Last night, “The Avengers” assembled in Hollywood for the world premiere of one of summer’s most anticipated movies.
Today the film’s stars — Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg — joined director Joss Whedon and producer Kevin Feige at a relaxed press conference packed with journalists eager to talk about their big venture. There was the usual on-message back-patting and recollections of how awesome it was to work together, but there were also a few off the cuff remarks that prove this crew has a chemistry that can’t be faked.
What follows are the funniest, oddest and best quotes from the press conference. And don’t worry, you’ll find only the slightest of spoilers here.
If you’re extra sensitive about knowing anything at all, you might want to read something without “The Avengers” in the headline.
Robert Downey Jr. started off by throwing out a query of his own: “I have a question: How come it’s only Harry Dean Stanton that got to see Mark Ruffalo naked?”
Mark Ruffalo’s most memorable moment filming the movie: “Being naked in front of Harry Dean Stanton.”
Mark Ruffalo’s inspiration for the Hulk: “I basically based my character entirely on my 10 year old boy, who has all the force of nature screaming out of his body while at the same time everyone around him tells him to f—ing control himself.”
Samuel L. Jackson knows which Avenger he’d most like to trade places with: “I want to be Scarlett. Just for like 15 minutes.”
Joss Whedon on the difference between good and bad comic book movies: “For me, it’s capturing the essence of the comic and being true to what’s wonderful about it while remembering that it’s a movie and not a comic. The first ‘Spider-Man’ did things in the vein of the comic. You see things like ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ where they threw out the comic or ‘Watchmen’ where they did it frame for frame, neither one worked. You have to take the spirit of the thing and then step away from that.”
Cobie Smulders’ home life changed after making “The Avengers”: “We have a lot more action figures in the house. We have all of them and [my daughter] knows their names. It’s very cool to be a woman in a man’s world in this film and have my daughter see that.”
Clark Gregg was skeptical “The Avengers” could be pulled off: “I felt like this was not an achievable task. As someone who writes sometimes and watches movies and likes them a lot, I didn’t see how it was feasible to have this many characters and have the story come together. When I read it and saw that it was my fanboy wet dream of an ‘Avengers’ script and Coulson was a big part of it, that was a big day for me. I drove around with the script in my front seat just kind of giggling.”
Mark Ruffalo felt the pressure of taking over the Hulk: “I made the mistake of going online and reading some of the fanboy responses to the announcement I was playing the next Bruce Banner. I’ll never do that again. I’ve never had a role more scrutinized and criticized before I shot a single frame.”
Chris Hemsworth recalls camaraderie during filming: “Chris [Evans] sent us a text that The Avengers assemble at such and such bar at 9 on Saturday night. That was a good group effort.”
Jeremy Renner’s most memorable moment on set: “Getting to play with Thor’s hammer while he stroked my bow. [Pause] Oh, here we go. That’s gonna get me in trouble…”
Mark Ruffalo reveals shocking behind the scenes antics: “I remember coming into someone’s place with a group of half naked stuntmen in a hot tub and Scarlett Johansson standing over them with a ladel, making boy soup.” [This mysterious non-sequiter went unexplained, Johansson wasn’t at the press conference due to a scheduling conflict.]
Chris Hemsworth on relating to Thor’s sibling rivalry: “The last time one of my brothers tried to take over the world or the universe, how did I feel?”
Robert Downey Jr.: “Don’t you feel Liam is trying to take over your box office universe? Doesn’t he need to be corrected in some way?”
[Hemsworth laughed and fumbled for an answer before settling on: “Yeah.”]
Tom Hiddleston’s lack of geek credentials: “The last video game I’ve played — apart from ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ at Renner’s house, Scarlett and I will always have ‘Billie Jean’ — was ‘Super Mario Kart’ on the Super Nintendo.”
Robert Downey Jr.’s reaction to seeing the movie for the first time: “What everybody captured…was the right tone. Without killing it you kind of tip your hat that you don’t take it seriously. It’s a comic book movie, but you buy into the reality of it. Joss did a great job of finding everyone’s frequency. … I see Joss’ wit. Whether the wit is funny or the wit is actually being able to pull together the whole myriad of ideas and notions that you have to get right for ‘The Avengers’ not to be bunk.”
Joss Whedon explains why Harry Dean Stanton is in this movie anyway: “I wrote this weird little scene, about 12 pages long. I was like ‘Oh this is great, Bruce Banner falls into a Coen Brothers movie!’ The fact that they actually let me keep that concept and we landed Harry Dean to play it was very exciting. The idea was to put [Bruce] in a slightly surreal situation with someone who clearly had no problem with what he was. To work with Harry Dean and quiz him about ‘Alien’ and ‘Missouri Breaks’? What a privilege.”
Samuel L. Jackson analyzes the special appeal of “The Avengers”: “[It] allows people to see: ‘OK, these guys have superpowers, but they have normal kind of attitudes.’ They’re pissed with each other, they argue about petty s—, they can be smartasses and they can be heroes. Eventually they’re gonna really love each other.”
“The Avengers” opens in theaters May 4