Thor: The Dark World Production Notes
From Marvel Studios comes the highly anticipated “Thor: The Dark World,” continuing the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos...but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with the treacherous Loki to save not only his people and those he loves…but our universe itself.
Based on the ever-popular comic book series, Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” stars Chris Hemsworth (“Marvel’s The Avengers”) as Thor with Academy Award® winner Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “War Horse”) as Loki, award-winning Stellan Skarsgård (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) as Dr. Erik Selvig, Idris Elba (“Prometheus”) as Heimdall, Christopher Eccleston (“The Others”) as Malekith, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“The Thing”) as Algrim and Kurse, Kat Dennings (“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” “2 Broke Girls”) as Darcy, Ray Stevenson (“The Three Musketeers,” “Rome”) as Volstagg, Zachary Levi (“Tangled,” “Chuck”) as Fandral, Tadanobu Asano (“Battleship”) as Hogun, Jaimie Alexander (“Love & Other Drugs”) as Sif, with Rene Russo (“The Thomas Crown Affair”) as Frigga and Academy Award® winner Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”) as Odin.
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” is directed by Alan Taylor from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and a screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and is produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a. The executive producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Craig Kyle, Alan Fine, Nigel Gostelow and Stan Lee.
The creative production team includes director of photography Kramer Morgenthau, ASC (“Game of Thrones,” “Life on Mars”), production designer Charles Wood (“Wrath of the Titans,” “The Italian Job”), editor Dan Lebental, A.C.E. (“Iron Man”), editor Wyatt Smith (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”) and costume designer Wendy Partridge (“Silent Hill,” “Hellboy”).
In 1962, the now-legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced “The Mighty Thor” to readers of Marvel Comics, unleashing a new era of action-adventure with their take on the hammer-wielding Norse god. Despite the Nordic-sounding names, the story was rooted in familiar, universal conflicts that have driven human drama since the beginning of time: a son impatient to prove his worth to his father; a lethally resentful brother; and a woman who helps a man see the world anew.
After the global cinematic success of Marvel’s “Thor,” the filmmakers reached once more into a rich archive of Norse mythology and comic book history for Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World.” The movie paints an adventure of the most epic and spectacular proportions. Again drawing on universal and familiar themes, the film pits duty and family allegiance against personal aspiration and love. It sees a nation in conflict with an enemy long thought to be dead, but who now threatens the very existence of the universe.
“Thor: The Dark World” producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige notes that writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had made an inspired move by looking to Norse mythology when deciding to create a god as a comic book Super Hero. He recalls, “A lot of people were familiar with the Greek and Roman mythologies, not so much with the Norse. When you read those stories, it’s like the best of the Marvel Comics, because it’s people who are very human, despite their powers—despite their calling down the storm, the thunder and the lightning. They have family issues, in the two brothers fighting, Thor and Loki. It’s a family drama and they’re just as flawed as any of us, or any of the Marvel heroes. That’s what makes the Marvel characters so relatable.”
At the end of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor takes Loki prisoner and returns him to Asgard to be jailed there for the crimes he committed in his attempt to take over Earth. From this starting point, producer Kevin Feige, executive producer Craig Kyle, the screenwriters and a large team at Marvel sat down to look at where Thor’s story should go next. Screenwriter Christopher L. Yost explains, “We really wanted to look at how you could escalate the story personally for him and push things to the next level in terms of conflict.”
Director Alan Taylor, describing Thor’s journey, says, “In the first film, we saw Thor go from being an impetuous prince to taking his first steps towards maturing and growing up, and in our film that life story continues. He’s moving closer to actually claiming the kind of power that comes with Odin. He’s becoming not just a man, but potentially a king as well. In this story, as Thor matures and deepens, he has to give some things up and suffer.”
To create the conflict, the filmmakers give Thor a worthy adversary—the villainous Malekith. Introduced in June 1984, in issue #344 of Thor, Malekith is leader of the dark elves, who inhabit Svartalfheim, one of the Nine Realms. After waging war with the Nine Realms, and being defeated by Asgard, the dark elves were considered to be extinct. But Malekith put his planet and the surviving dark elves into hibernation for many thousands of years, until a calculated time when he was ready to avenge the universe and turn light once more into darkness. Malekith and the dark elves will prove to be formidable enemies with a violent and personal history with Asgard.
Producer Kevin Feige states that from early on Malekith was “the No. 1 choice” for a villain to pit against Thor. “Malekith has a history,” says Feige. “He has a unique world that fits into our desire to explore different worlds in this film. Some of his greatest adventures involved threatening Earth. He also has a great look that our visual development department could translate from the comic book to the screen in a cool way.”
Marvel’s creative executive Eric Carroll adds, “Malekith plays a big role in the Thor comics. Walter Simonson and the Surtur Saga where Malekith was introduced was probably the most famous and popular Thor saga out there. We always thought he’d be a really cool bad guy for this time around.”
The dark elves also have their place in Norse mythology. Dark elves and also black elves are attributed to the “Prose Edda,” a work written in the 13th century by Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson. Black elves were called swart elves (singular svartalfar), and were beings that dwelled on Svartalfheim. The dark elves were called Dökkálfar, and they lived deep within the Earth.
As Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” explores more of the Nine Realms, it also illuminates more of Thor’s background and heritage. This gives the film greater scale and the audience more understanding of the history and complexities of Thor’s universe, of which Earth is very much a key element. It also allows the filmmakers and scriptwriters a great opportunity to explore the cosmos and Marvel Universe with few limitations. This brings exciting and fantastical sci-fi elements to the film, such as otherworldly beings with mystical abilities and weird and wonderful landscapes.
The film opens on Earth, but we are quickly treated to tantalizing glimpses of the black and charred world of Svartalfheim, where dark elves Malekith and Algrim emerge from their bat-like hibernation. We then see a more earthy and lush Vanaheim where the Warriors Three and the Lady Sif are battling to bring about peace for the Vanir. Thor arrives to help and we discover that, as the peacekeepers of the Nine Realms, Thor and his dedicated warriors have been at war for a couple of years and have finally brought the cosmos to order.
In creating “Thor: The Dark World,” Marvel filmmakers worked diligently to respect the film’s origins and the legions of comic book fans it spawned and worked carefully to endear and excite not only those fans but fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. Executive producer Craig Kyle sums it up best when he says, “It’s Marvel’s job to celebrate the character that made the fans, but also introduce them in a way that we can allow others to now find those wonderful qualities in these characters. It’s finding an entry point for everyone who wants to give these films and characters a chance.”
One of the key decisions Marvel made for “Thor: The Dark World” was bringing in the incredibly talented director Alan Taylor. His filmography covers acclaimed and award-winning TV series such as “Rome,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men,” as well as hits like “The West Wing,” “Six Feet Under” and “Sex and the City,” and more recently, the groundbreaking and gritty fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” With this wealth of experience directing some of the most successful, well-written and well-executed entertainment of recent years, Taylor was the perfect choice to helm “Thor: The Dark World,” Marvel’s most ambitious Super Hero movie yet.
Producer Kevin Feige relates, “We landed on Alan Taylor due to his spectacular television work on everything from ‘Mad Men’ to ‘Boardwalk Empire’ to ‘Game of Thrones,’ because one of the things we wanted to do on this film was to delve a little deeper into the other nine worlds and to spend more time on Asgard at street level. With Alan’s direction we got a few more layers of patina, of texture, of reality into our golden realm.”
Taylor was excited by the prospect of helming the film, stating, “I’d come to love having one foot in reality and one foot in fantasy. All of those things were coming together in this. Thor is a unique Super Hero because he carries so much weight of history and he carries a mythology. Those things gave him the kind of stature that I found exciting.”
Although Alan Taylor was not a comic book fan growing up, he became acquainted with the genre’s storytelling ethos with a little help from Marvel. “When I first came into Marvel and was introduced to everybody, they delivered three tomes of the Thor universe on my desk, and I started thinking ‘Oh, God, that’s a lot of homework.’ I started reading through them and by the time I got to the point where Loki was a woman and Thor was a frog, I realized that you can find almost anything in this comic mythology and it was okay to sort of push it aside and decide what movie we were making.”
For many of the actors, Alan Taylor was a major draw to becoming involved in the film; they were excited by his vision and his approach to the story and their characters. Tom Hiddleston comments, “Alan is fantastic. Within seconds he revealed his experience and also his openness in creating a really believable world.” He adds, “I think he’s had a huge hand in the complexity of the story. He’s really good at the subtlety of things, and I’ve enjoyed his understanding and input of Loki enormously.”
Chris Hemsworth echoes these sentiments. “Alan’s got a great sense of story and a need to find the truth in this story and not have it be hokey and ridiculous.”
Taylor’s ability to bring humanity and realism into a film of epic and otherworldly proportions, while maintaining the hallmark humorous beats of Marvel films, made him the ideal director for this ambitious film. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje comments, “Alan has a natural flare for action, but he is also an actor’s director and is very attuned to actors’ sensibilities and also the relationships between each character. I think his special talent is bringing out the idiosyncrasies of each character and making them pop in an individual way.”
Christopher Eccleston adds his enthusiasm for bringing Taylor on board. “I think it was a master stroke bringing Alan Taylor onto this project,” he comments. “I think these films can get buried in externals—the scale of the sets, the scale of the themes, the costumes—and Alan can do the visual and the scale but is all about performance too. He is about finessing in a performance, making it less theatrical, more organic, more throwaway and introducing humor. I think an audience will buy the stunts and the elaborate costumes and the elaborate sets if they believe in the performances.”
The confidence in Alan Taylor extends to the below-the-line filmmakers as well. Production designer Charles Wood comments, “As a director Alan brings a lot of weight to a film like this. He cares deeply about the story and is very sensitive to all of these things and how to approach a Marvel film. Alan’s been very generous and very engaging. He was very involved in what we were doing, discussing things and also bringing a lot of his ideas to the table. He was very opinionated in how he wanted things to look and we had a great relationship through this film.”
For Alan Taylor, working on a film with the scale and scope of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” was an entrance into uncharted territory, but working with Marvel proved to be a very positive experience for the director. “Coming in, I thought the effect would be daunting and overwhelming, but the Marvel experience was not what I expected,” says Taylor. “Marvel is unique. When you make the decisions, you’re making them with filmmakers who are really excited about the characters and the worlds, so in a way it feels like a very intimate creative process.”
Casting And Characters
HOR: Thor Odinson is the Prince and future King of Asgard, an advanced alien civilization. Once arrogant and impulsive, Thor was banished to Earth by his father Odin. The experience taught him humility, but put him into conflict with his adopted brother Loki. After saving the Earth from Loki’s schemes alongside the Avengers, Thor now faces a new enemy—one that threatens to destroy everything he cares for.
Reprising his role as Thor, The Mighty Avenger, Chris Hemsworth, the Australian actor with a physique to rival men and gods, was delighted to return. “I love playing the character. The trick is each time to find new ways to make the character have some sort of advance or growth from the last one,” explains Hemsworth. “I think you’ve got to make sure the hero is a big catalyst to the resolution from the beginning, that he’s not just there to step in at the very end and save the day. He has to be proactive throughout. There’s a definite conflict within Thor about where his place was. Was it with Jane on Earth or was it in Asgard, and where does his allegiance lie? Also, he’s beginning to understand the darker sides of what it truly means to be king and the burden of the throne.”
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” sees Thor’s ability to appreciate the bigger picture and to realize he is on the verge of becoming king. Hemsworth comments, “His senses are also now being awakened and he has a greater understanding of the world and its problems.”
He adds, “I also think Alan’s take on the title of the film is that this is a darker transition into adulthood for Thor and him becoming king, and the darker side of growing up. With the maturity and the responsibilities and then the secrets, it becomes very political about what the people of Asgard and the universe need to know versus what they want to know. You start to see the shadier side of the royal family.”
Hemsworth embraced the script and the challenge of further developing both the character and the polarizing relationship between brothers Thor and Loki, which takes a new turn. Hemsworth relates, “In the very first film Loki and Thor as brothers had a friendship where there was less hatred involved. We get to a place in this one where there’s more of that this time around again. Thor gets to ask Loki what this is all about and how they got to this point in their relationship.
“Thor is able to confront Loki and say, ‘It’s about time that you recognize your role in this. You know, it wasn’t all everyone else’s fault.’ In ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ it was us yelling at each other and butting heads, and that happens a bit in this, too, but for the most part it’s a far more interesting dynamic,” concludes Hemsworth.
In Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster also gets put to the test when the two reunite. Hemsworth explains the tension between the two, saying, “Jane’s been wondering where the hell he is and where the hell he’s been, and why he hasn’t contacted her since he left. She comes to understand that he’s been saving the universe, so that’s not a bad excuse. But the two of them have to figure out whether or not this is a realistic relationship.”
Director Alan Taylor comments about his star, “Chris Hemsworth was born to play this role. People say that about many characters and many actors, but I’ve never been so aware of it being true. To be a young man who carries the weight of godliness is challenging.”
JANE FOSTER: Jane Foster is an astrophysicist who met Thor when he was exiled to Earth by his father. The two had an intense attraction in the short time they were together, and through Jane, Thor learned the value of humility and the heroic nature of humanity. After being separated since Thor’s first visit to Earth, Jane has moved on with her life…but now finds herself pulled into Thor’s world once again by an ancient evil.
Once more taking on the role of esoteric astrophysicist Jane Foster, Natalie Portman enthuses, “It’s really fun to get to come back and play her again. I think it’s rare to get the opportunity to play these female scientists in this kind of movie, so it’s nice to have a foil for the Super Hero!”
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” finds Jane Foster making big changes in her life. Portman explains, “Jane has moved, so she’s now in London, not in Santa Fe anymore. Obviously she has gone through missing Thor and also being upset at him because he didn’t come knock on her door when he was on her planet. She’s definitely been getting over that and trying to move on.”
In the course of the story, Thor and Jane do reunite and, as Portman points out, “Obviously she’s upset at first, but he quickly explains why he didn’t come say hi. He makes it up to her by saving her life and then they become this great team.”
Jane winds up spending most of her time on Asgard, Thor’s home world, where he has taken her for protection. For Portman, this fish-out-of-water scenario not only provided some comedic moments but also a chance to wear Asgardian costumes. “It was definitely new to be in the Asgard clothes and luckily I think my character should feel uncomfortable in them, so, any discomfort I had could be part of the character’s feelings as well,” notes the actress.
She was also delighted to be working with director Alan Taylor, commenting, “Alan is really incredible. He’s really made this film so epic and is also very dead-on with all the character moments. He doesn’t do a lot of takes, but knows really specifically what he wants and gives helpful notes.”
DARCY LEWIS: Darcy Lewis is Jane Foster’s intern, a quirky but quick-thinking political science major who found herself in the middle of Earth’s first contact with an alien civilization. And while she doesn’t always understand everything that’s happening around her, she doesn’t hesitate to speak up about it. When Jane discovers an ancient cosmological event affecting the Earth, it’s Darcy who has to pick up the slack when Jane disappears.
Joining Jane once more in her scientific explorations of cosmic understanding is the quirky and irreverent intern, and fan favorite Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings. “People seem to love Darcy,” notes Dennings. “I love Darcy; she was born out of my imagination because she’s not in the comic books. So, the fact that people like her is just really flattering.”
Dennings was excited to see that none of the humor of Darcy’s character had been lost and found herself reeling with laughter while reading the script for Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World.” “I loved the script,” says Dennings. “It’s like 130 pages or something and I read it in an hour. I laughed out loud so many times. Darcy has such good stuff in this movie and she had great stuff in the last movie too, but they’ve given her a little bit more this time and it’s really great. It’s been really fun.”
In this film Darcy has become a more accomplished science intern and has even acquired her own intern named Ian. Dennings jokes, “I don’t know where she found Ian but somehow she got him and wrangled him into being her intern. She just abuses him mercilessly and treats him like crap.”
