Cast Chemistry Rocks in the THOR: RAGNAROK Press Conference

Earlier this month we attended the THOR: RAGNAROK press conference in Beverly Hills. Though Thor’s lovely locks are absent from the trailer, the Marvel film itself is still highly anticipated and releases on November 3, 2017. Participants in the press conference were Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Taika Waititi (Director/Korg), Karl Urban (Skurge), Rachel House (Topaz), and Kevin Feige (Producer).  Continue reading for more of how Director Taika Waititi brought this diverse cast together in the THOR: RAGNAROK press conference.

Thor: Ragnarok

Cast of Thor: Ragnarok at San Diego Comic Con on July 22: (Back row L – R) actors Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Rachel House, (front row L-R) Mark Ruffalo, director Taika Waititi, actors Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

One of the things that struck me most seeing THOR: RAGNAROK was the humor. I think I laughed more in this film than any other Marvel movie. Sitting in the Press Conference, it was immediately apparent where the movie gets its crazy sense of humor. The director and, consequently, the casts chemistry followed suit. The entire press conference was fast-paced and a barrel of laughs, just like the film.

When asked what makes Thor different from the other, Chris Hemsworth replied immediately.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: Taika Waititi, basically. It all came from his crazy, wonderful brain, and his inspiration, and him pushing us every day on set. Constantly encouraging us to improvise, and explore, and take risks. And it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had on a set, and a film that I feel the most proud of, just because of this – this whole team, and the collaboration, and fun we had.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok: on set with Director Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Photo by Jasin Boland ©Marvel Studios 2017

Director Taika Waititi weighed in at first with a joke, then got serious.

TAIKA WAITITI: Well, when they first asked me about making this film, obviously I thought that Marvel had lost their minds. They’re just hiring anyone now!

But I came in. I knew my strengths were tone, character, and relationships. And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there. I just had to keep reminding myself what’s more important is what’s inside the rectangle, and usually it’s two or three people trying to remember their lines. And so it doesn’t matter the scale of the film – that’s always the same. So I just focused down on what I was used to, which was what’s in front of the camera.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok Director Taika Waititi on set. Photo by Jasin Boland ©Marvel Studios 2017

The focus then shifted to Producer Kevin Feige. Why go with Waititi? Why change the tone of Thor so drastically?

KEVIN FEIGE: We wanted a new sensibility. If you look at everything Chris has done as this character, there have been moments of humor throughout. We wanted to take Thor and build on that. We embraced what Mr. Hemsworth does better than anyone, but no one has been able to see, which is his acting chops expand to comedy in an amazing way. And Taika gave him and the cast the confidence to explore that, and to try things. And most of that is in the movie, because it was on story.

Here is where the questions turned to music, and that epic Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” used in the trailer and in the film.

KEVIN FEIGE: Before a movie is made, filmmakers sometimes will say, using clips of other movies, ‘Here’s what I have in mind.’ And sometimes they’re not good. Most of the times, they’re okay. The first meeting we had, Taika came in. His reel was amazing, and was scored to that Led Zeppelin song. So from the beginning, that song kind of defined what Taika was going to do with this. That it’s in the trailer, that it’s in the film – all from that first meeting, and from one of his first instincts of this movie.

Often the director determines the atmosphere on set. THOR: RAGNAROK benefited from Waititi’s involvement.

KARL URBAN: I really appreciated the environment that Taika created on the set. It was fun; it was focused. He would often play music. And there was nothing sacrilegious about a take. Quite often, you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d go, ‘Oh, try this, or try that.’ And it was just wonderful. It felt like everybody had your back, and we had fun.

It was then that a STAR WARS reference caught my ears, so I have to share this little interaction.

PRESS: My question is for Taika, and possibly Kevin. Where is Lady Sif? Is she alive? Did she just – not make the cuts?
TAIKA WAITITI: She was busy.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: That’s right.
KEVIN FEIGE: I’ve been using ‘The Force Awakens’ quote today when people ask me that, and to say, ‘That’s a good question for another time.’

But I digress. Next, Geeks of Color asked Tessa Thompson (Valkerie) whether or not she felt any pressure playing a character that was white in the comics. Her answer rocked the room.

