Find out what Rachel House had to say about working with Taika Waititi, getting her part in Thor: Ragnarok, and the most challenging part of playing Topaz!
Interview with Rachel House
If there are two things I’ve learned from the Thor: Ragnarok press junket, it’s that actors are just people like we are and most of the time, they’re nothing like the characters they play on screen. We had the chance to do a group interview with Rachel House, who plays Topaz in Thor: Ragnarok (and voiced Gramma Tala in Moana), and the thing that stuck out most from the interview was how kind and humble she was – the total opposite of Topaz.
When Rachel first entered the room and we gave her a round of applause, she couldn’t believe we were clapping for her. She actually commented that we must be waiting for others as well because that applause couldn’t be just for her. It was!
Her Relationship with Taika Waititi
One of the things we talked about with Rachel quite a bit is that she actually has known Taika for years, and she’s been in his films before. She met Taika back when he was about 17, and she told us a bit about how they met.
“He was in a play in this little theater in Wellington, and he was the best thing about it, you know? And, um, I was a couple years older, and at drama school at the time. And, Wellington and I just, um, met him after and said, ‘You were so great. You know, thank you so much.’ And then started becoming a fan of his little crazy comedy stuff that he’d do with Jermaine and Brent, and, um, another guy called Nigel Collins.
So, I became a very big fan. From then, we just kept staying in touch. And I, I mean, I had no idea he was gonna end up being a awesome film director. He was an artist, and an actor, and a comedian.”
She went on to tell us a bit about how she got approached to be in Thor: Ragnarok in the first place.
“I got a top secret kind of audition that I had to do through my agent. And, um, she said, ‘Oh, it’s for Marvel.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’ll be Taika.’ You know, of course it will. And she went, ‘Oh yeah, of course it will.’
And, and then I was given this tiny little saying with a few lines. And then went and, did a, a tape with, you know, ‘cause it’s, New Zealand is so small, so one of my buddies, who’s a casting director, you know, he filmed, and then we sent it off. And then got a very kind of drawl, uh, email from Taika saying, ‘Oh, by the way, you got the role.’ You know, which is really lovely. I don’t know if they saw any other people.”
Who knows, maybe Taika just created the role of Topaz just for Rachel? She told us that he regularly makes her play mean characters in his films, probably because she’s just the total opposite of mean. Another example of Taika’s comedy? Ha!
She has also been called Taika’s good luck charm in the past, and it seems like she’s done it again with this film as Thor: Ragnarok opened to over $120 million in the US box offices this weekend! It’s a good thing too because Rachel was nervous about having that pressure.
“I think when you, when you put that out there, you know, you know, it can reverse. And for that I was really scared. I was like, no, because the prosthetic coming out before the film had come out, I was thinking, oh no, maybe that’s gonna, you know, implode. But, um, it, it didn’t, thank goodness.”
Thor: Ragnarok Deleted Scenes
When we asked Rachel about why she has such a tense relationship with Tessa Thompson’s character, Valkyrie, in the film, she told us that there was a lot of backstory to their relationship that was eventually cut out of the film for other things. Totally understandable since that’s not a key storyline in the movie, but I’d still love to know what really went down to cause Topaz’s immense hatred for Valkyrie!
We asked her if she had any other favorite scenes that didn’t make the final cut and one of her favorites was one with her and Jeff Goldblum doing a song together.
“I mean, I think he had a tiny little bit to kind of go with, but then he, but then he just kept expanding. You know, as you know, he is a wonderful jazz musician anyway. So, he just expanded that, and then I would, um, I was sort of his back up, really bad back up singer as well. So, that didn’t make it in, which is a bummer.”
I’m hoping that song scene, bad back up singer and all, makes the gag reel in the BluRay release next year! I think I’m probably not the only one who wouldn’t mind an entire movie’s worth of bloopers and deleted scenes in the extras!
Rachel also confirmed that while a lot of the film was improvised not as much of the improvisation made it into the final cut. Again, hoping for some incredible gag reels full of improvised scenes like the infamous one Cate Blanchett talked about in the Thor: Ragnarok press conference, calling Thor the God of Dumbo.
Topaz’s Makeup and Costume
After Chris Hemsworth joking about how it took about two hours a day to get his Thor wig put on, I was surprised to find out that Rachel’s makeup only took about an hour, especially with the warrior face markings she had going on. Honestly, I’m amazed that they can do things like that and get them perfect every time, without any noticeable changes from day to day.
Rachel did tell us though that one the most challenging things about her role in the movie was actually her costume.
“It was hard to move. And also, when we were doing that spaceship scene, like I was grr, ‘cause it’s quite stiff. It’s beautifully made. You know, the, the, the costume designer is out of this world. But it was a bit hard to move in, you know?”
Joining the Marvel Universe
We asked Rachel if she was familiar with Mavel comics or the Marvel Universe before taking on her role, or if she did much research before stepping on set. Funny enough, she did a little but hasn’t seen all the films (like Avengers) yet, but is working on catching up. She also wasn’t sure whether or not we’d be seeing Topaz again in 2018’s Infinity War.
Finally, we asked Rachel about her experience joining the Marvel Universe and whether or not it was intimidating to step into the MCU.
“Yes. I’m from New Zealand, of course it was. But you get over that really quickly. You know, when you meet people and, there, you know, there’s so many wonderful people involved in the Marvel Universe, and just meeting them. And, yeah, yeah, they’re just people. They’re just normal people, talented people. So, um, yeah, the intimidation didn’t last long.”
Definitely one of the lessons I learned during my first press junket – actors are just people, talented, and often very good-looking people. And getting the chance to interview them during the Thor: Ragnarok press junket really reminded me of that. They’re just working hard doing what they love and honestly I think hope that audiences everywhere love the work they do.
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” is now playing in theaters everywhere! 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!