DR. ERIK SELVIG: Dr. Erik Selvig is a fellow astrophysicist and mentor to Jane Foster and was with her when Thor arrived on Earth. Selvig’s mind was possessed by Loki, who forced him to aid in his invasion of Earth. Loki’s mind control was lifted after Thor and the Avengers defeated him, but Selvig’s mental state has deteriorated due to Loki’s influence. Selvig now finds himself at the center of cosmic events once again as two worlds collide.
Rounding off the scientific trio of mortals is the talented Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, who plays Erik Selvig. Like fellow cast members, he reprises his role. Within the Marvel Universe, we last saw him possessed by Loki in “Marvel’s The Avengers” leaving the scientist traumatized. His former colleagues discover his current location by accident, when he is caught on national TV news, half-naked at the ancient sacred site of Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England. Stellan jokes of his predicament, “It was cold. I’d recommend clothes at Stonehenge. The English climate is not suitable for streaking!”
Offering further insight, Skarsgård continues, “He’s there because he’s investigating some interesting radiation, outer space activity.” Selvig reteams with Darcy and Jane and although his eccentric and odd behavior continues, he forms a vital part of the team and their understanding of Malekith’s evil intent.
The three actors formed a strong bond on “Thor,” with the majority of their scenes played together. Skarsgård recalls, “I spent so much time together with Kat and Natalie in a very small car in Santa Fe when we did the first film. I became one of the girls. And I heard things no man has ever heard before! So it’s really nice teaming up with them again.”
ODIN: Odin is King of Asgard, Protector of the Nine Realms, and father to Thor and Loki. Odin’s long reign is coming to an end, however, and while disappointed with Thor’s arrogance at first, he now sees that Thor is ready for the throne. But when an ancient enemy returns, Odin questions Thor’s allegiances…for if Thor is to be king, he must choose duty over his heart’s desires.
Revisiting the role of the god Odin, King of Asgard, Anthony Hopkins was happy to join the cast of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World.” “I enjoyed the first one with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, although I haven’t worked with Tom on this one. This is mostly Chris and myself, and later scenes with Natalie Portman; she’s beautiful and lovely.” He admits that he is not well versed in Marvel or Nordic mythology, but explains, “I just play Odin like a human being, with maybe a little more dimension. I grow a beard, look hopefully impressive and keep it as real as possible.”
The relationship and conflict between father and son in “Thor” proved popular with movie audiences, who enjoyed the sparring, so the filmmakers were keen to build on the actors’ chemistry. The fact that both actors were reprising their roles, and were more confident in their parts, helped develop some great scenes.
When the movie began shooting, Hopkins had not seen his co-star for two years and was impressed by everything Chris Hemsworth had done to prepare for “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World.” “Chris’ physical workouts, apart from everything else, were pretty stunning,” comments Hopkins. “Many hours a day of weight training and special eating regimen. But, the great thing is that he doesn't seem to have changed by the tremendous success he’s had in the last few years. That, I believe, is a guarantee of future success. No turning of the head or such stuff. He was terrific in the first ‘Thor,’ and is quite spectacular in this second version. He’s quiet and always prepared and, obviously, hugely disciplined. He’s a big star and a very pleasant guy to work with.”
Hopkins notes the perfect casting of Chris Hemsworth as Thor. “We were doing a scene at night recently and there were four of us out on a balcony, including Chris,” recalls Hopkins. “I went to check the playback on the monitor and I said to the director, ‘He really does look like a god. He looks like a Nordic god.’”
Hopkins enjoyed working with Kenneth Branagh on “Thor,” but has equal praise for Alan Taylor’s skill as director of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” and the route the director has taken. “‘Thor’ had a lot of green screen and a lot of glossiness about it, which worked. This probably has a deeper root in it because Alan Taylor has directed quite a number of the ‘Game of Thrones’ [episodes] and they’re pretty atmospheric, gritty and muscular, so that’s what he is bringing to this. He’s a very, very good director in where he uses the camera; a different style to Ken Branagh, both excellent, but different styles,” concludes Anthony Hopkins.
FRIGGA: Frigga is wife of Odin and mother of Thor and Loki. The glue that holds the royal family together, Frigga knew that there was more to Odin’s banishment of Thor than met the eye, just as she now sees that there’s more within the villainous Loki than others see. But when Asgard is attacked, Frigga will fight to defend those that she loves at any cost.
The talented and beautiful Rene Russo graces the set of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” as she returns to play Queen Frigga. In the new film, audiences will get to see a different side of Frigga when she battles the evil Malekith. Christopher Eccleston explains, “I have a great fight with Rene Russo; we have a great hand-to-hand combat and we had a great time working together.”
But that is not all audiences will see, as executive producer Craig Kyle points out, “Rene is amazing. In this film we get to see a lot more of her power; we get to see her ride the tightrope of her two sons who don’t like each other anymore and a husband who’s lost and angry and guilt-ridden for all the choices he’s made.”
Because her character Jane Foster spends time on Asgard in the film, Natalie Portman had a chance to work with both Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. Portman found the experience to be enlightening. “I was so lucky this time to get to work with both Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo,” says Portman. “They’re two actors I so admire, and they were so incredibly lovely—like beyond your wildest dreams lovely. So warm and normal and so impressive, doing really wonderful things with their scenes that I never imagined while reading them.”
SIF: Sif is one of Asgard’s most formidable warriors. Skilled and fearless, she’s a trusted and faithful ally to Thor. During his banishment, Sif saw Loki’s treachery and risked all to return Thor to Asgard…but on Earth, she saw that she had lost Thor’s heart to another—the human Jane Foster. Now, at the end of a long campaign to free the Nine Realms from strife, Sif seeks to rekindle her relationship with Thor.
Jaimie Alexander was thrilled to reprise her role as Sif. “I have to say Sif is one of the favorite characters I’ve played,” says Alexander. “She’s probably closest to my personality out of everything I’ve done. She’s a butt-kicker and I like that!”
Talking of Sif’s and her fellow warriors’ character development, she says, “We all unite in this film and follow Thor and support him in everything that he wants to do and all of the decisions that he makes. We even turn on some of our fellow Asgardians to protect him.”
Even though the Lady Sif is in love with Thor and has to watch him love another, she still wants to help him and support him in his time of need. Of this softer side to her character, she comments, “I really tried to bring a little bit more vulnerability in this film. Sif is very much in love with Thor and very much cares about his well-being. So she kicks a lot of butt in this movie but she also opens her heart a lot.”
Jaimie Alexander believes that the universal themes of love and friendship in the film are key elements that help ground it in reality. She comments, “With these big Super Hero, big-budgeted, big action films, you can lose a little bit of the humanity, but I think what we do is we put real-life situations in an extraordinary circumstance. For example, you’ve got a man who’s lovesick over a woman and a woman who’s lovesick over a man—that happens a lot in real life. You have family arguments; you have friends that argue and friends that get in a tiff. We bring all of that home. We just do it in a very fancy, very visually stunning way.”
VOLSTAGG: Volstagg makes up one-third of the Warriors Three, Asgard’s greatest and most loyal warriors. Large and imposing, Volstagg’s skill with an axe is matched only by his appetite. With Fandral and Hogun, Volstagg has fought alongside Thor on many adventures across the cosmos. And while the stories of Volstagg’s exploits are often elaborated, he’s a hero to the Asgardian people.
Once again playing Volstagg, Ray Stevenson relished the chance to see the character’s background develop further as life as an Asgardian is revealed before the action intensifies. He comments, “You get a chance to see Volstagg with his family, which was a big surprise. I’ve got these naughty, cherubic sort of bouncy kids, which is just a lot of fun.”
Stevenson’s character is known for his big heart. “He’s got a heart the size of a planet that he wears on his sleeve, so he’s like a big kid,” describes Stevenson. “Of course, I have to deal with the fat suit, which is a struggle, but it’s worth it and this time around everything is a bit grittier. We’ve been through the wars a bit so the armor’s all a bit bashed up and lived in, but it’s such good fun and great to be revisiting and carrying on.”
When we first see the Warriors Three, they are battling on Vanaheim, in pursuit of peace in the Nine Realms. Stevenson enjoyed “chewing up the scenery” and was given a new axe for the part. “I’ve still got my axe, although the axe itself has been modified again. It’s simpler, but a more solid design, so in a way it’s a lot more practical for warring; that element has been heightened.”
The film has many more fight scenes in it than “Thor” and Stevenson felt the director had a great handle on bringing the fight scenes to life. He notes, “His readiness to actually throw the camera in amongst it and put that on screen is just tremendous.” Having previously worked with Alan Taylor on “Rome,” Stevenson felt he was a good choice for Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World.” “He’d done other great stuff, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Mad Men,’ and he’s got this almost childlike delight in getting in amongst it and understanding what is involved in this story.”
He notes that you can feel Taylor’s enthusiasm and adds, “It’s like a comradeship. You do feel very much like you’re in a collaboration with him.”
FANDRAL: Fandral is Asgard’s finest swordsman, which serves him well as a member of the Warriors Three. Alongside Volstagg and Hogun, Fandral fights to protect Asgard from any and all foes. When not using his sword to smite his enemies, Fandral uses his charm and good looks to woo the ladies.
Joining the cast to play Fandral is Zachary Levi. He was excited when he was asked to join the cast, particularly when he heard Alan Taylor was being brought on the project. “Alan was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to do the film,” he enthuses, adding, “I am a giant ‘Game of Thrones’ fan. I love it and I thought, this is the world that he’s been working in and creating, so I’m excited to see what he does with this film.”
Discussing picking up the reins of Fandral, Levi says, “I like the character of Fandral. He’s different to anything I’ve ever been able to play. He speaks with an English accent, is very blunt and is a total lothario, lady’s man. I love all that; it’s just really fun. He’s very Errol Flynn.”
Having read Marvel comic books growing up, Levi was well versed in the Warriors Three and the Thor comic books and finds all the stories have relatable contexts. He comments, “A lot of the characters that Stan Lee created were human beings that were ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances. Thor was an extraordinary person/God from day one, but he was still able to make him relatable in his interactions with Earth. Then of course you have these supporting characters that particularly bring some really good comedic elements to the comic books and also to the movies in Fandral, Volstagg and Hogun.”
Describing the relationship between the characters, Levi notes, “The Warriors Three are here to support Thor. We are his confidants, his best friends. We’ve all grown up together in a lot of ways and fought many a battle together, escaped death. To me it’s the way best friends ought to be—they’re there when you need to talk and they’re there if you don’t want to talk, and they’re there if you need to escape from your father’s place in a flying skiff!”
HOGUN: Hogun, often known as Hogun The Grim, is the deadliest of the Warriors Three. With both spiked mace and blade, Hogun defends Asgard as well as his own home, the peaceful planet of Vanaheim. Though he rarely speaks, his loyalty to Thor is legendary…as is his disapproval of Fandral’s and Volstagg’s frivolous natures.
Back again to play Hogun is Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. This time around audiences will get to see Hogun in his own world as he fights alongside Volstagg, Fandral, Sif and Thor to rid Vanaheim of marauders.
Executive producer Craig Kyle gives some back story to the battle scene: “Since the Bifrost has been rebuilt, in between ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ Thor has had to jump from world to world trying to put out all the fires that started when Asgard couldn’t come to the rescue. This last battle happens on Hogun’s home world of Vanaheim. It makes it more meaningful as we are rescuing people we care about, like Hogun’s family.”
MALEKITH: Malekith is the cruel leader of the Dark Elves, a race of beings said to be older than the universe itself. Born into darkness, Malekith led his people in a war against the Asgardians, but they were thought to have been destroyed thousands of years ago. Malekith survived, however, and now seeks to transform our universe, plunging it back into eternal darkness.
Christopher Eccleston is new to the cast and takes on the role of archvillain Malekith. On developing the character of Malekith he says, “I wanted Malekith to have a sense of humor, because I think a sense of humor indicates intelligence and if you’ve got an intelligent villain that means that your heroes have to be really accomplished to beat him.”
Like many of his fellow cast members, Eccleston cites director Alan Taylor as being his connection to the project. He was excited by Alan’s thoughts on Malekith and giving the character some complexity. Eccleston comments, “In the audition, Alan was asking, ‘How do we make him more interesting than just a cackling fiend?’ and it was Alan’s sensibility, and the way we spoke about the project, which made me feel that we could perhaps give Malekith some complexity, because that’s what the audiences demand.”
On top of the amazing costume and prosthetics that build up the look of Malekith, Eccleston enjoyed developing his character. “We talked about how an elf processes feeling; human emotion is going to be different from an elf and that informs how we play him. Does he have less empathy?” He adds, “We wanted to give the elves understandable motives too. Algrim and Malekith have a sense of their nation and they’re patriotic. They feel they are as good as, if not better than the Asgardians, and that’s what informs all the combat and conflict that we’re dealing with.”
Alan Taylor was also keen to give the dark elves their own language, so Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje shared the task of learning an invented language for their characters. Eccleston comments, “At the beginning of this film you’re presenting an alternative race and if the alternative race sounds like two English guys who just happen to be in prosthetics, it makes it hard to suspend your disbelief.”
He adds, “The elvish language is definitely based on European languages. I think there’s probably some Finnish in there. It does have its logic and its rhythms. It also has many syllables and it’s very difficult to do while remaining naturalistic. It’s been a particular challenge for us but hopefully it gives the film some complexity and variety.”
Christopher Eccleston admits to being particularly thrilled to be working with Anthony Hopkins. He recalls, “When I was 19, I used to work at the National Theatre in London. I used to sell ice creams and tear tickets. While I was doing that, Anthony Hopkins was playing Lambert Le Roux in a play called ‘Pravda’ and ‘King Lear’ and Antony in ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ I used to sit on a little seat right at the top of the theatre and watch him. I must have seen Anthony Hopkins on stage doing the same performance 200 times, and I never dreamed that I would play a scene with him. Sadly, the scene did not make the final cut but it was a huge thrill and honor for me, and completion of a circle really, because I learned a huge amount from those days just watching him on stage.”
ALGRIM/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.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays the dual roles of dark elf Algrim and Kurse, was delighted to join the cast and take on a complex dual role. “I think every boy and girl grows up with Super Heroes and Marvel comic books in their childhood, so to be part of that history, it’s a privilege,” states Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Describing his characters, he says, “I suppose Algrim and Kurse would be the quintessential baddies, but in reality they are what I perceive as the scorn and the victims of the story. They are the elves who have basically lost their planet and their race to another race, the Asgardians.”
He adds of Algrim, “Here is a man/alien who places a noble objective beyond his own life and I think there is something extremely inspiring about that because he looks at the bigger picture and sees himself as a means to that end.” Akinnuoye-Agbaje also explains that the filmmakers were keen to tie the two characters together, so the spirit of Algrim was still present in Kurse. He elaborates, “I worked with director Alan Taylor in trying to maintain Algrim’s humanity all the way throughout Kurse’s transformation, so that even when you see Kurse the beast, you can still relate to him as being Algrim inside. And symbolically we did that by keeping the same piercing blue eyes throughout.”
Working closely with Christopher Eccleston was something Akinnuoye-Agbaje enjoyed while making the film. The pair had previously worked together on “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and the intensive work the actors had to do to prepare for their roles helped develop the bond that is important for the relationship between these two key characters. Akinnuoye-Agbaje comments, “At the last minute we were informed we were not going to speak English, so we had to establish a tone of how to articulate what came to be known as Elvish, so that we were both on the same page. We met out of work hours and worked on that. We explored notions of what would have made us so loyal to one another and that was an enjoyable part of it.”
HEIMDALL: Heimdall is the sentinel of Asgard with the ability to see and hear events galaxies away. He stands at his post in Asgard’s Observatory, watching over the cosmos and protecting Asgard from any and all intruders. As one of Odin’s most trusted warriors, Heimdall is beyond reproach…but now Asgard faces an enemy that even Heimdall cannot see.
