If you’ve been following along with our coverage of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron over the last few months we’ve been slowly releasing interviews from our visit to the film’s set last summer. It’s here where for two days we explored Avengers tower, the new Quinjet (and a few other locations) and met the (larger) team in person to talk about their roles.
On day one, while hanging out in Bruce Banner and Tony Stark’s lab, new cast member Aaron Taylor-Johnson sat down with us to discuss Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver, a uniquely interesting character since another version of him appeared on screen last year in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And yes, we talked about that too.
Taylor-Johnson made quite an impression since he’s the only actor I’ve ever met on a set visit with a large group of journalists who shook the hand and asked for the name of every single person there. He and Elizabeth Olsen, who plays his sister Wanda in the film (read our Scarlet Witch interview here!) both stood out to me and not because of their bond in person and on screen (they starred as husband and wife in Godzilla), but because of their youthful enthusiasm and approach to bringing a different kind of super-powered character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both are excited about the future, where their characters can go in other movies, and both took ownership of working together to develop their Eastern European accents and background.
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Can you talk about your Easter European accent?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I can. We’re doing one. Whether they decide to re-ADR that in the end, I don’t know.
Can you demo it?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I can’t. I don’t think I should do [Smiles] that but it has been fun. Me and Lizzy have been doing dialect coaching together and trying to get that to sound similar since they’re playing Twins, brother and sister, her being American and me British. It’s fun. When I spoke to Joss [Whedon] about it a long time ago and he approached me for the role, it was one of the things I kind of wanted keep.
One of them was that I wanted to have white, silver kind of hair to look like the Character and the other one was that if i could kind of embrace the roots, where he’s from. Being Eastern European, it would be great to do some kind of accent to impart that kind of feeling so I’m glad that we’re doing it but like I said, they might screen it and go what are they saying? So you never really know. I’d like to think that they’ll keep it there. The Marvel guys, they totally understand. When it comes to their Characters, they’re a Studio that really care about their Characters and have real creative input and are totally for that. But at the end of it, you always want what’s best so we’ll see so hopefully it will continue on that route.
How much reading did you do of the comics to see what the character is like? Did you have to see what the Studios would like or…
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Yeah, yeah, some of the original stuff, sort of a mixture of things. Obviously the character sort of jumps in and out of different Universes being like in their sort mutant world and all that, which obviously we don’t embrace because of Fox [Laughs], as you’re all aware, that’s no sort of secret. But yeah, I take bits and pieces that have been done in history and all sorts of comic books to kind of get the essence and the sense of Pietro as a character rather than Quicksilver just in the sense of “oh yeah, okay, his superhero power is that he runs faster than the speed of sound” but what’s he really like to get to the depths of him and wonder. And they’re travelers, they have to look out for themselves and it’s a really close, intimate relationship that can be seen in many ways.
And also that sort of Motherly and Fatherly kind of figure. He’s very protective of her in a kind of physical way and her more in a psychological way and we try and embrace that. There’s a lot of stuff that I pick up from and one of the ones I like looking at for this was the Ultimates because I think that kind of ties in more with what they’ve been doing recently with the Avengers, it’s more keeping in tone with it.
So your power set is really something we haven’t seen in these movies before. We’ve seen super speed in other films. It really feels still like there’s ground to be broken. Physically how do you prep for that and work with the team to figure that out?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I run a lot [Laughs]. We’ve done it before. Right now, I think they’re gonna play around with maybe getting into “Quicksilver time” which would be sort of my point of view and kind of playing around with that. Like I said, that’s another thing that it’s experimental really. That’s the great thing with these things, with new powers and things like that, that you can really play with that sort of stuff. We did a lot of testing… [Laughs] The first time we did a running test, I was on what’s essentially like a running machine but it was a huge Lorry-sized rig which is something the width of this [Points around room] but it was something that they sped up and it was a great big running machine, and they had me on a harness and a green screen, and they put it on an incline and I ran on that.
But it didn’t really give a sense of anything that was really traveling so when you played it back, it was just like everything actually looked too clean and neat. So it didn’t really look real and then when we did some stuff on the road and when we shot onto like a 120 frames per second and they’re on a truck and they’re driving, I’d sprint for a hundred meters and the more kind of crazy and ducking and diving, and when they sped that up, it had a lot more of a really interesting flow to it. So I mean, we experimenting with it. It’s a lot of fun. I usually turn up and ask “What am I doing today? I run in … and I run out. Yeah, that should be fine.” [Laughs]
Elizabeth was talking a bit about the humor of the character which kind of, I mean, super speed is something to lends itself to hear. Plus Joss Whedon has an ear for humor. What’s it been like working with that and the humor of the character?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: The thing is, in the Marvel Universe in general, everything’s not taken seriously in a sense. There are points of real Drama but I love that there’s a lot of sarcasm and humor to it and people have their moment of humor, and it’s fun. What we didn’t want, from me and Lizzie’s standpoint, is our accents to be like the humorous thing and to be laughing at the fact that we’ve got these silly accents you know, wanting to actually make the words and the feeling of the scene have humor but yeah it’s good. It’s all kind of sort of fed through Joss and bouncing off some of the other actors and stuff.
Next Page: Costumes & Comparing to X-Men’s Quicksilver
Is it mostly repartee with Scarlet Witch or with rest of the team as well?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: With the rest of the team. You know, it’s always that thing, that kind of great thing where they have characters go head to head and bicker with one another and I don’t want to say who but it’s nice to have a lot of humor in it and we get on.
With Scarlet Witch getting in the Avengers’ heads, what sort of relationship do you have with the Avengers? Do you hate them or do you resent them?
