Special thanks to Marvel, Disney and ABC for sending me on this all expense paid trip to cover THOR RAGNAROK, “The Mayor” on ABC, CARS 3 Blu-Ray release, Disney Junior’s “Vampirina” and littleBits’ STAR WARS Droid Inventor Kits. All opinions are my own.
The thing that’s impressed me the most during this press trip as the instances when these actors have personally greeted each one of us before an interview. It happened with the guys from THE MAYOR (you can read my heartfelt interview with them here) and then it happened again when we interviewed Karl Urban. Get this, he, being surprised by the round of applause we gave him as he entered the room, took it upon himself to shake and greet every single blogger in the room. All 25 of us! That’s never happened to me before and let me just say that I was smitten by his kindness. It’s a funny thing to talk about Karl Urban being personable and kind because the character he plays in THOR: RAGNAROK is anything but kind and personable. I guess that’s why they call it acting, huh? How does someone who is naturally kind and compassionate to others play a character who is completely the opposite? We asked him just that question and I’m excited to share this interview with you.
Urban plays the role of Skurge, Hela’s executioner in THOR: RAGNAROK. When we first meet Skurge he’s in charge of operating the Bifrost, that pretty rainbow bridge thing in THOR that connects Asgard to other realms, specifically earth. Normally this task belongs to the god Heimdall (played by the talented Idris Elba) but he’s gone into hiding. It’s a rather comical scene with Skurge trying to impress these two women with various objects and weapons that have been brought back to Asgard. We asked Urban what he thought of that particular scene:
I have like Skurge’s introduction when I’m trying to woo the young ladies [LAUGHTER]; they had a whole collection of stolen stuff that Skurge had had pillaged from the universe. You only got to see one thing of me shaking the, uh, [LAUGHTER] whatever that thing was- it’s a Shake Weight! [Originally] they had all sorts of stuff [and] when we shot for hours with me using fishing rods with lures [LAUGHTER] and all sorts of crazy stuff, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead Regarding Urban’s Character Arc
Part of the reason why meeting Urban was so much fun was because Skurge, who begins the movie really trying to set himself apart to become someone others respect, and then becoming Hela’s right hand man and executioner, was seeing him come full circle when it mattered most. That’s right, Skurge, redeems himself by the end of the movie and Urban does a brilliant job of portraying the struggle his character has throughout the film. You can tell that much of what he witnesses Hela doing does not jive with his own morality. We asked Urban about that part of his character and here’s what he said,
[Director Taika Waititi] sent me the script and, you know, I immediately recognized that there was actually something, uh, profoundly emotionally compelling about this character’s journey that was eminently relatable.
Here’s a character that’s put in a situation where he has to make a decision, he has align himself with a cause that he does not believe in but it’s the only thing he can do in order to survive. I thought that was a very interesting moral dilemma. Then of course, you know, once he’s crossed that bridge and he realizes there is no turning back, then he is looking for a way to redeem himself and that was ultimately his journey. It resonated on the page. I had full confidence that [it would] translate onto the screen.
Urban worked closely with Cate Blanchett who plays the film’s ultimate villain (as well as the first female villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The film has two extremely strong female characters in Blanchett’s “Hela” and Tess Thompson’s “Valkyrie”. We chatted with Urban about this theme of girl power in the film as well as working with both Blanchett and Thompson.
I think it would have been a boring movie without them [LAUGHTER] to think you know, Cate and Tessa are so wonderful in this film; they are my favorite parts of the movie and I love seeing Tessa’s swagger. I love the journey of her character from the dark place that she was in to redemption, to reclaiming, herself with her identity. I thought it was a a strong compelling journey.
I had such such a a a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett. I mean to be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie, it was the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett. I read that script and saw that ninety percent of my material was with her, I’m like, “Where do I sign up [LAUGHTER] how much do I pay you?”
Urban also had nothing but praise and admiration for director Taika Waititi and I’m beginning to think that if there was ever an opportunity to be on a movie set this was the set to visit.
[Marvel Studios] hired a a director in Taika who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility and they actually let him do his job. There was already a brilliant foundation in the script and we would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page and then shoot a wealth of material that Taika quite frankly just made up. There was nothing sacrilegious about a take, you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, “Oh why don’t you say this, say this line.” It was actually kind of liberating because you felt comfortable in that there was no such thing as a bad choice. I think that really kind of afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to fully explore all the options. I can’t wait to see the extras on this movie. I mean it’s like the movie is funny and entertaining but I think the extras are going to be as equally entertaining and I can’t wait to see them.