Idris Elba returns Heimdall to his post, but in Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” Heimdall is also involved in fighting when Malekith and the dark elves invade Asgard and the palace. This change in action netted Elba a new costume and some updated weaponry.
“Idris has some great, great scenes in this film,” says executive producer Craig Kyle. “He was a fan favorite from the last movie, so we gave him some places to really shine. He’s got a very gunslinger vibe now, and he looked amazing in the uniform.”
LOKI: Loki Laufeyson is the adopted brother of Thor, raised alongside him from birth by Odin. Upon learning his true lineage, Loki sought to conquer both Asgard and Earth but was stopped by Thor and the Avengers. Still arrogant and unrepentant, Loki sits in the dungeons of Asgard, with only his mother Frigga seeing any hope for him. But when an ancient enemy seeks the destruction of Asgard, Loki finds his loyalties tested.
The last piece of the exciting jigsaw is Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston was delighted to step into Loki’s shoes once more. He says, “I feel like ‘Thor: The Dark World’ is a chance as an actor to find new depth, new dimension, new iterations of Loki’s psychology, of his physicality and his capacity for feeling. On one level he is an off- the-rails psychopathic agent of chaos, but on a human level, his psychology and his emotional landscape are very, very interesting because he’s so intelligent and yet so broken. This film is a chance to find where his capacity for heroism and his Machiavellian menace meet.”
Hiddleston also notes of his complex, arrogant, and witty character, “He’s still selfish and vain and arrogant and proud, but he’s also elegant and amusing. He’s so full of charisma, and that’s why I love playing him; he’s not an all-out bad guy. He’s someone who knows his true nature and is having a really good time; there is an element of delight and joy at being bad.”
Director Alan Taylor concludes, “When we started we knew that Loki was going to be an important part of it because of the brother relationship that was created in the first film and is one of the main engines of the Thor movies. We’ve always been aware of his vulnerability and the fact that he is evil. But there is a conflict in him, so now we get to see that other side of him emerge more fully.”
Like Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston was taking on his character for the third time and the relationship the two actors built over the last two films helped enrich the performances. Hiddleston comments, “From the very first frames of ‘Thor,’ Chris and I really trusted each other and when you trust the person you’re acting with you can go so much deeper and you can reveal so much more and it’s just so much more fun.”
He adds, “One of the great pleasures of doing these films is working with him, because we just sort of get it and it’s a really nice, rare and unique relationship to have an actor where anything goes.”
Hiddleston also felt that Hemsworth’s insight into the character of Thor really played a part in informing their scenes and where the two characters are in the story. He says, “Chris has such an extraordinary input into how Thor now looks at Loki. In ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ Thor has abandoned the idea of Loki’s redemption and given up appealing to whatever good lay within him. At the end of ‘Thor,’ the first film, and at the end of ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’ Thor is constantly defending Loki and protecting the best instincts that he knows are still in there.”
Chris Hemsworth praises his co-star for bringing Loki to life in such a way that audiences can’t help but love this bad guy. He says, “Tom brings so much to Loki. People love the character. He brought such empathy to Loki that audiences were conflicted. He’s the villain but we kind of love him. Any time you can do that, it makes it so much more interesting. Some of my favorite scenes are with Tom in every film we’ve done. It’s great.”
Creating The Look
With Malekith, the otherworldly villain, in place, filmmakers were keen to give audiences relatable references and worlds. Director Alan Taylor was chief among those wanting to ground the film in reality, with a weathered texture and a grittier feel. Says Taylor, “When I came in, I wanted to get more of a sense of the Norse mythology, the Viking quality, the texture, the history and the weight.” As a result, all aspects of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World”—from the locations, the vast, largely exterior sets, the costumes, hair and makeup, to the armor, weapons, special and visual effects—have been carefully crafted to give a worn, humanizing, historical and grounded quality, with more nods to a Viking era than to science fiction.
Alan Taylor felt it was imperative that Thor’s home planet Asgard “feels like it has been there for centuries, that it has its own culture, that it really be a place you could believe in.” With these marching orders, production designer Charles Wood was tasked with bringing Asgard to life. “One big challenge was to make the film as fantastical as possible, because that’s the nature of this type of film, but also to ground the film and make the environments that we created tangible and realistic. We hoped an actor would walk on to any one of these sets and actually believe the environment that they were in.”
Wood continues, “In the first film we were generally within the palace, whereas in this film we actually explore the city as well. We wanted to be true to the idea both within the Marvel Universe and within Norse mythology that Asgard was a golden city, but again we wanted to bring a sense of history to this world. We wanted to suggest that Asgard as an environment had been around for many thousands of years.”
Kevin Feige adds, “You always want the base level to be as real as it can be and since we wanted Asgard to feel much more real, as well as the Dark World and the other realms, we started from a point of actual location.”
Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau elaborates on the director’s/filmmakers’ vision for the film. “Alan and I discussed grounding the look of the film much more in reality, with a gritty texture, making it a much more immersive experience for the audience.” He adds, “This photographic realism was in collaboration with the production designer, costume designer and all departments—hair, makeup, props—just to give a much more naturalistic feeling to the picture, avoiding the more comic-book treatment approaches of some comic book–orientated action movies.”
Chris Hemsworth echoes these comments. “I think very much like the ‘Game of Thrones’ series, no matter how mythical that world got, it was always grounded in reality. Asgard does look like a place you could see, that exists, not just a set. There is a worn quality to the sets and they look like they have been lived in.”
Tom Hiddleston, who reprises his role as Loki, also felt excited by the director’s vision for Asgard. “I think Alan wanted to show that Asgard wasn’t just where the king, queen and princes lived; it wasn’t just the palace and the throne room. He wanted to expand our sense of the world and deepen and shade it. He wanted to give it a kind of grittier feel in the sense that this is the race that the Vikings worshipped. There was a very clear link that felt somehow ancient and Viking and Norse and rugged and salty.”
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” was conceived as an epic film that spanned the universe. The filmmakers wanted to transport audiences to the different worlds and make them believe in them and feel the sense of history as well as the everyday life of each of them to help them relate to the story and the characters. To bring Asgard and further worlds within the Nine Realms to reality with texture, grit and believability, the director and filmmakers felt the best way was to use a combination of real locations and expansive, detailed sets, built largely outside. This enabled them to utilize natural light and also shoot the action as much as possible on camera.
Creating Asgard was the biggest challenge of all and also involved the largest number of sets. For their initial inspiration, Wood and his team looked to the comic books and at all the material they could find on Thor and the environments that Jack Kirby had produced. They then took their research wider, as Wood explains, “We also looked at images on the Internet, whether architectural or whether it was atmospheric, anything we could find that we felt could have related to the film. We studied all sorts of different historical and modern architectural influences, whether it was Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Chinese or Islamic architectural forms. We also studied light and atmosphere. We then went to the studio and met everyone and Alan Taylor and got their take on it and from that point we essentially started conceptualizing.”
The Medina set/streets of Asgard set that Wood’s team built is the biggest set ever built for a Marvel film and was also one of the longest builds at three to four months. One can actually walk around the streets of Asgard and see the shops, the pubs and the training ground. Charles Wood comments, “The Medina set is the most historic part of the film. We’re saying it is nestled into the mountains of Asgard and has been around there for hundreds, if not thousands of years. We wanted to mix in earlier architecture, because as the city grows above us it becomes more modern and futuristic.”
Similarly the coronation chamber set was a large build for Wood and his team, taking about 20 weeks to build. Wood notes, “We were consciously trying not to actually come up with any particular architectural style for this. It needed to be beautiful and we wanted to create a sense of a golden world, so we looked at all sorts of different architectural references and amalgamated them altogether.” He adds, “It also needed to act as one of the biggest environments in the film for the spectacular crash, when the elf ship charges into it, so there were a lot of engineering issues involved with how the ship cuts through the columns.” He adds of the sheer size of this set, “We also wanted it simply to be a space that dwarfed the people who were within it.”
Another impressive set that is integral to the Asgardian world is the Hall of Science. This would have been the first structure built in Asgard and is the place where the gods do their studies and collect their various technologies. Inside the hall is a massive tree, which is basically a living depiction of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, symbolizing the Nine Realms throughout its branches.
Natalie Portman feels that the scale of the sets harkens back to a different era of filmmaking. She comments, “It’s really like the old days of cinema. The sets are incredible and you walk onto set and you think, ‘Wow, we’re making a movie.’ The scope is just so grand. It’s fun to be on that kind of set and see the craftsmanship that goes into it.”
Explaining some of his influences for the lighting and feel of Asgard, cinematographer Morgenthau says, “We wanted a rich feeling to Asgard. It was a combination of a Nordic soft-like feeling, mixed with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern feeling, with very vibrant colors, strong contrasts, so faces really popped out against the background.” He notes artistic influences of pre-Raphaelite paintings, the Dutch Masters and the Orientalist School of Painting.
One of the strangest constructions and challenges for the production designer and his team was creating the harrow spaceship. This is a dark elf spaceship and the filmmakers wanted to give it a different feel from the other looks within the film, again taking the audiences to another world. Charles Wood comments, “The harrow ship was probably one of the weirdest things we had to build. The design of the ship went through hundreds of different concept drawings and eventually we settled on quite a simple design. We wanted to try and create environments that were different for that, and therein lies the challenge.”
Kramer Morgenthau notes that he particularly enjoyed this environment to shoot in. He comments, “The harrow spacecraft is very, very interesting and very different to the sets that you usually come across as a cinematographer. It looks like you’re inside an animal and there are no straight lines, no normal walls and windows and it has a very different architecture.” He adds, “It has a lot of interactive lighting too, so it was definitely challenging technically and also fun visually to shoot.”
London plays a major role within the film, being the current home of astrophysicist Jane Foster, as well as being the epicenter for Malekith’s grand destructive strike on the universe and the film’s breathtaking, climatic finale. Charles Wood describes the look they were hoping to achieve in London: “We wanted to have a slightly different take on how London has maybe been photographed in the past and because of its history it obviously offers a great deal. We wanted to see the historical side of London but we also wanted to taste the very modern side that we see today, and even the future London as well.”
Cinematographer Morgenthau adds, “The approach to London was also a very naturalistic feeling and Alan wanted certain colors popping out that to him are iconic of London, such as primary reds and primary blues. This compares to Svartalfheim’s very monochromatic feeling, with harsh high-contrasts.”
Locations And The Look
For location manager Tom Crooke and supervising location manager Emma Pill, London was their main backdrop for many of the key scenes in the film, which came with some very specific requirements. Creative executive Eric Carroll notes, “London plays a huge role in this film. It’s almost like another character in the movie to be frank. We’ve taken advantage of being in this wonderful city and it just makes the movie feel bigger. It allows our characters to walk around Earth, to ground us, to see familiar places and remind our audience that this is the world they live in.”
Working closely with director Alan Taylor and production designer Charles Wood, the location team scoured London for one of the film’s most challenging locations—a factory that could be utilized several times in the film. Emma Pill explains, “I think we had 110 factories photographed around London, so we could chose the exact one that worked for all the different scenes. The requirements were quite specific, as the scene involves a cement truck floating and going up to certain heights. So first and foremost we needed something visual. We also needed something that looked really great lit.”
The team finally settled on a location in Wembley in northwest London. “Wembley had a great architectural quality to it,” notes Pill. “It had fantastic iron pillars, great skylights, but logistically we had to find somewhere that could fit not only the cement truck but also the rather large hydraulic rig that it sat on and a Lee Lifting crane into the building. Even in the Wembley location we had to take down quite a few walls to get those vehicles in and had to make sure it was somewhere that had the right weight loading on the ground, and didn’t have basements and things like that.”
The dramatic scene of a cement mixer suspended in midair was also one of the biggest challenges to the special effects team, as well as one of the most satisfying, requiring minimal visual effects to create the illusion. Special effects supervisor Paul Corbould explains, “We had a cement mixer on a motion control rig which revolved and counter-revolved in a drum. It was quite a challenging rig to accomplish and to get right.”
He adds, “We worked together with Alan Taylor and visual effects to get the pre-visualization of the exact animation we wanted to achieve and built that into the rig. The rig weighed about 22 tons and the truck weighed about 14 tons. And it was controlled by computer hydraulics so we could match the moves exactly each time. There were three axes on it, so there was a rotating axis for the actual truck, a rotating axis for the drum which counter-rotated and there was an up-and-down axis.”
In post-production, the visual effects team then adds their magic to remove any signs of the support created to hold the truck in place. The visual effects supervisor, Jake Morrison, explains, “Special effects and visual effects are really intertwined and Paul Corbould and myself have worked closely together from the beginning, because the way to get the best out of it is to combine the two. I think the cement rig is a wonderful example of special effects at its best. It’s a massive rig that they picked up and have floating around effortlessly. It was entirely convincing on the day and what we’ll be doing is removing the extremely large hydraulic system that Paul built, so that when the audience actually looks at it, they don’t see any of that and it looks as if the truck is free-floating.”
London’s Greenwich was also a key location and the setting for the film’s apocalyptic climax. During the Olympic Games in 2012, the park played host to the equestrian events and the show jumping arena used the Royal Naval College as its backdrop, allowing a global audience to enjoy this famous building and setting. In Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” we see the landmark once more, as Malekith starts to bring about his destruction of the universe, first plowing his mighty elf ship, The Ark, through the Thames and into Greenwich’s college campus.
Capturing this vibrant city of London on film was something that also excited the British actor and Londoner, Tom Hiddleston. He says, “In the first film the action cut between Asgard and Earth/New Mexico and in this film, it’s Asgard and London and it’s a very contemporary London, which, as a native resident of London, I recognize and am excited by. No one is going to have seen London in the way they see it in this film.”
The film’s script also required shooting at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England, which Emma Pill confesses made her eyeballs roll. She says, “It is one of our most famous landmarks in the UK!” She contacted English Heritage, which oversees the site, and comments, “They wanted to know exactly how it would be portrayed and we had to wait quite a while to find out whether they would agree to how we wanted to use the site. Once they got on board with the story they were brilliant to work with.”
Working with a 5,000-year-old national landmark, which is open to the public every day of the year, except for two, did come with limitations. The crew could only shoot outside of visiting hours, giving the director around three hours in the morning to achieve the close-up scenes. Pill adds, “Obviously being a heritage site, you’re not allowed to touch the stones or walk on the stones, so there were lots of logistics!”
In complete contrast to Earth, Asgard and Vanaheim, the fourth major world we visit in Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” is Svartalfheim, the world of the dark elves. The filmmakers wanted a setting in complete contrast to the other worlds so the locations team looked to Iceland and its black, volcanic landscapes. Pill explains, “We chose Iceland because of its amazing, varied landscape. It really gives us an other-earthly look that the UK just can’t give us. We scouted pretty much the whole of Iceland and then we focused on one area in the center of Iceland, which gave us this fantastic, volcanic otherworldly look. It is just so visual and epic in scale. It’s an amazing country.”
Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau describes shooting in Iceland as an unforgettable experience. He comments, “Shooting in Iceland ranks high up there in my lifetime great experiences as a cinematographer. It was absolutely stunning. We felt like we were shooting ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ but with black sand, and we were certainly inspired by that widescreen desert look, where the characters are very tiny in the frame and they’re a part of this huge world around them and the environments themselves become as much a character as the actors themselves.”
In addition to volcanic environments for depiction of the Dark World, another opportunity to add authenticity came into play in Iceland. An aerial camera crew flew to the Dettifoss waterfall (Europe’s most powerful waterfall) to film the cascading waters from every angle. Visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison explains, “If you’ve seen the first ‘Thor,’ you know that Asgard itself is basically ringed by waterfalls; the water falls off of the edge. So it’s really one massive waterfall. So we went there with the idea that we would be building some waterfall work and cascading water in the computer to realistically depict the world. There is nothing better than to start with really good source material that’s real.”
