Paul Bettany and James Spader on bringing Ultron and the Vision to life

On the day I did all of my “Avengers” interviews, I had Toshi and Allen with me. They'd seen the movie the night before, and they were still on spring break, so they were there on the Disney lot with me. We walked into each room and they got to meet the various actors, and they were struck with a case of the shy that day that was sort of amazing considering how many people they've met over the years.

The funniest reaction they had, though, was in one of the very last rooms we went into, where Paul Bettany and James Spader were paired. I was very careful to talk around my reactions to The Vision in my review of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron,” but I'll have plenty to say in the “Second Look” piece we'll publish at the start of next week. In short, I think he does great work, and I have no idea how Marvel plans to handle that character moving forward. They've just taken a big step forward into the hyper-weird, and I'm dying to see how long audiences will go along with them for what is getting increasingly comic bookie.

Spader's work is also noteworthy, not least because of how much of him you actually see in Ultron. I find myself fascinated by performance capture as a discipline, and each year, each new film, seems to push the entire technical craft forward. In this film, both Spader and Ruffalo used performance capture to play far more of the nuanced character work that makes these fantastic characters seem real and grounded, and the results are worth the effort.

Bettany is the exact opposite in this one. He's in make-up and a costume and there on the set with the other actors, and he has to project through one of the most radical character designs in a Marvel film so far. Both actors face very different challenges, but that amount to the same thing.

As we finished the interviews and walked out, the boys both turned to me, confused, and Allen said, just loud enough for Spader and Bettany to both hear, “Dad, who were those guys, and why didn't we get to see Ultron?!”

It's a brave new world.
“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is in theaters everywhere this Friday.