In the aftermath of Fantastic
critical reaction hasn't exactly been glowing. From established critics
to the blogosphere, from the Rotten
to serious fan-geeks, this Fantastic
Four re-imagining hasn't fared
well — though maybe it is an overreaction, given the huge expectations
developed by a fan base 50 years in the making.
Kirby and writer Stan
Lee's creation, Fantastic Four number one,
appeared in November,
Comics barely existed. DC
Comics — home of Superman and Batman
— defined the superhero genre at the time. So there was
a need to go against the grain with heroes that did not necessarily
relish having powers, ones that were bestowed upon them accidentally.
The Four's real powers were their brains, quality of character and
determination to both be normal and/or use the powers for something
other than themselves. Their nemesis, Dr.
Doom, was the embodiment of fury and self-obsession.
groundswell that made Fantastic Four a benchmark in comic book
history — and the core series in Marvel's history — also built up a
level of anticipation that was not rewarded with 20th
Century Fox's first cinematic edition of Fantastic
Four or its sequel, Fantastic
4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Released in 2005 and 2007,
these two tried but didn't quite establish both the grand mythos or the
quirky charm of the longstanding printed series. Its cast — older,
established actors Ioan
Alba and Chris
Evans — tried but didn't quite succeed in convincing
audiences of their super-ness.
when the quartet of leads who play this Four — Miles
Invisible Woman), Michael
B. Jordan (Johnny
Human Torch), and Jamie
came to an Apple
Store to do a Q&A just before the new film's opening,
they offered some insight into the making of this new-gen Fantastic
Four. In doing so, they gave the audience a sense of the film's
creation and the dynamic the cast developed to make it work for them.
being rebooted, this film deviates from the core origin storyline by
making their visit not into outer space but to another dimension and
offers a far more sinister and deadly Victor
Von Doom (played by Toby
Kebbell). Much of the blame has been laid at the feet of
everyone: from the studio, to the director Josh
Trank and/or producers or even some of the performances.
Yet this cast has shown a pretty enthusiastic belief in their
performances and how they were making the best of it all for the release
of this film.
has been said about the film since its opening, no one can fault the
cast's credits in establishing acting chops and opportunities to try on
a range of characters.
the four, Teller's been in the spotlight most recently having had lead
roles in two critically acclaimed films — 2013's The
Spectacular Now and last year's award nominee Whiplash.
He's also portrayed Peter
Hayes in the commercially successful Divergent series
and will headline the upcoming biopic Bleed for
This, playing boxer Vinny
Jordan has also culled some serious accolades, particularly for his
performance as shooting victim Oscar
Grant in the award-worthy Fruitvale
Station. But he also built his own fan base through
a couple of high profile, gritty television series, Friday
Night Lights (as East
Dillon High School
Howard) and The
Wire (as teenage dealer Wallace).
He also played Steve
Montgomery in FF's director Trank's
debut scifi thriller Chronicle,
and, costarred alongside
Zac Efron and Teller
in 2014's That
Jamie Bell has shuttled between copping serious creds playing Revolutionary
War spy Abraham
Woodhull in the TV series, Turn:
Washington's Spies and a set of genre-based vehicles
such as 2005's King
Adventures of Tintin (2011),
the futuristic Jumper (2008),
produced by FF's Simon
Kinberg (there's a sequel underway) and the much
praised Snowpiercer (2013).
An English actor and dancer, this 29-year old rose to prominence in his
Elliot (he won the BAFTA for Best
Actor in a Leading Role in 2000).
While Kate Mara hasn't been in the action spotlight of her younger
sister Rooney who
starred in Girl
With The Dragon Tattoo, she's made her mark as a
character actor in the Netflix political
of Cards as Zoe
Barnes, appeared in the Fox series 24 as
computer analyst Shari
Rothenberg and was in the FX horror
Horror Story: Murder House as Hayden
McClaine. The 32-year-old actress made her film debut
in 1999 with Random
Hearts and was cast in 2005's Brokeback
Nonetheless, despite the disparaging reviews and advance notice swirling
around them, this quartet was enthused by that day's fan ballyhoo and
this Q&A was culled from that event. Excelsior.
This is a different, darker, more serious spin on the superhero genre in
general and Fantastic Four in particular. Are you playing Sue Storm or
are you playing a "superhero?"
This was a unique superhero film screen test, for me, anyway, because
I've screen tested for many of them and never got any roles,
unfortunately. But with all the other ones I've auditioned for, you have
to get in costume and do the powers and all that. This one was more
about the chemistry between Miles, Jamie, Michael and I. It didn't feel
like any other drama or film I auditioned for.
Fantastic Four is a beloved property in a genre that has good standing
right now in pop culture. Everyone has been excited for this film and
the other superhero films coming out right now. Michael, did you go
after this, or did its producers come after you?
Michael B. Jordan:
I'm in a unique position because this is something I've always wanted to
do, but it came at me. It was a great opportunity to work with
[director] Josh Trank [who had worked with Jordan on his debut sci-fi
super-powered Chronicle]. We were playing video and sitting in
the house one day talking about future ambitions, and he asked me if I
wanted a job and if Johnny Storm is someone I wanted to play. I said,
"Yeah." It was an awesome opportunity and I'm glad it worked out.
