Seeing Marvel’s Avengers re-assemble to save the world again is only a part of the reason moviegoers can get excited about Avengers: Age of Ultron. What has writer and director Joss Whedon in fanboy mode in creating the sequel is in how he’s able to bring more of his own creations to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Specifically, two of his personal favorite comic book characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
The “twins” as they’re referred to, Pietro (Quicksilver) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch), were key parts of The Avengers comics when Whedon was reading at a young age and even while working on the first movie he knew that if he got to come back, the story would involve the pair alongside Paul Bettany as The Vision. Now it’s all happening, and Whedon (read out set interview with Whedon for more) hand-selected Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson to play the super-powered siblings who bring an entire new element to The Avengers roster.
Moviegoers got a brief glimpse at the pair during the post-credits button of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and last summer when we visited the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron we had the chance to sit down with Elizabeth Olsen to talk about this version of Wanda and what she and Whedon hope to bring to the movie (and future movies). In our interview we discuss Wanda’s growing power set, what he specific abilities are; her relationships with Pietro, Hawkeye and others; her Easter European accent and designing a costume and fighting style that fits in the modern, real world.
Can you talk about your Eastern European accent?
Elizabeth Olsen: Can I talk about it? Um, that’s something we’re… we know that we’re from Eastern Europe. And it’s something that we got to create. It’s a make believe place, so it’s something that Aaron and I, with the dialect coach kind of create together.
What’s the name of the fake country?
Note: Here the publicist interrupts saying “that we can’t tell” but we’ve since learned that her and Pietro’s home country is called Sokovia and it’s where Baron Strucker’s Hydra base is setup as teased at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and detailed in the official Avengers: Age of Ultron prelude comic.
Elizabeth Olsen: That I can’t talk about, but it’s, but I get to, you’ve got to make it up, so, yeah.
How are we introduced to your character?
I think you’ve already been introduced. I think as the beginning you will see is what’s in the end of Cap 2, and it’s almost likely…
Is that continued?
Elizabeth Olsen: A little bit, yeah. There is definitely a connection that is very evident.
Is that how she’s going to look in the movie [pointing towards the prison garb type clothing at the end of Captain America 2]?
Elizabeth Olsen: No, for the film, that world is very specific, so it’s almost like they’re hospital-ish, you know. And the way that we’ve designed costumes is based off of these two kids,these kids being on their own and what the use, using whatever they can to their best ability, like if they see a street vendor and they just grab something off a street vendor. So it hits to Eastern Europe, but it’s also this kind of kitschy vagabond feel as well.
In some of the original drafts of Godzilla your character and Aaron’s character were brother and sister. When that was switched had you guys already talked about doing this together? Or was that very late in the game?
Elizabeth Olsen: We weren’t in a part of the brother-sister conversation for Godzilla. They just told us that they weren’t sure if they wanted them to brother and sister, but they’re pretty sure they want them to be married and they’re pretty sure they’re gonna give them a kid. [LAUGHING,] That was the impression we got and that’s where we basically started, and we didn’t know about this until after we finished filming Godzilla which was kind of funny.
Did that help with the comfort level working on this film, having just come off of something else with Aaron?
Elizabeth Olsen: Totally, I mean, if you look at the comics the two of them are always like so, so close to each other, that the proximity, their comfortability around each other is so specific, and to the rest of the group. And so it’s nice to know Aaron and it’s also nice to have a friend when you’re joining such a big project like this with potentially intimidating people and so it’s been really nice to have Aaron.
And it is nice to feel like, to feel like “they have their movies, well like we had a movie too! It’s not just that one, but, you know”… [LAUGHING.] It was that kind of teammate feel.
What was some of your first meetings with the cast members like and did they kind of give you any insight? Who was the first person you and Aaron got to work with?
Elizabeth Olsen: The first person that Aaron and I got to work with is Jeremy Renner, because we were shooting in Italy as everyone has seen [Laughs].
Note: Olsen is referring the the bountiful amount of unofficial set photos from the beginning of production with the three of them in costume.
And he was so, I don’t know, he was so straight about how this is gonna go. This was one of the first days of shooting the cast I think, and it is the most waiting I’ve done on a film, so keeping an energy up is really difficult so you get on set and like you just have to have like one thing that you hook into to remind yourself, to give you that energy and the drive of your character. Just talking with him was interesting and fun, and I still enjoy working. Everyone that we’ve met, everyone is so nice. I was ready for like maybe some sort of diva, anything, but there’s none of that at all on this set. All of the actors are unbelievably fun and giving and kind and it’s, it’s amazing.
Do you have a favorite Avenger?
