A few weeks ago, I had the amazing chance to see an advance screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and let me tell you, the movie does not disappoint! The following day, members of the press packed into a small room at The Beverly Hilton Hotel for a press conference featuring directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, producer Kevin Feige, and Samuel L. Jackson. For the hour that transpired, the cast and crew answered questions and touched on what to expect from Cap, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and the ever expanding Marvel Universe.
Scarlett Johansson on the evolution of the Black Widow character:
Well, other than being in physical therapy for the rest of my life, I think this is the first time that we’ve really gotten to see kind of Natasha. You know, we saw a little bit of her in Avengers. We saw a bit of her back story and we’ll see more of that in Avengers II, but in this film we really get to see Natasha as a person who gets up, gets ready for work in the morning, has a life outside of just her job once she’s out of the suit. I mean she’s a woman and she has her own kind of reality outside of this even though who knows how far that structure is? But it’s not until I think through the series of circumstances, as the plot unfolds, Steve and Natasha kind of question their own identity. So both of these characters are kind of left cresting the wave of having this huge moment of self-discovery and hopefully we’ll be able to track where that goes in the next installments.
Kevin Feige on the possibility of a sole Black Widow film in the future:
I think it could be great. We’ve got various outlines and ideas of where to take that. There’s a big element that explores her back story in an upcoming Marvel feature. So the question really is when would we want to take her out of that ensemble to go and do her own thing? In fact, as in this movie and as you’ll see in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she is kind of key to so much of the broader world.
Chris Evans on his past concerns on taking the role of Captain America and how the process has evolved:
Had I not done the movies, it would’ve been the biggest mistake of my life. It really would’ve been the biggest regret to date and there are plenty. It’s changed everything for me. I mean not just what it’s enabled me to do outside of these movies, but it’s so comforting knowing that you’re making good movies. It would be a nightmare to be trapped in this contract and be making films that you’re not proud of, but Marvel has the Midas touch, so every time you suit up, you know that you’re making something of quality. It’s rewarding on every level, so thank God I had the right people in my life pushing me to make the right decision.
Chris Evans on the experience working with Anthony Mackie:
Well, I’ve known Anthony for a while now. This is our third movie together. It’s funny. Everyone that I’ve worked with up here, it’s familiar and it’s old relationships, so – when I first met Anthony, it actually wasn’t on a movie set. We got along very well. We’re very similar people. So we hit it off very well and so it was very easy having just kind of a repartee with him offset and I think that translates onset and it’s just he’s – you can tell right now, the guy is life, he’s energy – you know, on set, in the press conference, that’s character. He just brings a certain type of spark that you need on film and you need off as well.
Kevin Feige on the fine line between sticking to the Marvel canon and keeping the films unique:
The key to making these movies different and unique each time is to, I wouldn’t say take chances necessarily, but to be able to move pieces around on the playing board and be able to subvert expectations. In terms of the big event that happens in the movie that changes everything, that was part of the plan for quite awhile – to mix things up and for the world to be very different at the beginning of Avengers II than it was at the end of Avengers I. But also the Russos – in terms of tone – in terms of action, when we met with Joe and Anthony, they were very clear and had very lofty ambitions, saying things like, ‘We want to do the best car chase in any Marvel movie and maybe the best car chase of all time.’ I said, ‘Well, that sounds good. Let’s try that.’ And referencing the best choreographed fight scenes from the last 30 years as inspiration and damned if they didn’t pull it off!
Chris Evans on his experience working with Robert Redford:
He’s amazing. It was pretty intimidating that day, because he is a living legend, but it’s always such a treat when someone you look up to that much lives up to the expectation. I mean he very easily could’ve come onset and hijacked the film, not just as an actor, but given his past as a director and his experience. He very easily could’ve taken over. He showed up with the utmost professionalism. He knew his lines. I think the first day we filmed, we shot until 1:00 in the morning and he stuck around for my off camera stuff. I mean it was like it was his first movie. So he really is such an example of what it is to be great.
Samuel Jackson also shared his thoughts on working with Mr. Redford:
I met Robert in a lot of different situations when I was going to Sundance when I was a younger actor, when he had a more active part in that process and I missed an opportunity to do several films with him over the years. And that morning when I got there to work with him for the first time, we sat down and we talked about a lot of different things. We talked about golf. We talked about life. We talked about movies. So by the time we got on set, it did look like we spent time together or had some past and some darker and more medieval state of counter insurgency. And it was a great experience. He is everything Chris said. He’s professional. He knew his lines. He wanted to do it. He wanted to try them different ways. He wanted to, you know, make things better and that’s part of coming into the Marvel universe. People come in and they see what we do and they kind of want to blend into it and make things better, and as we continue to do it, things do get better.
