Iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow answer the call to action when Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a daring, globe-spanning recruitment effort to assemble The Avengers team to defeat an unexpected enemy threatening global safety and security. Despite pulling together the ultimate dream team, Nick Fury and longtime confidant Agent Coulson must find a way to convince the Super Heroes to work with, not against, each other when the powerful and dangerous Loki gains access to the Cosmic Cube and its unlimited power.
MoviesOnline sat down with Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Kevin Feige to talk “The Avengers” which is based on the Marvel comic book series “The Avengers” first published in 1963. They told us what their most memorable moments were filming, what makes their characters special to them, and why Joss Whedon was the perfect person to helm the project. They also discussed what it was like shooting the big group scene on the bridge, the injuries they sustained in the hand-to-hand combat scenes, and their favorite geek quotes from the movie.
Q: What was your most memorable moment in filming “The Avengers”?
Robert Downey Jr:There’s the first time when we’re all assembled on the bridge. I think it’s the time that we all saw each other and realized that we were all likely to continue shooting the movie, and we have to make good on this vision of Kevin Feige’s (Producer) from as far back as I can remember. I have a question. How come it was only Harry Dean Stanton that got to see Mark Ruffalo naked? Anyone who has that answer, I’ll trade you one for it. Gentleman, how was your first…..?
Chris Hemsworth: Good. I think that was our first day on set too with the whole ensemble, which was a pretty exciting and nerve-wracking experience. It was amazing.
Chris Evans: I think mine was the scene where Thor and Iron Man are fighting, and I had just seen Thor a day prior, I had yet to see Hemsworth or Downey in their full suit. I showed up that night, and it was the first time I had seen them geared up. I got really excited like I was a little kid. I was just honored to be part of it.
Mark Ruffalo: Mine is being naked in front of Harry Dean Stanton.
Robert Downey Jr:Sam, you must have a moment. Come on.
Samuel L. Jackson: I was naked in front of Harry Dean Stanton in the restaurant the night before he shot the scene with you.
Mark Ruffalo: You lucky bastard.
Q: Mark, there’s a lot of versions of the Hulk out there and a lot of actors have portrayed Bruce Banner. Did you do any specific research as far as the comic issues?
Mark Ruffalo: Well, I met with Joss Whedon (Director, Writer) and he said that he liked “The Incredible Hulk” TV show and what they did with him. So I rented those with my 10-year-old son. After the third episode, he turned to me and said, “Pop, he’s so misunderstood.” I basically based my character entirely on my 10-year-old boy, who has all the force of nature screaming out of his whole body, while at the same time having everyone around him telling him to fucking control himself. And that was it. I’m sorry, it’s the control.
Q. For Robert. The other actors are saying that you were the leader, the force uniting them. Do you work the same way when you’re off screen?
Chris Evans: He had the plane.
Samuel L. Jackson: Yeah, we needed you.
Robert Downey Jr:Yeah. I offered rides back and forth from Albuquerque on my private jet. I mean, again, going back to 2007 when I was cast as Iron Man and Kevin Feige said “You know this is going to lead where we’re going to have all these franchises come together and we’re gonna do something unprecedented in entertainment and we’re going to make this Avengers movie.” I remember I would get nervous about it and excited about it and doubtful of it. And then, by that time, I already had a history with Sam, I really wanted to capitalize on that, and by the time Chris and Chris had launched their individual franchises with success and charisma and by the time we had Mark, I was like, “Wow, you know what. This is really going to happen.” So just being a worker among workers is kind of where I started out and it was nice to not have to really have to carry a movie. Everyone was really, really, really equal in this venture. You know, it’s great. That would be my last sincere answer of the afternoon.
Q: Chris, I liked in your Details interview when you joked that Captain America had to take the stairs and all the rest of them were fighting.
Chris Evans: Yeah, it’s like Hulk, you do this impossible thing. Thor, you bottleneck a portal, and Iron Man, you fly over here – and I’ll take the stairs. (Laughter)
Q: I’m wondering if all of you had to swap any character for the next film, who would it be and why?
Chris Evans: Oh man. See, I want to say Iron Man because I love those movies, but I can’t – who can do it better, you know what I mean? You think the shoes would be too big to fill.
Robert Downey Jr:Sam?
Samuel L. Jackson: I want to be Scarlett. I just want to be that cute for, like, 15 minutes.
Q: Mr. Feige, how long have you been trying to make an Avengers film and what sort of buildup did you have to do in the other movies so you could dovetail it into this?
