Thank you, Disney, for hosting me during the Thor: Ragnarok press event. Some interview questions and responses have been edited to improve readability.
My last interview for Thor: Ragnarok is with Rachel House, who plays Topaz in the film. Topaz is the assistant to The Grandmaster played by Jeff Goldblum. Rachel was a very pleasant person to interview and she had a cool Kiwi accent. Read on to see what she had to say about working with Director Taiki and other cast members, jumping into the Marvel Universe and her favorite scenes that were cut from the final version of the film.
On the deadpan humor in Thor: Ragnarok
You know, I’m, I’m pretty used to keeping a straight face, ‘cause I’ve done a lot of Taika’s films, and he, it’s always like that. But some of the other actors weren’t so good at it. Like losing it. Like they were losing it, especially Jeff Goldblum, ‘cause he was so funny. And, you know, that’s not even half of it what you see. It’s not even a quarter of what, of the improvisation and stuff that we were doing, you know? And Jeff was just so masterful at improvisation, you know.
Her favorite scene that didn’t make the film
You know, there’s a lot, and I think, I believe that they’re gonna do a little kinda gag real maybe with the release of the [film], something like that Taika was saying last night. There’s a whole thing we do with writing out a check, which is so bizarre in that environment. You know and I’m kind of giving instructions on how to write out a check in my stupid Kiwi accent as well. It’s pretty funny I think. But yeah, Jeff was fabulous.
Another scene she loved that was cut
Yeah. There was this whole scene where Jeff does a song at the keyboards. And, he made it up. It was really cool. I mean, I think he had a tiny little bit to kind of go with, but then he just kept expanding. You know, as you know, he is a wonderful jazz musician anyway. So, he just expanded that, and then I would, I was sort of his back up, really bad back up singer as well. So, that didn’t make it in, which is a bummer.
On working with Taika
Just the fun. Yeah, the fun of it is really good. But, I mean, this is the first major film he’s done. The others were very independent, therefore we had a very limited amount of time to shoot. So, you know, we [filmed] people with five weeks. And we had to literally run around the bush, and the mud, and the snow, and the rain. It was a lot of fun. But we had no time, you know? So, we just had to keep going. Whereas in, in Thor, because of the scale I think as well, we got to kind of breath a little bit. So, and Taika was allowed to play as much as possible. So, so, that was really great seeing him able to do that without any kind of time restraint, as much, you know.
On transforming from Moana to Thor: Ragnarok
Kind of easy-ish. It’s a kind of character that Taika always makes me play. You know what I mean? It’s funny, ‘cause I just play all these really mean characters, and I’m not mean at all. I’m sort of really ‘ew’ about meanness. So, I think he kind of enjoys that.
On getting the role of Topaz
No, he didn’t. I got a top-secret kind of audition that I had to do through my agent. And she said, “Oh, it’s for Marvel.” And I said, “Well, that’ll be Taika.” You know, of course it will. And she went, “Oh yeah, of course it will.” And then I was given this tiny little saying with a few lines. And then [I] got a very kind of drawl email from Taika saying, “Oh, by the way, you got the role.” You know, which is really lovely. I don’t know if they saw any other people. I’m not sure. But he sort of, I think he kinds of made it what he wanted to see me do, even though most of it hasn’t ended up in the film, but that’s okay. It’s okay. There’s better stuff in the film.
On meeting Taika
I met him when I was 17. And he was in a play in this little theater in Wellington, and he was the best thing about it, you know? I was a couple years older, and at drama school at the time. And, Wellington and I just met him after and said, “You were so great. You know, thank you so much.” And then started becoming a fan of his little crazy comedy stuff that he’d do with Jemaine and Brent, and another guy called Nigel Collins.
And they had this really crazy little, they just did the most stupid things. They’d have sword fights with straws and reenact Star Wars. And, you know, that was their comedy. So, I became a very big fan. From then, we just kept staying in touch. And I, I mean, I had no idea he was gonna end up being an awesome film director. He was an artist, and an actor, and a comedian. And so, yeah.
Thoughts on Korg
Great. And, I mean, it’s so Taika. So full of comedy, and his unique brand of humor. And, yeah, and Korg was so great. It was amazing. And, you know, people back in New Zealand are just gonna fall about, because it’s such a familiar character. You know, that character is very real in our neck of the woods.
Thoughts on Tessa Thompson
Oh, yeah, she’s a darling. What a darling. She’s wonderful. I felt so embarrassed because I watched Creed, and I said to her, “Oh, I loved in that boxing film.” I always forget names of things. And then I realized that I’d seen Dear White People like three times, ‘cause I love it so much. And she, she’s in it, and I had no [idea], when I met her I was like, “Oh.” So it wasn’t until afterwards where I actually Googled her, because I tend not to want to Google the people I’m about to work with, especially if they’re kind of famous, you know, ‘cause I don’t wanna necessarily have that pressure, you know, feel intimidated. So, I didn’t do any of that. But once I realized it was her in Dear White People, I started Googling and seeing how much else she’d done.
On stepping into the Marvel universe
Yes! Yes. I’m from New Zealand, of course it was. But you get, you get over that really quickly. You know, when you meet people and there’s so many wonderful people involved in the Marvel Universe, and just meeting them. And, yeah, they’re just people. They’re just normal people, talented people. So, yeah, the intimidation didn’t last long.