Movie audiences first got a taste of Captain Marvel after the end credits of Avengers: Infinity War, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) paged her after Thanos executed his plan to cut the universe’s population in half. In Captain Marvel, we see how Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) met Fury in 1995.
Danvers returns to Earth after living with the Kree for six years. She reconnects with her old Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) while trying to send a signal for Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) to come find her. The cast of Captain Marvel was at a press conference with directors Anna Bolden and Ryan Fleck and Dream Alliance was there to hear about the latest Marvel movie. Captain Marvel opens March 8.
Q: Brie, why did you love Captain Marvel?
BL: There’s a lot to love about her which is why I was really excited to do this, and particularly the idea of playing a superhero and a female superhero, particularly because my interest is in female complexity, I was a little worried about playing a superhero that would be perfect because I don’t feel like that’s realistic or something aspirational at all. In particular, even with my job, you get to see this beautiful finished product where I look great, maybe in your opinion, but you don’t know all the other takes that are on the cutting room floor where sometimes I physically landed on my face doing stunts. Sometimes I just do a bad take. That’s just how it goes, so getting to play a character where the whole character arc and turn of this is watching her be this major risk taker, which means it’s not always going to work out the best. Those are the moments that define the moments of her character, where she doesn’t lay down. She gets back up. That’s everything. That’s for everybody. There isn’t a person who can’t relate to that, I don’t think.
Q: Was all the ‘90s nostalgia and music cues in the script?
RF: Yeah, we started ,we made a big playlist at the beginning of the movie and we shared it with the crew and some of the cast. Some of the songs are in the movie but it was really just in post, we put the scenes together, threw songs in and see what stuck. It was very much a collaboration with Kevin [Feige] and the whole team at Marvel, figuring out which songs worked the best. I actually worked at a Blockbuster in 1995 so it brought back a lot of memories being on that set.
AB: I was a big candy eater in the ‘90s so do you remember those little kangaroo things, Dunkaroos?
BL: Yes, frosting! Which flavor? Which flavor?
AB: I liked the vanilla with a little chocolate. Anyway, you don’t eat enough in the movie so basically we couldn’t get those Dunkaroos in.
Q: Sam, what did you like about playing the ‘90s Nick Fury?
SLJ: Sort of a kinder, gentler, not so cynical, world weary, chip on his shoulder Nick Fury who hadn’t met anyone from another universe just yet. Sort of looking at a crazy lady trying to figure out why she thinks she’s an alien, what all that means. It was kind of fun to not be the all knowing, angry persuader that Nick Fury always is. Even more refreshing to have two eyes so I didn’t have to cover one eye when I was learning all my lines.
Q: How did you work with the de-aging technology?
SLJ: Not a real on set process. They put a wig on me and they put dots on my face so I felt like I was in Wakanda. They started exploring different things I had done before so they could use facial expressions that were already there. Fortunately for me, I’d done three movies before this one so they had something to refer to. It was cool. It was just me and dots on my face.
Q: Jude, did your teenager or young kids get excited you were going to be in a Marvel movie?
JL: Oh no, they cared. But they cared only in the vernacular as teenage kids. It was like, “Yeah, it’s cool.” That was quite high on the richter scale. They saw it this week and then there’s a screening next week in London, the fact that they all want to come again is high praise.
Q: Lashana, how did you campaign to be in a Marvel movie?
LL: I am a Marvel fan so I’ve grown up watching them, loving the characters and enjoying the trajectories. I just had a feeling that something would come up. So I’d send tapes, send tapes and send tapes. They all didn’t work out for a reason. They didn’t work out because I feel like energetically I was drawn towards something that represents something that I care about. So I campaigned, of course I did.
Q: What do you think drew Carol and Maria together in the beginning?
LL: What drew you to me?
BL: So powerful.
LL: Same to you. They’re both military so they come from male dominated environments where they were drawn towards women anyway. They would find power in whoever they found connections to. I think they had a sarcasm together. The best thing about how Brie’s represented Carol is that she’s just a normal person. She’s able to be every facet of what a woman represents today. Sarcastic, dry, funny, kick down different parts of the universe so I feel like Maria embodies that in a very human way. She’s there to just be a kind, good person.
BL: I think you’re right. I think what they’ve gone through together, going through military training together, being the only women and then using each other to lean on each other through that type of support and recognition of their experience is really special. Of course, I think they would have been friends outside of that experience but I think that that’s a really tight knit bond that they have and they’re family. That’s kind of what we’re talking about in this film is without being too showboaty about it, this is the love of the movie. This is the great love. This is the love lost. This is the love found again. This is the reason to continue fighting and to go to the ends of the earth, for the person or thing that you love. It’s her best friend and her best friend’s daughter which to me is so natural. I don’t think there’s at any point, I went and saw the movie with some people, and it was like an hour later where they were like, “Oh, Maria’s the love.” I’m like, yeah. So it’s not like something that we made a big deal about, but it just feels so natural because that love is so strong and not just – if I’m going to brag about Lashana for a second because I love it – it’s like the movie shifts once she’s on screen because there’s a level of power that she commands in that. I was talking to people yesterday and a lot of people were tearing up talking about some of the speeches that you give because they were like, “I felt like she was talking to me. She was reminding me of myself.” Hello, that’s amazing. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
Q: Gemma, did you get to do any sniper school?
GC: I did. I had to learn how to crawl with a rifle. I did all the drills. There’s an amazing stunt team that Marvel had and they help you look like you know what you’re doing because I didn’t.