The beauty and appropriateness of the Icelandic locations were not lost on Tom Hiddleston. He enthuses, “It was really exciting to shoot the exteriors of Svartalfheim in Iceland, which of all the places on this planet I think is the most magical. It has an otherworldly quality to it and looks like another planet. You get purple skies. We were shooting on a volcanic lava field and you can get big picture, epic footage there, which you can’t get anywhere else. It’s a world of ravines and waterfalls and lava and expanses of black sand and the northern lights. It’s a good place for elves to be from!”
Summing up the experience for all, executive producer Craig Kyle says, “Iceland was a highlight for everyone on this production. We spent eight glorious days there. It is a place unlike anything else. I have never driven from grasslands to sheer black cliffs to deserts to glaciers to icebergs rolling out into the sea. It’s breathtaking.”
Defining The Look: Costumes, Makeup, Props & More
Wendy Partridge joined the team as costume designer and was excited at the prospect of the challenge. She comments, “There’s always a creative element for every film you do, but not to this massive extent, where you have multiple worlds, so many different personalities and such a diverse cross-section of creative looks needed, so it was really exciting to come on board.”
Working closely with the director, production designer, prop designer and Charlie Wen, the head of Marvel’s visual development, Partridge started developing the costumes and the look for the characters. “Alan is an unbelievably visual director and he was very involved and very caring about every single visual element of the film,” says Partridge. “He has a wonderful aesthetic and was very collaborative and it was a professional delight working with him.”
Key among the ideas was to run the aged and weathered look and feel of the film through to the costumes to help the overall film be as naturalistic as possible and resonate as a living, breathing world, whether that be on the streets of Asgard or London, or in the palaces or on the battlefields. Partridge explains, “In ‘Thor’ we didn’t see a whole lot of everyday Asgard, so it meant we could create what was going on in the streets of Asgard. We could look at what an everyday Asgardian might wear when hanging out with the boys, so that was a really delightful part of this job to create many, many facets of a world we had previously just seen a snippet of.”
She continues, “We developed a mandate that said we were going to see what elements the characters had been through, whether it was age or perhaps their battles, so that the armor and costumes had just more depth and a little bit more integrity in terms of their everyday life.”
Partridge notes that in terms of armor, this wasn’t always easy, as you don’t know what sort of metal you are dealing with in the world of Asgard and the Nine Realms. She states, “I think one of the key things was that you didn’t want to think the gods were invincible, so there needed to be some sense of vulnerability, even for Thor.”
Chris Hemsworth echoes these thoughts. “The sets, the costumes, the hair, the makeup—all of it was about making it look more realistic. Not having them so much like gods that they were unrelatable. There’s a human quality to them all, which is wonderful.”
Partridge and her design team performed extensive research prior to designing the costumes, which started with the comic books and moved on to the mythology that is behind the comic book characters. “There is solid mythology behind every one of the characters, and I think that’s one of the things that became really intriguing and a favorite part of my research,” says Partridge.
“The Thor mythology, which is based on Norse mythology, is based on Celtic mythology, so I started right back with the earliest Celtic historical information that I could find, so around 3,000 years ago,” continues the costume designer. “Considering our Thor gods are 3,000 to 4,000 years old, that felt like a great place to start. I got entrenched in the art of that period, which is called Liten and that’s what we based a great deal of our aesthetic on in this film. There are these circular motifs that are part of that ancient artwork and they show up in a way in the Kirby comic books.”
Of the rich history of visual imagery within the comic books, she notes, “There is a lot of really beautiful imagery to pull from and you’re melding these elements of history with your own take on it and evolving it. It’s a wonderful challenge.”
Part of that evolution resulted in the costume department developing all of their own fabrics for Asgard, which involved lots of ombré (dip dying to achieve a graduated effect), shading and aging and incorporating the Liten imagery. Wendy Partridge explains, “The designs on almost all of the fabrics we have were developed within this Liten, Celtic style and then abstracted into the prints. If you’re looking at a dress that Rene Russo has, all those materials have been printed and then ombréd and dyed to look like that. It’s not something that you can go and buy.”
For Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” Wendy Partridge and the filmmakers were also mandated to develop the costumes to be as functional for the actors as possible, given the increased fight scenes in this film and the dramatic action and stunt sequences. Partridge notes, “In ‘Thor’ they had incredible-looking armor that was very, very restrictive. But they didn’t do a ton of fighting, so it wasn’t as big a deal. In the sequel, however, there is way more fighting, so as well as evolving the look of the costumes, we basically re-engineered all the armor so that there was full mobility.”
For the look of Thor, Partridge says, “Thor has his signature look, and for this we have introduced a beautiful seamless, dark blue leather, casual cape. It’s cut very simply but it just drapes beautifully, so when he’s hanging out with the boys he has all of his Thor amour underneath, but he just has this beautiful, draped leather that is elegantly simple, and which Chris Hemsworth just carries off.”
Partridge also notes that her team enjoyed some unusual challenges when developing Chris Hemsworth’s costume. She explains, “Chris really is the quintessential Thor. He has got a spectacular, proportioned body to just carry the presence of a Super Hero, but he had lots of issues the first time around, which we tried to solve. He is constantly working out, so we’re faced with the challenge of his muscle tone changing on a daily basis, which meant we ended up with about 25 sets of armor and 30-plus capes.”
The costume department’s team of leather workers also worked hard to ensure there were no episodes of trouser splitting. “We did a lot with stretch leathers in the trousers so that we didn’t have things like crotches that split, which is a permanent leather trouser issue,” explains Partridge. “So we try to use different products so that those things don’t happen and yet they still look amazing.”
The Mighty Thor’s look would not be complete without one of the film’s icons—his hammer Mjolnir. Forged from the heart of a dying star, it can summon lightning and control the elements as well as give Thor the ability to fly. The weapon is intrinsic to his power as well as the traditional and comic-book look of the character. It is a weapon and prop that the filmmakers discussed at length. Director Alan Taylor liked elements of the hammer from “Thor,” as well as the size of the hammer in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” so the team looked at amalgamating the two. With key input from the producers and Charlie Wen, the design went through multiple versions, taking in various design elements.
Property master Barry Gibbs notes, “It’s about 10% bigger than in ‘Thor.’ We’ve changed the leatherwork on the handle to suit the costume, so that as it fit into his hand there was a flow to the rings on it. We also achieved a great finish on Mjolnir. We went down the route of 3D prototyping it, which works, but it doesn’t have the handmade touch. It’s almost a little too manufactured, so we’ve used a lot of acid etching in our processes, so that if we produce something in aluminum, we can get not only a great patina on the product, but also good aging on it and it looks particularly natural.”
There were about 30 hammers made for Thor of various weights for different uses. The master hammer is made from aluminum but it is replicated in different materials and weights, including a “soft” stunt version. Of the 30, five versions are used most often, including the “lit hammer,” which emits light when lightning strikes.
Chris Hemsworth felt that by giving Mjolnir a more realistic feel it would help audiences relate more to the film. He comments, “The hammer has been taken and roughed up and beaten a bit and scratched, so it looks like it has been through thousands of years of war and battle and it’s not straight off the rack.”
The makeup designer Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, in conjunction with wardrobe, prosthetics and the other departments, also worked hard to bring through the realism of the characters with a more naturalistic approach. She explains, “Alan wanted to make these people more realistic, so we broke them down a little bit more and actually gave them contours and made them sweat; things you wouldn’t normally see in a big Super Hero. In this film, Thor is bleeding and has been punched and you can actually see it, and actually feel that this is a person, not just a Super Hero.”
When creating the look for Odin, the team wanted to ensure that his look, stance, and overall appearance were very powerful and strong, although Partridge notes, “Anthony Hopkins already has the ability to do that in his sweatpants!” Working with the legendary actor was a pleasure for the team and the costume designer adds, “He’s incredibly appreciative of all the elements that we can bring together to help him pull that performance ability off.”
Odin’s armor, like many of the characters, is made almost entirely of leather to give it a more grounded feeling. Also the elements that go around his signature disks all have beautiful embossing on them and the overall costume has had a subtle amount of aging and breakdown to give it a worn and also loved feeling. Partridge describes key details of his costumes, “He has three or four outfits of different scales of armor in terms of how much metal armor is on it. It’s real metal, so it has a beautiful luster to it and all the textiles are just incredibly rich, making sure that everything about him feels completely regal and in control and powerful.”
Complementing Odin’s stature and status, the props team also developed his staff from the first film. Barry Gibbs notes, “He has Gungnir, which is his golden staff, and we took the original design and tried to add some history to it. If you can read it, there is a message in the runes that are down the shaft of the staff.”
For Thor’s fellow warriors, the Warriors Three, Partridge and her team had fun developing and evolving their look from the first film, again simplifying and toning down some of the detail. Hogun has a dark navy blue tone and slight Asian look to his costume, while Fandral’s signature color is green, but notably different to that of Loki’s green costume. Partridge elaborates, “In this film Fandral’s costume is a little bit greyer. We took it further away from Loki than they did in the first film and made it a more subtle shade. The character has definitely got the flair of someone who loves himself and there is more flair and panache in his costume and we give him big high-bucket boots.”
Actor Zachary Levi, who plays Fandral, felt very strongly that his character should embody some of the key comic book traits, one of which is blond hair. The director and hair designer Luca Vannella were keen to keep Fandral blond but Levi’s very dark hair was an issue for them. Levi comments, “I naturally have really dark brown hair and we weren’t sure if we could dye it or if it would work and there was discussion about it possibly being a lighter brown and I said, ‘no, no, no, no, he’s blond, he’s blond.’ The only things I have ever wanted to say regarding input towards the character are to stay true to the characters as they are represented in the comic books.”
In Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” all characters see increased action and fighting sequences, so the weaponry has been altered to be more practical and fit for purposes within big choreographed fights scenes, as well as complementing the film’s aesthetic. The director also wanted to add a sense of history to the established props and a worn, organic feel to those being developed. In fact, due to the number of battles within the film, with warriors from across the different realms, the props department developed 140 different styles of weapons (outside of the main characters and elf weaponry), requiring 18 technicians, including sculptors and metal workers, who individualized the weapons.
When it came to Hogun’s weaponry, the props team loved the mace from “Thor,” but made some minor upgrades. Gibbs comments, “Hogun’s mace is such a great prop. We changed very little on it, basically just the handle. We had problems with the spikes breaking so we developed a different system for fitting those. We tweaked it, making it more balanced, so it would make Hogun look more fluid with his movements.”
For the larger-than-life Volstagg, Wendy Partridge notes that the team brought his costume a little closer to that of his character in the comic books. She notes, “Everything about that character is just hearty and jovial, but the same things apply. We were evolving from the first film, so we simplified some of the elements, and brought in more brown and pink elements. In the comic book he’s fuchsia and we have brought a rose tone to his costume, which is really lovely.”
The props team also worked on a simpler design for Volstagg’s axe, making it a double-headed axe, with a new shaft grafted onto it. Volstagg’s sizable costume has also evolved to make it more maneuverable for actor Ray Stevenson as well as having a hi-tech cooling device fitted within it, to stop Stevenson from overheating. He comments, “The costume this time is a bit more user-friendly. There are movable sections to it, the way it is interlocked, so you’ve got a lot more dynamic within the costume itself. The chain mail and certain elements of the outer costume are lighter to reduce the weight.”
On his character’s size, Stevenson adds, “We actually increased Volstagg’s girth and the fat suit extends from the wrist to the ankles to the neck. I then wear a big woolly hat of a hairpiece and a big pashmina of a beard. When you’ve got the costume on and the armor on, there is nowhere for the heat to go. So they have this vest, which has thin tubes coursing around the whole torso and I have these ungainly pipes that can come out of the costume and plug into a circulating device of ice water, so between takes I plug in!”
Wendy Partridge admits that the costume for Lady Sif is one of her favorites. “I’ve done a number of Super Hero women and I was really looking forward to working with Jaimie Alexander. She is such a spectacularly beautiful woman and I wanted to absolutely capture the most femininity we could there and yet bring full warrior to her, so she can be out there kicking ass and giving every bit as much as the Warriors Three.”
Jaimie Alexander appreciated the costume development and comments, “Wendy is fantastic. She really listens to you and for me, she really knows the female body and it helped a lot. She said to us all, ‘What can we do to make this better?’ A lot of my movement in this film is based on martial arts and flexibility rather than just blunt trauma hits and the costume allows me to have just tremendous agility, which is great. I can high kick up to my ears if I wanted to, whilst looking like I’m wearing the toughest armor you’ve ever seen.”
Barry Gibbs also enjoyed working on Sif’s weaponry and notes that her shield is one of his favorite props. Using the same processes for manufacturing and finishing the shield as they did for Mjolnir, Gibbs comments, “We achieved a great finish on Mjolnir but it doesn’t look handmade, so we’ve used a lot of acid etching in our processes so that if we produce something in aluminum, we can get not only a great patina on the product, but also good aging on it and it looks particularly natural. Sif’s shield is stunning.”
He also notes that the materials they used for Sif’s shield were completely different in order to look like steel and leather. Sif’s complex sword, which can double as a staff, was also developed further to make it adapt from a single sword into two and then connect up to become a staff. It is also able to be a single blade and spin around into a fighting stick and also break down into two swords.
Queen Frigga, Odin’s wife, played by Rene Russo, was the other key female Asgardian character for Partridge to design for and she enjoyed bringing the Norse and Celtic imagery through in her costume. She notes, “As part of the melding of historical elements from the comic books and from our research, we created this aesthetic armor for the ladies, which is an evolution of armor to jewelry, so for Frigga (and Jane in Asgard) we have these beautiful sculpted armor pieces, with pieces of artwork engraved into them. So we didn’t just take ancient Celtic verbatim, it was about evolving it into something that potentially our gods could have evolved into that was also really beautiful and unusual.”
Dressing the human women of Jane and Darcy, Wendy Partridge notes that their style from the first film was something the team wanted to continue with. She notes, “We really wanted to follow through that they’re the same personalities, but they have been in England for a couple of years. So, you’re not taking on the full British style, just a sense that they’ve been morphing here for a while and still have their quirky personalities, particularly Darcy.”
Although one would think that dressing Jane Foster for a date, which is an early scene in the film, would be simple, Partridge notes that those scenes can be the most challenging. “I think we probably bought 50 outfits to look at what would be right for Jane as a fish out of water on a date, so she doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a fine line between too dressy and not dressy enough; that doesn’t feel sexy enough, or doesn’t feel ‘Jane’ enough. Those things are incredible challenges because it really personifies where the character is at that moment.”
Natalie Portman hopes audiences will enjoy her main look, which is the incredible dress she is given to wear in Asgard, topped off with a classic British coat. She comments, “The funny part was combining the Asgardian clothes with a Barbour jacket. I have my Earth Barbour jacket over the Asgard dress for much of the film, so that’s a combination that always makes people laugh.”
Natalie Portman hopes audiences will enjoy her main look, which is the incredible dress she is given to wear in Asgard, topped off with a classic British coat. She comments, “The funny part was combining the Asgardian clothes with a Barbour jacket. I have my Earth Barbour jacket over the Asgard dress for much of the film, so that’s a combination that always makes people laugh.”
The final key Asgardian characters to design for were Loki and Heimdall. In Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” we see Loki at his lowest ebb in his cell. He has two casual cell costumes, but when he leaves his cell to join Thor’s mission, he returns to his signature look. Partridge explains: “He basically picks up where he left off with The Avengers. There’s certainly more aging to it and the costume is darker. We have slimmed it down a bit and he has less armor, although Loki has some serious choreography with his fighting so we needed to make sure he could fight, but also still maintain the incredible elegance and poise that Loki has.”
