This experience was all thanks to Marvel Studios and Disney, but the opinions are 100% my own.
As you likely know already, I have done a fair amount of celebrity interviews in the last few years. My recent one with Karl Urban sticks out in my mind, however, because he is the nicest guy in the world. Seriously. To paint you a picture – the Thor: Ragnarok interview room was set up with three rows of chairs, filled with 25 bloggers. When he walked into the room, he proceeded to walk up and down each row, shaking all of our hands – and looking us in the eyes as he said hi. I was blown away! I was already really looking forward to this interview, but that is the exact moment I knew it was going to be great.
Karl is Literally The Nicest Guy
The night before our interview, at the Thor: Ragnarok premiere, Karl had walked past us and we mentioned how great he was as Skurge (so good guys, SO GOOD!). That resulted in us getting high fives and waves from him. So I should have known then that he was pretty much the nicest guy in Hollywood. But he just solidified it during this interview while giving praise to his fellow actors, as well as Director Taika Waititi, time and time again. I promise you that is a reoccurring theme you will find in this interview.
How Much of Thor Was Improvised?
You may have heard by now, but we have been told by several people that a lot of Thor: Ragnarok was improvised. Karl explained why this helped make the film what it is. “Full credit to Marvel – they hired a director who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility and they actually let him do his job. There was already a brilliant foundation in the script. We would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page, then shoot a wealth of material that Taika [Waititi], quite frankly, just made up. There was nothing sacrilegious about a take – you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, ‘why don’t you say this, say this line’. [Or he would just yell out direction] and it was actually kind of liberating. You felt comfortable – there was no such thing as a bad choice – that afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to fully explore all the options.”
He then added in something that has me SUPER excited for the blu-ray with bonus features to get released. Yes, I know I am a bit ahead of myself, but I can’t help it! “I can’t wait to see the extras on this movie! The movie is funny and entertaining but I think the extras are going to be as equally entertaining and I can’t wait to see them.”
Favorite Cut Scene
Since there was a lot of improv on set, we asked Karl if there was anything in particular he wished made it in to the final cut. Without giving too much away, he let us know that there was. “Skurge’s introduction – when I’m trying to woo the young ladies. They had a whole collection of stolen stuff that Skurge had pillaged from the universe. And you only got to see one thing of me shaking the shake weight. But they had all sorts of stuff – we shot like for hours with me with fishing rods with lures in front of the girls and all sorts of crazy stuff. So I’m looking forward to seeing that [in the bonus features].”
Initial Thoughts on the Final Movie
We learned that Karl’s first time seeing the movie was with us, at the premiere (how cool is that?). So we asked him what his immediate thoughts on it were. Of course, he had nothing but good things to say about all involved. “I just feel so blessed. It was such a pleasurable experience to not only see the film with my friends and colleagues, but to see the film with an audience who were thoroughly entertained. Again, you have to give full credit to Taika and to Marvel for really producing a film that reboots Thor in a wonderful, healthy, positive way. I’m so happy for Chris [Hemsworth] that he’s finally been given the opportunity to spread his wings. I think that this film showcases his complete full potential.”
Life on Set
One thing we heard a lot was how fun Taika made life on set. Karl was no different, saying it was a lot of fun. “I can say this is one of the most fun sets that I’ve ever been on. Taika is constantly playing music in between takes. I’m so proud of him. He really handled himself with such great aplomb and I imagine it would have been a pressure cooker situation to be responsible for this behemoth movie. But he did it with such aplomb and such grace and style. And he created an environment that was not only fun, but it was focused. That’s a rarity. We worked hard. We worked some six day weeks but we worked ten hour days. We didn’t stop for lunch. So there was a constant momentum. Between that and Taika providing the sound track – it made it enjoyable.”
The Girls of Thor: Ragnarok
One of my favorite aspects of Thor: Ragnarok was all the badass women. We asked Karl if it was important to see strong women in this film. “It’s imperative. It would have been a boring movie without them. Cate [Blanchett] and Tessa [Thompson] are so wonderful in this film – they are my favorite parts of the movie. I love seeing Tessa’s swagger and the journey of her character from the dark place that she was in to redemption. I had such a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett. To be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie – the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett. I read that script and saw that ninety percent of my material was with her. I’m like where do I sign up – how much do I pay you?”
