Press Conference Interview With The Cast, Director And Producer Of Thor

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TOM HIDDLESTON: Right, the bro aspect of the word is for real. Chris is absolutely right. I can’t imagine having to go to sort of the emotional extremity that we both have to go to if we actually didn’t like each other. It’d be just horrendous to go to work. And I think, you know, the fact that we get along makes it kind of like – we just egg each other on – and you know – between takes, we’d like raise each other’s game or something. And we just had a really, really good time.

And also, there are so many things that went wrong, that were just accidents that make you laugh. And it’s such a huge journey. We both spent two years of our lives working on this film, and it’s so nice that there’s somebody else who’s kind of alongside. But in terms of vying for the attention of Tony, Tony was amazing. And I haven’t actually said this on record, but Tony, he would just regale us with stories of when he was a young actor and starting out in The Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. I’ll never forget that story you told about Katherine saying, “Stop acting, Tony. You’ve got a good face; you’ve got a good voice. You’ve got a good body. Stop acting.”

QUESTION: Mr. Branagh, when the news was announced that you were directing the film there was some discussion that you felt like perhaps a less likely choice. I’m wondering if during filming you ever felt like a less likely choice to direct your film.

KENNETH BRANAGH: [LAUGHS] The scale of the undertaking couldn’t help but make you feel occasionally that–you know, it was–it was very, very challenging, but that was part of what was attractive. And people sometimes ask me, “Well how did you do it?” And I say, “Have you seen the credits at the end, there’s seven minutes of ‘em. You see all of those names? That’s how I did it.”

And frankly when you walked in on day one and there are frost giants and there’s green screen and there’s real mist and rain and there are six principals in their new costumes for the first time and all of that and four camera crews and hundreds of people, frankly these are the kinds of people you go and squeeze and say, “What do I do next?” [LAUGHTER]

I actually went to Kevin and I said, “So what should I do first, you know, the first day at school. Should I go to visual effects? Should I go to Three-D, all the places I don’t know? And actually you said–I don’t know if you remember this but you said, “The one thing you need to do right now and until it’s finished is cast Thor. That’s it, just cast Thor.” And every time I watch the movie and I see Tad Asano later in the movie responding to a bit of the story and he goes “We must find Thor! We must find Thor!” And I remember that was day one, “Find Thor!” So we did.

QUESTION: This is now the fourth film in the Marvel cannon line I suppose, but for this film did you feel limited in any way or because it was the first story for this character, did you feel free?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Absolutely, because Kevin and the rest of my colleagues at Marvel were sort of completely–and to me invisibly–being the architects of the larger universe. And I always felt whether it was simply because that’s all I was capable of, and I feel as though that’s true, that Thor and Thor for one film is all–this is all I have to do is try. As a viewer I am intrigued by the interweaving of the way things happen in the Marvel universe. And so I was so excited by the opportunities to maybe relate to that in some way with there. But it’s actually a collaboration partnership. We talk, you do it, the freedom really doesn’t come into it, you’re just making a film.

QUESTION: Kenneth, do you think that your experience in other effects movies like Potter for example, as an actor did that make you a little bit more comfortable in terms of now that you’re making this big effects laden film yourself as a director?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Yes, although, you know, my experience was that the quality of the technology changes. The advances in the technology change so much that it’s really always on a daily basis is advancing. So I did the Harry Potter quite some time ago and as brilliant as they are I think Marvel, you know, are on the sort of cutting edge of things, so I’m pleased to say so. The whole of the process from day one through to the end was an expanding possibility with visual effects. So it was a bit of preparation, but frankly it was new opportunities every day.

QUESTION: Kenneth, how challenging for you to direct the movie based on the comics compared with the Shakespeare film? You know, which one is harder?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Ah, it’s the scale thing, you know, that is tricky. But I mean, Kevin why don’t you speak a little to your position on how difficult it was to go from comics to the screen with this particular character, maybe?

KEVIN FEIGE: Well, all the characters have their own challenges of course; Thor, being a particular challenge because he’s from another world. We don’t have a Superman type character who is from other worlds. You know, in our cosmic-side of the universe we do, but in terms of the primary characters that we have, Thor is unique in that regard. He also is unique in that he is based in part on Norse mythology, so you have, you know, sort of a big melting pot of a lot of different ideas, which 45 plus years ago Stan Lee and Jack Kirby put together into our great sort of mythology.

And now we’re 600 plus issues into it now and we sat with 600 issues and said, “What story do we tell?” And frankly the writers had a big challenge and we’ve been working on the movie for many years and there were a lot of different incarnations. So I won’t–sort of trial and error, but figuring out we’re gonna introduce the story that starts on Earth, present day, take the viewer to–and just basically throw ‘em into these other worlds–and then bring them back to Earth. So we have a little bit of an idea of where Thor is from and why he’s reacting the way he is was probably structurally the biggest challenge.