Elizabeth Olsen: Personally? I’m kind of digging what I get to do, and I’m really excited. Well, my favorite just as a fan is Iron Man. Those are my favorite films and that’s how I got into the Marvel world and becoming a fan myself. But I wouldn’t mind continuing to do this for quite some time because I’m having so much fun working on the Scarlet Witch Wanda. She’s so awesome. I think Joss is excited by her also and so the two of us kind of dork out a bit and… it’s pretty fun.
Going off of what we saw in Cap 2, what is the relationship like between Wanda and Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann)? Is that something that continues throughout the film?
Elizabeth Olsen: It’s something people will be wondering later. I guess it kind of is what it is, what is there, I mean, looks like, you know, we’re almost, I mean, it is what it is.
Do they share ideals?
Elizabeth Olsen: I don’t know. I think there’s a bit of all of it, you know. I think it’s, it’s interesting, I don’t know what I can tell…
Publicist: That one we’re keeping back.
In that scene at the end of Cap 2 we see the character manipulating objects and today we learn that your character can get in the minds of people. Can you talk about the power abilities of Wanda?
Elizabeth Olsen: Yeah, so I am able to go into someone’s head and I can feel and see what they feel and see, so it’s not just me manipulating them, but what I love about her is that in so many superhero films, emotions are kind of negated a bit, but for her everything that someone else could feel, like their weakest moments, she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool. If they have the biggest, darkest fear, I get to see that.
Can you also shoot things or control things?
Elizabeth Olsen: Yeah, I can control energy. I can like manipulate energy away, so that’s what the red stuff is that we’re playing with.
This power set is something we haven’t seen in a Marvel movie yet, coming up with the physicality of it, how will you play those things?
Elizabeth Olsen: It’s been so fun, because you can’t be like well, how does this magic witch hero move? Like there’s nothing physically that you can just reference from dance or martial arts or anything like that. So we started off with Joss having these ideas based off just images in the comics of what the hand gestures would look like or the arms look like, and then I work with a dancer, Jenny Wade. She’s a choreographer and dancer.
And so the two of us get locked up in a room together and we move and we try and figure out what looks strong, where the energy comes from. But also in the film I’m having a journey of discovering how powerful she can be in a way. So, we’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve got to figure out what all those different levels are. It’s funny, because everyone’s doing like stunt practices and choreography, and everyone’s getting beat up and she and I are just like doing weird moves and like, pretending like we’re making things shoot out of our hands. And it’s [LAUGHING] like, I can’t get like injured that way and I feel not as tough as everyone, but it’s super fun.
Sounds fun to play though!
Elizabeth Olsen: It is. It’s so playful. It’s nice to be able to have some sort of creativity and movement and it’s pretty awesome.
Do you have a tremendous amount of power? How crazy is she? Is she trying to maintain a level of sanity?
Elizabeth Olsen: That’s what I think that’s what’s so awesome about that trajectory of where she could go potentially. In this film it’s just the beginnings of everything. It’s all just starting.
In the comics she does get really powerful. In this movie are you just learning to use your power?
Elizabeth Olsen: No, we made the decision that she’s already able. We played with the idea of like how much can she do at the beginning of the film and at first it was like not much, but we’ve decided have her hone in to understand some sort of strength to her abilities but then they do grow, but there’s definitely a sense of confidence that she knows what she’s doing from the start.
You can get into the Avengers heads. Have you filmed scenes with everyone? Can you get into all the Avengers heads?
Note: Olsen and the publicist talk about what they can say.
Elizabeth Olsen: I do that to everyone and, yeah, I can do that to everyone.
To a robot too?
Elizabeth Olsen: I don’t think so. I don’t think that includes robots.
Did you film the scenes with the cast already?
Elizabeth Olsen: We just filmed an awesome scene where we’re basically all in one room the last few days. It’s been so cool. Aaron and I were kinda like “this is amazing. I can’t believe they can get all these people in one room, and they’ll all be in London,” but, yeah, we did that. It was more of like a talking scene and it was a lot of fun.
Note: We ask if this is reference to the part scene depicted in the trailers but the publicist and Olsen explain the group scene is based around what we saw shooting that day, a sequence in Avengers tower involving Thor and Vision. We’ll have more on that later!
Do we get to see any interaction or a relationship building between Wanda and Vision?
Elizabeth Olsen: Um, they’re both being introduced in this film, so I think if you’re like a big fan and you know what happens, maybe you’ll start putting in your own interpretation on the things, but other than that, it’s just everyone’s kind of being created and born. All these new people and being added in a way.
Is there humor with your character? Because She seems pretty dark.