Kevin Feige: Well, one answer is my whole life, just because I’ve been a nerd my whole life and wanted to see the movie made for my whole life. The real answer though is towards the end of production of “Iron Man 1,” where Sam [Jackson] was gracious enough to spend three hours on a Saturday to come and break in Tony Stark’s house, wearing an eye patch and tell him and the world that you’re a part of a big universe, you just don’t know it yet. When that movie succeeded was when we realized that we actually had the opportunity to do it, and the only challenge was to try to make all the movies live on their own. Even if we weren’t leading into an Avengers movie, because if they’re all interconnected puzzle pieces, that’s not as fun. They need to be movies from beginning to end. So I would say that was the biggest challenge.
Q: Mark, you’re the only one without a stand-alone movie before this production. I was wondering if you could talk about how you integrated into this world, coming into it fresh?
Mark Ruffalo: It was terrifying. I knew what my responsibility was, or I felt it just by making the mistake of going online and reading some of the fanboy responses to the announcement that I was playing the next version of Bruce Banner. That was a mistake. I will never do that again. But I never had a role more scrutinized and criticized before I even shot a single frame. But coming onto the set with all these guys was pretty daunting. Many of my heroes in life are in this cast. So I knew that I had big shoes to fill, so to speak. And this is becoming a long run-on sentence. Yeah, it was tough and I wish I had a cool costume to wear the entire time instead of a leotard that was painted like a Chinese checkerboard.
Q: Chris and Chris, you guys played the fish out of water in the group. Can you talk about that? And specifically, Chris Evans, we’re used to seeing you as the jokester and the smart ass. And you’re the straight-edged man.
Chris Evans: It’s tough not getting any jokes. You know, that’s his roles, it’s necessary. And that’s kind of why I like it. Because I am used to leaning on cracking jokes and being a wise ass so it’s nice to play it straight a little bit. I think even in this film more than the first “Captain America,” Steve Rogers has some issues, some conflict, and some trouble with the fact that he is a man out of time. But given who he is as a man, his nature is that he puts that second, he puts the mission first and he’s just selfless. That’s just a fun character, I guess.
Samuel L. Jackson: Put on the suit and T-Shirt, it’s going to be large though.
Chris Hemsworth: A fish out of water, yeah. We all kind of fell into that category, I mean, Joss said it earlier, a dysfunctional family; we somehow belong in the fact that we don’t belong anywhere else. But Thor’s from another planet. I guess his motivation through the conflict and the villain was far more personal than the rest of them because it was his brother. So it was nice to have already shot that film and had a relationship with Tom. That was my focus anyway. But we all kind of didn’t get along at the beginning and certainly we’re all from another planet or some other world. It was fun to play that dynamic.
Q: As with many moments, the scene that got everyone’s attention at the premiere was that 360-degree shot when they’re all assembled on the street. Was it as simple to shoot it as it was to see it? And was it exciting for you to all come together like that?
Chris Hemsworth: I remember thinking on that day that this was the trailer shot or this was the big moment because we’ve been on the bridge – in the first scene you see us all together but we weren’t getting along at that point — whereas in that moment, we were finally assembled and there and the same team and big 360-wide shot and all the chaos around us. I certainly remember thinking, yeah, this is the moment.
Q: We were told the cast came together sometimes to give a big group hug. Can you tell us another great team-oriented story on camera as well as off?
Chris Hemsworth: Tom loves hugs and I did a film with him and there were plenty of hugs in that film – group hugs, yeah. Chris?
Chris Evans: Oh, man. Funny stories, I’m so bad at that.
Chris Hemsworth: And Chris sends a text, “Avengers assemble at such-and-such bar at 9 o’clock on Sunday night.” That was a good group effort. We paid for it at work, the next couple days.
Chris Evans: Sure did.
Mark Ruffalo: You should see that group hug.
Chris Hemsworth: It’s three in the morning on the dance floor.
Robert Downey Jr:Ruffalo, weren’t you the one throwing the roof parties? You know what I mean?
Mark Ruffalo: Yeah, that was me.
Robert Downey Jr:Oh so that was you. So you were the group instigator. Not many hugs.
Mark Ruffalo: I was the group hugger.
Robert Downey Jr:Ok, good.
Q: Did you guys have any team effort or activities you did off the set?
Chris Evans: We wrestled.
Chris Hemsworth: Yeah, I mean, I get asked about that, on who was the biggest diva or who was what and this is the first time I ever worked with these guys. I think that we all are either that well behaved or everyone kept each other in check. No one wanted to be the one who screwed up.
