When I was in Los Angeles last month for the Avengers: Age of Ultron press event, we had the chance to sit down and interview Jeremy Renner and Cobie Smulders on their roles as Hawkeye/Clint Barton and Agent Maria Hill.
[SPOILER WARNING…there are some spoilers below if you haven't seen the film, you may not want to continue reading…]
I love when the talent walks into the room and they ask how we are. It's such a nice warm welcome and start to the conversation. It’s also fun when they joke about “no pressure” when the PR rep announces the last question for the group interview. What's also pretty funny and a way to know you are definitely going to have a good interview with great energy is when Cobie Smulders and Jeremy Renner walk into your interview and Jeremy Renner instantly notes that he’s the fox in the hen house.
Jeremy: Ooh, I feel like a fox in the hen house.
Cobie: How's everyone doing? There's two men here. I see two men, right? Represent. That's fantastic.
Jeremy: You’ve all seen the movie? We’re talking about the movie? Okay. All right.
On Hawkeye being a role model for dads
Jeremy: As far as a role model, I don't know. Those are always, hard to talk to. I think you’d have to ask my daughter if I’m a good daddy role model.
I think it’s a cool aspect to the character that was brought up. It was brought up actually for the first Avengers, but not even nearly as cool because they were gone. And but in this one, it’s a fantastic sort of reveal that he's a daddy. And that's what he fights for. I think it’s a very emotional thing, and for me personally it’s a very emotional thing. I think just in general that audiences can kind of grab on to that, ‘cause it’s something very real.
On being a strong female agent and filming with a very male cast and a lot of testosterone
Cobie: There is a lot. It’s very fun. It’s interesting because people talk about that a lot with these films that there's few females, and it’s a male driven film. But maybe it’s because this is our second one, we all get along so well; I don't feel that divide on set. All the guys are really great and nice and handsome, every single one of them, some more than others.
But it is fun. We have some other strong females, Scarlett and now Lizzie. And it’s just nice seeing more women coming into these films.
Jeremy: It’s good for us too. Seriously. I mean I love Hemsworth. But, you know…
When we talked about the first Avengers in New York, you had said that you thought that you were just gonna be serving coffee in the very beginning. So you’ve been in several movies since then. So how did you feel about entering the role for this movie?
Cobie: Well, I feel like I might still be making coffees. But at Stark Tower it’s a really nice espresso machine, so it’s really fancy coffees. No, I don't think I’m serving coffees anymore. It’s really cool. In the comic books Maria Hill has her own story line, and she's very smart. She's very independent. She's very controlling, and it’s cool to see how now that this team is sort of under Tony’s protection and sort of funded by him, how that's working in terms of privatizing security and her dealing with that. So it’s fun to sort of be a part of the team, but also to be managing everybody as well—or trying to anyway.
Did you have a favorite scene to shoot for the film?
Jeremy: I don't believe in favorites. I think they're all equally torturous and wonderful.
Cobie: I shot all of my scenes in the tower, in the Avengers Tower now it’s called. I’m sure you guys all saw the movie. How amazing was that set? And it was all one set. I mean anytime that anyone was in the lab that was still on the same set.
And where Tony was working on his suits was right below it. And then the bar was just a few feet away, thank goodness. To me, it was really cool to play all these scenes out in one location. And it really sort of helped with performance as well.
How do you/how did you physically prepare for the movie? What was the hardest scene for you both to film?
Jeremy: You know, we train. We’re in the gym lifting weights, hurting our bodies. They're all quite difficult I think. The first scene we shot was the end of the movie in Italy where the chaos is going. When there's a lot of moving parts, that's where it gets a little tricky. And then the moving parts aren't really there in real life. So that's a little trickier. You're stabbing things with arrows that don't exist, and then firing arrows that don't exist to things that don't exist.
It’s a little tricky to be precise with it and the camera angles. It’s just technical. That makes it quite difficult 'cause all the moving parts. But to me I think it’s fun because it’s like a dance, and there's a technique to all that stuff. But it is quite arduous.
