Iron Man may be gone, but Happy Hogan remains. Jon Favreau started the MCU by directing 2008's Iron Man, and is going to usher in its post-Tony Stark era in front of the camera, reprising the role of Stark Industries' head of security. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, he'll be helping Peter Parker through the loss of his father figure and trying to protect Spidey's school friends from whatever the real villain of the movie is.
Screen Rant had the chance to sit down with Favreau when visiting the set of Spider-Man: Far From Home, where we talked about returning to Happy as well as the development of The Lion King and Star Wars streaming series The Mandalorian.
So, you survived the snap?
I’m here. I'm alive. Unless I’m a red herring.
We heard, "I’m in love with Spider-man’s aunt!" Can you elaborate on that?
Oh wow. Interesting. We haven't filmed that yet. So I don't know.
How do you manage your time between this, Lion King and Star Wars?
So, um, I'm working on Lion King now. Actually, while I'm out, I go over to MPC after work and look at the stuff there. Because they're doing the digital effects here. So we're doing some of the stuff… and then we’re prepping the Star Wars series back in L.A. So actually, with all the time zones, it actually works out well. Although, when you have to be on the set, it's tricky. So one of the producers who's working on both the other projects is with me, so I kind of get corralled around. But the nice part about acting as that I get to just focus on that for when I'm on the set. This is a really fun one, too, and I like to work with Jon again. He's a funny guy.
We saw The Lion King footage at D23.
It looks amazing.
Thank you. We're really giving them the time to do it right. And that was relatively early footage, rushed for that event, because we wanted to get it out. But I'm here [in London] working with them. It's a lot of the same people I worked with on Jungle Book. There was probably a big learning curve for me on that one. And now I'm up to speed and I'm used to working with all of them. I know what the tech could do, and there's all new tech. A lot of the consumer facing VR stuff that's out there that wasn't out there back around the time of Jungle Book. We were using mostly motion-capture tech, and now, using game-engine tech and consumer facing VR stuff, we're able to create virtual production. It’s a very cool, efficient way of working. It helps contribute to a live-action feel, because we're able to actually go into VR and set cameras and operate real cameras that drive virtual cameras. So it has a look that hopefully will feel photo real. And even though it's all, everything is animated in it, it still should have a look of like a live action film. But you'll see. You'll get to judge. That's the plan.
What is Happy’s role in this movie? In Homecoming, you were the go-between for Tony and Peter.
Yeah. I like to think I was the Nick Fury of Homecoming. Now I'm more of the Hagrid. But I'm having a lot of fun, because I know a lot of the actors. I really liked how Homecoming came out. I love the tone. I love the mix of humor and it reminded me a lot of -- especially working with Gwyneth and Robert also -- it reminded me a lot of the first Iron Man. Because it was no pressure on us. We got to have fun and be funny and start to open up new doors. That storyline was new, so it was simple. And then Tom Holland is, of course, like this really cool, younger, you know, sort of, looks up to Tony as like a mentor figure. So that passing of the torch that took place in that one was really good. And I love the sense of humor. To me, when you get that balance right is where I really appreciate the kind of Indie, funny, Improv-y type of feel. And then you have really kind of cool action that balances out well. If you have somebody who's, who's got, who's got a good handle on things like Jon does.
What kind of technology is your character looking at in this one? Within the universe, we know there is Vibranium. We know there's the stealth suits and stuff like that. What can you say about how that stuff is evolving?
I try to know as much as my character does, so I try not to know too much. I know enough to … Happy isn’t somebody who's in innovating technology, but he's one who's been around it for a long time. And so, some of the stuff is still the Stark stuff, and there's new stuff. And Spider-Man is sort of a tech hero. I think is what's been established in the MCU is that we're really leaning into that he's a little genius, too, and then Tony has the resources of all of the Stark, from when he created the suit for him. So it's a fun balance. But honestly, as I go through it, I get pages the morning of. [laughs] So I'm like, "okay, so what's going on here?" And I could kind of piece it together. And then I look in the makeup trailer of all the head shots and the names of all the characters, and I can put together what I think the movie's about. But I could guess with you. That's why I can speak freely, because I don't know anything.