Joining the Marvel Universe
I imagine joining the Marvel Universe has got to be a big deal for actors. We asked Karl how it felt and this is what he had to say. “Being part of Marvel Univers, is an absolute pleasure. They are a wonderful collaborative company and I have a huge degree of admiration and respect for what they have done. Particularly what they have done on this film and how they’ve supported Taika. [They] really put a network around him and gave him freedom – and had the courage to let him do his job. Nobody does it better than than these guys. Many people try and copy them, but they have a formula. They are heavily aligned with the creative element of the process.”
Raising His Sons Right
Karl has two sons, ages twelve and sixteen. It is very obvious that he tries to do the right thing always, and so we asked him how he is teaching that to his boys. “I think with parenting the key is to lead by example and provide a lot of love and support. I’m also a firm believer in allowing them to fall down and make mistakes because that is ultimately the way we learn. If you can learn from somebody else’s mistake then you’re smart – but most of us learn by making mistakes. It’s wonderful to watch them grow and flourish when you don’t push them too hard. I think that’s when I’m most proud of my sons – when out of their own volition, they start to make the right choices in life.”
You may already know about the Dredd show that is in the works. We asked Karl if he is going to be a part of that – or at least would like to be. “Rebellion, who own the rights to Dredd, are in the process of developing a TV show. [It] won’t be a sequel to the movie, but it’ll be a reboot or reimagining. I’ve said to them I’m interested in reprising that role if they write a character that has a purpose and a function and there’s an emotionally compelling story. I would love the opportunity to go back and continue to explore that character. So we’ll see what they do.”
He then went on to tell us a little bit about another film he has coming up, Bent.“The movie that I’m most excited about, apart from Thor, is a film that I shot this year with Sofía Vergara, who’s so brilliant. It’s this movie called Bent that was written and directed by Bobby Moresco, who wrote Crash and Million Dollar Baby – it’s got a great pedigree. It’s a modern take on a classic noir genre. I just had the best time working with Sofía. You all know her for her comedy, which she does extraordinarily well. In this film, she plays this femme fatale – she’s going to blow people away. ”
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD*
Up until here I have kept anything that I consider to be a potential spoiler out of this article. If you don’t mind reading spoilers, then feel free to read on. If you do, maybe wait until you have seen the film before continuing on with reading this interview.
Skurge’s Character Arc
Skurge is one of my favorite characters of this film because of his character arc. We mentioned to Karl that is seemed like Skurge just wanted to be part of Thor’s group, part of the warriors three. So we asked him about it. “I got a call from Taika saying listen there’s this character in this movie that I’d love you to do. I’d wanted to work with Taika for a long time. I’m a huge fan of his work from What We Do In The Shadows, to Wilderpeople, and Boy. So already he had my half hooked right just by calling me.”
“He sent me the script and I immediately recognized that there was something profoundly emotionally compelling about [Skurge’s] journey that was eminently relatable. Here’s a character that’s put in a situation where he has to make a decision. He has to align himself with a cause that he does not believe in but it’s the only thing he can do in order to survive. I thought that was a very interesting moral dilemma. Then once he’s crossed that bridge and he realizes there is no turning back, he is looking for a way to redeem himself. What makes a character interesting is the faults and the flaws that you can understand. In this case, it’s pretty clear that [Skurge] is just trying to survive. You could see what it meant to him – his fear, his regret, his internal repulsion at what he was seeing. But he had no choice.”
The Perfect Ending
As if to end the interview the exact same way it started, as a gentleman, Karl held the door open for each and every one of us as we exited for our group photo. He truly is one amazing guy! My husband is likely Karl Urban’s biggest fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love his work too, but my husband talks about him a lot. If Karl Urban is in a movie, you better bet we will be at the theater watching it opening night. I cannot wait for him to see Karl as Skurge. I honestly think it is one of his best performances. His character has humor, some great battle scenes, and he just might show some heart too.
Thor: Ragnarok Synopsis
In Marvel Studios’ THOR: RAGNAROK, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok – the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger – the Incredible Hulk!
See Thor: Ragnarok in Theaters Nov. 3rd!
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