“It’s not too late to recast — you know I have Joaquin Phoenix on speed dial,” Mark Ruffalo would say at the end of each day to director Joss Whedon early into production on “The Avengers.” And reunited for a conversation at the Tribeca Film Festival, it was that kind of talk: loose and fun, but also addressing seriously their craft, methods, history and more.
As the man behind “Firefly,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Cabin In The Woods,” and more, it may not surprise you that Whedon has little interest in doing a straight drama.
“I’m always doing something large and dire in my scripts and in my ideas,” Whedon said. “It’s always genre. There’s always some big concept I can build off of. The world is often threatened or the lives of people. It’s not very Sundance-y. Nobody’s going to go on a road trip and talk about family. Unless it’s an evil road trip.”
And while you might point to “Much Ado About Nothing” as evidence of Whedon going indie, he cites the Bard as a long-standing influence on his work. “There’s no way that Stan Lee and those guys weren’t influenced. Shakespeare, he’s everywhere. He has invented a lot of the structures and rhythms that we understand and that we’ve built off of,” he said. “Shakespeare was like, let’s take this grand spectacle of theater, which is about kings and gods and fairies, and let’s bring this down to earth. Let’s humanize this and tell stories about ourselves and pretend that they’re kings and queens.”
Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Whedon. He admitted in the talk that his negative, self-critical comments about “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” created an unfair narrative that followed the film and didn’t help it. But he’s dusted himself off and is now working on something new, but isn’t quite ready to reveal what it is just yet — though he teases it brought him to literal tears.
“I wrote all the way through to the end of the movie and was crying, in public,” he said. “The restaurant closed. The valet guy came to me and then just turned around and went the other way. And I don’t like to make a spectacle of myself, but I had to take off my shirt and blow my nose into it because they had taken away all the napkins. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t stop crying, and then I got in a car — luckily somebody else was driving — and kept crying for about 20 more minutes.”
Whedon and Ruffalo also talked about the troubled 1997 sci-fi sequel “Alien: Resurrection” which the director wrote, the aforementioned ‘Age Of Ultron,’ and much more. Watch below.