For Tom Hiddleston, Loki’s wardrobe offered another insight into a character he loves to play. He explains, “It’s really exciting to see his prison outfit because there are two shapes to it. One is very polished and almost lush, as if he’s wearing a very expensive dressing gown, and the other is when you see him at rock bottom and he has torn his clothes and his hair and his face. It’s an incarnation of his own self-hate and his own despair. He’s literally ripped at the fabric of his clothes and that was really exciting to do, because I’ve never done that, because the character is so controlled and polished. In the first two films when he’s wearing Earth clothes, he’s wearing impeccably tailored suits with beautiful scarves and he’s just got this extraordinary elegance to him, which comes from a kind of vanity. Deconstructing that vanity was really exciting.”
When it came to Loki donning battle fatigues and armor, Hiddleston explains that the look was again meant to feel aged and worn with a nod to past skirmishes. He explains, “It was important that the armor Loki had wasn’t too new, as if he’d gone into the armory and cobbled together an outfit that would be suitable for combat but was old. Because it’s not as if Public Enemy No.1 is going to be given the privileges of new armor every time, so I like the fact that the forearm plates are still scratched because he got Hulk-smashed when he was on Earth fighting The Avengers.”
In Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” the character of Heimdall departs from his stationary post and picks up a lot of action when he fights to save the palace from invaders. Wendy Partridge notes that this meant a substantial departure from his previous costume. “Idris was another of our really involved engineering feats because in the first film he had this stunning armor and he basically had to stand in the observatory and be the eyes of Asgard. He didn’t really move and his costume was very restrictive, with very heavy and dense armor. But this time he takes down a full-on, bad-guy spaceship, so he needed full mobility, and yet still be able to maintain Heimdall’s unique appearance. So we made his costume with many more components. We have a beautiful motif of a tree on the center of his costume, which is part of the mythology of the tree of life. Again, we kept the tones of his costume golds and bronzes, but gave it that lovely age and we are saying this is his ‘working suit.’ We also used a completely different technique for building the armor, so that everything is about a third of the weight it was on the first film.”
Partridge also went to work on the soles of his shoes. She explains, “One interesting aspect with his wardrobe was that in a scene where he is running, we actually focus on the bottoms of his feet. So we went to a great deal of trouble to create his own particular soles for his shoes, so when you see it, it doesn’t say Adidas or Nike on the bottom!”
The props department also developed Heimdall’s weaponry from the first film, so that the gracious but imposing Heimdall now wields a huge, broad sword. Barry Gibbs explains, “We took Heimdall’s initial sword and beefed it up a little bit, giving it more weight. We resculpted the handle, the pommel and the finger guard and increased the blade, which was quite slim in the first movie. We took it up to probably just under half-an-inch thick, so it’s a really heavy blade.” Heimdall also now has two daggers that are concealed in his costume, which he uses to bring down one of the dark elf harrow ships during the attack on Asgard.
To achieve the level of costumes required for Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” even Wendy Partridge admits that the wardrobe department was enormous. At its peak, she notes that there were upwards of 120 people working in her department and they made approximately 1500 costumes.
The Dark Elves
One set of characters that were clothed and created outside of the costume department were the dark elves and their leader (and the film’s villain) Malekith. This task was given to the special makeup effects designer David White.
Working closely with Alan Taylor, David White set to work on creating Malekith, leader of the dark elves, and Algrim/Kurse who is Malekith’s captain and confidant, as well as the dark elf race themselves. Over three and half months, White’s 100-strong team would create 47 dark elves.
Starting with the designs that Marvel’s head of visual development Charlie Wen had developed, the filmmaking team agreed on elements they wanted to include then took the designs further. Discussing the design process, White explains, “Alan was very interested in having a very noble race; a very Maasai and tribal feel, so I looked through the tribal possibilities and Maasai ideas across the world. As the producers were keen to draw on something that was very off-world, I was being careful not to incorporate anything that was known, so we recreated and tailored ethnic and tribal elements in order to create the dark elves.”
David White’s research also tapped into the idea of the elven race being very proud and he incorporated that into his design. He comments, “In the design of the helmets, I made sure that the eye line was slightly pulled down, so it made them have to tilt their heads slightly up and back which gave a very proud, strong feel to them, so that worked out well.”
As with all elements of the film, the team also looked to the comic books for reference and design elements. For Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” the filmmakers were keen to evolve the look from the comic book characters into more menacing and mysterious otherworldly beings. In a way, to have those characters grow a bit, but also to pay homage to the original incarnations, particularly Malekith. He shares some of his comic book traits, particularly the two-tone iconic face and the star emblem.
White notes, “The comic design of the dark elves is very specific and very powerful and comic. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a raw, tough movie like this, which will be a more visceral, realistic version of what you saw in the comic.” He adds, “We don’t want to find too much sympathy for these guys, so they have to be extremely scary and extremely agile and violent.”
With the design of the dark elves progressing, attention turned to the types of materials that the creatures would be made of. The director and producers wanted to have a very organic feel to the elves, given that they are made of dark matter, originating from hundreds of thousands of years ago and from the beginning of time. White expands on this, “We drew on that and looked at different materials out there like slate and all sorts of shell materials, rust and lots of weird and wonderful materials to see where we could go with the textures and colors and create something that’s never been seen before.”
He adds, “Alan was very involved and would bring in shells and objects from home and ask what we thought. He had a really clear vision and was very involved right down to the color and all the materials we were using.”
The color palettes that the special effects makeup and prosthetics team were working with were much darker tones, helping separate the different realms and reinforcing the infinite darkness, where the elves evolved from. White comments, “We were dealing with darker tones and sepia tones. We also have a little pearlescent rhythm and shell- like quality going through our look. The base suits that everyone is wearing are matte black as opposed to anything shiny. The material may look like leather or silicone or rubber, but there’s nothing like it.”
White also notes that even the dark elves’ eyes had to lose any shine, adding to the eerie sense of unease the characters elicit. “We had to design the eyes and the lenses so they weren’t shiny; they had this slightly hazy sensibility about them, so there were no reflections.”
To add to this sense of unease, the director also wanted the eyes to be bigger than normal. White notes that this was a particular challenge, given that larger eyes usually soften a character. “Alan wanted the eyes bigger, so in a way they are much more scary, but it’s also difficult because big eyes are associated with doe-eyed babies. The only way to find a spooky area to work within was to enlarge the eyes, but keep the face in a very neutral, unsettled way. The face doesn’t have a frown or necessarily any kind of expression, which is quite creepy, and that is what Alan wanted to see. You don’t know what the dark elf is thinking and whether he is going to kiss you or kill you!”
Executive producer Craig Kyle adds, “Those dead eyes are very scary, especially in large numbers. Up close they are very frightening. They have almost an Egyptian feel to their mass design and shaping. There’s something scary about this lifeless face staring back at you; there’s no emotion or feeling.”
Practicality was also one of the key considerations when creating the dark elf costumes. The actors had fight scenes, so they needed to be agile and thought was also put into the time it would take to suit up and prepare the actors for filming. David White notes, “We have certain restraints because the dark elves have to be practically able to fly ships and move around and fight, so everything is done for practical reasons as well as for on the edge, dangerous, visual looks.”
The characters have also been given a certain way of moving, encompassing a samurai warrior feel of fighting that involved a lot of kick-boxing style moves and White notes that this informed how they approached the dark elf suits. He says, “We went on stage and watched 20 guys rehearsing with the elves and they were literally jumping out of boxes and coming down from the ceiling and kick-boxing. I thought, ‘We’ve got to make sure all the armor and boots stay on these guys.’ So, in the sculpting process we made sure that everything had space between areas so that they can actually physically do what they have to do.”
Describing the suit they created, White says, “It is a lycra-based suit, which has about 15 different foam prosthetic elements that are all poured together and stitched onto the suits. We also used different materials like polyurethanes and silicones, which were incorporated just to get the right densities, weights and the right flexibilities so the actors were very comfortable.”
He adds, “The suit itself is a one-piece. The boots are separate; gloves and helmet are separate too, but it’s an all-in-one, so it makes an awfully streamlined operation going onto a set.”
Two dark elves who were a particular challenge for the special makeup effects team were the chief villain Malekith and his Lieutenant Algrim/Kurse played by Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, respectively. The comic-book character of Malekith has a distinct look and the filmmakers wanted to embrace this, while evolving the character within the film environment.
In the comics Malekith’s face has an iconic half-white, half-black look that the filmmakers wanted to incorporate. David White discusses the challenge of Malekith’s look: “He was a really difficult character to deal with because when I usually do a prosthetic, I’m very nervous about losing the actor underneath a pile of prosthetic pieces. It’s unnecessary a lot of the time, and especially in this case it wasn’t necessary to go too far. Also for practical reasons, in that the actor has a performance to give and it’s hot. So we dealt with a forehead piece and we have little sidepieces and ears. That may only sound like little bits and pieces, but it still takes three and half to four hours to get into that makeup.”
Actor Christopher Eccleston was impressed with the look, and confesses that the long makeup process took discipline to do but was outweighed by his delight in creating Malekith. “My costume is very elaborate and made with great care and the makeup as well. It’s pretty extraordinary. I wear contact lenses and I have prosthetics on my face. I have a different-shaped head; I wear a wig and a cage on top of the wig. I also have body armor and a cloak, so it’s very elaborate and transforming. The idea with prosthetics is that you still get a sense of a living creature, a living entity, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
Creating the characters of Algrim and Kurse involved some lengthy prosthetic work, but the team was excited with the design and individual touches they brought through. David White relates, “Adewale has this amazing black skin, so we thought it would be a fabulous look to create eyebrows that would be beautifully white against this beautiful black skin, which worked really well.”
Although White concedes that because each prosthetic is new every day and the hair is hand-punched into the eyebrow, this was no small task. He explains, “There are about 350 hairs per eyebrow, times forty, times two, so that’s eighty pieces. That’s quite a lot of eyebrows.”
The design of Algrim and Kurse came from Charlie Wen and then David and his team worked with Charlie to enhance those and come up with something quite unusual. White comments, “The final look of Kurse is pretty outrageous.” White also enjoyed working with the actor, whom he felt completely embodied his dual characters. “Adewale is a really physical actor. He wants to do it and he does. He’s such a big guy and can be quite terrifying actually!”
Akinnuoye-Agbaje admits that he loved playing his two characters, but that the makeup process could be a challenge. “Some days I would play the two characters in the same day, so you’re looking at about five or six hours in makeup. Algrim was quite lengthy because, as well as prosthetics, there were wigs and contact lenses, which I had to get used to, because they impair your vision when performing. Then there is the armor, which is beautiful, but quite heavy, about 30 pounds.” These are some of the things you endure while performing, but which ultimately inform the character’s outcome.”
He adds, “For Kurse, you’re covered head-to-toe in prosthetics, but the guys did an amazing job in making it flexible because I had to do fight scenes and move about. When you’re in it for 10 hours in the day, you’re going to sweat but at the end of the day you do it because you know it’s going to look fantastic and it’s the opportunity of playing such a dynamic character.”
When it came to weaponry for the dark elves, Alan Taylor had a vision of what he hoped to see, so property master Barry Gibbs and his team set to work on a very otherworldly giant gun. Gibbs notes, “Alan had a vision of a huge, alien, oversized weapon that fired a very small pellet of dark energy; the idea being a very small piece of this dark matter could destroy a 12- to 16-foot diameter area and create a black hole. The first weapon we developed we nicknamed the ‘slow gun’ and it was about four feet long. It was this huge beast of a gun, almost like an artillery piece.”
It was also important that the aesthetic of the gun be very organic to complement the look of the dark elves, so the props team looked at a range of suitable materials. Gibbs comments, “We looked at lots of slates, coals, meteorites and other various organic materials and also did a few trips to science museums just looking at natural products. We also went to a coal mine, where we brought back huge chunks of coal to see how they broke away.”
After initial discussions, it was decided to scale down the weapon and alter it slightly. The initial texture looked too much like burnt wood, so a small team developed an alternative look using waxes and changed the finish, as well as making this lethal weapon slightly slicker and more chiseled. The team then worked on a secondary weapon for the dark elf foot soldiers, which they developed along the lines of a backpack, encasing a hidden gun. Gibbs explains, “When you first see an elf, you can’t quite make out what they are carrying or what they are wearing. Then you see them put their hand behind them, flip something out and you have this folding gun, which pops out and turns into not only a weapon that can fire a projectile, but that can be used as a slashing and cutting weapon as well as a fighting staff.”
For the dark elf leader Malekith, it was decided that he didn’t need a weapon of his own, but he does have a scene where he pulls a weapon from another elf, so the team was required to deliver a bladed weapon at short notice. Gibbs comments, “We had three days to create this carbonized, bladed weapon for a fight scene between Malekith and Frigga and because of the choreography of the fight we needed to have two blades.”
The team also designed a special knife for the scene where Algrim has an incision made in his side for the tech-capsule to be inserted, later to be used to transform him into Kurse. Gibbs explains the organic look to the knife: “The design went from a curved blade to something quite straight and took on the same feeling of a carbonized, organic handle and then the blade, which rather than being honed metal, was something where you weren’t quite sure whether it is ceramic or a mineral.”
The prop makers were grateful for the input from the Marvel team, whose knowledge of the characters and background, as well as their enthusiasm, helped the team keep design and direction more focused, making sure the end product would excite fans and audiences and work within the film environment. Gibbs comments, “The good thing about Marvel is that they have such great feelings about their product. Executive producer Craig Kyle and producer Kevin Feige know the storylines inside out and are so enthusiastic. You could tell by the look on their faces if I was making something they think would work.”
The Marvel Experience
The cast and crew unanimously agree that making a Marvel film is like no other and for the majority, it is a career aspiration and high. Tapping into childhood dreams of Super Heroes and fantastical adventure but with earthly themes, the cast and crew, whether in front of or behind the camera, know there is something special about Marvel films and that their box-office success is no accident.
Natalie Portman states, “I think they have such great taste with the people that they choose to make their films—the directors they work with and the crews. They make fun, smart movies of a really good quality and people are responding to that.”
Kat Dennings agrees, “Marvel’s films are just great, solid films. It’s almost irrelevant that they’re about comic books if you’re looking at it from a filmmaking point of view. They’re just good movies and all the actors are stellar and the arcs are always really emotional and true and really funny and really smart.”
Chris Hemsworth feels Marvel as well as the cast and filmmakers are also very attuned to their fans. He comments, “The fans have been very supportive and I love them for that. Staying true to the comic books and these characters was something that we were mindful of from the beginning. These characters already existed and had a fan base that was a lot more knowledgeable than we were, so you don’t want to let anyone down in that sense.”
Kevin Feige sums up Marvel’s approach best when he says, “We don’t have a formula; we don’t have a guidebook and we don’t have a chart on the wall to tell us if we hit all the points. But we do have a belief system that people want. Part of the fun of the journey is not just the spectacle—it’s not just the roller coaster; you need to touch emotional points for any of the other stuff to work.”
He adds, “It’s up to the audience to tell us whether we’re right or wrong. As long as they keep giving us a pass, we’ll keep going.”
In true Marvel Cinematic Universe style, when “Thor: The Dark World” blasts into theaters this fall, audiences will be taken on an epic thrill ride from Earth and back with bigger-than-life but relatable characters whose worlds seem not only within the realm of possibility, but tangible and real as well.
About The Cast
Australian actor CHRIS HEMSWORTH (Thor) has become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. He recently starred in the third highest-grossing film of all time, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” alongside an all-star cast. He also starred in Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” opposite Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, which debuted at No. 1 at the box office.
Hemsworth was introduced to audiences as the title character in Marvel’s “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh. This fall he stars in Ron Howard’s racing drama, “Rush,” in which he portrays British Formula One driver James Hunt.
He completed production on Legendary Pictures’ “Cyber,” directed by Michael Mann, and recently began production on the Warner Bros. film, “Heart of the Sea,” again with Ron Howard. He will also begin shooting Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” next year.
