IGN – We’re only a little over a month away from the release of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron — the final piece in the Phase 2 puzzle before the next phase begins with Civil War, Spider-Man in the MCU, Black Panther, and more.
IGN’s Roth Cornet had the opportunity to visit the set of the Joss Whedon-helmed sequel, along with a small group of other journalists. While there, we talked to Elizabeth Olsen, aka Scarlet Witch, about her character’s introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wanda Maximoff’s insane powers, and her not-so-comic-inspired costume…
Question: Can you talk about your Eastern European accent?
Elizabeth Olsen: We know that we’re from Eastern Europe. It’s a make-believe place, so it’s something that Aaron and I — with the dialect coach — kind of created together.
Question: How are we introduced to your character?
Olsen: I think you’ve already been introduced at the end of Cap 2.
Question: Is that continued?
Olsen: A little bit, yeah. There is definitely a connection that is very evident. You know, that world is very specific, so it’s almost like… hospital-ish, you know? And the way that we’ve designed the costumes for the characters is based off of these two kids being on their own. They’re using whatever they can to the best of their ability — like if they see a street vendor and they just grab something off a street vendor. So it has hints of Eastern Europe, but it’s also [got] this kind of kitschy, vagabond feel as well.
Question: Has working together previously [with Aaron Taylor Johnson in Godzilla] made this experience easier?
Olsen: Totally. I mean, if you look at the comics, the two of them are always so close to each other. Their comfortability around each other is so specific. So it’s nice to know Aaron, and it’s also nice to have a friend when you’re joining such a big project like this with potentially intimidating people. And it is nice to feel like we have this… Like, [The Avengers] have their movies — well, we had a movie too! [Laughs] it was that kind of teammate feel.
Question: What were some of your first meetings with the cast members like? Did they give you any insight? Who was the first person you and Aaron got to work with?
Olsen: The first person that Aaron and I got to work with was Jeremy Renner, because we were shooting in Italy as everyone has seen. I don’t know, he was sort of straight about how this was gonna go. This has seriously been the most waiting I’ve done on a film — keeping an energy up is really difficult. But you get on set and you just have to have one thing that you hook into to remind yourself, to give you that energy and the drive of your character. I don’t know, just talking with him was interesting and fun. I mean, everyone that we’ve met is so nice. I was waiting for, like, diva [stuff]. There’s none of that at all on this set. All of the actors are unbelievably fun and giving and kind. It’s amazing.
Requisite “Favorite Avenger?” Question
Olsen: Personally? I’m kind of digging what I get to do. My favorite, just as a fan, is Iron Man. Those are my favorite films. And that’s how I got into the Marvel world as fan myself. But I wouldn’t mind continuing to do this for quite some time because I’m having so much fun working on the Scarlet Witch, Wanda. She’s so awesome. I think Joss is excited by her also, and so the two of us kind of dork out a bit and… it’s pretty fun.
Q: Going off of what we saw in Cap 2, what is the relationship like between Wanda and Baron von Strucker? Is that something that continues throughout the film?
Olsen: It’s something people will be wondering later.
Question : In that scene at the end of Cap 2, we see your character manipulating objects and today we learned that she’ll be getting into people’s minds. Can you talk about Wanda’s power and abilities?
Olsen: Yeah, so I am able to go into someone’s head and they’d never see. I can feel and see what they feel and see. So it’s not just me manipulating them. What I love about her is that, in so many superhero films, emotions are kind of negated a bit, but for her everything that someone else could feel — like their weakest moments — she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool. Yeah, like if they have the biggest, darkest fear, I get to see that.
Question: Can you also control things?
Olsen: Yeah, I can control energy. I can manipulate energy, so that’s what the red stuff is that we’re playing with.
Question: This power set is something we haven’t seen in a Marvel movie yet, can you talk about coming up with the physicality for it?
Olsen: It’s been so fun, because you can’t be like “Well, how does this magic witch hero move?” Like, there’s nothing physically that you can reference from dance or martial arts or anything like that. So we started off with Joss kind of having these ideas based off just images in the comics, of what the hand gestures would look like or the arms, and then I worked with a dancer, Jenny Wade. She’s a choreographer and dancer. So the two of us get locked up in a room together, and we move and we try and figure out what looks strong, where the energy comes from. But also, in the film, I’m having a journey of discovering how powerful she can be. So we’ve got to figure out what all those different levels are. It’s funny, because everyone’s doing stunt practices and choreography, but she and I are just doing weird moves and s*** — you know, pretending we’re making things shoot out of our hands. [Laughs] And it’s like, I can’t get injured that way, and I feel not as tough as everyone, but it’s super fun.