Elizabeth Olsen: I think there’s humor with her brother. I think there’s a lot of humor. Jeremy Renner’s character is hilarious for some reason to me, and [LAUGHING,] He’s like a big grump. And he’s really funny. He’s always complaining, but the humor that I have would seem more like being with Pietro, his energy, we’re like yin and yang almost. And I think that interaction to me is, is funny, but it’s not funny funny. I’m not saying like funny Stark lines, but…
What’s it like being a Joss Whedon female hero?
Elizabeth Olsen: Well, you feel like you’re in good hands and the cool thing is he hasn’t been able to create these characters before. He’s been given them from other directors or writers, from their other franchises, and he’s been adapting – taking what has already been created and serving them in Avengers. And in this, he’s able to create Wanda, and he’s such a huge fan of her and it’s really awesome to get to have that. I think he is enjoying also getting to have the experience where he gets to create it, because he is such a fan of creating these strong, amazing women.
And it’s nice to have that. There’s obviously Black Widow, but it’s nice to have another strong presence, and usually I haven’t really been around when Scarlet was working, so I kind of feel like the only female most of the time. And it’s nice to have a stronger presence instead of, you know, a weak one or like an office one or something.
Does she tangle with Widow a little bit?
Elizabeth Olsen: A little bit. We’ve got to work a little bit together.
What was your reaction when you saw what your costume would be like? Obviously we know what the character looks like in the comics which is interesting…
Elizabeth Olsen: The first thing Joss ever said to me before I even got the job, when we were first meeting, he said when you look at the images, look at the comics, know that we’re not making you look like that. You will not have to wear a bathing suit or look like a porn star. [LAUGHING.] So that made me feel great.
And then Alex, our costume designer, is really clever in being able to take the images and the iconic ideas of these characters and these comics and these cartoons and adapt them to some sort of modern day world, how would it actually exist, but still make it feel like it’s not of this world in a way. So I have been totally loving it, and I love all of my costumes and I love all the details. I wear so many little pieces that they’re all so unique and I think it all just adds to their journey as, you know, as these twins together.
You’re known for smaller films. Is there really any difference with your process in working on something so big this time?
Elizabeth Olsen: There’s a huge difference. Massive difference. And it’s really interesting, because you get to learn a different way of working. In this you get to work, but I like having a lot of structure. I’ve always enjoyed having tons of structure because then you can be as free as you want within it. And in this, it’s like you have that structure and you have more structure and everything. Everything is in Joss’ head or Kevin’s head, and everyone has figured out how this is gonna go.
It’s almost like a cartoon before you get there, so you have to bring this humanity and life and your own personal interpretation of everything. But it’s not like you can decide oh, I’m gonna go walk over and touch that thing across the room. You can’t do that. There’s like 6 cameras set up. So it’s totally a different way of working, and you have to be so specific and you just have to do it right when they give you the opportunity to, because you don’t have a lot of opportunities, because they have to keep moving with all the other set ups. And then when you do something smaller, it’s like you’re getting to exist in a room with the one camera guy and do that kind of a dance.
Joss is known for altering, tweaking dialogue on the day. Has he done anything drastic with any of your dialogue or any of your stuff?
Elizabeth Olsen: No. No, and if there are script changes where we’ll come on the set shooting a scene and he’ll be like oh, by the way, I added a scene right before this. And you’re like, what? And then that scene changes your full opinion of what you’re about to shoot, but that’s okay. You can change your mind really quickly [Laughs]. And so that’s the only thing, but maybe intentions have changed while we’ve been shooting, as the script has been changing, but nothing that you ever feel unprepared for.
Do you and Pietro have any direct relations with Ultron?
Elizabeth Olsen: I think our relationship to Ultron will not be shared. [LAUGHING.] Yeah.
Does your character also have the ability to see into their nature on whether they are good or bad and will that impact her relationship?
Elizabeth Olsen: I think that what I’d like to answer that is that I think we can know so many things about someone but not know maybe what they’re capable of in terms of being bad or good, and I think everyone has maybe good intentions, but they do bad things. So she can’t… I don’t think anyone can differentiate that.
When you were first meeting with Joss and talking about costume ideas, and he was pitching the character to you, did he pitch you like an overall plan saying here are some things that will happen over the course of this character’s life in these films?
Elizabeth Olsen: It was more like here’s what we’re going to do with this film, and then just while we’ve been on set, I just like making jokes like “wouldn’t that be awesome if that happened to you later at a different time?” Ah, that’s about it. It’s been really, I have like the story that we wanted to achieve that she almost creates on her own in the comics is just so awesome and so, I’m sure it’d be so fun to play with him. I would love to, to do more, you know.
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.