Cobie: Training. I mean every time these movies come up, a couple months before you start working out. I did a few stunts in this one, not as much as the Superheroes in the film. But it’s good to get in shape. And in terms of the most difficult scene, I feel like in this movie there's a lot of scenes where we’re all in the scene together—
Jeremy: Those are all difficult scenes, right?
Cobie: We, yes, we have a lot of fun together. So it’s a hard group to wrangle, as well. But, these scenes take multiple days to shoot 'cause there's so much coverage. So on the third day you're like, “Wait, what are we doing?” And “What is the scene?” And “What did I say?” And you sort of feel like you're in this Groundhogs Day where you're doing the same thing over, but you're trying to remember exactly how you did it the day before, and so that's challenging. I mean, that's not a hard thing, but it can get a little bit tiring at times.
Jeremy, you had a bigger role in this movie. I have a feeling that as soon as it comes out, and all the kids see it and all the parents see it that your character’s just going to explode. I can see it being big. How do you feel about that? Are you ready for that?
Jeremy: I don't know what that ultimately means. I mean, I think the greatest thing that I get out of this whole experience of being in this giant movie and the one prior, is artistically it doesn’t really hit a lot of nerves in my body. But certainly as soon as a 5-year-old ran up to me, that changed the game. I’m like, “Oh, wow, I have a 5-year-old fan.” And that's amazing. And then here comes his dad in the same costume. A little creepy. That's the creepy part. But like when the little kids come on up to you—God, it just crushes me. And I mean, I’ll stop and do anything for a little creature, man. I’m crazy about them. So I welcome it, I guess, is the short answer. I welcome that. If it’s the little kids. The grown ass people, stay out of the costume, man. Come on, I love you. I’ll see you at Comic-Con. That's okay then. We’re at Starbucks, dude. You know what I mean? I’m not kidding. “We just happened to be in costume.” Yeah, really? This is like a mommy and me class. This is amazing. Trust me, I’ve been to them. Like the mister mommy and me. It’s awesome.
Where do you want to see each of your character’s go in the subsequent movies?
Cobie: There’s so many different directions. There's a plethora of comic books and cartoons and all these things that they could pull from. So for me personally it’s hard to say. I mean it’d be cool to learn more about Marie Hill’s past and sort of how she came to be, where she is. It’s hard to say. It’s very much under Marvel’s control. And they're very great at choosing great story lines. So we’ll see.
Jeremy: I have a lot of ideas, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. I think the relationships are kind of what are interesting in this world with others, and I’d just like to see the new ones start and others fade or whatever and deepen. I think that’d be interesting. That's what I’d be curious about the next upcoming ones.
On Agent Maria Hill’s shooting skills
Cobie: She always hits him. I mean it’s like magic. That's the great thing about being in these movies. You can shoot over here and that guy dies. Always hit your mark. It’s very exciting.
We get to see that even on S.H.I.E.L.D. And we also get to see that in movies. Do you get to go to the gun range and maybe practice before filming?
Cobie: I did a lot of that for the first one. I did a lot of training 'cause I was actually quite terrified of guns. So I did a lot of that. I kind of got over that fear through doing the first one. And then the second one, you always have a day or two with whichever crew member is sort of in charge of that, to do some training beforehand. So I did that. But like I said, it’s very much just shoot in this direction. I hope I look like I knew what I was doing. Most of the training came the first time around.
So we got to see Hawkeye at home. And I think we’re all ready for Maria Hill at home. Do you have an idea of what you think Maria Hill is doing when she's off, if she ever really is off?
Cobie: Oh I feel like she sleeps in the Avenger’s Tower, like her desk just kind of converts into a bed. And she gets her 2 hours. And then she springs back up and gets back to work.
I don't think she gets a lot of time off. I don't think she has much of a personal life. It’d be an interesting thing to explore for sure. I don't think that she's getting out into the world very often.
Avengers: Age of Ultron—New Trailer
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is now playing in theatres everywhere!
I've been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.
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