|Super Hero Hype - Interview with Stellan
September 8, 2011
SuperHeroHype: I'm a big comic book fan and a
fan of your work with Lars von Trier, so I was quite thrilled when I
learned you'd be in "Thor." How did you find out about this role and who
Stellan: My agent called and said that Kenneth
wanted me to be in it, and of course, I've always wanted to work with
Kenneth as a director and then Natalie Portman was in it as well and I
worked with her on "Goya's Ghost" and I fell in love with her back then,
so I was really looking forward to working with her again.
SHH: One of the things I liked about your character is that in
the comics, they never really have Thor meeting any Scandinavians, but
you would think they'd find Thor and say "Hey, you used to be our God
thousands of years ago." Was that something about the character that
appealed to you?
Stellan: Well, the character wasn't really
what I said "yes" to, because I basically said "yes" to Kenneth's ideas
about it and working with Kenneth. That developed more later, but I
didn't think of that because the Scandinavian mythology part of Thor is
pretty far away from the mythology I'm familiar with, but it is fun to
be around Scandinavian Gods now and then.
SHH: Although you were the only true Scandinavian in the cast…
Stellan: No, it's just me, but Kenneth has
worked a lot in Sweden and Scandinavia, so he's quite familiar with
SHH: Had he done theater there?
Stellan: He had done a couple of the Henning Mankell
crime series for television "Wallander," and they've been very
successful, at least in Britain.
SHH: The movie really has two parts, the Asgard sections with all
the Gods, which is very Shakespearean, and the section on earth which
you were involved with. Did you ever go there while they were shooting
Asgard or were you always in New Mexico?
Stellan: I didn't see the other stuff. I saw
sketches of it, but I was working on the film in New Mexico. I was
working on a very realistic down to earth film, and then suddenly one
day, the Warriors Three show up and you really wondered, "How is this
going to work?" That was cool. (laughs) I think it was challenging for
Kenneth to weave those two different universes together, but I think he
really pulled it off beautifully.
SHH: Absolutely. So did he leave all of that action stuff in New
Mexico until the end?
Stellan: Most of the action is up in Asgard,
but of course, we had this giant (The Destroyer) walking up to the small
town and throwing cars and stuff, but that was towards the end of the
shoot, so we had been shooting a normal film for quite a while now.
Suddenly, all those Gods started showing up.
SHH: I'm not sure if it's true, but at one point, your son
Alexander was being talked about to play Thor, was that something you
were aware about when you came on board, so was there a chance of you
two doing the movie together?
Stellan: I came on board after it was clear
that Alex was not doing it. I don't know what the politics behind that
SHH: But you knew he had been had been in talks to play Thor
Stellan: Yeah, he informed me that he had had
several meetings with Kenneth and liked him very much.
SHH: On the DVD, you have some cool extra scenes including an
extended scene of you drinking with Chris as Thor.
Stellan: Oh, that's nice, because I missed
SHH: Right, you have two deleted scenes on there, so did you and
Chris ever get a chance to have a real drinking contest between Sweden
Stellan: No, I wouldn't do that to him. He was
working so hard. I wouldn't destroy his body to do that. (chuckles)
SHH: There's another scene where your character almost gets
killed, so do you know why Kenneth took that out of the movie? It's a
very poignant scene.
Stellan: I don't know. I think he eventually
had too much material, but it's a layered process, and you never know
exactly what you will need at the end when you put it together. Scenes
that are very good can harm the film if they come in the wrong place of
the story, so it's a very delicate work deciding what to keep in the
film or not, and I don't think it was because the scene was bad that he
took it out.
SHH: No, not at all, which is why I was surprised it didn't make
it into the movie.
Stellan: I don't think you want the audience
to suddenly start worrying about whether Selvig will die or not in the
end fight there.
SHH: How was it working in New Mexico? It seems like you were
mainly out in the desert. Was that town pretty much built or was that
something they found in the area?
Stellan: Actually, it isn't there but it isn't
a built town. Some of the houses are original, but it has been used for
film sets before, and of course, there's a Scandinavian or European
fantasy of what a small town in the desert would look like. It's very
condensed and not totally realistic, but it's very nice. We shot outside
of Santa Fe, so we lived in Santa Fe, which is a nice city to live in,
good restaurants, good food, very comfortable, but the weather was very
strange, because at the time we were there, we would sometimes have four
seasons per day.
SHH: That's right. I understand that it actually snows there,
which is surprising since you don't expect to see snow in the desert.
