If you haven’t yet seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, let me tell you–you should! It’s full of the classic Marvel action and wit, along with quite a few laughs. Being able to sit down with the stars behind the movie was definitely a bonus. James and Paul were down to earth and funny–and James is quite talkative! I wanted to share some of my Paul Bethany and James Spader interview awesomeness with you today.
Bethany on his new role as Vision
We always knew you as Jarvis. What was your reaction when you found out that you would be The Vision?
Paul: It was vindication really because I had just come out of a meeting with a producer who told me my career was over. This is a true story. And I sat on the curb in Hollywood with my feet in the gutter and my phone [off] and I looked at it and said, ‘Hello? ‘ I didn’t recognize the number and it was Joss Whedon. He said, ‘Do you want to play The Vision?’ And I went, ‘Um…yeah, I kinda do.’ True story. So it was lovely.
How was playing Vision different than playing Jarvis on set?
Paul: The difference was I had to go to the gym. I had to stop eating carbs. I finally got to be on set with a bunch of really lovely, creative, talented people. However, it also means that I have to show up at junkets now, you know? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
James: I did not have to cut back on carbs. Somehow amazingly enough, those animators were able to slim me right down.
Spader plays super villain
Did you need to be convinced to play the super villain, Ultron?
James: You know, two or three years prior to the telephone [call] to me from Joss Whedon, I had met with Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham. Uh, my agent is also Sam Jackson’s agent. And so she’s very in tune with what’s going on in the Marvel world.
I have never in my entire career ever chosen a film to work on for the sake of my children. Most of the films that I’ve done, they really shouldn’t watch. And [my son] loved comics and loved superhero movies and fantasy. He just loved it. And then, by circumstance I also at the time I had a three-year-old son, again, and he was already sort of raiding his brother’s little figures and little things like that and was excited about it. And I thought, I just want to make a film for them, you know? So I went in and I sat down with Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham and they had reached out to my agent and said, ‘You know, we’d love to sit down with James.’
You know, those sort of meetings are always just so brutal and fruitless. I had said, ‘Really? Do they?’ and my agent said, ‘Kevin doesn’t really meet with anybody unless there really is a genuine interest.’ And I said, ‘Great. Well then I’d love to talk to him.’
So I sat down with him and I said, ‘I just would love to do one of these things [it would] just be such fun.’ And I told him the reasons why and I think he really responded to that ’cause that’s his fan base.
There’d be things that came along along the way over the next two years or so and, and he would be like, ‘I just don’t know if it’s the, you know [role for you]. I know what James is looking for. He wants a really great bad guy.’ And so all of a sudden, about two or three years after that meeting, Joss Whedon walked into their offices and said, ‘You know, I don’t really have anyone else for this role except for James Spader.’
They said, ‘Well, funny you should mention that ’cause we’ve been trying to find the right thing [for him]. The next thing was a phone call from Joss and as soon as I spoke to him I said, ‘What the hell can I bring to an eight foot robot, you know? I don’t… That’s not my skill set.’
He told me sort of what he was looking for in terms of the character. But he said, ‘You know, let me send you something to look at. The script is in revisions right now, but let me send you something so you can get a sense of what this character really is.’ And he said, ‘In the comic books, the guy’s just sort of this raging robot. ‘I am going to destroy you’ you know?’ He said I really want to extrapolate on that. So he sent me these scenes that were, you know, threatening, intimidating, crazy, funny, quoting Emily Dickenson.
It was just such a weird, complex amalgamation of things. As it turns out, Kevin Feige told me, you know, a couple of days later he said, ‘You know, those aren’t even scenes from the movie. Joss wrote those scenes just to send you, so, just so that you’d have a sense of the character.’ I thought, what a lovely thing to do, you know, that he just wrote these scenes as this is what this character’s going to be like, an example of sort of who he is.
They were really tailored for that. And he was absolutely right. It was all of that. Just a weird mix of crazy, scary, funny, poetic, you know, just a weird guy.
Bettany speaks about getting ready for Vision
For Paul, how much of Vision was makeup and CGI?
It was a lot of makeup. I would sit in the chair and then you would wait for eternity to come and then you’d be… done. So it’s all real.
But they would have tracking dots on so the circuitry could be on my face and, my musculature could move and you could still see me express things, because we tried, having full prosthetics that went over everything and we lost a lot of expression in the face. Thankfully, because that was really, really uncomfortable.
Don’t miss all of my Avengers: Age of Ultron Interviews:
- Thor & Captain America Interview
- Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Interview
- Hawkeye & Maria Hill Interview
- Director Joss Whedon
- Producer Kevin Feige
Disney hosted me in LA while I attended the #AvengersEvent press trip which included movie screenings and interviews. As always, all opinions and experiences are my own. All images courtesy of Disney and Jana Seitzer/MerlotMommy.com