Q: What is everyone’s favorite ‘90s thing you wish would come back.
RF: VHS tapes.
AB: Pay phones because then I wouldn’t have to check my e-mail all the time.
GC: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
BL: That’s so deep. He is very passionate about laserdisc, by the way. Butterfly clips.
JL: I’m a big fan of the band The Verve. They were The Verve and then they were just Verve.
LL: R&B. Just R&B.
Q: What was the biggest lesson you took away from making this film?
LL: Mine was my forever appreciation for single mothers. who don’t get enough light shone on them ever. So to be able to have the opportunity to represent them and say a universal thank you for your work was really special actually. I kind of went to my mom and other moms I know afterwards and was like, “Can I just say thanks for anything that you’ve done that last however many years?” It really goes a long way just to say thank you daily. Then they’re able to feed back to other mothers and say, “We’re actually actually doing the right job. We’re actually enough.” That’s what I’ve taken away.
JL: I think you always take away the experience of meeting new people, every job you do. That’s one of the blessings of the jobs we have. You work with a whole new group of people. I think that’s always a blessing.
BL: I realized that I was stronger than I realized, which was crazy because I knew I was really strong.
SLJ: I walked away thinking my friend, the movie star, is crossing over into new space. It’s going to be awesome.
SLJ: Your anonymity is gone.
BL: Sam’s having a front row seat to this. He was there for the Oscar stuff too. He’s just always in the corner.
GC: I now know that if you’re going to play a blue character you have to go to work at three AM.
AB: I think I realized over the course of making this movie that I’m, as a person, kind of more comfortable hiding and not being seen. Literally, I just remembered the story of how Ryan and I, when we made our first short film together and we were at Sundance and we won an award. We got up on stage and I literally, literally hid behind him. It’s on tape somewhere. I think this process, the whole process has helped me be more confident in my voice and comfortable. I’m not very comfortable right now but a little bit more comfortable being seen.
RF: For me, I’ve always known this but I learned just how kickass my directing partner is. She’s awesome.
Q: How does having more voices inform the way you bring these characters to life?
BL: It’s an interesting question because it’s not so specific as that. I’m not going to do anything for a specific reaction. I’m just doing what I can do based upon my experience and my one body, which is why representation on screen is so important because not one of us can tell the entire story. We can only tell our piece of it. But with films like this that do end up going international, a lot of the time smaller movies, you don’t know. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It means you get to have a really extensive conversation with movies like this and I’m so grateful that this film has so many pockets in it. If you want to just enjoy it, you totally can but there are a lot of aspects to it that I think are worth talking with your friends about, talking with your family about. So when you have a multi-cultural global conversation like that, I think it allows all of us, through the veil of metaphor of a film to be able to reveal some deeper truths and maybe empathize in a new way.
Q: Did you go through a military training?
LL: Yes, I was able to take some military training. Flying an F16 is like your eyeballs coming out of the sockets and landing in your back pocket. That was great. I can’t liken it to anything else but that. It’s wonderful to be able to be an actor and just add these different experiences and skills to your repertoire. It was nice to just have the military welcome me into their environment and feel really noticed, for the women to be really uplifted through the MCU. I think it’s such a special moment of two type of worlds that really mesh well together. So I feel like I’m not only representing women, I’m representing black women, I’m representing single mothers and we’re representing all women in the military. That’s pretty damn special.
Q: How was working with the cat? Are you a cat person?
SLJ: No, I’m not a cat person but I’m also not a dog or a fish person either. I don’t engage pets. Reggie is like most animals that people bring to set that have been trained to do this, that or the other. They’re snack oriented. Give him something to eat, he shows up. Give him something to eat, talk softly and nice to him, give him something to eat again, they love it. It works out. There were actually four cats but Reggie did the majority, the heavy lifting most of the time. He was great to be around. She had more problems than I did because she has a cat allergy.
BL: Not personally. I’m severely allergic. It was not diva like we couldn’t work together.
SLJ: We didn’t hang out between shots. Nobody was walking around carrying Reggie around. We gave him back to the people that owned him and let him be in his own space. We sent him back to his own trailer.
AB: Just to be clear, the other three cats were more like Reggie’s stunt doubles.
SLJ: Exactly, they weren’t so people friendly.
BL: So it was Gonzo, Rizzo, Archie.
Q: Was there any temptation not to use a live cat?
AB: There was something about getting a cat to do what he normally does. It was part of the struggle of having a very well trained, very directable cat on screen is that sometimes we just wanted him to do the random thing that a cat’s going to do like lick his paw or go rub up against somebody. So we sometimes had to suggest to the trainer, “Maybe we just let him do his thing for a little while” because there’s something about the spontaneity of what an animal can do. I feel like it was worth it. I’m not going to say Reggie did literally everything in the movie. For instance, there’s a moment where he’s being held by the scruff and we did not do anything to him.
Q: Coming from indie movies, what was the learning curve doing a big visual effects movie?
RF: I think in the early conversations with Kevin and Brie, what we wanted to bring to this story is a continuation of the things we’ve done with our other movies which is an intimacy and character focused storytelling. The visual effects were challenging at first for us but we’re working with the best in the business here. They’ve done one or two of these movies before we got here and we were in good hands. We were able to lean on them and work very collaboratively with the VFX team and learn how that works. They were patient with us and it was wonderful. I can’t think of a better studio to take that leap with. They’re just the best collaborators at Marvel and really let us tell the story we wanted to tell.