Wednesday 21 February 2018

A super cast of Civil War heroes

The cast of 'Captain America: Civil War' tell Anne Marie Scanlon all about uncomfortable costumes, super powers - and how their children react to them playing caped crusaders

Chris Evans as Captain America
Chris Evans as Captain America

Since Clueless, I've harboured a fondness for Paul Rudd, who played Josh (Jane Austen's Mr Knightly) to Alicia Silverstone's Cher (Emma) in the cult 1995 update of the classic novel.

Last year Rudd appeared in the final episode of series three of Moone Boy, the TV show loosely based on actor Chris O'Dowd's childhood growing up in Boyle. "It was phenomenal," (making Moone Boy), Rudd declares.

"I love Chris and I think it's a great show. As far as going to Ireland to shoot it, there's just no better place. I've always been very vocal about my love of Ireland. I think it's the best place on earth. I've been all over, I haven't really spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland, I've been to Belfast, but I've been everywhere all along the coast up to Donegal. How do you pronounce Donegal? It's beautiful, it's incredible, I love it so much." So, that's that. Rudd can't climb any higher in my esteem.

He's here with Chris Evans (no, not the aging Brit who is taking over Top Gear, but the young American actor) to talk to me about the latest outing in the Marvel franchise - Captain America: Civil War.

There are so many superheroes and famous faces in the film that I'm only able to meet a handful of them, and then only in pairs. Rudd plays Ant-Man and Evans is Captain America himself. The pair are both sporting beards.

Is this fashion or for a film role? "Laziness. I hate shaving," Evans says while rummaging in the hotel mini bar. "I usually have a beard when I'm not working," he continues as he produces two packs of Pringles and pushes them towards me, saying conspiratorially, "Don't worry, they'll charge Marvel."

So how do they, as actors, approach playing these characters? Rudd replies that "I always feel when working on something [I should] take a step out of it and say 'What would happen in real life?' Even on something as fantastical as this - what would the reaction be of each person and how would they deal with the situation?"

Rudd's character, as his name implies, can shrink at will to the size of an ant. So what, in real life, would he do with such a power?

There's a long pause. Rudd smiles. "I've been asked this question before and you think I'd have an answer on deck, so…." He takes his time thinking and then says "maybe I'd want to sneak into the rooms that are not open to the public with world leaders to see what's going on. But then… Oh God! Do I really want to know?" Evans is shaking his head and the pair laugh at the idea.

I try a different approach. Ants are often used in a metaphorical way in stories. What, if anything, can we learn from the ant?

God help Rudd, he really tries to give me a half-decent answer: "You know, em, it seems like there've been a lot of Biblical stories where sometimes the smaller guy wins… boy… it's easy to underestimate…sometimes strength is not embodied in, eh…"

"Size," I supply.

"Size!" he agrees.

"So size is not always important?"

"Yeah, yeah," he says, laughing. "It's not so much size that matters, it's more the motion… that's from the Bible isn't it!" His co-star is helpless with laughter.

Rudd goes on to say that one of the best things about being part of the Marvel universe is that "all the kids in my kid's class know who I am. It's great.

"Being able to hang with kids and talk to them about Marvel is the best. It's so fun. I make videos for kids who are Ant-Man fans. People will say, 'My nephew is a fan, is there any way you could wish him a happy birthday?' That's the best part of the job, it makes you feel like there's something really nice that comes out of it."

Being in such a huge movie and being part of such a big franchise brings a lot of attention. How does he cope?

"I have a very short tolerance when I hear people complain about the downside of celebrity. It's like "Oh God, shut up!" I feel very very lucky, I really do. I'm a working actor - which is all I ever wanted to be - and I work on things that I really like with a lot of people who are really great.

These sentiments are echoed later by Paul Bettany, who plays Vision, a purple entity who can walk through walls. This isn't the first time I've met Bettany, who always looks incredibly stylish. This time he's wearing a linen jacket over a white and blue striped T-shirt with 1950s-style tinted glasses.

I ask Bettany about his costume, which took two hours to get into every day. "It is so claustrophobic," he replies, and then rapidly adds, "I hate hearing actors f**king complain by the way, I'm handsomely paid for this, so don't mishear me."

Bettany goes on to tell me that the purple balaclava was essentially glued to his head, which made hearing hard, sometimes impossible, but he concentrated on not freaking out by "focusing on the thousands of actors who would kill to be in [my] position".

In fact his discomfort actually worked to help him in his portrayal of the character. "I see him [Vision], this rather serene human being on the screen who I look at and go, 'Why the fuck amn't I more like that? I'm full of anxiety and nervous energy.'"

Like Rudd, Bettany's children are fans of Marvel and I ask who their favourite characters are.

"F**k you!" Bettany replies. His co-star Emily VanCamp looks shocked and embarrassed, but I know this is Bettany's shtick. The actor continues, "There's an assumption in that question that it might be something other than Vision!"

He waits for a moment before adding, "But yeah, you're right. My son is into Vision. My daughter was a huge Vision fan. When she first saw me [in full costume] I was really anxious she was going to flip out but she just ran up and gave me a cuddle. At the end of the day when I took it all off she was [starts shouting], 'I want purple Daddy!' It was her first meltdown, she turned into this monster I'd never seen before and it was, frankly, humiliating.

"And then she became Iron Man-obsessed," he says, sighing in that world-weary way that only Bettany can.

'Captain America: Civil War' is in cinemas now

Sunday Independent

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