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.
I have always wanted to be a journalist but was able to talk myself out of that decision when I was young and immature and had no confidence. When I found out that we would be attending an actual press conference for THOR: RAGNAROK I was so excited. Sure I had images of the White House press conference, minus the current leaders in attendance but let me tell you this was not a White House press conference. It was laid back and really personable. Entertainment Tonight co-host Kevin Frazier moderated the panel and helped get things going.
What is a press conference really like?
Kevin Frazier had some questions already that he asked the cast and then they opened everything up to the press in the audience. Here are a few of the questions and responses from the cast as well as director Taika Waititi and Marvel president Kevin Feige. You can read my interviews with them here and here.
Chris [Hemsworth], what makes this Thor different from the others?
Taika Waititi, basically. I think we all had a vision, and an idea, and a want to do something vastly different than what we’d done before, and take it to a different place. That meant kind of doing away with what we knew, and just reinventing it, and it all came from his crazy, wonderful brain, and his inspiration, and him pushing us every day on set, and constantly encouraging us to improvise, and explore, and take risks. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had on a set, and a film that I feel the most proud of, just because of this – this whole team, and the collaboration, and fun we had.
One of the aspects of the press conference that I enjoyed thoroughly was the banter back and forth between the cast after one of them would answer a question. After Chris Hemsworth got done answering this question his cast mates chimed in,
CATE BLANCHETT: We love you, Chris.
MARK RUFFALO: Really love you, Chris.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: Yeah.
TAIKA WAITITI: I love you more now, you see.
Just like in the interview we had with him, director, Taika Waititi was hilarious and incredibly engaging. You could tell how much the cast and crew loved working with him on set. One of the questions that was asked of Waititi was,
“You kind of brought an independent sensibility to this monstrous film, and gave it fun, and a little heart, too. What was the process like for you?”
Well, when they first asked me to come and to them about making this film, obviously I thought that Marvel had lost their minds, so they’re just hiring anyone now.
I came in, and I guess I thought that – I knew my strengths were just like tone, character, and you know, relationships, and things, and I had to ignore the scale of this monster, this beast, you know it’s a – [Yeah.] It’s a huge, huge film. And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there. [Yeah.] And you know, so you – I have to – I just had to keep reminding myself what’s more important is what’s inside the rectangle, and usually, it’s two or three people trying to remember their lines. [LAUGHTER] And so it doesn’t matter the scale of the film – that’s always the same, you know. So – so, I just focused down on what I was used to, which was what’s in front of the camera.
One of the highlights for me was seeing Academy Award Winner Cate Blanchett, who plays the villain in the film, Hela, in person and hear her talk about the experience. She is so well spoken (no surprise there, right?) and witty. One of the press asked her what it was like fighting Chris Hemsworth’s character, “Thor”.
Cate Blanchett: I didn’t do enough of it. I, I kept wanting to do more.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: You wanted to hit me.
CATE BLANCHETT: But no, I – look, it was, it was hugely enjoyable for me. And apart from working with these guys, obviously, the chance to finally, in my deep middle age, to get fit, and to wear that much lycra was really exciting for me.
CATE BLANCHETT: But I worked with Chris’ trainer, Zahki for 20 minutes a day, which doesn’t sound like much, but my god, it was intense. And Zoey Bell who is, I mean, an extraordinary actress in her own right, and director in her own right, but she was my stunt double, because when I started, I had to manifest these weapons out of my – I’m not spoiling anything by saying that –
KEVIN FEIGE: Uh-uh.
CATE BLANCHETT: Have I just lost my chance to be in the sequel?
CATE BLANCHETT: I had to – well, I manifest weapons, and I had to throw them, and I could see Taika’s disappointment as I threw it, I said, ‘Ha.’ And I had to stop making the noises, because I’d go, ‘Ha.’ And so I had to close my mouth. And so eventually Zoey suggested that I put some sugar, which was deeply humiliating – sugar packets in my hand so at least I could throw something and be real. And then – yeah, so Zoey helped me with little things like that. She was a great action director. So I moved from the humiliating to the exhilarating in a matter of five days.
After the press conference was done was all left the ballroom we were in and began to exit. Much to my surprise all of the cast was milling about in the hallway, chatting with members of the press and each other. I was able to catch Mark Ruffalo’s eye and smiled and he walked over to me and Britni to take a selfie. Of course, in typical Bert fashion I had difficulty getting my phone to actually take the photo so I apologized and he couldn’t have been kinder, even asking if I wanted him to take it. The other actors and actresses were close by as well and while I could’ve asked them for a photo, I happened to see one of their faces and he looked overwhelmed as a sea of people swarmed around him asking for photos.