohhh, and then I called. I was like I need cards, I need beers. Anyway, I get all these things and we’ll do it all handheld and we’ll just let them go and as soon as I remembered how to shoot a party, it became a party.”
Question: On that note, that party scene is actually my favorite scene in the movie and so I’m curious to that, if it was all scripted or were the actors ad libbing at all, or?
Joss Whedom: “There’s a little, they’re throwing stuff out. With Robert in a situation like that, I’ll usually give him 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 helps the flow particularly in something like that. You don’t want to feel camera moves and/or dialogue. You just want to feel like you stayed at the party. I’m glad.
Question: We hear Ultron say, upon this rock, I shall build my church, and we also hear the vision say I am. Was there any type of significance to having these forms of artificial intelligence kind of speak those Biblical terms?
Joss Whedom: “Yes. I mean it’s not necessarily specific in the sense of we are saying this about this person, this about Ultron to say he has a bit of a God complex is not and that was all James by the way. I didn’t want to but we are talking about new life and we are talking about the vision in particular is something sort of more than man and that iconography is deliberate, but it’s open to interpretation. I’m not saying that they are one thing or another. I’m saying that our response to them contains some element of that that understanding of ourselves and our history.
I mean, it’s a Frankenstein story as much as its anything else and the Frankenstein story is, who made me? Why am I here? And I guess I’m kind of pissed about it. That iconography rolls into that very naturally, I think.”
Question: Did you plan something at the beginning of production that you didn’t get to do in the movie?
Joss Whedom: “Is there something we didn’t do in the movie? SO much movie. There’s always stuff you either give up on or just realize is ridiculous, but I can’t really think of something we didn’t do. There’s stuff we cut out but you know the first cut of the movie was an hour longer than the one that’s in theaters. Yeah. And I think it’s the length it should ought to be.
I’m very happy. It’s, in fact, a minute shorter than the first one which is a point of personal pride because as much as I wanted this to be bigger, I didn’t want it to be bloat. I didn’t want us to seem like we were full of ourselves, like you love us. Here’s three hours. You’d like to pee? Tough.”
Having sat down with Joss Whedom was beyond amazing, he inspired me to look beyond and to continue to push myself to do better everyday. I hope you enjoy this interview and continue to tuned in for even more exclusive interviews and the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie review coming up this Friday.
Marvel’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON will be in theaters May 1, 2015. Starting Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders with James Spader and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. For more information please visit the Avengers Facebook page.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Trailer #3
Marvel Studios presents “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Patricia Whitcher, Stan Lee and Jon Favreau serve as executive producers. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015.
Disclosure: I was provided with an all expense paid trip to L.A to facilitate the review of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, no additional compensation was received.