The 'Avengers' Cast Share Embarrassing On-Set Stories And How RDJ Forced Them To Bond
It's been a dream come true. Over a week ago, we were lucky enough to have been invited to the 'Avengers: Infinity War' press event in Singapore, where we got to see Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Nebula in the flesh!
Over the course of four days, we got to watch the 30-minute preview that we're not allowed to talk about until the movie comes out, confirm that Robert Downey Jr. is memang Tony Stark in real life at the press con (see photo above), and joined thousands of fans in celebrating 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at Marina Bay Sands with RDJ, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karen Gillan, director Joe Russo, and executive producer Trinh Tran.
Being a Marvel superfan, we're still pinching ourselves that we got to experience all of the above in person!
Now for the cherry on top - we also got to sit down for a quick chat with Benedict Cumberbatch and Karen Gillan, so we jumped at the chance to ask them some of our burning questions:
1. Hey Ben, hi Karen! As we celebrate ten years of the MCU, what has been the one moment that made you realise the sheer magnitude of this universe you get to be a part of?
Benedict Cumberbatch (BC): Ah... it's hard, there are lots! This film is a big deal, and you don't get to be in an Avengers film without a little bit happening in your life beforehand, you know what I mean? I guess, being on the stage at D23 and looking at the clip the first time, that was terribly moving...
Karen Gillan (KG): Yeah, that was incredible!
BC: Tom Holland (who plays Spider-Man) and I, we're both pretending not to have cried, thinking that maybe we're just a little bit hysterical and overworked and tired, but it was genuinely really moving, because of the arcs of the stories and the characters, but also that much time spent on this incredible, unique enterprise.
2. This being the biggest Marvel movie to date, what was it like to meet everyone and working with such a massive cast?
KG: It's so vital to feeling like you can fail. I mean, you want a safe environment on set, coz you're gonna be taking risks and exploring new territory. You can't have that without having a good atmosphere among all the people on set. That's definitely what this film had for sure, everyone was so great.
Robert (Downey Jr.) was just leading the charge so well, and making us socialise at lunch time instead of going back to our trailers, so it was really nice.
BC: He's a really great leading man. He's so generous with all the kinds of things that his status brings with him, he shares everything.
3. Man, that sounds like a lot of fun! Speaking of which, what's the most ~interesting~ thing that has happened to you on set?
BC: Falling off the set on my first day, that was interesting! I can't say anything beyond that though, because that would be giving stuff away that I shouldn't.
KG: There was one moment where I remember, I don't think this is a spoiler. Everyone was supposed to war cry, and I was like, "Okay, I'm gonna give them one hell of a war cry, here we go... RAAAAAHHHH" and then no one else war cried! It was honestly the most embarrassing thing.
4. Was there anyone you wished you could've filmed with, but you didn't get to?
BC: Jeremy Renner, can I say that? He's not in... um... bleeps himself Next question, please!
5. This question's for Karen - playing Nebula, where does she stand in this movie as one of Thanos' daughters?
KG: Well yeah, because of that, she obviously had a really strong motivation to help, or rather, achieve her own agenda, which is to take Thanos down. It's quite an emotional experience for her, because of her whole backstory and what she went through with it.
I don't know what else I can say without spoiling it, I'm nervous that Marvel's sniper is gonna take me down!
6. Benedict, we heard that you're the only cast member who got the entire script before filming began. How did you manage that?
BC: I stole Robert Downey Jr.'s! [laughs] I'm sort of the keeper of secrets anyway, from all sorts of other stuff that I've done. As a fan, I didn't really wanna know what was going on, but as a character, I kinda have to understand the bracket in which I was operating. I really did, for reasons which will become apparent.
But that means nothing. I'll be sat there, watching the premiere and going, "Well, I didn't read that."
7. There's a pretty great line in the 30-minute preview where Doctor Strange straight up called Tony Stark a "douchebag" to his face...
BC: Oh, I'm very happy to say that that line was my line. I invented that line. "Protecting your reality, you douchebag" was my contribution to that moment in the film. I'm very happy about it.
SAYS: So how much of your lines were ad-libbed; how much freedom were you give when you spontaneously decide to change things up?
BC: [We were given] a lot of freedom. The Russos really encouraged it, and the scriptwriters were great at coming up with pitches for alternatives [as well].
8. With everything that's happening in the world right now, what's the most humbling thing about playing a superhero in this day and age?
BC: That we're stronger together. United we stand, divided we fall. [The phrase] "Avengers assemble", it's about finding a common purpose, forgetting your differences, and uniting.
KG: For Nebula, a really good thing to take from her character is that... I think if we all listen to each other - and I mean really listen - then we might understand each other a little bit more. Nebula in the first Guardians movie was a villain, and then we learnt more about her and listened to her story, and suddenly she wasn't so much of a villain anymore. Empathy is quite an important message behind her.
BC: I think these Marvel films are really popular culture at its best. As removed from reality as it is, there's always a thread of reality or something sociopolitical about it, whether it's inclusivity and diversity in 'Black Panther', or that there's a way through science and logic to something more connected and potentially more profound in 'Doctor Strange'.
9. Zoe Saldana (who plays Gamora) said in a recent interview that it hurts when people in the industry look down on the superhero genre and that actors who do superhero films are somewhat "selling out". What's your take on that?
BC: I'm not aware that anyone did, but Zoe is a great example of how high the talents bar is in these films. To be taken on a journey and be invested in these things, I think this is one of the reasons why Marvel do so well. They're also light on their feet - they take the zeitgeist a little bit, but they also thread humour through what they do, and so you'll never take it too seriously.
I think for all those reasons, I don't feel hurt by these insults, 'coz they don't hold any power. They're not true.
KG: No, they're not true! It's just a bit elitist. These movies are fun and escapism for people. It's easy to forget the purpose of entertainment sometimes, I think.
10. With the success of DC's Wonder Woman, where do you feel women stand in this male-dominated world of superheroes, especially now that we have Captain Marvel coming out next year?
KG: The success of Wonder Woman - which I loved - just says so much about the appetite for female-driven superhero movies. The numbers speak for themselves, and I think that obviously, we need more because people want it.
KG: I think we're definitely taking a step in the right direction with Captain Marvel. I'm so excited, I think that's gonna be a big celebration for all of us to see a female-led Marvel movie.
11. One last question, and let's end this on a lighter note - if you could choose to play a Marvel character that's not your own, who would it be?
BC: [without hesitation] Groot! I am Groot. He's sometimes a little medium-sized, or a big tree, and he says "I am Groot". That's it.
BC: Well, because! I mean, it's an easy day in the office. Vin Diesel literally phones it in, you know?
KG: He really does! If you go through the whole script, you'll see that James Gunn writes down the subtext...
BC: See. It's not Vin Diesel going, [does Vin Diesel impression] "I think what I mean in this, is that I'm pissed off, but I understand." No, the subtext is all laid out. No acting required, it's a walk in the park.
KG: I don't know who to choose, so I'm going to choose Iron Man. I'm choosing a different one each time, I'm really fickle.
Catch Benedict Cumberbatch and Karen Gillan in Avengers: Infinity War, currently in cinemas. Also, read our exclusive interview with AIW director Joe Russo:
Gearing up to watch the biggest Marvel superhero movie ever made? Catch up on the last 10 years before you walk into the cinema:
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