“Fantastic Four” tells the story of four teenagers brought together to build a transporter to take people to an alternate world. When the experiment goes bad, it gives the four superpowers. I had the good fortune to talk with Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) about the film.
Are you guys excited about the film?
Michael B. Jordan; Very much so!
You guys look like you had fun making this film.
Michael: The chemistry between the cast is something I am really proud of. We are all pretty close, and we didn’t mind getting up and going to work.
Did you guys do anything before starting filming to create that chemistry?
Jamie Bell: We went to New Orleans together.
Kate Mara: Yeah, we did.
Michael: We (were) on an escapade.
Jamie: We called it team building.
Kate: Yeah, team building.
Michael: In New Orleans of all places, so you can imagine that we had a great time.
Jamie: What we can remember from it.
Kate: I remember it all!
The question is; did anyone take pictures?
Kate: I did!
Michael: You actually have pictures from that? I thought the number one rule was no pictures!
Jamie: No need to share them!
Michael: That would be great for the post credit sequence.
Jamie: Yeah, all the pictures from Bourbon Street. That would be fantastic!
Michael, what was it like reuniting with director Josh Trank? You worked with him on “Chronicle.”
Michael: It was great seeing how everyone had grown in the past two years. Just the size of this project was impressive. The budget was tenfold compared to “Chronicle.” There are some differences between the two films, with that film being totally original and “Fantastic Four” being adapted from the material. But both are origin stories, with this film you get to see them pre-accident, pre-super powers. But Josh was very specific on what he wanted the characters to be like. Josh was more in charge of this film, where as “Chronicle” was a little more collaborative, especially with the actors, since it was his first time out. He has solidified himself as a director.
The project was quite secretive. There were never any set photos released. Where you anxious to talk about the film?
Michael: It’s just hard being asked the questions that you don’t have the answers to. Everyone then thinks you are trying to be super big or something because you won’t, can’t answer the questions. It got annoying at times, but that comes with the territory when you have a project as big as this one. Trying not to let anything leak and keeping things as close to home as possible.
Did any of you guys read some of the comic books or do a little research on line about your characters or did you want to have a clean slate when you started the film? Since this is such a big reboot and a fresh telling, did you not do any research because it is such a new story, and you didn’t want to be influence from anything when starting your performance?
Kate: It’s hard to not be curious about the comics that have been written. Especially since I didn’t grow up reading the comics. (I) knew a little about the Fantastic Four but not a whole heck of a lot. When I knew I was doing the film, I was excited and wanted to see what that world looked like. But the director, Josh Trank and the writer, Simon Kinberg, were specific about what story we were telling. You can’t do research on that when you are trying to do something unique and new, and create a whole new world, there is nothing you can look up to help you. So it’s just trusting in what script you have and what world our director wanted to create.
There are rumblings of a 2018 cross-over with “X-Men.” Would you rather the “Fantastic Four” team up with them or fight them?
Jamie: Yeah I would love to batter someone. I’d love to batter Wolverine! I’d love to take on Hugh Jackman before he is done.
Do you think you could get him to come back and play the character?
Jamie: Yeah, I think Hugh will do Wolverine till he’s ninety.
Kate: Didn’t he announce he is done?
Jamie: Well, he’s said it before, and he has always come back.
So who wins?
Jamie: Oh I would batter him!
Jamie, was it a relief or disappointment that your part is mostly done with CGI?
Jamie: Anonymity is really important to me. I don’t know why but I usually hide behind my affectations of my characters. It’s easier for an actor to do that, but because that makes you less on display. I think Josh had kind of test for me when I first sat down with him. He asked me “When you did Tin Tin with Spielberg, how did you feel when your face wasn’t on the screen at all?” I said it was perfect, the perfect role for me. I can still go get coffee or walk my kid, and no one recognizes me. Anonymity is great, I love it! I love it when I can hide behind a kid with a quaff of hair or a guy make of rocks. It’s great because I get to hide myself and be someone else.
What about you two guys? Michael, you were always on fire and Kate, you had these force shields to deal with. How was it on set when you know you are going to look a little silly doing things that are going to be CGI-ed later?
Kate: I thought that was challenging. At least for me anyway because you just have no idea how it’s going to look. It is a trust exercise. You have to trust the team that you are working with, the team creating the CGI and the director. Those first couple of days when our characters are figuring out their powers was kind of a scary time for me. But once you own it, and you figure out how to perform it, it because less scary.
How of your own stunts did you do? And did you do any training for them?
Michael: Whenever we could, and the insurance company would allow us we did. Kate and I got up on the high wires and flew around a bit. That was pretty awesome to do. Getting shot up into the air 8o feet was pretty cool.
What makes Sue stand out, particularly with the discussion on-line about female superheroes participation in these movies, especially the lack of participation? Do you think Sue stands out in that required, that she is a positive step forward for women superheroes?
Kate: I love all the characters in this film because we are all equals, and it has nothing to do with her being female. That was appealing to me. It never was a question of she is the female superhero, so she is getting the short end of the stick. I think Sue is very strong on her own, but I feel that all the chapters in our story are equal.
A sequel to this film has already been announced. Anything you want to see in the next film?
Jamie: I want to see more of how the characters interact with one another.
Jamie: The objective of this film is to get them to that point. The next film we should see the characters already established and see how they work together. See a bit of the antagonism that develops between The Thing and Johnny, or the blossoming of the love story between Reed and Sue. More of a family dynamic maybe. There is a wealth of stories there that you just can’t explore in the first film.
Any villains you want to see in the next film?
Jamie: Well, you can’t get away from Silver Surfer. I mean he is cool looking.
Michael: You have to have Namor. He’s pretty much the strongest mutant. It would be a pretty interesting battle.
And Sue is right in the middle of that.
Michael: Oh, for sure! It’s a classic and would make for a good storyline.
You have read a lot of the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stuff.
Michael: For sure, I am big into comic books. I have got a pretty big collection at home.
Have you guys met Stan?
Michael: No not yet. We tried at Comic Con, but there was just too much going on.
Kate: Didn’t we take a selfie with him and not even know it?
Jamie: Oh that’s right; he was way over at the other end. We didn’t know he was in the the picture until we looked at it.
Well, thanks for all your time!
Fantastic Four opens nationwide on Friday, August 7th.
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