Talking Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen
Brother and sister twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, are two noteworthy Marvel characters introduced in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron movie opening in theatres Friday, May 1. Our group of bloggers had a chance to sit down and interview AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON & ELIZABETH OLSEN about their roles as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. From running and dancing to Godzilla and joining an established cast, read on to learn more about what that had to say.
You did a lot of running, and obviously some of it’s special effects, but did you have to really do a lot of running?
JOHNSON: Yeah. That was pretty much what I did all day long. You know, it was like, if in doubt, run. Yeah, all the special effects is sped up. If Lizzie was in the scene, I’d run up to her. We’d shoot that. We did the dialogue, and then we’d have to do a plate afterwards where she’d step out, and I’d do the run up, and then they would speed that bit up. It’s like a plate shot, even though you wouldn’t really know because it goes so quick. But yeah, all the running where there’s a blur it was me behind it.
On the audition process and where they were when they found out they got the roles?
OLSEN: We actually didn’t have an audition process. We both met with Joss separately. [Aaron] met with him before I did, and we were about to shoot Godzilla when we both met. We finished filming Godzilla, and then we both that summer got a phone call that was like, “You guys got the parts.” It was really crazy and exciting, and Aaron and I were really excited that we got to work with each other again.
JOHNSON: Stepping onto the set—it's such a big ensemble—it seemed kind of daunting. To step on with Lizzie—we already had that kind of work relationship—made it feel a lot more comfortable.
What attracted them most to the roles of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch?
OLSEN: I'm a fan of Marvel already. I didn’t know who Scarlet Witch was beforehand, and then Joss [Whedeon] was telling me about her. We both asked for a lot of research on our characters, and they gave us every comic book page that both of our characters have ever been on, and it was this huge stack. I think she’s one of the coolest characters in the entire universe of Marvel, largely because of the House of M series because she’s the most powerful person in the entire universe, X Men and Avengers combined. I think she’s really nuts. It’s a lot to play with because it’s a lot of psychological stuff instead of just physical.
JOHNSON: Obviously they have really cool super powers, but I really wanted to explore who the character was behind Quicksilver and Pietro. He needed Scarlet Witch because they balance on each other. They’re twins and they’re very much ying and yang in the way their personalities are. He might be quick in speed, so he’s kind of quick in temperament, in a way kind quick witted, kind of hotheaded, and impatient and all those things. I wanted to play around with that, especially balancing against her kind of more thoughtful, slower, more emotional nurturing side with him.
So it kind of gave us a sense of insecurity when they weren't with each other, or kind of vulnerability. All they had was each other. So we kind of played around with everything that we could visually see, what we could read, and that was kind of fun. And Marvel was really open to suggestions and ideas and wanted to do those characters justice so it felt very collaborative very early on.
What was the most emotionally challenging scene to shoot?
OLSEN: The one that was the hardest one for me was when Scarlet Witch, when she can see what’s gonna happen if the world is in Ultron's hands, if Ultron has control over the Vision. Because a lot of times my character just had to respond to something that is not existent most of the time ‘cause it just like, “Boop,” popped into her head and no one else felt it but I did. So then I have to have some humongous reaction that is coming from nothing, and so that always just kind of feels stupid, until you really just go for it. There are a couple of moments where I had to be like, “Oh, I just got this new information,” and that kind of feels funny.
In the movie we see Scarlet Witch put on the red jacket. Will she have more elaborate costume? If you don’t know yet, do you have something in mind that you’d like to see yourself wearing?
OLSEN: We create a more elaborate costume for the very last moment of the film. Whether or not that’s gonna be continued, I don’t know.
JOHNSON: It’s an implication and of a potential where to go with it. I think they create that.
OLSEN: It’ll definitely not be a leotard. That’s for sure.
Since basically all of your powers are special effects, how was it for you to act out those parts where you’re just kind of staring?
OLSEN: Well, you know what? It’s actually really fun because a lot of people have stunt doubles and my stuff is like a dance kind of, and so I can’t have a stunt double come in and do that. So I was always doing everything whereas, I didn’t have to do a triple-flip-back-kick situation, but I always got to be in control over my character’s body movements, which was cool. And it was fun because there’s no blueprint to how Scarlet Witch moves ‘cause you just see these like awesome finger, hand gestures and these circular red things.
I worked with a movement coach, and she and I watched Joss’s version of Scarlet Witch, and that was really enjoyable to watch ‘cause he would do the motions and we would interpret it into our own thing but it was really fun. It was really fun to work with the dancer on something like that, and it adds a different visual element to the fighting. And it also felt a little funny because you’re like, “I'm not making contact with anything.” Literally, zero contact. So you just kind of trust that you’re gonna put a robot where my eyes are or something. There’s a lot of trust that goes in when you have special effects that I wasn’t used to, and then after seeing the movie I was like, “Ah ha, now I'm comfortable.”
You said that when you came onto the set with you guys working together before that made it easy, but what was it like coming out to the set with the established cast?
JOHNSON: Yeah, that was kind of the initial thing of like, “Oh, god everybody knows each other. This is like their fourth or fifth movie playing these characters. They’re pretty comfortable in that kind of situation and with each other and just understand the whole kind of the mechanics of it ‘cause, you know, this movie is such a machine, you know. It just keeps going and going and you know, you’re a small piece to the Rubric’s Cube, and they said that you just have to trust with these guys but you’ve seen the quality of movies they’ve done before so, you know, you can have trust, but it’s just you don’t quite understand.”
But it feels slightly daunting, but it sort of very quickly becomes like a very kind of family environment, you know, they’ve set up over the years, and very comfortable with one another so it feels relaxed and chill. It’s just a lot of fun, and once you have a laugh with them you know it’s kind of cool, and you can kind of think about what you’re doing rather than kind of observing like, “Wow, this is pretty effing cool and overwhelming and surreal.” It’s kind of crazy but yeah, it was good.
With Lizzie it’s just like our characters are kind of combined, so I can kind of rely on her and vice versa. In those situations, we kind of feel slightly uncomfortable around the Avengers anyway, you know, so early on that we’re kind of outsiders anyway. So I think it also kind of played with it, you know what I mean?
What was it like going form playing a vigilante with essentially real superpowers in Kickass to an Avenger with actual superpowers?
JOHNSON: It’s a lot more fun having powers, for sure. I mean it’s good fun. They’re both really different characters with different dynamics, but it’s a lot of fun having powers and doing these fight sequences. Visually anyway, it’s the most exciting for me to see all of your favorite superheroes all fighting together as a team, and they all have their different skill sets and they also collide onto set with each other. It’s amazing to watch, but also it’s amazing to do.
We had the final fight sequence in Sokovia, which was this epic 2- or 3-week long shoot where they found a site that they were gonna bulldoze anyway with these towers, and they pretty much did exactly that for them, blew up buildings and smashed up cars and the stunts that are involved are guys that do parkour and they’re gymnasts and it’s just the most incredible thing to be around and you just live off of that high.
Avengers: Age of Ultron—New Trailer
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON opens in theatres everywhere on May 1st!
I've been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.