He made his U.S. film debut in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” playing the pivotal role of George Kirk alongside Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana. His additional credits include the Joss Whedon-scripted “The Cabin in the Woods”; Dan Bradley’s remake of “Red Dawn,” where he starred in the role originated by Patrick Swayze; Relativity Media/Rogue Pictures’ “A Perfect Getaway” opposite Timothy Olyphant; and “Ca$h” opposite Sean Bean.
Hemsworth was born and raised in Australia. He supports the Australian Childhood Foundation.
NATALIE PORTMAN (Jane Foster) received her second Academy Award® nomination and first Best Actress win for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s critically-acclaimed film, “Black Swan.” For her role, Portman also received a Golden Globe®, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award® and Independent Spirit Award.
On screen, Portman has starred in over 30 films. She made her debut in Luc Besson’s 1994 film, “Léon: The Professional,” and went on to star in “Heat,” “Beautiful Girls,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Mars Attacks!,” “Anywhere But Here” (Golden Globe® nomination), “Where the Heart Is,” “Cold Mountain,” “Garden State,” “Closer” (Academy Award® nomination and Golden Globe® Award), “Free Zone,” “V for Vendetta,” “Paris, je t’aime,” “Goya’s Ghosts,” “My Blueberry Nights,” “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “New York, I Love You,” “The Other Woman,” “Brothers,” “No Strings Attached,” “Your Highness,” “Thor” and “Hesher.” Additionally, she starred in George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace,” “Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.” The prequels to the wildly popular “Star Wars” trilogy of the ’70s and ’80s rank among the top-grossing films ever produced worldwide. Portman will next be seen in Terrence Malick’s next two films (“Knight of Cups” and “Untitled Terrence Malick Project”) and in “Jane Got a Gun,” a film she also produced.
On stage, Portman starred in Mike Nichols’ Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival production of “The Seagull” opposite Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Philip Seymour Hoffman as well as in James Lapine’s Broadway production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Behind the lens, Portman has taken turns writing, directing and producing. Her credits include the short film “Eve,” which she wrote and directed, telling the story of a young woman who ends up on her grandmother’s date. The film debuted at the 2008 Venice Film Festival and stars Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara and Olivia Thirlby. She also wrote and directed a short film for “New York, I Love You” about a day in the life of a father and daughter in Central Park. The film showcases 12 filmmakers who each directed a vignette illustrating the universal theme of love within the five boroughs of New York City.
Portman is currently developing film projects through her production company, handsomecharlie films. The company is focused on finding intelligent, accessible films across varied genres, as well as female-driven comedies. Upcoming projects include the New York Times best-selling novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” with Panorama as well as the documentary “Eating Animals,” based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Portman became the first Ambassador of Hope for FINCA, an international village banking microfinance program providing small loans and savings programs to the world’s poorest families so they may create their own jobs, raise household incomes, and improve their standard of living, thereby reducing poverty worldwide. As the Ambassador of Hope, Portman has proved to be a globally aware and dedicated individual who supports the work of FINCA through her advocacy and visits to FINCA International programs in countries such as Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda. She has also met with high-level United States members of Congress to lobby for support of international microfinance funding.
As an Ambassador of Free The Children, Portman lends her time to the organization that empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens. The charity works on international projects, including the Adopt a Village model, which brings over 650 schools and school rooms to youth and provides clean water, health care and sanitation to one million people around the world, freeing children and their families from the cycle of poverty.
A Harvard graduate with a degree in psychology, Portman has also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Shortly after he was seen in a production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” British actor TOM HIDDLESTON (Loki) garnered his first television role in Stephen Whittaker’s adaptation of “Nicholas Nickleby” for ITV, starring Charles Dance, James D’Arcy and Sophia Myles. Roles followed in two one-off television dramas, “Conspiracy” and the Emmy Award®-winning “The Gathering Storm,” co-produced by HBO and the BBC.
Hiddleston graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2005 and, within a few weeks, landed the role of Oakley in the British independent film “Unrelated” by first-time director Joanna Hogg. Hiddleston was then cast as Alsemero in “The Changeling” by Thomas Middleton, starring alongside Olivia Williams and Will Keen for the award-winning theater company Cheek by Jowl. For “The Changeling,” Hiddleston was nominated for the 2006 Ian Charleson Award. In 2007, Cheek by Jowl once again asked Hiddleston to perform for them as the hero, Posthumus Leonatus, and the antihero Cloten, in Declan Donnellan’s production of Shakespeare’s late romance, “Cymbeline.”
Later that summer, Hiddleston shot the period BBC drama “Miss Austen Regrets,” starring as John Plumptre alongside Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots, Hugh Bonneville and Greta Scacchi. The movie went on to win a BAFTA TV Award and a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award. Then Hiddleston was invited to audition to play Cassio in Michael Grandage’s production of “Othello” at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Ewan McGregor, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kelly Reilly.
Hiddleston was nominated twice in the category of Best Newcomer at the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards for “Cymbeline” and “Othello,” winning for his performance in “Cymbeline.”
In 2008 Hiddleston joined forces with Kenneth Branagh again to film the first series of “Wallander,” a BAFTA TV and Broadcasting Press Guild Award-winning and Emmy®, Golden Globe® and Satellite Award-nominated television series based on the detective novels by Swedish author Henning Mankell. In the same year, Hiddleston went on to star in the Donmar Warehouse/West End production of Chekhov’s “Inanov,” again opposite Kenneth Branagh, as well as Gina McKee and Andrea Riseborough. As well as shooting the second series of “Wallander” in 2009, Hiddleston also starred in the second series of the highly acclaimed BAFTA and Emmy Award®-winning “Return to Cranford,” starring opposite Judi Dench and Jonathan Pryce. In 2009, Hiddleston also filmed Joanna Hogg’s second film “Archipelago,” in which he played the lead role.
The year 2011 saw Hiddleston excel in a number of projects, including Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” and Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” opposite Rachel Weisz. Hiddleston is perhaps best known for his role as the villain Loki in Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” for Marvel, a role that he reprised in the 2012 blockbuster hit movie “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
Last year, Hiddleston was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award and for the Evening Standard British Film Award as Best Actor for his role in “Archipelago.” Hiddleston was the winner of the British Rising Star Award at the Richard Attenborough Regional Film Critics’ Awards and won Best Male Newcomer for his role in “Thor” at the 2012 Empire Awards.
Hiddleston was most recently seen portraying Prince Hal in “Henry IV Parts I and II” and the title role in “Henry V,” which aired last summer as part of the highly anticipated Cultural Olympaid. Hiddleston won the Times Breakthrough Award for his performances at the 2013 South Bank Sky Arts Awards.
Due for release this year, Hiddleston stars opposite Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska in Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive.” The film recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and earned a nomination for the prestigious Palme d’Or. This year, Hiddleston will also be seen in a cameo role in Joanna Hogg’s “Exhibition.”
In December, Hiddleston will make his return to one of the smallest stages in London’s West End, the Donmar Warehouse, to play the title role in Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” directed by Donmar’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke. The production will run from December 6, 2013 – February 8, 2014.
A native of Sweden, STELLAN SKARSGÅRD (Dr. Erik Selvig) is considered one of the country’s top stage and film actors. He began his career with the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, where he spent 16 years working with such leading directors as Alf Sjöberg and Ingmar Bergman. His breakthrough role came in the 1982 Swedish film “The Simple-Minded Murderer,” for which he received the Best Actor Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In addition to the more than 30 films in which he starred in Sweden, Skarsgård’s additional credits include “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Oxen” (Oscar®-nominated for Best Foreign Film), “Breaking the Waves” (which won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival) and the Norwegian Film “Insomnia.”
Along with his Best Actor Award from the Berlin International Film Festival, Skarsgård has been honored with awards from the Swedish Film Institute, the European Film Academy, Norwegian International Film Festival, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival. He also won an award for Best European Achievement in World Cinema (1998).
Recently, Skarsgård was seen in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Rouge Bresil,” Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” and “Thor.” He can currently be seen in Carlo Carlei’s “Romeo and Juliet” and will soon be seen in “The Railway Man.”
He also had roles in other hits such as “Angels & Demons,” “Mamma Mia!,” the second and third installments of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise (“Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End”) and “Good Will Hunting.”
Golden Globe®-winning actor IDRIS ELBA (Heimdall) began his film career in productions such as HBO’s “Sometimes in April” (Image Award nomination), Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls” (BET Award nomination), “The Reaping” alongside Hilary Swank and the horror thriller “28 Weeks Later.”
In 2007, Elba starred in Ridley Scott’s Golden Globe®-nominated “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Ruby Dee and Josh Brolin. The cast received a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination. He then went on to star in Guy Ritchie’s “Rocknrolla” with Tom Hardy, opposite Beyonce Knowles in “Obsessed” (Image Award nomination), “The Losers” (BET Award nomination), “Legacy: Black Ops” (which he also executive produced), “Thor,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” with Nicolas Cage and Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” with Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron.
Prior to his big-screen debut, Elba’s career skyrocketed on the small screen in some of the UK’s top-rated shows, including “Dangerfield,” “Bramwell” and “Ultraviolet.” In 2000, “Ultraviolet” was purchased by Fox in the United States, offering Elba an opportunity to break into the American marketplace. He soon moved to New York and earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Achilles in Sir Peter Hall’s off-Broadway production of “Troilus and Cressida.” Shortly thereafter, he landed a part on the acclaimed television series “Law & Order.”
Soon after, Elba landed the role of Russell “Stringer” Bell, the lieutenant of a Baltimore drug empire on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire.” In 2005, this performance earned him an Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Elba returned to television in 2009, when he joined the cast of NBC’s hit television show “The Office” as Michael Scott’s less-than-amused boss, Charles Miner. In 2010, he landed the title role of DCI John Luther in the BBC crime drama miniseries “Luther.” Following the first season, Elba was nominated for an Emmy® for his performance in “Luther” as well as for his guest appearance on Showtime’s “The Big C.” His performance in the first season of “Luther” earned him an Image Award, a BET Award and a Golden Globe®. In 2012, Elba earned an Emmy nomination for the second season of “Luther.” The third installment of the BBC miniseries aired this summer.
Elba was most recently seen in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” alongside Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day and Rink Kikuchi. This fall, he stars as Nelson Mandela in the Weinstein Company biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” In early 2014, Elba will be seen starring opposite Taraji P. Henson in the thriller “No Good Deed,” which he also executive produced. Elba is currently in production on Pierre Morel’s “The Gunman” alongside Sean Penn and Javier Bardem.
In 2013, Elba made his directorial debut with Sky Art’s “Playhouse Presents: Pavement Psychologist,” which he also wrote; and he directed and performed in the music video for Mumford & Sons’ “Lover of the Light.”
CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON (Malekith) trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). He recently completed shooting on the HBO pilot “The Leftovers” and is currently filming ITV’s “Lucan,” in which he plays Aspinall.
Other films include “Unfinished Song,” “The Others,” “Elizabeth,” “Jude,” “Shallow Grave” and “Let Him Have It.” His work in television includes “Blackout,” “The Borrowers,” “The Shadow Line,” “Accused,” “Lennon Naked,” “Doctor Who,” “The Second Coming,” “Flesh and Blood,” “Sunday,” “Othello,” “Clocking Off,” “Hillsborough,” “Our Friends in the North,” “Hearts and Minds” and “Cracker.”
Theater credits include “Antigone,” “Abingdon Square” and “Bent” at the National Theatre; “Miss Julie” at Theatre Royal Haymarket; “Hamlet” at the West Yorkshire Playhouse; “Dona Rosita, The Spinster” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Bristol Old Vic; and “The Wonder” at The Gate.
ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE (Algrim/Kurse) was born in London, England, to Nigerian parents. After earning a law degree from King’s College London and a master’s degree in law from the University of London, Akinnuoye-Agbaje discovered his true calling when acclaimed producer Frank Marshall cast him in Paramount’s “Congo.” This soon led to appearances in both film and television, most notably “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls,” “Legionnaire,” BBC-HBO’s “Deadly Voyage”; and in the television series “Cracker: Mind Over Murder,” “New York Undercover” and the ABC miniseries “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Akinnuoye-Agbaje just finished filming TriStar Pictures’ February 2013 release “Pompeii” opposite Kit Harington. He most recently starred in Warner Bros.’ “Bullet to the Head” opposite Sylvester Stallone and Christian Slater and “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” alongside Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Hudson, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Additional films he is known for include: “Killer Elite” alongside Robert De Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham and Universal Pictures’ classic remake of “The Thing.” Showing his skills behind the microphone, he voiced a role for Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newsitt. Akinnuoye-Agbaje showcased his directorial talents in his first short, “Farming,” developed through Robert Redford’s prestigious Sundance Film Institute Screenwriter and Directors Labs in 2007, for which he won an Annenberg Fellowship Grant.
Always defying stereotypes, Akinnuoye-Agbaje continues to broaden his range and talent focusing on his film career. He was seen in CBS Film’s “Faster,” starring opposite Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton. He also starred in successful on-screen hits such as “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” “The Bourne Identity,” “The Mummy Returns,” the romantic comedy “The Mistress of Spices” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
But it was television that made Akinnuoye-Agbaje a household name, first in his role as Simon Adebisi, the murderous drug-addicted prisoner on HBO’s groundbreaking television series, “Oz.” This performance led to him receiving two Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. His role as the mysterious Mr. Eko on the J.J. Abrams’ hugely successful ABC drama “Lost” earned him a coveted SAG Award® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje speaks several languages, including Italian, a bit of French, Yoruba and Swahili. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
KAT DENNINGS (Darcy Lewis) can currently be seen each Monday night on the hit CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls,” where she stars as Max. The sitcom, created by “Sex and the City” producer Michael Patrick King and comedienne Whitney Cummings, is a comedy about two broke girls in their early twenties tackling life in New York City. “2 Broke Girls” just returned for its third season.
Dennings recently wrapped production on the independent film “The Adventures of Raymond and Becca” for writer/director Richard Bates Jr. The film also stars Matthew Gray Gubler and Mackenzie Phillips.
Dennings is best known for her role in “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” in which she starred opposite Michael Cera. The film, based on the book of the same name, follows Nick and Norah on a one-night adventure in New York City. For her work on this film, Dennings was nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.
Dennings’ other film credits include the feature film “Day One”; the independent film “Daydream Nation”; “Defendor” opposite Woody Harrelson and Sandra Oh; Robert Rodriguez’s “Shorts” opposite William H. Macy and Leslie Mann; “The Answer Man” with Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham; the hit comedy “House Bunny,” co-starring with Anna Faris, Katharine McPhee, Emma Stone and Rumer Willis; “Charlie Bartlett” opposite Robert Downey Jr.; New Line’s “Raise Your Voice”; “Down in the Valley” opposite Edward Norton; “London” with Jessica Biel; and “Big Momma’s House 2” with Martin Lawrence. She appeared in IFC’s documentary “Wanderlust” for directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman and was selected to participate in the prestigious 2005 Sundance Filmmaker’s Lab where she worked with Robert Redford on director Dante Harper’s “Dreamland.”
Dennings has appeared on some of television’s most critically-acclaimed dramas, including a recurring role on NBC’s “ER,” a guest-starring role on a highly publicized “CSI: Miami/NY” crossover episode and a controversial role on “Without a Trace.” She also starred opposite Bob Saget in the WB series “Raising Dad” and had a standout guest-starring role in HBO’s “Sex and the City.”
Dennings currently resides in Los Angeles.
Perhaps best known for his starring role in the HBO-BBC television series “Rome,” RAY STEVENSON (Volstagg) portrayed the legionary Titus Pullo to both critical and public acclaim. Since the series wrapped, he has been working nonstop in a wide variety of feature films.
