Jon Favreau interview

On the set of Spider-Man: Far From Home, a handful of journalists and I watched a scene being filmed in which Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan tries to protect Peter Parker’s high school friends from an unseen threat in the Tower of London. Glass cases were smashed, pyrotechnics were being utilized, and the kids – standing in a defensive pose, armed with ancient weapons they seemingly grabbed from exhibits in the Tower, but certain they were facing death in only a few short seconds – all began revealing their regrets and secrets. Some were funny (“I dream to be an influencer, but I buy all my followers,” admitted Flash Thompson), some were sad (“I have a fake ID, but I’ve never used it,” said Betty Brant), but Happy Hogan’s was the most surprising of them all.

Read on to find out what he said and to read our full Jon Favreau interview, who took some time away from filming to tell us about Happy’s role in this superhero sequel, managing his time between all of the projects he’s working on, and the possibility of an Iron Man 4.

“I’m in love with Spider-Man’s aunt.”

That was Happy’s big reveal in the Tower of London, and from what we saw in the first trailer, it appears as if Aunt May is into him as well. We tried getting a little more info out of Favreau, but as you’ll see, he dodged the question like a champ.

One more small detail: Happy and the kids are standing in the center of an exhibit room facing the door, as this unseen threat, probably the Fire Elemental, tries to break down the door to get to them. At one point, Happy mentions that the enemy is “working through the Vibranium,” which seemed to either imply that the door is made of that material, or that Happy may have employed some barricade technology made of Vibranium as one last defense mechanism before he entered the room. In the interview, someone asked Favreau about his Vibranium comment, so I wanted to make sure you all had the proper context.

Avengers: Infinity War had recently come out when we met the busy actor/writer/director on the Far From Home set, and his introductory comment was a reference to the ending of that movie with Thanos’ famous snap (no one on our set visit would confirm when Far From Home takes place, but it’s clear now that it’s set after Avengers: Endgame).

Favreau: I’m here. I’m alive. Unless I’m a red herring.

So we heard “I’m in love with Spider-Man’s aunt.” Can you expand on that?

Ohhh, interesting. We haven’t filmed that yet, so I don’t know.

How are you managing your time between this, The Lion King, and Star Wars?

So I’m working on Lion King now, and actually while I’m out, I go to [visual effects company] MPC after work and look at the stuff there, because they’re doing the visual effects [in London]. And then we’re prepping the Star Wars series back in L.A. Actually, with all the time zones, it works out well. But when you have to be on set it’s tricky, so I have one of the producers who’s working on both the other projects is with me, so I kind of get corralled around. But the nice part about acting is I get to just focus on that when I’m on the set. This is really a fun one, too, and I like working with [director] Jon [Watts] again. He’s a funny guy.

I saw The Lion King footage at D23. It looked amazing.

Did you? Thank you. We’re really giving them the time to do it right. And that was relatively early footage, rushed for that event because we wanted to get it out. But I’m here working with them, it’s a lot of the same people I worked with on The Jungle Book. It was probably a big learning curve for me on that one, and now I’m up to speed and I’m used to working with all of them and I know what the tech can do – and there’s all-new tech. A lot of the consumer-facing VR stuff that’s out there that wasn’t out there back around the time of Jungle Book, we’re using mostly motion-capture tech and now using game engine tech and consumer-facing VR stuff. We’re able to create a virtual production, and it’s a very cool, efficient way of working and helps contribute to a live-action feel because we’re able to go into VR and set cameras and operate real cameras that drive virtual cameras. So it has a look that hopefully will feel photo-real. Even though everything’s animated in it, it should still have the look of a live-action film. You’ll see, you’ll be the judge.

What is Happy’s role in this movie?

I like to think I was the Nick Fury of Homecoming. Now I’m more the Hagrid. (laughs) But I’m having a lot of fun, because I know a lot of the actors. I really liked how Homecoming came out. I love the tone, I love the mix of humor, and it reminded me a lot of – especially working with Gwyneth and Robert also – it reminded me a lot of the first Iron Man. There was no pressure on us. We got to have fun and be funny and start to open up new doors. That storyline was new, so it was simple. And then Tom Holland is this really cool, younger [kid who] looks up to Tony as like a mentor figure. That passing of the torch that took place in that one was really good, and I love the sense of humor. To me, when you get that balance right is where I really appreciate the kind of indie, funny, improv-y type of feel. And then you have really cool action that balances out well if you have somebody who has a good handle on things like Jon does.