Mark Ruffalo: I just remembered coming into someone’s place with a group of half-naked stunt men in a hot tub and Scarlett Johansson standing over them with her giant ladle, making boy soup.
Chris Hemsworth: Whose house was that?
Kevin Feige: You wanted your story; I think you got it now. Good work.
Q: What makes your character special to you?
Mark Ruffalo: I like this – we’re all told to be so well-behaved and I think we all sometimes are bursting at the seams to let it rip and Bruce Banner gets that moment. I think that part of the joy for people is to actually see that happen and it’s exciting for us. It’s a nice way for us to blow off steam in watching movies and yes, especially me.
Chris Evans: I would say his heart, his selflessness. He wasn’t born a superhero, this didn’t happen to him by accident. He was chosen for those reasons: values and morals. He puts other people and other causes ahead of himself and it’s something to aspire to.
Robert Downey Jr:Well, he didn’t really set out to do anything noble, so he’s kind of in transition. There’s something a little more Hans Solo, than Luke. And also the fact he can pull off wearing a Black Sabbath T-shirt for the better part of the film.
Chris Hemsworth: I like the visceral gut instinct that Thor has. There’s a bit of a childlike-quality in the sense that if he believes something or he wants to do something, he does it and says it. Kids own their environment. There’s no opinions they really care about. I think Thor is, he’s there. He’s surrounded by bravado and strength, but at the end of the day, he’s pretty true to who he is and what he wants to do. And I think that was fun to play with.
Samuel L. Jackson: I just like the fact that Nick Fury believes that these unique individuals deserve the love and admiration of the world, who they pretty much owe everything to because there are things out there that are greater than us.
Q: Chris, your relationship with Loki is really interesting, and it’s complicated. Can you talk about if you drew from your real-life relationships?
Chris Hemsworth: The last time either one of my brother’s tried to take over the world or universe, I had to think back and ask, “How did I feel?” When we did “Thor,” Kenneth Branagh kept saying, you know, let’s not get caught up in playing Gods or what-have-you. It’s truthful. You have brothers and how do you relate to that. And that became the thread through Thor and through this, which is the kind of thing that – well, I can give my brother a hard time and tell him off but no one else can.
Robert Downey Jr:Don’t you feel like Liam is trying to take over your box-office universe?
Chris Hemsworth: And I did say that. I said, “Look, Liam…”
Robert Downey Jr:Doesn’t he need to be corrected in some way?
Chris Hemsworth: Well, no. He’s got a few bruises, currently from me. And yeah, there’s a race to the box office.
Q: Kevin, what made Joss the perfect person to helm the project?
Kevin Feige: You know, the big fear with this – the only big fear I had is that the whole thing would collapse on its own weight. That we’d spend so much time with costumes, super powers and special effects that these characters and these actors wouldn’t get the chance to – my biggest interest in “The Avengers” is the interaction between these people, and looking at Joss’ body of work, and his scripts that he’s written and TV shows, the characters never ever get lost. In fact, those are the moments that shine. That was, to me, why he was by far the best choice to mount this. We’re confident in our ability to handle a production this size. We want a helmsman to come in and steer us in unexpected ways and to guide a tone, which is what Joss has done so well.
Q: There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat in this movie. During scenes, were there any accidents or real-life injuries during the filming process?
Chris Hemsworth: I have one, the scene where Thor takes Loki off the ship and lands, and then we go into the big two-hander. I was on the wire, because I hadn’t learned to fly yet, and I was to come down and land on the cliff. I was supposed to land, step and have the conversation. The first couple of takes, and this is going on the DVD extras somewhere, but I just face-planted into the dirt. Very ungraceful and unsuperhero like. That’s my story.
Kevin Feige: Jeremy Renner is the only one. You can ask him when you see him. Jeremy Renner did have a bit of an injury. It didn’t last very long thankfully.
Q: Can you talk about what it was like to banter with each other and how you made the comedy come out in this film? Did any of you switch lines or improvise and what was that like?
Chris Evans: Well, I think anytime you do a scene with Downey, he’s so good with improv and working off the cuff. He’s never going to do the same thing twice, so you’ve got to be on your toes, but he does have a natural – you know, up here – he’s just funny. He’s always funny. So he brings a certain life to the scene. Even if he’s not the one making jokes, you can appreciate what he brings to any scene, in terms of comedy.
Mark Ruffalo: I concur.
