The stars aligned in LA at the Thor: Ragnarok press conference held for members of the media on October 11th, 2017 following the red carpet premiere. It was exciting to see everyone on stage to answer questions and offer a group perspective on the film. The stars, Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (the Valkyrie), Karl Urban (Skurge), and Rachel House (Topaz) were joined by Director (and Korg) Taika Waititi and President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige.
Looking for interviews? Check out my interviews with President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Director Taika Waititi, Karl Urban (Skurge), and live on Monday at 9 am EST Rachel House (Topaz). You can also check out my coverage of the media press conference here.
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters now!
So many questions, not enough time. I had just seen the film the day before, at the LA premiere, you can find my spoiler-free review here. Having been a fan of the Thor film franchise in the MCU since its beginning, I had a slew of questions about the evolution from Thor: The Dark World to Thor: Ragnarok.
How did we get here? What does the future of Thor look like? And what’s up with the Hulk? We see a lot more dialogue from the Hulk than any other MCU film thus far, what was it like working with that? The questions in my mind were endless, but of course I really only had the chance to ask one. Other members of the media had some great questions too.
The questions from the press covered all kinds of aspects of the film from the heavy-metal inspired logo, comparing the old Thor to the new one, and a full-on Hulk movie to what the heck happened to Lady Sif (that one was left unanswered), what’s it like fighting with Chris as Thor, and how about that Hulk dialogue. Of course, we can’t forget Easter eggs, Hela’s amazing character and the new talent additions to the MCU.
So what can I share with you about Thor: Ragnarok that you don’t already know (while keeping it super legit and spoiler free)? Glad you asked.
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Thor: Ragnarok from the Cast and Filmmakers at the LA Press Conference
#1 Taika Waititi made this film very different from the rest
We all had a, a vision and wanted to do something vastly different than what we’d done before, and take it to a different place. And 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.” -Chris Hemsworth
#2 Taika Waititi thought Marvel lost their minds when they asked him to direct Thor: Ragnarok
When they first asked me to come to them about making this film, obviously I thought that Marvel had lost their minds, so they’re just hiring anyone now.
I knew my strengths were 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 huge, huge film. And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there. 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. So it doesn’t matter the scale of the film – that’s always the same, you know. I just focused down on what I was used to, which was what’s in front of the camera. -Taika Waititi
#3 Thor is arguably more powerful than he’s ever been in any of the films, and funnier
We wanted a new sensibility. We wanted to take Thor – and if you look at everything Chris has done as this character, there have been moments of humor throughout. We wanted to build on that. If you look at the movie, it’s got the epic action. Thor is arguably more powerful than he’s ever been in any of the films, with his powers going up against the Hulk, but at the same time embracing what Mr. Hemsworth does better than anyone, and up until now has never been able to see, which is his acting chops expanding into comedy in an amazing way. And Taika giving them the confidence to explore that, and to try things. Most of that is in the movie, because it was on story, and yet at the same time expanded each of their characters. -Kevin Feige
#4 The film’s logo totally resembles a heavy metal album cover, on purpose
If you look at all the elements in the film, it’s pretty crazy, you know. If you would describe all of the characters in this film to someone, it deserves to have all of that color, and all of those crazy, curvy designs. It’s a bombastic concept that you can’t hold back from this thing. It’s either all in or nothing. -Taika Waititi
#5 From the beginning Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song set the mood for what Taika was doing with this film
The first meeting, Taika came in. Filmmakers sometimes will say, using clips of other movies, ‘Here’s what I have in mind.’ And sometimes they’re not good. Most of the times, they’re okay. His was amazing, and was scored to that Led Zeppelin song. So from the beginning, that song kind of defined what Taika was going to do with this. That it’s in the trailer, that it’s in the film – all from that first meeting, and from one of his first instincts of this movie, is very impressive. -Kevin Feige
#6 The Hulk’s character in Thor: Ragnarok is part of a three-film arch
I would love to do a Hulk movie, and I think we all would love to do one. But about a year ago, before I even had this part, or were talking about doing this – it was well over a year ago, Kevin had asked me to come over and have a script meeting. And basically he sat me down and he said, ‘What would you like to do if you had a stand-alone Hulk movie?’ And I said, ‘I’d like to do this, this, and this; and this and this – and then this. And then this, and this, and this, and then it would end like this.’ And he’s like, ‘I love that. Let’s do that over the next three movies, starting with Thor 3 and carry it on through Avengers 3 and Avengers 4.’ And so that’s my stand-alone Hulk movie. -Mark Ruffalo
#7 Jeff Goldblum feels that working with a cast like the one in Thor: Ragnarok is a dream come true
I like the character, of course, and the opportunities in the character. Joining a cast like this is a dream come true. Working with Taika, that was my first, you know, connection point to the movie. We had a meeting, and hit it off, and he said what we were gonna improvise, and have fun. But then, you know, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Espesito, and Victoria Alonso, and Brad Winderbaum – the whole upper tier of creative leaders, do something unique. They know how to make these epic productions, and popular movies, but they want to make good movies. And they somehow uniquely know how to do them, that feels to me like an actorly, workshop-y, character-y, improvisatory, delightful experience – and make a movie that I think skins the cat like this is just – I’m grateful, overwhelmingly grateful. -Jeff Goldblum
#8 Cate only worked out 20 minutes a day
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. I worked with Chris’s trainer, Zahki for 20 minutes a day, which doesn’t sound like much, but my god, it was intense. -Cate Blanchett