TESSA THOMPSON: No, I didn’t feel any pressure with that specifically. The things that I thought about the particulars of Valkyrie had more to do with mass and size. For example, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m – I’m short,’ or ‘I’m not buff enough.’ How do I stand next to a person like Chris Hemsworth and feel like that’s true. This thing that I’m tasked to do with any character that has its own iconography is to capture the spirit of the character, and I think the spirit of all of us, at the risk of sounding cheesy, has very little to do with what color we are.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok: on set with Director Taika Waititi and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie). Photo by Jasin Boland ©Marvel Studios 2017

Speaking of amazing women, the next question went to Cate Blanchett. How was it fighting with Chris Hemsworth?

CATE BLANCHETT: I didn’t do enough of it. I kept wanting to do more.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: You wanted to hit me.
CATE BLANCHETT: But no, it was hugely enjoyable for me. And apart from working with these guys, obviously the chance to finally, in my deep middle age, to get fit, and to wear that much lycra was really exciting for me. And Zoey Bell who is my stunt double, she was a great action director. She trained me. So I moved from the humiliating to the exhilarating in a matter of five days.

She continued on to describe the inspiration bringing Hela to life.

CATE BLANCHETT: I went back to two things, primarily. I went back to the extraordinary images that are there in the original comics, and then I went to the fan base, because there’s all these Hela fangirls who are doing these extraordinary make-ups online. And so when we were thinking about what she’d look like visually, I went to that. So I started with the visual, rather than the textural.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok: director Taika Waititi on set with Cate Blanchett (Hela). Photo by Jasin Boland ©Marvel Studios 2017

The next question was for Mark Ruffalo regarding the Hulk and his dialogue. In THOR: RAGNAROK we hear a lot more dialogue from Hulk than we ever have before. We don’t really hear him talk a lot in other films. Chris Hemsworth jumped in with a poignant answer.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: I loved it. I think this is my favorite version of the Hulk because we actually got to act together. We’d only really fought one another on screen in the previous films. And this time around, we got to just sort of improvise our way through it, and sort of invent this chemistry that we hadn’t explored before, and build this new version of the Hulk. And there’s just so much more room for the humor and fun that the character then embodies, that I think it’s fantastic. I loved it.
MARK RUFFALO: I did, too.

IMG_0817

Tom Hiddleston gets to join the party now. There is a change in Thor. Could there be a change in Loki, also?

TOM HIDDLESTON: I did ask Taika if I could get a haircut, as well. It’s interesting. In this film, it is about the development of the relationship between Thor and Loki. Thor has evolved, and grown, and matured; and Loki in a way is stuck in his struggles of the past. And that’s, in a way, that’s the challenge for Loki in this, is that he’s got to confront the fact that time is moving on, and people change. There’s room to grow, and I’m still here. And we’ll see where he goes next. I’m not going to spoil anything.

Next, the all-important question of Easter Eggs came up! Are there any Easter eggs that we can look forward to in this film?

KEVIN FEIGE: There might be some things in the trash piles. I mean, the biggest Easter eggs are on the side of the Sakaran Palace. There are previous Grandmaster champions that we see, as one for Hulk is being constructed, and those are all sort of Easter eggs for the deeper comic universe – that may or may not ever show up in the cinematic universe, but we thought it’d be fun to celebrate.
TAIKA WAITITI: Yeah. And in the trash pile, there is one Easter egg, an actual egg.

Well, I know what I’ll be searching for when I watch on opening weekend! In the Trailer, we see Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroying Thor’s Hammer. Chris Hemsworth was asked if he missed it.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: It just helped kind of shed anything too familiar. I feel like holding the hammer, or even the wig in the previous costume, certainly just put me in a place, and set me on a path of what I already knew. And I wanted it to be unfamiliar, and so everything from the hammer, to the costume, the hair – made me, and allowed me to move differently, and forced me to move differently, and so that was a great thing. And – I don’t really miss it, no. I’ve got one at home.

Marvel Studios' THOR: RAGNAROK

Marvel Studios’ THOR: RAGNAROK, Hela (Cate Blanchett), ©Marvel Studios 2017

Of course he does. Where he keeps it, however, you’ll have to imagine for yourself. THOR: RAGNAROK joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe on November 3, 2017. Chris Hemsworth dons the Mighty Avenger’s cape once more as he takes on Hela in the hero’s third solo adventure. Will you be watching? Click here for all of our coverage of THOR: RAGNAROK. For more family friendly movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagramtwitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod