Chances are you know who Joss Whedon is, if you don’t…
Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers – his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers.
He also happens to be a writer and director of a little movie franchise inside the Marvel universe titled Avengers.
While in L.A. for the Avengers Event our group of bloggers had the chance to interview Joss Whedon about the upcoming blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron (in theaters May 1st). Below is some of the highlights of that interview.
Do you and your brother (Jed Whedon) stay up late and have phone calls and have strategizing sessions and be like, oh, this is what we’re going to do next and?
WHEDON: Um, well, I just made a movie and he just had a baby, so not lately. Um, we did. Uh, you know, when we were first starting out, but at some point this movie consumed me not unlike a whale.
So, you have that iconic shot of the Avengers jumping in slow motion which, I think all the fan boys and girls have like gone wild over. Can you talk about how that came to be, whose idea it was?
WHEDON: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. Um, that, that, that shot, um, that was the last shot we got finished, um ‘cause it’s, it’s over a minute long and um, it, but you know, I wanted to create some frames that were just unabashedly comic book frames that were, that would speak to our love of, of the one thing, and um, uh, and that one took, you know, longer to create than anything else.
And to dial in and, but it was important to me to have that right away, like first up in the movie. Um, to say, not to say, and now we’ve got to get everybody back together and let’s go find them, now we find Captain America and he’s digging in a trench and now we find, and uh, 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.
You have so many amazing characters with all these great stories. Was it really hard to make sure
everyone got enough screen time?
WHEDON: Um, yes. [LAUGHS] Yeah.
So you know, how did you balance that?
WHEDON: It’s, you know, it’s hard. What’s, 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. Um, you know, 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, you know, there was always a reason for everyone to be together.
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?
WHEDON: I’m kind of, um, I’ve, I’ve, I have a weird relationship with pop culture. I’ve never really been a part of it until I suddenly was, um, and so, you know, most of my influences, um, are a little left of center, uh, and, or very old. You know, the directors that I look at, um, when I’m thinking about a movie, usually are people like Vincent Minnelli or Sam Fuller, or you know, um, Frank Barseghian and, but it’s the people who, not just artists. It’s just the people in my, in my own life, uh, that I see working four times as hard as I ever can. And, and, and trying to do things they can’t.Those are the people that they never have. Those, 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…
You filmed in numerous countries, South Africa being one of them, what was that like?
WHEDON: Um, fun. I mean, I got to a lot of countries I’ve never been to, um, and see these beautiful cities and these places and, and um, uh, eat really good friend and generally, yeah, that’s, I don’t get to take vacations. Location scouting is definitely the next best thing.
What was it about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olson that made them perfect for their roles?
WHEDON: You know, um, yeah, I didn’t want anybody else. I just wanted them. Um, Aaron is too pretty to live, but I’ve, dealt with the Hemsworth problem, so I can forgive. Um, he’s somebody that I just saw, uh, even in Kick-Ass where he’s playing kind of a weak character, that he, that he just commands the screen and it was, I think Nowhere Boy, where I just said, oh, this is, this is my guy because he’s an old school movie star. He’s that commanding and beautiful.
But he also, he looks like he could be kind of an arrogant dick. He’s not! He’s the sweetest puppy I know, but um, but he’s great at playing that sort of like, oh, I got this. You know, that sort, and that’s Quicksilver to a tee. Quicksilver is that sort of, he’s always hotheaded, he’s always um, you know, making a, being a pain for everyone, but is essential and very cool. And Lizzie, I sat down with Lizzie ‘cause um, I had not, I’d just seen Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene and I hope I got those in the right order, and you know, 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.
There is a party scene int he movie, it’s actually my favorite. I’m curious to that, if it was all scripted or did the actors ad-lib at all?
WHEDON: There’s a little, they’re throwing stuff out. They definitely, you know, um, 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, um, 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, it helps the flow particularly in something like that. You don’t want to feel camera moves or you know, and, and dialogue. You just want to feel like you stayed at the party. I’m glad.
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?
WHEDON: Yes. I mean, it’s not necessarily specific in the sense of we are saying this about this person, this about, um, Ultron, to say he has a bit of a God complex is, is not, and that was all James, by the way…. We are talking about new life and we are talking about the vision in particular is something, you know, 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 uh, you know, 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. So that, iconography rolls into that very naturally, I think.
Did you plan something at the beginning of production that you didn’t get to do in the movie?
WHEDON: SO much movie. There’s always stuff you, sort of, you either give up on, or, just, you know, 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, oh, you love us. Here’s three hours. You’d like to pee? Tough.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Chris Evans as Captain America. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, 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, Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen 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, p.g.a., Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015.
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Marvel’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON will hit theaters everywhere on May 1st!
Watch for more Avengers: Age of Ultron blog posts to be published here soon, including interviews with Kevin Feige, Jeremy Renner & Cobie Smulders, James Spader & Paul Bettany and a movie review !
FTC Disclaimer: I attended an expense paid trip by Disney/Marvel to press events for Avengers: Age of Ultron. All opinions shared are always honest and my own.