Question: It sounds like pure play.
Olsen: It is. It’s so playful. It’s nice to be able to have some sort of creativity and movement. It’s pretty awesome.
Question: Is it a challenge for her to try and maintain that level of power? Is she trying to maintain a level of sanity?
Olsen: I think that’s what’s so awesome about the trajectory of where she could go, potentially. In this film, it’s just the beginnings of everything. It’s all just starting.
Question: In the comics she does get really powerful. In this movie are you just learning to use your power?
Olsen: No, we made the decision that she’s already been able. We played with the idea of like, “How much can she do at the beginning of the film?” At first, it was not much, but we’ve kind of decided to have her have some understanding and strength in her her abilities. [She does grow], but there’s definitely a sense of confidence that she knows what she’s doing from the start.
Question: Can you get into all of the Avengers’ heads?
Olsen: I do that to everyone, and, yeah, I can do that to everyone.
Question: To a robot?
Olsen: I don’t think so. I don’t think that includes robots.
Question: Have you filmed scenes with the whole cast already?
Olsen: We just filmed an awesome scene, where we’re basically all in one room, [these] last few days. It’s been so cool. Aaron and I were kinda like, “This is amazing!” I can’t believe they can get all these people in one room.
Question: Do we get to see any interaction or a relationship building between Wanda and Vision?
Olsen: They’re both being introduced in this film, so I think if you’re a big fan and you know what happens, maybe you’ll start [forming] your own interpretation [of] things. But other than that, everyone’s kind of being created and born — all these new people and being added in a way.
Question: Is there humor with your character? Because she seems pretty dark.
Olsen: I think there’s humor with her brother. I think there’s a lot of humor. Jeremy Renner’s character is hilarious for some reason to me. [Laughs] He’s like a big grump. And he’s really funny. He’s always complaining — but the humor that I have [is more with my brother]. I think Pietro, his energy, we’re like yin and yang. And I think that interaction is funny, but it’s not sunny.
Question: What’s it like being a Joss Whedon female hero?
Olsen: You feel like you’re in good hands, and the cool thing is, he hasn’t been able to create these characters. He’s been given them from other directors or writers, from other franchises, and he’s been adopting — like taking what has already been created and serving them in Avengers. And in this, he’s able to create Wanda, and he’s such a huge fan of her, and it’s really awesome to get to have that. I think he is enjoying also getting to have the experience where he gets to create it, because he is such a fan of creating these strong, amazing women. It’s nice to have that. You know, there’s obviously Black Widow, but it’s nice to have another strong presence. I haven’t really been around when Scarlet was working, so I kind of feel like the only female most of the time.
Question: Does she tangle with Widow a little bit?
Olsen: A little bit, a little bit.
Question: What was your reaction when you saw what your costume would be like? Obviously we know what the character looks like in the comics, which is interesting…
Olsen: Well, the first thing Joss ever said to me before I even got the job — when we were first meeting — he said, “When you look at the images and look at the comics, know that… we’re not making you look like that. You will not have to wear a bathing suit or look like a porn star.” [Laughs] So that made me feel great. And then Alex, who is our costume designer, is really clever at being able to take the images and the iconic ideas of these characters, these comics, and adapt them to some sort of modern-day world.
Question: You’re known for smaller films. Is there really any difference with your process in working on something so big this time?
Olsen: There’s a huge difference — a massive difference — and it’s really interesting, because you get to learn a different way of working. I like having a lot of structure. I’ve always enjoyed having tons of structure, because then you can be as free as you want within it. In this, you have that structure, and you have more structure. Everything is in Joss’s head or Kevin’s head, and everyone has figured out how this is gonna go. It’s almost like a cartoon before you get there, so you have to bring this humanity and life and your own personal interpretation of everything. But it’s not like you can decide, “Oh, I’m gonna go walk over and touch that thing across the room.” You can’t do that. There are, like, six cameras set up, so it’s a totally different way of working, and you have to be so specific. You just have to do it right when they give you the opportunity to, because you don’t have a lot of opportunities. They have to keep moving with all the other setups. And then, when you do something smaller, it’s like you’re getting to exist in a room with the one camera guy and do that kind of a dance.
Question: Joss is known for altering and tweaking dialogue on the day. Has he done anything drastic with any of your dialogue or any of your stuff?
Olsen: No, no. And if there are… we’ll come on the set shooting a scene, and he’ll be like “Oh, by the way, I added a scene right before this.” And you’re like, “What?” And then that scene changes your full opinion of what you’re about to shoot. But that’s okay. You can change your mind really quickly. So that’s the only thing… Nothing that you ever feel unprepared for