Publicist: Well for him, it’s hard to kind of get into that because it’s not an easy answer.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: It’s not an easy answer. I can say that most of the time, because I go at such super speed that it’s literally an elbow or an shoulder would send someone flying. It’s the force of impact of my powers. And it’s only when I’m slowed down, it makes my character very vulnerable at times but he’s at super speed, no one can kind keep a track on it.
When X-Men: Days of Future Past came out, with Quicksilver in it, while you guys were in production. Did some of the things you planned on doing get beaten to the punch by Bryan Singer and Fox with the version played by Even Peters ?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t really know. When the job came around, it was already out there. I think it was already shooting, you know, so it wasn’t like we were like all “Oh, should I really be taking on a Character that’s already…” We looked at the two different Universes and we don’t feel threatened nor are we’re saying that’s, you know, the wrong thing. It’s just that’s one thing and we’re doing something different. But yeah, I haven’t watched it to kind of be like “Oh, they’re doing the slow mo super speed kind of action shots.”
Is it weird that it’s your pal from Kick-Ass?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Evans Peters. Yeah, it’s kind of funny and sort of strange. I bumped into him at Comi-Con way back before this even started and they had all the X-Men guys there and I know some of the other actors so I said “hello,” it’s nice to see him again from since it’s been a long time since Kick-Ass. So I said how funny it was but yeah, it was all easy and cool. I don’t get very competitive or you know, find it like awkward or anything.
In the comics, Quicksilver has quite a very distinctive costume that he wears. Do you eventually transition to something like that that towards the end of the movie? Do you have something he wears that can hold up to that kind of speed. Moving fast, more fabric could get in the way…
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Because it’s so early on, I’m just more of a civilian really. They’re more sort of Eastern European travelers that are kind of just picking out clothes as they go along. I can’t really say too much about it but yeah, I think the way that we’ve designed picking out the costumes is with that kind of thought in mind. I think some of the things I wear are more sporty, long sleeves, something that looks like a cycle top and compression T-Shirts and things, that kind of physique so you can sense an idea of it.
Do you have a favorite Avenger other than yourself?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Well, I wasn’t gonna say myself. [Laughs] It’s a real hard one. Yesterday we did a scene and we had the whole cast in. And it’s a hard one because when you really look at it and go “Oh actually, most people are kind of…” so like the Hulk I think really awesome Avenger. But essentially, when he’s not the Hulk, he’s just like a scientist. He’s just Banner, you know. And then obviously, Iron Man, he’s Tony Stark when not in Iron Man – he’s not a super hero. And then you look around the room… And the only one that is essentially otherworldly Superhero physique is Hemsworth. The size of his arms is like the size of my thighs [Laughs] and you kind of think that, just to be the kind of be an actor and transform your physique and body to that kind of level, and essentially he’s a god, and he’s 6 foot what… 4. He’s such a great guy. I mean everyone is charming and brilliant and a lot of fun but you look around the room and that guy is definitely, you know, a superhero.
Pietro and Wanda have issues with the Avengers and Tony Stark in general. How much of their backstory are we going to learn? Are we going to see how that came about or is that something we don’t have time to really get into?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, that was a real small taster on the origin story [referring to the Captain America 2 button scene] and I think, absolutely, that’s definitely just to get you starting to think like that and then that’s, you know, they’ll have that.
So this Movie will cover some of their origins?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Yeah, we’ll embrace it yeah definitely, very heavily and you’ll get a sense of it.
Do you think you’d be able to win a foot race with the cast?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Just running? I mean, it would be pretty embarrassing if I couldn’t [LAUGHTER] It depends. If they’re in their costumes I would [LAUGHTER] I think I would be super fast. Hemsworth would be fast, but he’s got a lot of weight there. I’ll keep with that one. Let’s keep the illusion going.
Kick-Ass was kind of a break out role for you and to a large extent it demolishes the notion of super heroes. Was there ever a moment where you were hesitant to actually make the jump to do actual superhero films?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I think anyone hesitates when you get to be, you know, I’m flattered and honored to be called in to be part of The Avengers. I don’t think you hesitate. For me, I had to almost slow down and go “alright, before I get in over in my head and go yeah, ‘absolutely, where do I sign,’ I kind of have to focus in: is there a character there? Is there something that I can actually bring to the table?” I don’t want to be just another superhero added on. What’s the storyline? What’s the plot? Do I hesitate? No, not really.
And I hope that when you watch it, people don’t go assuming or looking “oh, that’s Kick-Ass, that doesn’t really work.” Some people can get very sort of channeled into one thing. And I mean, again it’s great Kick-Ass put me on the map in many ways but I’ve been working before that a long time and doing independent roles and trying to pick characters in other movies. Savages was very different to that. And hopefully, what we’ve done in this by looking differen changing it up with accents that we can give another kind of tone to it that people won’t assume, you know. I hope so anyway.
Are you championing your own solo movie with Scarlet Witch? Do you think there is enough material for that to happen?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I wasn’t thinking on that line. I thought, if anything, they’d probably tag us into someone else’s. I mean, they’ve got their own comic book so there’s got to be something. It’s up to the Marvel guys, if they wanted to go that route.
Would you be game?
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Absolutely, with these guys, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great studio to be a part of and I’m not just saying that because that’s the easiest thing to say. You work with other big studio movies and you’re just one film in the mix of many others and you’re just a character among many other in their films. Marvel guys only care about the Marvel Universe and the characters they came from so therefore, that’s all they think about creatively and care about. And they care about the storyline so it becomes a really creative kind of family and a place that I enjoy working. And the experience for me is always, overall, whatever the outcome is. This is how I work, and it’s part of my life and important to have fun and work with good people.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.