Anthony Russo on adapting their directing style from shooting episodes of “Community” and “Arrested Development” to a huge Marvel blockbuster:
You still go to set. You’re still directing actors. You’re still working with the crew. You have an infrastructure at Marvel that’s very different than anywhere else in the world, which is an incredible infrastructure. They are very talented, very intelligent people, who are there to help you get your vision across. We always say comedy isn’t very different from action. It requires choreography. So when you’re doing like a good comedic bit, it’s all about the choreography and the timing of it, which isn’t very different than stunt work or, you know, a fight in a movie. It’s all a dance. So we didn’t feel like it was that big of a stretch for us. It felt like every day that we’ve been onset for the last 15 years.
Scarlett Johansson on how she physically prepared for her role this time out:
Well, I had come off of doing a Broadway run, which is pretty much the most physically challenging thing you can do. I felt like if anything was going to prepare me to have stamina, it was that, so everything seemed like a piece of cake after treading the boards for that long and I think I was in pretty solid shape from that run. And then, you know, just maintaining it – boring! Get up at 5:00, go to the gym, you know, all that stuff that’s horrible and not glamorous at all. And then train like a dude and then eat a bunch of lettuce and whatever. That’s how it goes. Nothing fancy.
Joe Russo on the source material they mostly referenced for The Winter Soldier:
Well, the source material for this is Brubaker’s run about The Winter Soldier that came out, I think in 2005, and as we said, its tone is very different from the first film. So that was the source material we drew on obviously, and Joss has said this: it’s called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, it’s not a direct interpretation of that but it’s borrowing tone and it’s borrowing characters and it’s borrowing themes, but that was the strongest source material for this movie.
Samuel L. Jackson on his reaction upon first reading the script for The Winter Soldier:
Well, I’m always excited to do more and Nick seems to grow with each film and I realized when I was reading it that it was a bit more than just a comic book feature. It had intrigue and I’m sure a lot of young people are going to be surprised when they get in the movie and watch it…that they actually have to think about something other than what’s going on. You got to figure out a plot and that always excites me. It’s always a great, great joy to know that I’m going to be back in a space with all the people that I enjoy working with and being able to do things that I did on a very small scale when I was a kid. I mean this is, you know, a dream come true. You sit there and you read comic books when you’re a kid and you wonder if there’s a world like that. You grow up as an actor and they start making movies like that and you wonder, ‘How can I get in that movie?’ And then next thing you know, you’re inside it and you’re kind of like, ‘Yeah!’ So, you know, they’re all pluses there.
Scarlett Johansson on coming back to the part of Black Widow for multiple films:
It’s an interesting challenge to keep coming back to this character. I have the good fortune of playing a character that’s sort of evolving with each kind of installment that you see her in. So, going in to the play the character, of course I have to understand who she is and where she comes from and have this sort of rich back story. I think the exciting thing is just scraping away at a little part of that each time to reveal kind of a small part of the bigger picture of her and it’s a very complex character, which is wonderful for me, because over the period of time that I’ve played her, I’ve also grown – obviously, it’s been like six years so I feel that the character’s story is more enriched as my own experiences are.
Chris Evans on how exciting the suit feels each time he puts it on:
It always feels like it gets tighter. It’s like I thought it was supposed to get more comfortable. I feel like this got worse. I’m not joking. That really happens. They always make improvements on it and this type of thing, once you get a good sweat going, it loosens up quite a bit. It’s exciting. Again, a lot of it has to do with the fact that you know you’re making good movies. If you were disappointed with the previous film, it’s going to be hard to mentally prepare yourself for living in that thing for four or five months, but since Marvel just can’t stop making quality movies, it’s exciting and it’s humbling and it’s an honor to jump back into it – no matter how uncomfortable it is.
Anthony Russo on bringing Captain America into present day America and the challenges it presented:
Yeah. I don’t know. You know, we’re making a political thriller and I don’t know if we might have done the opposite of what you’re asking about. We tried to run at what’s happening in the world today with the movie. Yeah, so we were being very – we were thinking about what’s going on in the world with preemptive strikes and the president’s kill list and then, you know, the whole Snowden thing came out after we were shooting, but it was sort of the tip of the iceberg of all of the other sort of elements that were going on in the world that we were thinking about. I mean we tried to make it reflective of our real world condition and our real world stakes even thought it’s a fantasy expression of what that is.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters this Friday April 4th. Be excited, it is really THAT good!
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