Posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
On June 12th 2014, I visited the London set of Avengers: Age of Ultron. In October, we posted our on set interviews with Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. Today we’ve been given the green light to publish our interview with Avengers series director Joss Whedon. Here is a short snippet from Joss explaining why he decided to come back for the sequel:
I didn’t actually want to make the film necessarily. I was ragged from the first one, and so I just turned off my brain. I was like, do not think of cool ideas for the next one. Just get through this. But after a few months when they talked about, um… This is now something that makes sense in my life; do I have anything to say? And so my agent calls, I was in London, and he called me and said there’s a deal that’s worth talking about- time to start to think about whether there’s a movie. And I’m going, all right. I went to a pub and sat down with my notebook, and about forty-five minutes later, my notebook was filled. And I texted my agent “yup” and I have so many things to say and I was kind of surprised. It took me unaware. It was very beautiful.
Read our whole Joss Whedon Avengers 2 set interview after the jump.
Joss Whedon Avengers 2 Set Interview
The following interview with Joss Whedon was conducted on the London set of Avengers: Age of Ultron on June 12th 2014. There I participated in with in a roundtable with a group of movie blog colleagues.
What was your head like going into this movie and what were you set out to do differently?
Joss Whedon: I’m sorry, I was napping during that. Um, uh, um, yeah, the first one, I was a raggedy man when I made that film. It did take a lot out of me. Going in this time, I just had to sort of recalibrate me entire existence and throw myself into it more wholeheartedly and say, okay, actually make it harder to make them last, and I’m gonna just invest myself in every part of it- in every production meeting, every location scout, and every question about a prop that I’d like to avoid, and I might even work harder on the script. Um, everything just, you know, there’s nothing in it that I’m not going to be a part of- I’m gonna give myself up to it- like a Christian to a lion.
I’m curious about the look of the Vision and how he’s going to evolve. Are you still working on how he’s gonna look?
No, we make them as close as we can. The stunt guy, we make allowances for the shape of his face and, and padding and things that we’re putting on him but they’re not meant to look different. Basically, what usually happens is, one of the guys, Ryan or one of the guys on his staff, draws something unbelievably beautiful, and we try to create that in real life, and it takes a long time. The first tests were very Violet Beauregarde. I think it really took a long time to get to a place where we felt like, even though we had a little, we will work on him in post. He walks on [set], and we go, oh, it’s Vision, my God.
That was our reaction just walking out there.
Yeah, and of course, I wanted Paul to play this part since before I wanted to make Avengers movies. He’s just got, let’s face it, it’s about cheek bones, people.
When did you first start coming up with ideas for the sequel, and were your first ideas the one’s you’re actually making?
Before I took the first job, I said, well, I don’t know if I’m right for this or if I want it or you want me, but in the second one, the villain has to be Ultron, and he has to create the Vision, and then, that has to be Bettany. It took me three years before I could tell Paul that I’d had that conversation, but after that, I stopped. I was like, that would be cool if you have Ultron, and you have Vision and Paul played him.
And Scarlet Witch and Pietro, definitely. They’re from my era, they’re very different, their powers are different, it’s not all punching, it gives a different palettes and we can do more interesting things. It’s fun; those things were all absolutes. But then I didn’t actually want to make the film necessarily. I was ragged from the first one, and so I just turned off my brain. I was like, do not think of cool ideas for the next one. Just get through this. But after a few months when they talked about, um… This is now something that makes sense in my life; do I have anything to say?
And so my agent calls, I was in London, and he called me and said there’s a deal that’s worth talking about- time to start to think about whether there’s a movie. And I’m going, all right. I went to a pub and sat down with my notebook, and about forty-five minutes later, my notebook was filled. And I texted my agent “yup” and I have so many things to say and I was kind of surprised. It took me unaware. It was very beautiful.
Introducing characters like Pietro (Quicksilver), are you always thinking “I’m inserting this character and now I’m building this huge arc that is going to play out over phase three or phase four?”
Yeah, you’re aware of that, but you sorta can’t be slavish to it. One, I think the biggest mistake in the world of franchising is as it says in Gattica, you know how to be cute and save anything from way back. It’s like, don’t worry, we can do something next time. It’s like, whatever you want, get it in there. Not that we can do everything with every character but you wanna get an arc that’s complete. You don’t want people to think wow, that’s part one of something or even part two of something. I have been lambasted for criticizing Empire Strikes Back, but I wasn’t criticizing the film which I love very much. I was saying, the experience of having a movie not end. It’s weird for me and kind of disturbing. For me, I need to get everything in that I need from him, and then if he continues, either I or somebody else will need more. These characters have existed in their iconic narratives for longer than I’ve been around which is just really long.
Are the ideas you wrote down when you took notes in that pub the ones you’re doing now?
A lot of them, a lot of them. And there’s some that you’re like, this is it; this is the heart of… and then that doesn’t work. But generally speaking it’s character stuff, really. It’s definitely not plot stuff because that’s the stuff that you can pull out of yourself with agony. The character stuff, can these people connect and these people can’t connect, and we can tear them apart and bring them together, and have this insight into the character. That’s the stuff that makes me wanna make a film. Not like, “oh, and then there’s a cool plot twist.” I have to have a mind for that.
Can you talk about the success of the Hulk in the first film? Did you want to preserve him for the world of the Avengers?
Well, I wasn’t the one who said don’t make a Hulk film or anything like that. It was, Kevin said to me, we think right now it’s good to have somebody who could only be in the Avengers. Everybody loves Mark. He’s phenomenal. But the fact that there hasn’t been a Hulk [movie] since that Hulk, it doesn’t suck. My job is hard enough, you know. Cap’s had a movie, Thor’s had a movie. Everyone’s gone through big changes, Iron Man had a movie, and so I have to juggle everybody’s perception of that while still making a movie that you can see having not seen any except the first Avengers, or not even that.