Did it actually snow there at night?
Stellan: Yeah, we had a lot of snow. We had
problems with snow sometimes. It's the altitude that does it, I think.
SHH: I was down there on the set of "The Avengers" and you
weren't there that day, but you were one of the first people to work
with Joss when you shot that ending scene in "Thor." Did you know at the
time that your character was going to come back for "The Avengers"?
Other than Nick Fury and Coulson, he's one of the few non-superheroes to
be appearing from the individual movies.
Stellan: Yeah, it is the only character. No, I
didn't know when I was shooting "Thor." It was sometime last fall when
they were working on the storyline of "Avengers" they contacted me and
asked if I would be prepared to be part of it. They sent me some pages
and stuff, and I met with Joss and liked him. We did the tag scene and
from there on, we just worked.
SHH: It's an interesting tag scene because we don't know if you
were possessed by Loki or if he was just looking on, so before shooting
that scene, did you know what part your character would play in
Stellan: I knew what was going to happen later
when we did the tag scene.
SHH: So are you just working as a scientist in the S.H.I.E.L.D.
Stellan: No, but we shot a lot in the desert
and we did a rooftop in New York in the desert outside Albuquerque, so
you shoot in the most strange ways. We shot in Albuquerque, we shot in
Cleveland and now we're in New York.
SHH: You're involved in all of those scenes? I thought you just
did a couple days.
Stellan: No, I'm flying in and out, a couple
of days here, a couple days there. It's not a big role but it's pivotal.
SHH: What about the "Thor" sequel? Have you heard whether or not
they're going to bring you back for the sequel yet. Earth plays such a
big part of the first movie but the movie ends with him in Asgard.
Stellan: No, well, they mentioned it, and
they've talked to my agent about it, but I haven't seen any script or
SHH: The other big movie you have this year is "The Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo," in which you're also the only Swedish or Scandinavian
person I believe. Were you aware of the original Swedish adaptation
while it was being made?
Stellan: Yeah, I read the script to the
Swedish film, the first film, and I've seen the first film. I haven't
seen the second or third one.
SHH: Was there interest in having you appear in the original
movie? How did this one come about with Fincher?
Stellan: I was not supposed to be in the
original one, but Fincher contacted me about his version (of the book)
and I was very thrilled to be working with Fincher. Steve Zaillian was
writing the script and I thought it could be very interesting. It's good
material they're working with, so I was excited to be a part of it. I'm
still working on that one, too. We have reshoots to do in Los Angeles.
SHH: That's been a pretty long shoot then I guess.
Stellan: Yes, it's been a year now.
SHH: What's it been like working with David Fincher? Is it a very
different experience from what you've done before? You've worked with a
lot of amazing directors over the years.
Stellan: I mean, they all have their own ways
of working and the more talented the directors are, the more you want to
know what their childhood was like really. David Fincher said to me when
we met, he said, "This will not be fun, because I sometimes do 40 takes
of each set-up" and I said, "It better be fun, and I don't mind doing 40
takes, so let's make 40 fun takes." And I really enjoyed it. He's very
thorough, but it's not an anal thing that he once had an idea that he
has to fulfill and have exactly as he thought of it at home. You can
actually do 40 takes that are 40 versions of a scene, which brings it to
life, and I enjoyed it. He works hard and fast, which means that you
shoot all the time. You don't sit and wait, and I like that.
SHH: I also want to ask about working with Joss on "The
Avengers," because that's been a big movie for him so what has that been
Stellan: It's very different from Branagh,
both in the sense that the kind of scenes that I have in "Thor," I don't
have in "The Avengers," because it's a much smaller role, but he's fun
working with and he is fast. He does only a couple of takes, and he
knows pretty much what he wants. He's also very pleasant to be around
and the atmosphere on the set is very pleasant, and any problems, you
can talk to him about it, and he'll work things out together.
SHH: It's been great talking to you, and before we wrap, I wanted
to mention I really liked "A Somewhat Gentle Man" which I saw earlier
Stellan: Oh, you saw that? That's good. I like
SHH: I also saw "Melancholia" and was glad to see you doing
another movie with Lars. That was a fairly amusing role.
Stellan: Oh, yeah, I'm doing another movie
with him this summer.
SHH: So will you be going to Toronto for that?
Stellan: No, I'm not, because I'm shooting
here (New York) then I'm going to L.A. for the reshoots and then I'm off
to South America to shoot a film there.