Stevenson appeared as Porthos opposite Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman and Orlando Bloom in Paul W. S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers.” Stevenson also starred as Volstagg opposite Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman in Marvel’s blockbuster hit “Thor.” He was reunited with the director, Kenneth Branagh, who acted opposite him in “Theory of Flight” for director Paul Greengrass. Additionally, Stevenson starred in Jonathon Hensleigh’s “Kill the Irishman,” playing the title character in a true crime story of notorious mobster Danny Greene, with Christopher Walken, Vincent D’Onofrio and Val Kilmer.
Stevenson was also seen in the post-apocalyptic Warner Bros. feature “The Book of Eli” opposite Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman for directors Albert and Allen Hughes. He was also featured in the fantasy thriller “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.”
In 2008, he was seen as the lead in “Punisher: War Zone,” about the Marvel comics antihero Frank Castle and his quest to rid the world of evil after the death of his wife and daughter. Stevenson’s prior film work includes the role of Dagonet in Antoine Fuqua’s “King Arthur” for producer Jerry Bruckheimer; the cult favorite “Outpost,” for director Steve Barker; “The Return of the Native” opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones; and “Some Kind of Life” opposite Jane Horrocks.
Stevenson was recently seen in Billy Bob Thornton’s dramatic comedy “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” opposite John Patrick Amedori, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon and Robert Patrick. Stevenson was last seen as the villain Firefly in “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation” opposite Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson, and on the hit Showtime series “Dexter.” He just wrapped shooting on the highly anticipated “Divergent.”
His stage work includes playing Christ in the York Mystery Plays in 2000 at York Minster. In 2001, he played Roger in “Mouth to Mouth” by Kevin Elyot at the Albery Theatre in London, with Lindsay Duncan and Michael Maloney; and in 2003, appeared as the Cardinal in “The Duchess of Malfi” by John Webster, with Janet McTeer, at the Royal National Theatre.
ZACHARY LEVI (Fandral) was last seen on NBC’s hit show “Chuck,” which has been a media and fan favorite since its fall 2007 release and continues its popularity even after the series ended.
Levi voiced the lead role opposite Mandy Moore in Disney’s feature animated film “Tangled.” The Oscar®-nominated film was a huge success at the box office and in DVD release. Additionally, Levi appeared in the 20th Century Fox film “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” which broke box-office records in its Christmas 2009 release. Levi was seen starring with Amber Tamblyn in the independent feature film “Spiral” and audiences also remember his starring roles in the franchise film “Big Mommas House 2” with Martin Lawrence.
Levi has also served as a producer on projects in the music and film industries, most notably the critically hailed album “Grown” by Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter Kendall Payne, as well as his independent feature “Spiral.”
Audiences enjoyed Levi in the four seasons of the hit ABC sitcom “Less Than Perfect” as the quick-witted scheming Kipp Steadman. He also earned great reviews for his appearances on the hit shows “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Division” and for his supporting role in the FX television movie “Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie.”
Levi grew up in Ventura County, California. He began acting in theater at the early age of 6, performing lead roles in regional productions such as “Grease,” “The Outsiders,” “Oliver,” “Godspell,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Big River” and “Marvin’s Room.” It was this early training that ultimately brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
TADANOBU ASANO (Hogun) is one of the leading Japanese actors in the current film scene. His film credits include “Ichi the Killer,” “The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi,” “Last Life in the Universe,” “Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan,” “Thor,” “Battleship” and the upcoming “47 Ronin.”
He won the Upstream Prize for Best Actor at the 60th Venice Film Festival in 2003 for his role in “Last Life in the Universe” and “Mongol” was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards® in 2008.
Asano made his Hollywood debut in “Thor,” which led to his role in “Battleship.”
JAIMIE ALEXANDER (Sif) appeared with Jake Gyllenhaal in Edward Zwick’s drama “Love & Other Drugs,” followed by Marvel’s blockbuster epic “Thor.” In the Kenneth Branagh-directed “Thor,” she starred in the role of Sif opposite Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.
Alexander also attended the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of the indie dramedy, “Loosies,” with Peter Facinelli and Joe Pantoliano; starred in the dramatic thriller “Intermission,” which screened at Cannes; completed work on the historical drama “Savannah” with Jim Caviezel, Chiwetel Ejiofer and Hal Holbrook; and most recently starred as the female lead opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Lionsgate’s action-thriller “The Last Stand.”
She transitioned into film roles after being a series regular on the popular ABC Family Channel series “Kyle XY.” She retuned to series television in a juicy arc as Edie Falco’s wild and immature sister-in-law on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.”
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, and raised in Grapevine, Texas, Alexander moved to Los Angeles upon graduating high school.
RENE RUSSO (Queen Frigga) continues to show her range and versatility as an actress with each of her roles. Prior to her performance opposite Anthony Hopkins as Queen Frigga in the Kenneth Branagh-directed “Thor” in 2011, Russo had starred in the hit comedy “Yours, Mine & Ours” opposite Dennis Quaid.
When Russo starred with Pierce Brosnan in United Artists’ remake of the classic 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” critics raved about her performance. Russo has also shown her penchant for comedy, co-starring with Kevin Costner and Don Johnson in Warner Bros.’ “Tin Cup,” as well as her range as a dramatic actress, starring opposite Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo in Touchstone’s successful thriller “Ransom,” directed by Ron Howard.
Russo was last seen opposite Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy in Warner Bros.’ action-comedy “Showtime,” as a driven reality-television producer who creates a hit show for an unlikely pair of cops (De Niro and Murphy). She was also seen in Disney’s comedy “Big Trouble,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and based on a novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist, Dave Barry.
In “Lethal Weapon 3,” Russo first starred opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, garnering mass attention from moviegoers. In 1998, Russo reprised her role as Lorna, the character that first endeared her with audiences worldwide, in “Lethal Weapon 4,” which reunited her with Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Joe Pesci.
Her earlier films have also drawn audience and critical approval. In 1994, Russo starred with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich in the box-office success “In the Line of Fire,” portraying the feisty secret service agent who romances Eastwood. She followed that performance with a starring role opposite Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman in Warner Bros.’ thriller “Outbreak.” Subsequently, she garnered critical praise in MGM’s box-office success “Get Shorty,” portraying a B-movie actress opposite John Travolta, Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. She starred as Gertrude Lintz in “Buddy,” a heart-warming true story set in the 1920s and 1930s about a wealthy socialite (Lintz) who raised exotic animals in her home. She was also seen alongside Robert De Niro and Jason Alexander in Universal Pictures’ live-action/special effects feature “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle,” based on Jay Ward’s classic cartoons.
Since her film debut in 1989 in “Major League,” Russo’s additional film credits include “Mr. Destiny,” “One Good Cop” with Anthony LaPaglia, and “Freejack” with Emilio Estevez.
Russo has most recently wrapped production with Oliver Platt in the independent comedy “Frank & Cindy” and recently began principal photography on “Nightcrawler” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.
A native Californian, Russo grew up in Burbank. At the age of 18, she was “discovered” at a Rolling Stones concert and encouraged to become a fashion model. Soon after, Russo moved to New York and became a top model for Ford Modeling Agency. She graced the covers of every fashion magazine throughout her successful modeling career in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Russo and her husband, screenwriter Dan Gilroy, live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Rose.
ANTHONY HOPKINS (Odin) received an Academy Award® for his performance in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and was subsequently nominated in the same category for his performances in “The Remains of the Day” (1993) and “Nixon” (1995). He was also given the Best Actor Award by the British Academy of Film & Television Arts for “The Silence of the Lambs.” In 1993, he starred in Sir Richard Attenborough’s “Shadowlands” with Debra Winger, winning numerous critics awards in the U.S. and Britain, including the BAFTA for Best Actor. In 1998, he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in “Amistad.”
In 2001, Hopkins starred with Julianne Moore in “Hannibal,” the sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs.” Directed by Ridley Scott, the blockbuster film grossed over $165 million domestically. He also recorded the narration for the 2000 holiday season’s hit film Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
In 1998, he starred in “Meet Joe Black,” directed by Martin Brest. The following year, he starred in “Instinct,” directed by Jon Turteltaub, and in “Titus” with Jessica Lange, Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”
In 1992 he appeared in “Howards End” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” before starring in “Legends of the Fall” and “The Road to Wellville.” He made his directorial debut in 1995 with “August,” an adaptation of Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya,” for which he composed the musical score and also played Vanya. He starred in the title role in “Surviving Picasso” and with Alec Baldwin in “The Edge,” a dramatic adventure written by David Mamet and directed by Lee Tamahori. “Amistad,” directed by Steven Spielberg, was released in December 1997. “The Mask of Zorro,” directed by Martin Campbell and co-starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was released in July 1998.
Earlier films include “84 Charing Cross Road,” “The Elephant Man,” “Magic” and “A Bridge Too Far.” “The Bounty” and “Desperate Hours” were his first two collaborations with Dino De Laurentiis’ company. On American television, he received two Emmy® Awards for “The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” (1976), in which he portrayed Bruno Richard Hauptmann, and “The Bunker” (1981), in which he portrayed Adolf Hitler.
Born December 31, 1937, in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales, he is the only child of Muriel and Richard Hopkins. His father was a baker. He was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School. At 17, he wandered into a YMCA amateur theatrical production and knew immediately that he was in the right place. With newfound enthusiasm, combined with proficiency at the piano, he won a scholarship to the Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff where he studied for two years (1955-1957). Hopkins entered the British Army in 1958 for mandatory military training, spending most of his two years of duty clerking the Royal Artillery unit at Bulford.
In 1960, he was invited to audition for Sir Laurence Olivier, then director of the National Theatre at the Old Vic. Two years later, Hopkins was Olivier’s understudy in Strindberg’s “Dance Of Death.” Hopkins made his film debut in 1967, playing Richard the Lionheart in “The Lion in Winter,” starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. He received a British Academy Award nomination and the film was nominated for an Academy Award® as Best Picture.;p>
American television viewers discovered Hopkins in the 1973 ABC production of Leon Uris’ “QB VII,” the first American miniseries, in which he played the knighted Polish-born British physician Adam Kelno, who is ultimately destroyed by his wartime past. The following year, he starred on Broadway in the National Theatre production of “Equus” and later mounted another production of the play in Los Angeles where he lived for 10 years, working extensively in American films and television.
After starring as Lieutenant Bligh in “The Bounty” (1984), he returned to England and the National Theatre in Dave Hare and Howard Brenton’s “Pravda,” for which he received the British Theatre Association’s Best Actor Award and the Observer Award for Outstanding Achievement at the 1985 Laurence Olivier Awards. During this time at the National, he starred in “Antony and Cleopatra” and “King Lear.”
Hopkins also appeared in the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s “Hearts in Atlantis” for director Scott Hicks; the action-comedy “Bad Company” co-starring Chris Rock; and “Red Dragon,” the box-office hit prequel to “The Silence of the Lambs,” co-starring Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson; and in Miramax Films’ adaptation of the Philip Roth novel “The Human Stain,” opposite Nicole Kidman and directed by Robert Benton.
He also starred in Miramax Films’ “Proof,” opposite Gwyneth Paltrow; “The World’s Fastest Indian” for director Roger Donaldson; “All the Kings Men” for director Steve Zaillian and co-starring Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet; and the crime thriller “Fracture,” opposite Ryan Gosling. He wrote, directed and composed the score for his independent feature film “Slipstream,” which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and was seen in Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of “Beowulf” for Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures’ “The Wolfman” opposite Benicio Del Toro, and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” in which he co-starred with Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts.
Most recently, Hopkins was seen in “Hitchcock,” in which he portrayed the famed director opposite Helen Mirren; the Warner Bros./New Line Cinema thriller “The Rite”; and Paramount Pictures’ film adaptation of the Marvel comic “Thor.” He was recently seen in the ensemble spy-comedy “RED 2” opposite Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.
In addition to his busy filming schedule, Anthony Hopkins is also an accomplished composer whose work has been performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, he participated as a composer in the Festival Del Sole in Cortona, Italy, and recently released a CD collection of his compositions recorded by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Entitled “Composer,” the album reached the No. 1 spot in England’s classical music charts.
In 2004, Hopkins began painting, quickly gaining recognition as a prolific contemporary artist. His work is currently being exhibited in fine art galleries and has been acquired by prominent art collectors around the world.
About The Filmmakers
Emmy®-winning director ALAN TAYLOR (Director) came to his career in film and television by a roundabout route. Raised in Canada, Taylor moved to New York City to study European history at Columbia University. Two years into the Ph.D. program he changed course and entered the film program at NYU. His graduate thesis film, “That Burning Question,” earned many awards and launched his career.
Several episodes of “Homicide: Life on the Street” were followed by his first feature, the award-winning “Palookaville,” starring Frances McDormand, Vincent Gallo, William Forsythe and Adam Trese. That New Jersey-set heist comedy was seen by David Chase, who invited Taylor to join the creative team of HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Taylor went on to direct multiple episodes of that hit series, winning an Emmy® for “Kennedy and Heidi.” Two more indie features followed: an award-winning adaptation of Simon Ley’s fanciful novel “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a retelling of Napoleon’s final days, starring Ian Holm and Iben Hjejle; and “Kill the Poor,” based on Joel Rose’s comic but incendiary novel, set in New York’s lower east side during the 1980s.
Taylor continued to work in television, earning acclaim for directing some of the most highly respected shows on cable and network—“The West Wing,” “Deadwood,” “Rome,” “Sex and the City,” “Carnivàle,” “Six Feet Under,” “Bored to Death,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Lost.” He received two further Emmy® nominations and won the Directors Guild of America Award for the pilot of AMC’s “Mad Men.” In 2011, Taylor directed the final two episodes of “Game of Thrones’” freshman season. He then joined “GOT” as executive producer for season two, directing four more episodes, and garnering his third Emmy nomination.
Taylor lives in Brooklyn and in rural Pennsylvania, with his wife Nicki Ledermann and their three children, Ginger, Willa and Jem.
The late DON PAYNE (Story by) was a screenwriter on Marvel’s “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend.”
He produced the animated television series “The Simpsons” from 1999-2001 and then continued his work on the series by serving in several different producer roles over the years until his recent passing. Payne also wrote several episodes of the popular show.
Payne also wrote episodes for “The Brian Benben Show,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “Men Behaving Badly,” “Can’t Hurry Love,” “Pride & Joy” and “Hope & Gloria.”
ROBERT RODAT (Story by) grew up in Keene, New Hampshire. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, he received a B.A. in History from Colgate University, an M.B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in film production from the University of Southern California.
After graduating from USC, Rodat made documentaries for several years. He then shifted to dramatic films as a screenwriter. Rodat’s credits include “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Patriot,” “Fly Away Home” (co-written with Vince McKewin), “Tall Tale” (co-written with Steve Bloom), “The Comrades of Summer,” “The Ripper” and “36 Hours to Die.”
Rodat received an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay for “Saving Private Ryan.” He created and produced the television series “Falling Skies,” co-conceived with Steven Spielberg, currently in its fourth season on TNT.
Robert Rodat is married to director Mollie Miller. They live with their three sons in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CHRISTOPHER L. YOST (Screenplay by) began working for Marvel in animation, where he was head writer on shows including, “Iron Man,” “Fantastic Four” and “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” as well as on the animated features “Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow” and “Hulk Vs.” On Marvel’s publishing side, Yost has written such titles as “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “X-Force.”
In 2009, Yost began work in Marvel’s Feature Writers Program, where he developed several properties for the studio as well as worked on the original “Thor” for director Kenneth Branagh. He most recently wrote the adventure “Secret Headquarters” for Paramount Pictures and is currently writing “Max Steel” for Mattel.
Yost makes his home in Los Angeles, California.
CHRISTOPHER MARKUS & STEPHEN MCFEELY (Screenplay by) are the screenwriters behind Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: The First Avenger.” They just completed production on Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” set for release in April 2014. Previously, they have written such diverse films as “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” “You Kill Me” and all three films from “The Chronicles of Narnia” franchise—“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.
They recently penned Michael Bay’s controversial true-crime film, “Pain & Gain.”
