Thor Ragnarok - Cate Blanchett as Hela

We heard that plays into the motion capture work, but there are there points where there’s a physical costume?

CB: Yeah, and I really wanted to do some camera tests, because sometimes when you throw an idea into the ring, people don’t really trust you until they’ve seen it. So we played in front of camera and everyone began to think, “OK, this is really interesting.” So I think I’ve worn the costume a little bit more than perhaps I would have otherwise.

We’ve heard there’s more humor injected into the Thor franchise now than there was previously. In the scene we saw today between you and Loki, there seems to be some playful energy between you two. Is that something that Hela possesses throughout the movie? Is there a lot of playful taunting in her villainy?

CB: Yeah, I think there’s got to be. That’s what I love about the Marvel Universe and how it exists in the film world. It knows when to put its tongue in its cheek, and I think that’s great. I think that’s what makes it fun. It knows when it’s doing something grand and comically, in terms of the comic book universe, important. But it also knows when it needs to send itself up. Taika’s got this rare ability to be at once really cruel and incredibly daggy. I don’t know what the translation is in American speak. It’s not nerdy. It’s more endearing than nerdy. Nerdy’s is a bit more pejorative. Daggy is just someone…

Is it dorky?

CB: No, dorky is kind of judgmental. Daggy is just quirky. It’s kind of a quirky, dorky, nerdy. Cool, quirky, dorky, nerdy – equals daggy. We’ll get the t-shirts printed.

It looks like there’s definitely a history that Hela has with Valkyrie, Loki, Thor, and Hulk. What are those relationships like?

CB: Problematic. Val and Hela have a rather problematic history.

We heard about a surreal flashback.

CB: Oh my God, that was incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like it. That particular flashback that Val has, the way they were shooting that, they had a horse – a real horse galloping through there, through the studio – but the way it was recorded, it really did capture that feeling of when you have a dream that’s also borderline nightmare, where it has both lightness and incredible weight. It’s that strange, dreamlike sensation that I have anyway. It was amazing.

How much did working on The Lord of the Rings prepare you for this? I know you’ve probably never done motion capture before this film.

CB: Yeah, Andy Serkis is such a pioneer of this whole way or working and really authoring a performance. So I learned a lot watching him and working with him on his very dark interesting version of the Jungle Book. At that time, I actually had a camera as well, which was even weirder.

Both Taika and Peter Jackson, insisted on having a lot of the physical world present. You should see Taika’s own illustrations. He’s an incredible artist and he knows how important it is for the actors to, even if they’re not gonna have that complete physical world, they have a sense of what the atmosphere is that they’re walking into. That really helps so you’re not in a complete blue screen universe with no idea what you’re looking at or what you’re touching.

Also, to work with Zoe Bell, who’s not only an extraordinary stunt woman beyond compare, but she’s a fantastic actor. To have her as a resource and a partner in creating this whole thing has been great. I think as a result, under her tutelage, I’ve been able to do a lot more of that physical stuff than I thought possible and that was the same with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. In my experience, a lot was done in camera. It’s augmented and there’s obviously a huge post-production process, but a lot of it was actually done there and then, with make-up, with the acting bits.

Thor Ragnarok - Cate Blanchett as Hela

When we spoke with Chris Hemsworth, he mentioned how reading the script, he could see the villain that Hela would be or he could see how you might play it and then was kind of taken aback when he got his first look at the character that you crafted. He though you could take this even farther from a traditional villain…

CB: It’s the same with Chris. Because I came in a little later than Mark [Ruffalo] and Tessa [Thompson] and Tom [Hiddleston] and Chris had started. So I said, “Could I see some dailies just so I could get a sense of the tone?” because I knew Taika was directing it. And I was riveted. I thought, “Wow, this is so – it’s like Chris has harnessed all the energy of the previous film and is using that, then also subverting it, which is really thrilling to watch. It was really helpful for me to know we can stretch it that far.

You’re in such safe hands with Taika tonally, having seen all his other films. You know three-quarters of it make it chucked out but you’ve got to chuck it out there in order to find that little gem. That’s what play is, and sometimes, on some sets, you can feel that that’s not really possible. They want you to play but they really don’t want you to play. But you feel that Taika’s in there, because Taika is actually physically in the film twice. [Laughs]

Did you share any screen time with him in the movie?

CB: Not that I know of but it depends. It’s possible.

Did you share any with Jeff Goldblum?

CB: No, I don’t think so, but then you never know, unfortunately. I love that man.

Your character as the Goddess of Death has certain attributes that are similar to Mistress Death, which could be a big part of Infinity War. So can you say anything about whether you would have a possible continued presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the next few years?

CB: I don’t know. I suppose it depends what they end up with. You never know. I’ve had an absolute ball, but it doesn’t mean my work is any good. Having fun doesn’t necessarily mean that it affects the quality. Yes, I don’t know how to answer that question and I’m not being evasive, I don’t know. That’s up to the big bosses.

When you were cast, I think people were really surprised. Bringing an actress like you into the Marvel Universe was really exciting to a lot of people. Was this the kind of a thing that you had been looking to do or was working with Taika and this script just so compelling that you wanted to do it?

CB: Yeah, absolutely. Gosh, yeah. I always wanted to enter into a world that — it’s far more exciting when you don’t know anything about it. “How would I do that?” Most of the time that’s the way I like to enter into work. Whether or not people are necessarily surprised, I’m always trying to — you’ve gotta to trip yourself up. The failure and the missteps and the lapses of judgment are very public, but you just got to throw that caution to the wind. I don’t think it was a lapse in judgment except, but I was super excited by it. It was exactly what I was looking for. It’s been a real tonic actually.

***

Be sure to check out our full interviews with the rest of the cast of Thor: Ragnarok including Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, not to mention director Taika Waititi. Plus, our full set visit report is chock full of a bunch of information for you to check out right now as we wait one more month for Thor: Ragnarok to hit theaters on November 3, 2017.

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