Any film production can be a magnet for controversy and conflict. Creative types, as a rule, don’t always see eye-to-eye, business sometimes interferes with artistry and it’s a constant struggle to realize the boundless potential of the page on celluloid. And the more money tied up in the project, and the amount of popularity swarming around the source material, can make the negative press lightning rod even more prominent.
Hence, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the recent New York Daily News article targeting Marvel’s in-progress “Thor” adaptation as a minefield of ego battles and creative differences. As reported to the publication by an anonymous “insider” – which could frankly mean almost anyone – the production has been running into problems with on-screen Odin, Sir Anthony Hopkins, who has allegedly taken umbrage with novice star Chris Hemsworth’s acting abilities and the amount of green-screen work, much to the chagrin of director Kenneth Branagh.
Basically, the piece can be summed up by the following quotes:
“Anthony has not tried to hide his disapproval of Chris’ acting skills, Chris is definitely the least-experienced actor on set, but he’s trying. He respects Anthony a great deal, and it looks like he’s trying to grin and bear all of his criticism.”
“[Hopkins] isn’t used to this kind of work, and his pessimism is really starting to wear everyone down.”
Of course, as grim as this leaked info may sound, Branagh quickly took part in an interview with the L.A. Times and did his darndest to defuse the ugly rumors:
- “It’s going very, very well. We’re in New Mexico now where we have a contemporary Earth part of our story. I guess we’re two-thirds of the way through the story and at this stage of the game what’s surprising and delighting me is the way the cast, the ensemble, has fused together. It’s kind of an interesting combination of very young and very experienced people and the double-up of that, it seems to me, is there is a lot of fire in the movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it doesn’t try to be too solemn.”
He also took time to defend distinguished Oscar-winner Hopkins, who was apparently “outraged” by the NY Times story:
- “[He’s] an extraordinary actor with his Celtic passion and incredible technique. He has been a binding force for the film on the set and will do the same on the screen.”
Hopkins himself also jumped in, issuing the following statement:
- “I am having the time of my life making ‘Thor’ with Ken and Chris. They have made every day immensely fun and collaborative, and we’re all puzzled that someone would fabricate a story suggesting otherwise. I’m proud to say that ‘Thor’ has been one of the great experiences of my career.”
I suspect, ultimately, that the truth behind these matters lies somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t be shocked if there were a few outbursts – a pretty standard occurrence on motion picture shoots – but I seriously doubt that there is much merit to the New York Daily News’ doom ‘n gloom depiction of the set. Let’s remember: “Thor” is a major tentpole for Marvel – the follow-up to “Iron Man 2” and the next key chapter in setting up “The Avengers” movie. Tempers are going to flare and there are going to be difficulties, disagreements and forced compromises. It’s the name the game, and it’s certainly a game well-known to film industry vets like Branagh and Hopkins. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about mini-controversies such as this. After all, many of the best films of all time were born from tumultuous circumstances (ie. “The Wizard of Oz,” “Star Wars,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Jaws” and “Gone With the Wind” to name a few…), and I’d be more concerned if everything sounded like a big ‘ol tea party.
I recall, many years ago, a massive superhero movie that was somewhat famous for its calm, relaxed set, where the actors were having a dandy time and the filmmakers sailed through production without almost nary a snag. It was called “Batman & Robin.” Yeah, just sayin’…
As an addendum to this story, Trailer Addict has posted a brief red carpet interview with “Thor” himself, Chris Hemsworth, discussing the production and his character’s iconic costume. Check it out below:
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.