Last October Screen Rant had the opportunity to visit and explore the set of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and while journeying through Asgard we met one of its most interesting villains in Algrim the Strong, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Algrim is a Dark Elf warrior and the lieutenant of king Malekith.
In the film, their brotherly relationship is a crucial element of the story and just like the comics, something horrible will happen to Algrim that transforms him into the beast known as Kurse.
On the first day of our two-day Thor 2 adventure we met Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who was fully dressed up in the most menacing and detailed costume and prosthetics we’d ever seen as Kurse. Later, when he was out of costume, we had the chance to chat with him in his trailer about the characters he plays.
Do you use an accent?
I very rarely ever use my accent but, no we’ve, we crafted an accent for Algrim and also Kurse because there will be some transformation… So there is an accent and there’s a modification of it for Kurse and I’ll give you a little hint as well. There’s a language which I think is gonna intrigue you as much as it has me ‘cause I’ve had to spend hours learning it but I think you’ll get a lot of fun out of that because I think it adds a new dimension to not only the elves but the movie. It’s really — it makes it very real.”
How long is the makeup process?
For Algrim it takes about two and a half hours, possibly three, depends. And for Kurse it takes about an hour and a half and sometimes I have to do them both at the same day so we’re looking about five hours. That’s just to put on and to take off but it definitely is a labor of love but I’ve got the most skilled prosthetic team as you can see working with me so they make it very, very easy but it’s long.
How much did you know about the characters coming into the project and filming?
No, I think they purposely avoided that. It was a very vague discussion actually. It was we have this great character. We think only you can play it and, yeah. It was just later as we got into the movie and we started seeing the costumes. “Oh, by the way did we tell you there’s prosthetics, quite a lot of it” and so it kind of unfolded. But in terms of how much I knew, I’d be quite frank with you – I haven’t known an awful lot. Kurse, I’ve known about because, you know, he’s quite a figure in the Thor world, the Marvel world but, Algrim and the Elves, you know it was still somewhat vague to me and that was the joy of coming in because I did the research and, you know, discovered who they were. And I think what they did is allow me not to have the preconceived notions and come up with something that was a little more unique because obviously Marvel and the director have those preconceived notions which I’m sure that you are familiar with and they bring them and it just allowed me to sort of like come with a different kind of energy from a different side.
So,I didn’t know a tremendous amount about the characters and as far as the prosthetics, again it was all a bit of a revelation, a pleasant one though because it’s been quite secretive in that how can we construct because various departments build various pieces – the hair pieces, the face. So you don’t see any of it in its entirety until pretty much toward the end, I mean just beginning, just before the principal photography and it’s ‘oh, this is what I look like.’ So, it’s a journey and it’s a revelation when you actually see it. I didn’t know an awful a lot. I just went along with the ride and I’m enjoying it.
How was it wearing the costumes?
Kurse is probably the most challenging. He has – I don’t know if you can see this. You don’t see it today but it’s about 30-40 pounds and the underneath we have sometimes I’ll wear fiberglass body cast as well on top of that because of certain instruments that have to go through me. So it’s a challenge but the good thing about it is that the suit itself is quite flexible and what it does is the bulk means you don’t have to act it. You know, what I mean? The burden is on you so it’s very literal. I did a lot of mirror work before I went to the stage because just trying to bring a presence to him and I found that less was absolutely more with him because the bulk actually said a lot in those certain moments.
And the way – because it’s very flexible – the mask is put on so every grimace and wink and you can see. And so we played around with that a lot but it’s challenging but that’s the task at hand. Algrim compared to Kurse is a walk in the park. You know, but what it is, is great because when I take off the suit I’ve always had a slide bowed over posture and now I have this very erect posture. I walk around like that so it’s a good little benefit that comes out of all the burden on my walk.
What other characters do you get to do scenes with?
I’m lucky. I get to play scenes with all of the main characters. Probably the most time I spend is with Christopher Eccleston – he plays Malekith and we are very much bonded in our vision of the world and our purpose in the movie so we spend a lot of time together. But it’s great. I’ve got great scenes with Tom Hiddleston. I’ve got great scenes with Chris [Hemsworth]… fortunately the Kurse/Algrim characters are all characters so it’s really a nice role to play but the most is with Chris [Eccleston].
Can you tell us about Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith character?
With Malekith it’s multi-layered but essentially there’s a furiously loyal bond between us because we’ve been on the front line together and we lost a lot so it’s almost like a brotherhood, a very deep brotherhood but then there’s also a slight, almost like mentor in that, you know, the beauty about Algrim is it’s the kind of loyalty that is very rare. Somebody who would lay their life on the line for a cause and he feels that Malekith heads that cause. So they’re tight. They are tight.
Are you a military man?
It is there. The differentiation is there. I mean Algrim is very much about – and I purposely put in this word, this word that we keep using for Algrim – and it’s “it will be done, it will be done” and that’s his motto. He’s your go-to guy to get stuff done. Kurse as you said, the rage, it becomes something else but what I’ve tried to do instead of just making him this ogre, this powerful brute is keep the Algrim within him. So we overlap some of the words that Algrim would use and also you see his eyes are very much the same as Algrim. So you see that there’s a human within the beast and I think what we’re hoping to do is have people almost empathize with his sacrifice but enjoy the brew at the same time, you know.
Has a lot changed in the script?
No, I think they had a real good knuckle on it. They had a real good idea of what they wanted to do. Hasn’t changed dramatically. A few scenes have been added fortunately I think just to flush out the character of Kurse but it’s essentially as I was told in the beginning, actually better.
Disney and Marvel’s official description of Kurse:
Algrim/Kurse is Malekith’s trusted and loyal lieutenant. He fought at Malekith’s side during the initial war with Asgard thousands of years ago, but now their time is running out. Algrim is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice and is transformed into the monstrous Kurse. With a new and terrifying power, Kurse seeks to destroy Thor and Asgard in preparation for Malekith’s arrival.
Alan Taylor directs Thor 2 off of Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins.
Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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