Find out what Thor: Ragnarok’s Karl Urban had to say about being a part of the Marvel Universe, working with Cate Blanchett, and how this film compared to working on a TV show!
Exclusive Interview with Thor: Ragnarok’s Karl Urban
The second group interview we did during the Thor: Ragnarok press event last month was with Karl Urban, the man who plays Skurge in the movie. I can’t really tell you much about Skurge in the film without giving away any spoilers, but I can tell you – Karl was nothing like his character on screen. While Skurge is kind of a villain in the film, Karl was kind, respectful, and had nothing but positive things to say. Well, about everything except his experiences working on a TV show!
One of the things that came across the most during our interview with Karl was his level of respect for everyone, including us bloggers. He walked in the door and literally walked around the room and shook every single one of our hands. This was my first set of press interviews like this, but I was assured that never happens. Never. That to me said that he actually respected us as media, a nice contrast from the famous ad libbed #BehindThisDoor comment from Mr. Tony Stark.
Throughout the interview Karl continued to impress me with his respect and admiration for not only the cast he worked with and director Taika Waititi but also for Marvel as a company. He seemed genuinely grateful to be given the chance to be a part of Thor: Ragnarok and that made me like him even more. Just such a nice guy!
Improvisation in Thor: Ragnarok
Rumors have been flying that a lot of Thor: Ragnarok is actually improvised. Director Taika Waititi actually confirmed during our group interview with him that his character, Korg, is totally improvised. Karl gave us a bit more insight into how much of the final take is actually improvised.
“You know what, I guess full credit to Marvel. They hired a director in Taika who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility, and they actually let him do his job.
And you know, there was already a brilliant foundation in the script, and we would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page and then shoot a wealth of material that Taika quite frankly just made up, and there was nothing sacriligeious about a take. You’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, oh why don’t you say this, say this line. And it’s you, or a piece of direction just yell it out. And it was actually kind of liberating, because it was, you know, it just sort of…
You felt comfortable in that you could – there was no such thing as a bad choice that, uh, there was nothing precious about it. And I think that really kind of afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to, you know, fully explore all the options. I can’t wait to see the extras on this movie, I mean it’s like 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.”
When we asked him what he thought of the final cut (he saw it for the first time with us at the red carpet premiere), Karl told us,
“Oh I just you know what it was, I 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 and were, you know – again you have to give full credit to Taika and Marvel for really producing a film that I think reboots Thor in a wonderful healthy positive way. And I’m so happy for Chris that he’s actually finally been given the opportunity to spread his wings. I think that this film showcases his complete full potential. And everyone is allowed to bring it.”
Watching the first ever world premiere of Thor: Ragnarok in that theater was seriously incredible, but until Karl answered that question, I didn’t realize that watching the movie with an audience full of people like me (just big fans!) for the first time was probably almost as thrilling for the cast as me getting to watch the movie in the theater with the actors. Almost.
The Energy on the Set of Thor: Ragnarok & Being Part of Marvel
When a fellow blogger asked Karl what kind of energy he brought to the set, specifically asking if he listened to any music to prepare, he again brought it back to talk about someone other than himself and pay a compliment to director Taika Waititi. His response was actually similar to another response he gave to a question during the Thor: Ragnarok press conference later that day!
“You know, 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 you know, 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. And that’s a rarity.”
He also gave us a little insight into what it’s like being a part of the Marvel Universe.
“Being part of the Marvel Universe is an absolute pleasure, they are a wonderful collaborative company. And I just have a huge degree of admiration and respect for what they have done. And then particularly what they have done on this film and how they’ve supported Taika and really put a network around him and gave him the freedom and had the courage to let him do his job.
It’s oh, that’s what nobody does it better than these guys. And many people try and copy them, but they’ve got a formula and they are heavily aligned with the creative element of the process. And I think that’s to their benefit.”
Karl isn’t the only one who mentioned the collaborative and creative nature of Marvel. That also came up a handful of times during the press conference later that day and during our interview with Kevin Feige a few hours later! I had no idea Marvel was actually so hands on in the creative process, no wonder their movies are all so good!
Strong Women in Thor: Ragnarok
One of my favorite moments of the entire interview was when we asked Karl how he felt about having such strong women characters in the movie with Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett as Hela.
“I think it would have been a boring movie without them, to think you know, Cate and Tessa are so wonderful in this film, they are my favorite parts of the movie, and I love seeing Tessa’s swagger.
And then I had such a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett. I mean to be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie, it was the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett. I read that script and saw ninety percent of my material was with her, I’m like where do I sign up, how much do I pay you?”
Working on a Marvel Film Compared to TV
The last set of questions for Karl were surrounding a possible Judge Dredd TV show, what movies he’s working on now, and the difference between working on a TV show and a movie. This was the only point in the interview where Karl had anything negative to say, in his words,
“The last television project I did was a few years ago, and I found that to be quite grueling. You know, quite often working seventeen hour days six days a week. I loved working with the cast and crew on that, but it wasn’t my most pleasurable experience. Tactfully, diplomatically put, it sucked, but I don’t believe all television is like that. It was just my particular experience on that production.
That being said, actually working on this film was a sheer pleasure, and we worked hard. We worked some six day weeks, but we worked ten hour days, we didn’t stop for lunch. And so there was a constant momentum, and so between that sort of demand, and we had a limited amount of time to get it, and with Taika providing the soundtrack, it made it enjoyable.”
Karl’s character Skurge has one of the best storylines in all of Thor: Ragnarok! I touched on it briefly in my Thor: Ragnarok movie review, but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out! If you don’t have your tickets yet, it’s time to buy them. It technically comes out on November 3rd, but showings start tonight at 7PM across the country. We’ll be at the 7PM showing!
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! “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017. Watch the latest trailer below then read my spoiler-free full review of Thor: Ragnarok here.
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THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters everywhere November 3rd!