Have they done anything to kind of touch on how Tony and Happy’s relationship has changed, with Tony not being in this movie.
I'm on loan out a lot. Uh, like with Gwyneth [Paltrow], I was on loan out. So I'm part of the Stark family of companies, and this is, this is… a lot of time has passed since the last one. So a lot's implied.
How has Happy’s relationship with Peter changed?
Well they, they were through a lot together, you know, and I think that [Peter’s] relationship with Tony, and Happy’s always been very loyal to Tony, going back to the books, too. And it's something that, you know, remember, I started playing this because I just want to get myself a cameo. I was basically an extra in the first one! What's really super strange for me is how all of this has evolved into something so… how should I put it? Every little thread plays out into other things. My neighbor was Clark Gregg. I asked him to play a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Paul Bettany, I actually worked with on Wimbledon. We shot at Shepparton. I asked him to do the voice. He never even saw the first movie, and then he turned into The Vision! And Clark turned into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And so, it's a little surreal for me, to be honest with you, how all these little things that were just… Nick Fury doing a post credit scene as like an Easter egg for the fans turned into the foundation for the whole Avengers/MCU thing. So nothing's wasted. Every little detail, the fans really know. So anytime we lean into it, and try to reinforce that, it seems to help bring a little more humanity and depth to it.
Happy’s not a traditional chaperone. So what is he doing in London?
Now I kind of am, because it’s with the kids. So I am. I wasn't kidding. I'm kind of turning… I was just joking. I was like, "Am I kind of Hagrid here?" And they're like, "yeah, you're kind of Hagrid." And they all figuring out who they would be from Harry Potter. And maybe because we're here, shooting it, surrounded by… that’s what they serve us. We get butter beer for lunch.
Is he there just to protect Peter or…?
No, I, he’s sort of by, by extension, all these kids are in my charge because, just by association with Peter, they're drawn into a world that's a lot more dangerous than the high school experience than these kids should be going through. And it's cool for me because the school is kind of based on the high school I went to, Bronx Science. So I'm throwing out geeky lines to them, acting too cool for my character. I'm like, "That's actually not a spear." Like, knowing what every weapon in there is. I remember from my dungeon and dragons days. It's kind of funny. I'm from Queens also. So, like in Captain America when they showed Queens, when they cut to Queens, and that was the big chyron, my heart jumped. Because being rom Queens, you don't really get that top billing. You’re usually the punchline.
Would you ever jump back in the sandbox and direct a Marvel movie?
I mean nowadays, who knows, with all the different platforms and the streaming service. I’m part of the new Disney streaming service, and all of these new technologies are new platforms are emerging and all sorts of really cool… because you don't, it's not like network television or not like blockbuster films where everybody has to be, the audience has to, everything has to be made for all audiences. Now you could make specific material and content for specific groups, as long as you're doing a good job and they're loyal to it and they like what you're doing. There's room in this new ecosystem. And so it's gonna be very interesting to see, not just what Lucasfilm does, but what Marvel does and Disney does with the opportunity to do things that don't have to compete on a blockbuster weekend in the summer and the holidays. It takes a while for this to ripple through to the audiences. But you're starting to see out there, with all the different ways of delivering content, you're seeing a lot of material coming out. It allows for fresh voices and fresh takes and certainly something like Marvel has a lot of opportunities, because there's so many characters that might not warrant a huge movie but that weave together, and you get a lot of chapters. So it's kind of exciting to see what's coming.
Have you flirted with the idea of an Iron Man 4?
We haven't talked about 4. I've talked to Kevin about it to see what they're up to, but we definitely love working together and we love these characters. So we talk about what it would be, and we always joke about the "Freak" storyline, which is a Happy Hogan storyline when he turns into a Hulk-like character. We joke about that, though, no plans as of yet.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019