#9 Chris was almost the God of Dumbos
Taika would just keep throwing lines. There was one day when, when we’re on set, and I had, “I’m the Goddess of the Death, and what are you the God of, again?” And Chris had said, “I’m the God of…” and Taika said, “Dumbos.” -Cate Blanchett
#10 This was Chris’s favorite version of the Hulk
I think, this is my favorite version of the Hulk because we actually got to act together, you know. We’d only really fought one another on screen in the previous films. And this time around, we got to just sort of improvise our way through it, and sort of invent this chemistry that we hadn’t explored before – and sort of build this new version of the Hulk, which was a little bit more articulate and vocal than he had been prior. And there’s just so much more room for the humor and fun that the character then embodies, that – I think it’s fantastic. I loved it. -Chris Hemsworth
#11 Tessa Thompson along with a few lady heroes, asked Kevin Feige for a movie with all the female superheroes
Yeah – you heard, you heard that first. Recently, I marched up with a couple other women that work in Marvel, and we were like, to Kevin, ‘What about a movie with some female superheroes – just like, all of them.’ -Tessa Thompson
It was a pretty amazing moment to be somewhere and have your shoulder get tapped, and turn around, and every female hero we have was standing there going, ‘How about it?’ And I said Yes! -Kevin Feige
#12 We might see a change in Loki’s character disposition beyond that of Thor: Ragnarok
The development of the relationship between Thor and Loki, his brothers, is – Thor has evolved, and grown, and matured; and Loki in a way is stuck in his struggles of the past. And that’s, in a way, that’s the challenge for Loki in this, is that he’s got to confront the fact that time is moving on, and people change, and – so I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see. We’ll see. There’s room to grow, and I’m still here. And we’ll see where he goes next. I’m not going to spoil anything. -Tom Hiddleston
#13 There are Easter Eggs in the trash piles of Sakaar
There might be some things in the trash piles. I mean, the biggest Easter eggs are on the side of the Sakaarian Palace – right, Taika? There are previous Grandmaster champions that we see, as one for Hulk is being constructed, and those are all sort of Easter eggs for the deeper comic universe – that may or may not ever show up in the cinematic universe, but we thought it’d be fun to celebrate. -Kevin Feige
#14 Cate had to use sugar packets to throw in order to make weapon throwing look real
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, 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. 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. -Cate Blanchett
#15 Taika told Karl Urban he needed to tone down the workouts so he wasn’t bigger than Chris
The working out schedule was rather intense. In fact, Taika came to me and he said, ‘Listen, you need to tone it down. You can’t be bigger than Chris, okay?’ So I did, you know. I just had the most amazing time working on this film. And you know, building upon what Jeff said, I feel very blessed to be a part of this family, and to have had the opportunity to work with Taika, and for him to be so well supported by the team at Marvel, and for them to have the courage and the bravery to allow him to just do his thing. -Karl Urban
#16 Taika often played music on set and
I really appreciated the environment that Taika created on the set. It was fun; it was focused. He would often play music. And there was nothing sacrilegious about a take. You know, he – quite often, you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d go, ‘Oh, try this, or try that.’ It was just wonderful to – felt like everybody had your back, and we had – we had fun. -Karl Urban
#17 Yo Gabba Gabba ‘Don’t Bite Your Friends’ was Cate Blanchett’s entrance song into Asgard
Yo, Gabba, Gabba ‘Don’t Bite Your Friends’ was my entrance into Asgard, it was my theme song. -Cate Blanchett
Oh, I really recommend –if you’ve got children, I really recommend it, it’s all about teaching kids not to bite other kids! -Taika Waititi
#18 Taika had to meditate to keep his creative energy due to long hours and longer shoot times
The main thing – so many options. Keeping your energy up, creatively. Like, my shoots are very short, and I like to work super-fast. All my shoots, about 25 to 28 days, and by – by day 30 on this, I was like, ‘Well, no more ideas. I’m done.’ And you know, you’ve got 55 more days. And so – so I had to like do some meditation, and try and chill out, just to kind of keep my creative energy – just keep it going throughout that whole length of time, ‘cause the – the amount of stress, or the exhaustion really does take its toll, and you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late, and then you can’t feel your legs.
My favorite thing is shooting. I love being on set with people, and laughing, and having a great time, and being creative. Then you’re stuck in a dark room with one person, trying to, you know, make sense of this whole thing, you know, for almost a year. So that’s a whole new journey of exhaustion. And then you can’t feel your arms after that. -Taika Waititi
#19 Chris wanted to be unfamiliar in his role and losing the Mighty Hammer helped him do that, and he doesn’t miss it because he has one at home
It just helped kind of shed anything too familiar. You know, I feel like holding the hammer, or even the wig in the previous costume, certainly just put me in a place, and set me on a path of what I already knew. And I wanted it to be unfamiliar, and so everything from the hammer, to the costume, the hair – made me, and allowed me to move differently, and forced me to move differently, and so that was a great thing. And – I don’t really miss it, no. I’ve got one at home. -Chris Hemsworth
#20 The Sakaarian look was forged from fantasy music, synthesizers, and arpeggiated rhythms
The music that I wanted to look at for Sakaar, I wanted to create the heavy metal album covers and stuff. Also, it was trying to dive into Jean Michel [PH] Ja Soundscapes, and the kind of music (those spray paint thing you see on Venice Beach of like, pyramids, and like seventeen moons and you know), like kind of just good fantasy music with synthesizers, and arpeggiated rhythms. And Mark [Mothersbaugh] is amazing at that. He comes in and does all that stuff. -Taika Waititi
Thor: Ragnarok is awesome! I highly encourage you to see it in theaters now!
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Special thanks to Disney/Marvel for flying me out to LA for this press junket. It in no way shaped my opinions in this post.