QUESTION: Kenneth did you find this–it’s very Shakespearian in a way, this family. Did all of your work with Shakespeare help you with that, and also wondered is there an origin story where he finds the mallet and he becomes Thor for the first time? And I wonder why you–‘cause I don’t know the comic books–why you didn’t maybe choose to do that?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Well, to answer the first one the–you know, we’d just seen about two billion people watch a royal family at work, you know? And so I would say that it is Shakespearian, but just–it’s global I suppose. That we’re interested in what goes on in the corridors of power whether it’s the White House or whether it’s Buckingham Palace. And so Shakespeare was interested in the lives of, you know, the medieval royal families, but he also raided the Roman myths and the Greek myths for the same purpose. And I think Stan Lee went to the myths that Shakespeare hadn’t used.

You know, all of them recognizing that they contain briefly told, very condensed stories of–that I think are very universal in their application. I think the connection, if there is one, is that the stakes are high. So in something like Henry the IVth or Henry the Vth where the young prince–how a reckless man falling into bad company, could that prince be the king? Is he the right man for the job, is that kind of story. Our flawed hero who must earn the right to be king, is in our piece, but I think what’s key is the stakes. There it’s Europe and England in power and here it’s the universe. It’s when that family has problems everybody else is affected, so it is–it’s like, you know, if Thor throws a fit and is yelling at his father and is banished, I mean suddenly it’s–the world is–the worlds are unstable. And what it means is if the actors take those stakes seriously it is passionate and it is, you know, very intense. And I suppose that kind of a observation of ordinary human–although they’re gods–frailties’ in people in positions of power is an obsession of great story tellers including Shakespeare and including the Marvel universe.

QUESTION: You spoke earlier about the magnitude of casting your Thor. Can you walk us through the casting process a little bit more and then once you were on set what Anthony and Chris’s relationship was like?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Fom what the boys were saying, you know, finding that sort of character arc for Thor was key and we were doing that all the way through the early process of finding Thor. So it’s true to say that Chris Hemsworth came in early on and I think that we weren’t fully on the page with what we were developing for him. We weren’t as clear–we became pretty ambitious with what was clearly going to be a character journey. Somebody who definitely changed from the beginning of the movie to the end, so the more we realized it wouldn’t only rely on brawn, we saw that it would need some sort of acting brains and some emotion and some fun and that the character could take it and the story seemed to want it.

And then at some point we said, “Well, we should go back and meet that very handsome Australian lad who came in when our story wasn’t really on the page. And when he came back and he did a number of things, he read and he did sort of workshops and he read with actors, with actresses. And then on one day when he kind of nailed it, he told a story of Thor’s kind of deeds, like a warrior retelling some story of a great battle and the mixture of a kind of arrogance that he needed to have was done with such charm and he absolutely nailed it.

It meant that when he got on set with Tony Hopkins there was the–additionally this required quality of an innate charming confidence that did not spill over into arrogance or overconfidence that meant that he would stand up in a scene with Tony Hopkins, you know? And he couldn’t as the prince of Asgard shy away from it–so it was really a privilege to see how he embodied all of that. And then, you know, ultimately of course when he takes his shirt off there’s also a wow factor that cannot be denied.

QUESTION: Kevin and Ken, aside from The Avengers will we be seeing Thor return in maybe some sequels; do you have a trilogy planned, Ken will you be returning to direct as well?

KEVIN FEIGE: As we’ve already discussed today we’ve got 600 plus issues, we’ve got a thousand years of mythology, we have other stories we’d like to tell. The audience will tell us whether they want to see those other stories, but we have to be prepared for that if we should get the call. So Don Payne is working on story ideas for a Part Two, we’ve got various options with Ken to discuss coming, but right now the focus is on the first one but Don is slowly but surely thinking about where to take the character next should we be so lucky.

QUESTION: This question’s more directed maybe to Zack and Ashley, but the integration of S.H.I.E.L.D. was really apparent in this film more so than, you know, the Iron Man films. Can you talk about maybe folding that in more with this particular script as well as making S.H.I.E.L.D almost look over their heads? Like they’re, “We’re out of our element here, ‘cause we don’t know what to do.”

ZACK STENTZ: I mean you all have seen the film. What was great about S.H.I.E.L.D is that they’re a great Thor–is that Thor needs a force of opposition through the entire film and obviously when he’s in Asgard or when he’s in Jotunheim there are, you know, frost giants and monsters and his brother and things like that, but once he gets down to Earth he needs obstacles. He needs obstacles in the way of, you know, getting back his hammer and S.H.I.E.L.D was a way–you know, making S.H.I.E.L.D prominent in that way was just a great way to give something that could push back against Thor especially when he didn’t have his powers.

That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank the cast and crew for taking the time to talk to us. Be sure to check out our Thor review.

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