Chris Hemsworth: Well, Joss also – I mean the script – the line where I say, “He’s adopted” got a big laugh last night. And I had no idea. When I shot that, I went, “Oh, is this really funny?” That’s the thing about all of that stuff. Joss is hilarious. And the whole film, I was surprised how the comedy played in it so well.
Robert Downey Jr:Well, I mean again seeing it last night I think what everybody captured to a character is that it was the right tone. And at a certain point, without killing it, you kind of tip your hat, you don’t take it too seriously. This is essentially a comic book movie. You kind of buy into the reality of it. I think everyone had their moments and I think Joss did a good job of finding everyone’s frequency. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t dress like that before he jumps off, but it was still within the realm of what Steve would say or do. I think, also, tonally, there’s this moment in the final battle, once he turns green or once my helmet closes where he’s in upstate New York and I’m back in L.A., and these guys were on the ground and there was this whole huge sequence after sequence, and all this stuff was shot in Cleveland. I don’t think we ever had to go to Cleveland for one day. I kept squeezing the Misses’ hand last night during these just incredible sequences that you guys did and just going “They shot a lot in Cleveland.” But there was this moment where the cop goes to Cap, “Why should I take orders from you?” And then, some of the aliens come in and he handles them, and the audience really appreciated that. That, to me, was the moment where the sentiment of “The Avengers” could have fallen flat on its face had people not been able to suspend their disbelief or get behind it anymore. That was, to me, the Act III moment where the movie succeeded. So whether it was, and I would speak to Joss’ wit, but whether the wit was funny or whether the wit is actually being able to hold the myriad of ideas and notions that you have to get right for “The Avengers” not to be bunk is what he accomplished.
Q: What are your favorite geek quotes from the movie or trailer?
Chris Hemsworth: I remember reading the script and reading the section where Hulk and Thor are finally on the same team and fighting the aliens and what have you. And they end and are both standing there, out of breath. Hulk just backhands Thor through the wall. That was something I looked forward to. You had me on the wire, just getting yanked out of the shot. That was good.
Q: Joss is great with ensembles. Can you talk about that big group scene, when you guys are all together on the bridge?
Samuel L. Jackson: On the bridge, when everybody’s arguing? Oh. That was kind of like the big– that was like the second day big scene. ‘Cause everybody shows up that first day and that was like the second big day when we were on the bridge. And you got the spear in your hand. Yeah, that was an interesting scene because I didn’t really know all that was going on in that scene, where everyone started talking at once until all of a sudden it happened and we’re all like, “Oh, we’re having an argument.” And nobody’s listening to anybody. We’re just kind of batting stuff around. I’m blaming you for this, you blaming him. So you’re not my guy, hey, I don’t know nothing about your world. Fuck you, come to your world and tear shit up, oh hell. Which is what I kept wanting to say, “I don’t come to your world and blow shit up,” but they won’t let me say it. But, we were in that moment where we all know each other and we all laughed together. And once we saw each other in that particular setting, we’re like, ok, we’re actually going to do this, this is a lot of fun. We’re all like an Our Gang movie. “Hey, I got some costumes, I got some film, my dad’s got a studio.” And we just decided that we’re going to have fun. And Joss is one of those guys, I noticed watching the film last night, I don’t get to say this nice cute shit. But every time I would change something, he would come to me like the line police. You know, “You can’t say ‘it’s’, you have to say ‘it is’.” Really? Okay, so it’s like a bubble. Talk to the bubble. So he was always on me, and I was talking to the line police a lot and he always let them do it. But the family feeling was there. Joss set up the rules, we showed up and played by the rules of the world. You know certain people have licenses. He’s the rich smart ass guy, he’s the little guy with big words that might turn around and fuck you up at any moment, but you never know when that is. And he’s trying to make him do it. He’s like the bad little brother, like, “What? What? Why’d my little brother turn into a monster?” It was a great time doing that and being able to be in that space and allowing an audience see that ok, these guys have super powers but they have normal kind of attitudes, you know. They get pissed at each other and they argue over petty shit and they can be smart asses and they can be heroes and they can be jerks. But they eventually are going to find a way to love each other and thank God we had somebody there to guide us in that direction.
Robert Downey Jr:Yeah, and not to keep you guessing, but we’re actually not done shooting. We are shooting one more scene tonight. Not kidding.
Kevin Feige: It’s true.
Chris Hemsworth: Yes, it is.
Robert Downey Jr:No more questions.
“The Avengers” opens in theaters on April 27th.