Over the past decade, KEVIN FEIGE, p.g.a. (Producer) has played an instrumental role in a string of blockbuster feature films adapted from the pages of Marvel comic books, including the hugely successful “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” trilogies. In his current role as producer and president of Marvel Studios, Feige oversees all creative aspects of the company’s feature film and home entertainment activities.
This year, Feige produced the mega-hit, Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” which has earned over $1.2 billion worldwide since opening on May 3, 2013, and last year, Feige produced the critically acclaimed “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which set the all-time, domestic three-day weekend box-office record at $207.4 million. The film went on to gross over $1.6 billion worldwide, becoming Disney’s highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time.
In 2011, Feige produced and successfully launched two Marvel film franchises, “Captain America: The First Avenger” directed by Joe Johnston and starring Chris Evans, and “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth. Both films opened at No. 1 and have combined to gross over $800 million worldwide. In 2010, Feige produced “Iron Man 2,” directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, which was No. 1 in its first weekend of release and to date has earned over $620 million worldwide.
In summer 2008, Feige produced the blockbusters “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,” which were the first fully developed and financed films from the new Marvel Studios. “Iron Man,” directed by Jon Favreau, maintained the No. 1 box-office position for two consecutive weeks and grossed over $571 million worldwide. “The Incredible Hulk,” directed by Louis Leterrier and starring Edward Norton, William Hurt, Tim Roth and Liv Tyler, also opened in first place and grossed over $250 million in worldwide box-office receipts.
Feige is currently producing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” set for release on April 4, 2014, and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” opening on August 1, 2014.
LOUIS D’ESPOSITO (Executive Producer) is co-president of Marvel Studios. He served as executive producer on the blockbuster hits “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers” and most recently “Iron Man 3.” He is also currently working on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” as well as working with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to build the future Marvel slate.
As co-president of the studio and executive producer on all Marvel films, D’Esposito balances running the studio with overseeing each film from its development stage to distribution.
In addition to executive producing Marvel Studios’ films, D’Esposito directed the short film titled “ITEM 47” for Marvel, which made its debut to fans at the 2012 Comic-Con International in San Diego and was featured again at the LA Shorts Fest in September 2012. The project was released as an added feature on the “Marvel’s The Avengers” Blu-ray disc. This year he also directed “Agent Carter” for Marvel.
D’Esposito began his tenure at Marvel Studios in 2006. Prior to Marvel, D’Esposito’s executive producing credits include the 2006 hit film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith, “Zathura: A Space Adventure” and the 2003 hit “S.W.A.T.,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell.
VICTORIA ALONSO (Executive Producer) is currently executive producing Joe and Anthony Russo’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” for Marvel Studios, where she serves as Executive Vice President of Visual Effects and Post-Production.
She executive produced Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” for director Shane Black and “Marvel’s The Avengers” for writer/director Joss Whedon. Alonso also co-produced “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2” with director Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor,” and Joe Johnston’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
Alonso’s career began at the nascency of the visual effects industry, when she served as a commercial VFX producer. From there, she VFX-produced numerous feature films, working with such directors as Ridley Scott (“Kingdom of Heaven”), Tim Burton (“Big Fish”) and Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”), to name a few.
CRAIG KYLE (Executive Producer) began his career at Marvel Studios in 2001, as the sole creative executive for the company’s animation division. He has developed, produced and written numerous animated series and oversaw the development and production of Marvel’s original, animated, direct-to-DVD projects, including “Ultimate Avengers: I & II,” “The Invincible Iron Man,” “Hulk Vs,” “Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow,” “Doctor Strange,” “Planet Hulk” and “Thor: Tales of Asgard.”
Five years ago, Kyle was promoted to Senior Vice President of Production and Development of Marvel Studios’ live-action division, where he produced Marvel’s “Thor.”
ALAN FINE (Executive Producer) is President of Marvel Worldwide, Inc., and also serves as chairman of Marvel’s Theatrical and TV Creative Committees.
In addition, he also served as the president and CEO of Marvel’s toy and publishing divisions. Previous to Marvel, he was president of Kay Bee Toy Stores.
Fine grew up in Rhode Island, where he attended the University of Rhode Island and graduated with a B.A. in psychology. He currently splits his time between West Palm Beach, Florida, and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.
NIGEL GOSTELOW (Executive Producer) has served as an executive producer on Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.”
Gostelow’s work as a production manager includes such films as “The Wolfman,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Batman Begins,” “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London,” “Below” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.”
STAN LEE (Executive Producer) is the founder of POW! Entertainment and has served as its chairman and chief creative officer since inception. Known to millions as the man whose superheroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry, Stan Lee’s co-creations include Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange.
Now the chairman emeritus of Marvel Media, Lee first became publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972. He is recognized as the creative force that brought Marvel to the forefront of the comic publishing industry. In 1977, he introduced Spider-Man as a syndicated newspaper strip that became the most successful of all syndicated adventure strips and now appears in more than 500 newspapers worldwide—making it the longest running of all superhero strips.
From June 2001 until the formal creation of POW! in November 2001, Lee worked to form POW! and to create intellectual property for POW! and start the development of various POW! projects.
KRAMER MORGENTHAU ASC (Director of Photography) has traveled the globe shooting over 20 feature films and numerous television, documentary and commercial assignments. His recent feature projects include “Chef” with director Jon Favreau, “Feast of Love” with three-time Academy Award®-winning director Robert Benton and “Fracture” with director Gregory Hoblit.
In the world of television Morgenthau has been nominated for five Emmy® awards and four ASC awards. He recently shot “Game of Thrones” (HBO), for which he won an Outstanding Achievement Award in Cinematography by the American Society of Cinematographers, and the pilot for this year’s television breakout hit, Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.” He also shot and was nominated for Emmy Awards for “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO), “Too Big to Fail” (HBO), “FlashForward” (ABC), and “Life on Mars” (ABC). In 2011, Morgenthau was named one of 10 Cinematographers to watch by Variety. In August 2013, he was featured in Variety’s Below the Line Impact report.
Morgenthau has worked with a wide range of directors, including James Mangold, Timothy Van Patten, David Nutter, Curtis Hanson, Brian Kirk, Spike Lee, Gary Fleder, Barbara Kopple and George Hickenlooper. Some of the cinematographer’s other feature film credits include: “The Express,” “The Man From Elysian Fields,” “The Big Brass Ring,” “Empire,” “Godsend” and “Havoc.”
Morgenthau began his career shooting documentaries based out of New York City. In 1996, Morgenthau shot the Academy Award®-nominated “Small Wonders” for two-time Oscar®-winning director Allan Miller. In 2003, a feature film Morgenthau shot, “Joe & Joe,” was accepted to the Sundance film festival. The cinematographer soon became a regular entrant of the festival with some seven features and documentaries. He eventually migrated to Los Angeles to further pursue feature films.
Morgenthau grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was introduced to the world of documentary film at a young age. His father, Henry Morgenthau III, produced documentaries for flagship PBS station WGBH in Boston. Morgenthau often tagged along on location shoots with his father to Africa, Europe and many other places. His father also introduced him to the world of art and painting; they spent many days in art museums and galleries around the world.
Morgenthau’s mother, Ruth, gave him an early introduction to global politics and rural development. She was a Polish Jewish refugee of Nazi-occupied Vienna, Austria, who went on to become an advisor to three American presidents, a professor of international politics and a forerunner in sustainable rural development. Kramer Morgenthau’s background has had a profound effect on the types of projects he has chosen to work on.
CHARLES WOOD (Production Designer) began his entertainment industry career in 1991 as a visual effects director, working on such projects as “The Fugitive,” Peter Weir’s “Fearless,” “Under Siege” and “Army of Darkness.”
Segueing to design work, he has since collaborated on projects ranging from big studio movies to independent films. His credits include Joe Carnahan’s “The A- Team,” Michael Apted’s “Amazing Grace,” “Wrath of the Titans,” “Fool’s Gold,” Tony Bill’s “Flyboys,” F. Gary Gray’s “The Italian Job,” “Get Carter” and “Mortal Combat: Annihilation.” Wood is currently working on Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”<;/p>
Wood earned an Emmy® Award nomination in 2000 for the television movie “Geppetto” and a 2007 Satellite Award nomination for “Amazing Grace.”
DAN LEBENTAL, A.C.E. (Editor) is a Hollywood professional editor and the founder and the designer of TouchEdit app. He has been editing feature films for more than 20 years, working with some of Hollywood’s top movie studios and directors.
Lebental’s longtime collaboration with Jon Favreau has yielded hits such as “Elf” and the blockbusters Marvel’s “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2.”
Throughout his career as an editor Lebental also maintained and developed a close professional relationship with actor/director Vince Vaughn, editing several films starring Vaughn, including Universal Pictures’ “The Break-Up” (2006), “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland” (2006) and “Couples Retreat” (2009).
His versatility across genres includes working on comedies, dramas, thrillers, documentaries and TV projects as represented by more than 20 movies and hundreds of music videos cut over the span of his career.
He recently completed the documentary “Art of Conflict” as both producer and editor.
Dan Lebental is a member of American Cinema Editors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has lectured on the art of editing at USC and has spoken at various international conferences.
Throughout his career, Lebental has continued to support and mentor students and aspiring beginners, taking pleasure in fostering a new generation of editors.
WYATT SMITH (Editor) is a director/editor working within the film, television and music industries. The son of a roadie, Smith had an early education on the inner workings of the entertainment world and worked his first job as a production assistant for a Carly Simon HBO special at the age of 12.
Throughout his teenage years, Smith worked on projects for a variety of artists, including Mariah Carey and Paul Simon. In the early 1990s, Smith discovered editing while working at Sony Music Studios in New York City. His reputation grew as an editor by cutting the critically acclaimed music series “Sessions at West 54th,” documentaries for Black Sabbath, Brian Wilson and A&E Biography, music videos for Pearl Jam, John Mayer and Keith Urban, and television specials including CBS’s “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration” and “Elvis by the Presleys.”
Expanding beyond music, Smith edited the groundbreaking comedy series “Chappelle’s Show.” In 2002, at the request of legendary record producer Phil Ramone, Smith began directing multicamera shows including “The Songwriters Hall of Fame” (Bravo), VH1’s “World Series of Pop Culture” and performance specials for Grammy Award® winners John Legend and Evanescence. In 2006, he edited the seven-time Emmy® Award- winning NBC special “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”), for which Smith was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Special.
At Rob Marshall’s request, Smith was brought on to co-edit the Weinstein Company’s feature film musical “Nine,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, for which Smith received a Broadcast Film Critics Association nomination for Best Editing. Continuing his work with Marshall, he edited the 3D Disney adventure epic, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” starring Johnny Depp and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Smith edited the feature documentary “The Zen of Bennett,” which was part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, and provided additional editing for the Weinstein Company’s “My Week With Marilyn,” starring Michelle Williams, and Radius’ “Bachelorette,” starring Kirsten Dunst.
In addition to editing the concert segments for Sony Pictures’ 3D documentary “One Direction: This Is Us,” Smith returned to the action-adventure genre, completing “300: Rise of an Empire” for Warner Bros. In the fall of 2013, he began his third feature with Rob Marshall, “Into the Woods,” starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp.
WENDY PARTRIDGE (Costume Designer) has built a distinguished career designing costumes for both feature films and television, most recently on “Resident Evil: Retribution.” Among her numerous other credits are “Hellboy,” for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Costumes; “Conan the Barbarian”; “Legion”; “Resurrecting the Champ”; “Silent Hill”; “Fantastic Four”; “Underworld”; “Underworld: Evolution”; “The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting”; “Blade II”; “Texas Rangers”; “Snow Day”; “Whiteout”; and “Highlander: Endgame.”
In 2008, she was nominated for an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Costumes for her work on the television movie “Broken Trail.” In 2013, for the inaugural Canadian Screen and Television awards, she received a record three nominations for her work on “Resident Evil: Retribution,” “Silent Hill” and “Hannah’s Law.” Partridge garnered Canadian Genie Awards for her work on the features “Passchendaele” (2009) and “Loyalties” (1987), and received Genie nominations for her costume designs on “Come l’America,” “Isaac Littlefeathers” and “Latitude 55.”
Partridge’s television credits include AMC’s “Hell on Wheels,” “The Secret of the Nutcracker,” “Ultra,” “Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss,” “High Noon,” “Heart Full of Rain,” “In Cold Blood” and the series “Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years,” among numerous others. In 2009, Partridge was honored to play her part in President Obama’s Inaugural Parade as the designer of the costumes for the U.S. World War I portion of the event. In 1988, she designed the costumes for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
A native of Great Britain, Partridge has resided in Canada since 1970. Prior to establishing herself in the film business, she had her own custom couturier design business.
JAKE MORRISON (Visual Effects Supervisor) has been blending photography and computer graphics for over 20 years. Pursuing an early interest in creating real-time visuals to be performed alongside live music, Morrison taught himself a programming language and learned video-sampling techniques.
This led to a career that has encompassed commercials, television and, for the last 16 years, film. Working on the VFX vendor side, Morrison was VFX/CG supervisor and lead compositor on many projects, including Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and the Wachowskis’ “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” before crossing over to the production side with digital effects supervisor credits on Warner Bros.’ “300” for Zack Snyder and the Wachowskis’ “Speed Racer.”
Most recently Morrison has been working with Marvel Studios and has provided additional VFX supervision on Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” and was second unit VFX supervisor on Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
BRIAN TYLER (Composer) is a composer of over 60 films and was recently nominated for Film Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association. Tyler composed and conducted the scores for the blockbuster “Iron Man 3” for Marvel Studios, starring Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Shane Black, which opened in May 2013; “Eagle Eye” for producer Steven Spielberg; and the box-office hits “Fast Five” and “Fast & Furious” for Justin Lin. Tyler was inducted into the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2010.
He recently scored the hit heist film “Now You See Me” about a team of illusionists, starring Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher and Common, which was directed by Louis Leterrier.
Tyler composed and conducted the “Marvel Studios Fanfare” for the Marvel Studios film logo, which will now play before their movies. In addition, Tyler arranged and conducted the new film logo music for Universal Pictures and composed a theme for the 100-year anniversary of the studio. He also scored the films “The Expendables,” “The Expendables 2 and 3” and “Rambo,” directed by Sylvester Stallone; “Law Abiding Citizen,” starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler; the Keanu Reeves thriller, “Constantine”; and the epic science-fiction film “Battle: Los Angeles.” Tyler also scored the fastest-grossing entertainment event in history, the game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” which grossed $775 million in its first five days of release.
Tyler began scoring features shortly after he received his bachelor’s degree from UCLA and his master’s degree from Harvard University. Tyler’s score for Bill Paxton’s “Frailty” won him a World Soundtrack Award in 2002 as well as The World Soundtrack Award as Best New Film Composer of the Year. He has received two Emmy® Award nominations, seven BMI Music Awards, five ASCAP Music Awards, and was recently nominated for a record six GoldSpirit Awards (2012), including Best Composer of the Year.
Tyler is a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, piano, guitar, orchestral and world percussion, bass, cello, guitarviol, charango and bouzouki, among others. After composing the score for “The Hunted” for Academy Award®-winning director William Friedkin, Tyler found himself on the cover of Film Score Monthly Magazine dubbed as “The Future of Film Scoring.” He then composed the score for Disney’s “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” starring Shia LaBeouf. His score for “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” hit No. 1 on the iTunes soundtrack sales charts, while his soundtrack for “Children of Dune” reached No. 4 on the Amazon.com album charts.
Other credits include “The Final Destination”; Paramount Pictures’ film “Timeline,” directed by Richard Donner; and the television series “Hawaii Five-0.” His music has also been used in a multitude of film trailers, including “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “The Departed” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Tyler’s upcoming projects include Paramount’s film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” to be released in summer 2014, and “Into the Storm” for Warner Bros. To date, the films Tyler has worked on have grossed $5 billion worldwide.