Miles, were you able to see yourself in this context when you heard
about this character and read about him? It's different from other roles
I have pretty eclectic taste and that's a good thing to have. You want
to keep yourself fresh; you don't want to repeat yourself. I had just
got done playing a character that's closer to Johnny's thing, [one with]
a bit more of a temper.
wouldn't have interested me at the time. But I was into this guy who's
obsessed with science and discovery — wanting to push the human race
forward. I love that kind of spirit in Reed. He doesn't care about
whether or not this person likes me or if they think I'm weird, no, man.
He's dead set on creating something that will give us the ability to
travel inter-dimensionally [no matter what], and I like that [attitude].
Jamie, you've done motion capture performances before. Could you have
done this role without having that knowledge and experience going in?
Well, I've worked a few times with Andy
Serkis, who's considered a guru of performance capture.
For those who don't know him, he did Gollum in Lord
of the Rings and Caesar in Rise
of the Planet
of the Apes. I had seen how Andy really used this
technology to his advantage and really got under the skin of these
characters, and [was able to] move audiences around the world and give
them these experiences. Having worked with him before on Tintin,
that technology was useful.
does it look like on set when the scene is in another dimension and
you're playing The Thing, which is not a suit, but it is performance
capture. Are you in a void? What does it look like?
just a green void. It's green, everything is green. The floor's green,
the wall is green, everything is green.
Jamie's suit was green as well.
basically in pajamas that look like a jockey with a wig cap on. I got
[to wear] stilts to get me up to 6'8". But the funny thing about that is
that I'm in scenes with these guys.... For us it's a leap of faith in
terms of acting. We're in an environment and then reacting as such. Then
it's going to be put on the screen. We really have to have a lot of
faith and trust in the director and the story so we don't look like
idiots when the movie comes out.
Earlier this summer, with another big movie
actress Elizabeth Olson [Scarlet Witch] said she had to do what you had
to do, create something with her hands. You just have to go with it. Do
you feel silly on set, or do you feel like, "I'm in it with these guys,
I can't half-ass it."
The first day I thought I felt like an idiot, but then you have to own
it. You got to go for it. Also, we all had to do stupid things, so any
time I felt stupid I just looked at Jamie.
What were the stupid things Miles and Michael had to do?
It was a scene — I think they show it in the trailer — they were trying
to get this one line. I was saying, "The light, it's swallowing the
earth!" Every time we'd do it they just didn't get it. So they'd
re-write it or add a scene. I would just be in a different environment
saying, "The light! it's swallowing the earth!" We did it in three
different scenes. After a while I'm just like, "Screw the light. Let the
earth get swallowed, it's not a big deal." And the stretching stuff,
it's all in your imagination. When I'm on the bed and my body is
stretching, Josh was walking me through it, saying, "Your hand is
stretching down and going to this grate and your fingers are grabbing
it." It's nice. It takes you out of your head and you just have to give
in to the process.
Michael, you play a superhero that flies. Did you have to work on your
Michael B. Jordan:
You want to have your own unique style with this, so I played with a
couple different poses and I went with what I was most comfortable with.
With those safety harnesses and flying harnesses, they aren't as
comfortable to the males as they are to the females, what with the way
the anatomy is made up, if you follow me. So that was the most
uncomfortable part of the movie, the flying stuff and the harnesses.
How many of your costumes were CGI or actual outfits?
The wardrobe was not CGI at all. Obviously when Michael is flaming-on,
it has to be CGI to look like flames. But the suits... Reed's looks
different because built his own suit at one point. And you have to
think, if I'm building a suit and also stretching all the time, it has
to contain all that business so I'm not overflowing with limbs and
stuff. So yeah, the suits were all real.
have all been in some great TV series. I've seen Jamie in
Turn and Michael in The Wire as Wallace. Like the Marvel
Universe, these shows have huge fan bases. How did these two experiences
Michael B. Jordan:
I don't know. When The Wire came out it was after the fact that
it got attention, it wasn't while we were filming it.
The same for
Friday Night Lights.
Michael B. Jordan:
Friday Night Lights was also an awesome show. But it's the same
thing. I didn't get the instant gratification from the fans. This movie
hasn't even come out yet and a massive amount of fans are here showing
love, so it's pretty awesome to be part of the Marvel Universe.
Miles, what was the best thing you got from acting school and the worst
Being in acting school was the greatest time in my life. It's tough
going from film set to film set and you have to work on yourself. In
theater school, you're with sixteen other weirdoes in sweatpants who are
pretending to be seaweed while their teacher is playing whale music.
You're pushing an imaginary box across a ballet stage for 30 minutes,
stuff like that. If you're not learning and you're not growing and not
getting to work on things... I miss it, yeah.
The worst thing, the debt. The student
loans. Also, I think a lot of people got caught up... they couldn't do
sense memories or some can't hold a coffee cup. They forget at the end
of the day you're just talking to another person, so they can get a
little intellectual. But it was the best experience of my life.
I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was nine years old. I used to
watch movies with my mom and little sister. I was completely obsessed
with film then. It was all I wanted to do.
Who were your superhero inspirations?
Tim Burton's Batman.
I liked Batman, but
for me it was also Indiana
Jones and Dick
Michael B. Jordan:
There are so many, but I'm going say Darkwing
I loved Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.
And if you had powers, what would they be?
I'll give MBJ a power that he needs, and it's to be on time.
Michael B. Jordan:
I want... The power to stop time.
You do that already.
I dunno, man. Fly, just fly. I took yours, right?
me? Teleportation... [Laughs].
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