One of the reasons Marvel’s movies work so well is getting not only the right cast but also the best director for each film. With Thor, Kenneth Branagh joins the ranks of awesome directors such as Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Joss Whedon and Joe Johnston. Despite his amazing career as both an actor and director, this is one of Branagh’s most mainstream films, which we discuss in the interview:
Bill: I’ve been a big fan for a long time now, on both sides of the camera– as an actor and as a director. One thing I noticed, especially with your direction, it seemed like there were a lot of elements of Shakespeare, which I know you’ve worked a lot in the past adapting, and have been a big fan of. Did you apply that to this movie?
Kenneth Branagh: It kind of happened naturally. Two million people just watched the Royal Wedding, so we’re interested in royal families, and in this case a troubled royal family– Shakespeare was always interested in those– it’s the stakes in the story, that Odin’s family, Thor, they run the universe. When they have ordinary family problems, like father and son butting up against each other, it affects the rest of the universe.
That’s the Shakespearian side of it, it allows Tony Hopkins’ performance and Chris Hemsworth’s performance to be very passionate when they take it that seriously, and then out from that very personal thing it can get epic, and you can go into outer space and the world of the gods. I think at the center of it there is a connection to great stories.
Bill: I loved how Asgard was envisioned as this really elaborate, sprawling and theatrical sort of place. I was really happy to see how much of that was in the movie. Do you think it was being hidden intentionally, it seems like the trailers made it seem like it would be much more grounded in New Mexico?
Kenneth: Interesting question! I think that we were always walking a fine line between stuff that could look kitschy and campy, that could be too broad with the humor… Every day across the nearly three years we’ve been working on it we had to strike that fine balance. In the comics you can’t get away from the idea– Asgard is on an asteroid on top of the universe in space– it’s an extraordinary place. The influences on the architecture come from the viking influence, the Roman empire, gladiator style influence, and they still have to look like they’re super technologically advanced.
That’s a lot for people to take in, I think, and the main thing is to let people understand that the glue that was going to hold all this together was humor, and Thor on Earth, and a human quality… and once in, maybe Asgard would come to them in a way that felt more acceptable.
Bill: You did a great job bridging that, and making this very much a part of the same world that’s been built in movies like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk… How was it filming in 3D?
Kenneth: We in fact didn’t shoot in 3D, but we converted to 3D, so the 1,300-ought visual effects shots were re-photographed with left and right cameras in the computer, and the reason to do it was partly because I didn’t feel confident enough shooting in 3D– it’s very time consuming, and it’s for people clever-er than me.
But afterwards what i thought we could really develop what they call the “depth script,” which means you can compress the depth– give more or less depth– and you can find a way to do that that doesn’t make your eyes hurt. Doesn’t give you a headache. Sometimes when you shoot in 3D, that depth script is more jumpy, so I wanted to have more control, make it smoother, and have more time to work on it, so that’s why we did it in post production.
Bill: Once again, absolutely fantastic movie, it’s coming out in theaters this Friday, and I think you’ve got a huge hit on your hands!
Kenneth: Thanks ever so much!
Thor hits theaters everywhere this Friday May 6th, and it totally measures up to the other great Marvel comic movies! If you’re ready to kick off your Summer movie season with a bang, check out Thor this weekend! Maybe we’ll see you there!!