What kind of technology is your character looking at in this movie? We heard you say Vibranium, there’s the Stealth Suit. What can you say about that?

I try to know as much as my character does, so I try not to know too much. But I know enough to – Happy isn’t somebody who’s innovating technology, but he’s one who’s been around it for a long time. So some of the stuff is still the Stark stuff, and there’s new stuff. And Spider-Man’s sort of a tech hero, I think it’s been established in the MCU, is we’re really leaning into that he’s a little genius too. And Tony has all of the resources of Stark for when he created the suit for him. So it’s a fun balance. But honestly as I go through it, I get pages the morning of. I’m like, ‘OK, what’s going on here?’ and I can kind of piece it together, and I look in the makeup trailer of all the headshots and the names of all the characters, and I’ve put together what I think the movie’s about. But I can guess with you. I can speak freely because I don’t know anything.

Have they done anything to touch on how Tony and Happy’s relationship has changed if Tony is not in this movie?

I’m on loan-out a lot, like with Gwyneth, I was on loan-out. So I’m part of the Stark family of companies, and a lot of time has passed since the last one, so a lot has implied.

How has Happy’s relationship with Peter changed?

Well, they were through a lot together. Peter’s relationship with Tony – and Happy’s always been very loyal to Tony, going back to the books, too. Remember, I started playing this because I wanted to give myself a cameo as basically an extra in the first one, and what’s really super strange for me is how all of this has evolved into something so…how should I put it? Every little thread plays out into other things. My neighbor was Clark Gregg. I asked him to play a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Paul Bettany, I actually worked with on Wimbledon. We shot at Shepperton. I asked him to do the voice. He never even saw the first movie. And he turned into The Vision. And Clark Gregg turned into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So it’s a little surreal for me, to be honest with you, how all these little things that were just – Nick Fury doing a post-credits scene as an easter egg for the fans turned into the foundation for the whole Avengers MCU thing. So nothing is wasted. Every little detail the fans really know, so every time we try to lean into it and really try to reinforce that, it seems to help bring a little more humanity and depth to it.

Spider-Man Far From Home - Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan

So Happy’s not a traditional chaperone. So what is he doing in London?

No, but now I kind of am with the kids. But I wasn’t kidding – I was just joking with [the cast] and I was like, ‘I’m kind of like Hagrid here!’ and they’re like, ‘Yeah, you kind of are.’ They were all figuring out who they would be from Harry Potter. Maybe it’s because we’re here shooting it, surrounded by…that’s what they serve us. We get butterbeer for lunch.

Is he there just to protect Peter?

No, he’s sort of – by extension, all these kids are in my charge. Because just by association with Peter, they’re drawn into a world that’s a lot more dangerous than the high school experience that these kids should be going through. It’s cool for me, because the school’s kind of based on the high school I went to, Bronx Science, so I’m throwing out geeky lines to them acting too cool for my character. I’m like, ‘That’s actually not a spear, it’s a halberd.’ Knowing what every weapon in there is, I remember it from my Dungeons and Dragons days, so it’s kind of fun. And I’m from Queens, also. So in Captain America, when they cut to Queens and that was the big chyron, my heart jumped. When you’re from Queens, you don’t really get top billing like that. It’s usually a punch line.

Would you ever jump back in the sandbox and direct one?

Nowadays, who knows? With all of the different platforms and the streaming service. I’m part of the new Disney streaming service and all of these new platforms are emerging and all sorts of really cool – it’s not like network television or not like blockbuster films where everything has to be made for all audiences. Now you can make specific material and content for specific groups. As long as you’re doing a good job and you’re loyal to it and they like what you’re doing, there’s room in this new eco-system. So it’s going to be very interesting to see what not just Lucasfilm does, but Marvel and Disney, to do things that don’t have to compete on a blockbuster weekend in the summer or the holidays. It takes a while for this to ripple through to the audiences, but you’re starting to see out there with the different ways of delivering content, you’re seeing a lot of material coming out. It allows for fresh voices and fresh takes, and certainly something like Marvel has a lot of opportunities because there are so many characters that might not warrant a huge movie but weave together. And you get a lot of chapters. So it’s exciting to see what’s coming.

Have you and Robert ever flirted with the idea of an Iron Man 4?

We haven’t talked about 4. I’ve talked to Kevin about it to see what they’re up to, but we definitely love working together and we love these characters. So we talk about what it would be, and we always joke about the Freak storyline, which is a Happy Hogan storyline where he turns into a Hulk-like character. So we joke about that, but no plans as of yet.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 2, 2019.

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