With the highly-anticipated film opening in theaters on July 8, Vital Thrills got a chance to talk to the Thor: Love and Thunder cast and crew. Of the Thor: Love and Thunder cast, in attendance were Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale and Taika Waititi.
Waititi is, of course, the film’s director and he co-wrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson as well. We also talked to producer Kevin Feige, who serves as president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel.
The movie finds Thor (Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods.
To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Thompson), Korg (Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Portman), who — to Thor’s surprise — inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.
Hemsworth spoke about the new film and director Taika Waititi: “He brought out the immature, young, adolescent quality that I embody. And so does Thor now, which he didn’t in the original films, which was exciting and new and fresh. And that’s always the sort of North Star is about having fun. Embodying this space as a child would and enjoying all of it and being caught up in the wonder and the fascination of all of it.
“And not getting bogged down in the serious sort of nature that we can when making films. Personally, with these kind of films, it’s got to be fun, and that’s what we’ve done. That’s what I’ve related to. That’s what Taika’s kind of insisted upon, and it’s been fun.”
Thor is the first character in the MCU to get a fourth solo film. Feige talked about why that is: “I think they respond to Chris Hemsworth, and I think they respond to everything that he can do. And Taika certainly brought another dimension that was always there within Chris. There were moments, even going back to interviews between the two of them on our New Mexico set, where Chris was… I was like, ‘Is he trying to be funny? Or is it…? No, he is being funny. He’s, like, hilarious.’
“And I saw a clip of Ultron the other day, where he’s trying to make Ruffalo feel better about smashing a bunch of people, and it’s so funny. And it’s like this expert timing. Taika was like, ‘What are you guys doing with him just, you know, holding a hammer up with lightning? Let’s do that and tap into everything Chris can do.'”
He continued, “So, I think the audience responds to that. And for so long, we said, ‘Well, he’s a Norse god. How do we make him relatable?’ And spent so much time, I think, making sure that the audience connected with him, that they are so with him now that yes, we could go to a part four.”
Waititi added: “When you meet Chris, he’s very hard to figure out how to make him relatable. And that was the big challenge, you know, he’s… [laughs] Chris is like… You know, I’ve become friends with Chris, and I think just his personality and his energy and who he is, is the kind of person that I’d want to be on an adventure with.
“And yeah, someone who, yeah, you can trust will be there, you know, to kind of look after you. Like a real-life hero. And so yeah, I just wanted to tap into those qualities that he’s got and sort of make Thor more Chris, really.”
Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster, who is now also The Mighty Thor. She was asked about seeing the costume and what it mean to her. “Yeah, it was pretty wild, of course. After seeing Chris wear the costume for so many years, and then to try, you know, the version on myself… and getting fitted for all the arm cuffs and the boots and everything was pretty surreal for the first time.”
When everyone mentioned that she was in the gym first before all of them, she responded: “That’s very sweet, but I was especially grateful to everyone’s imagination to cast a five-three actress in a six-foot role.
“I think that takes a real leap of possibility in your mind and probably not something I will, you know, get the opportunity to do, to be imagined as, by any other group. So, it was a great challenge and got to… You know, Tessa and Chris obviously had a lot of experience in that world, so got to learn a lot from them.”
Christian Bale joined the Thor: Love and Thunder cast as Gorr the God Butcher and spoke about transforming into the character. “You were talking about what everyone was looking for in Chris. I think in Gorr, they look for an actor polar opposite. Someone not relatable, a bit of a loner, creepy, someone no one wants to be around, and nobody wants to see his ass. And so, I think they went, ‘Yeah, we found it in Bale.'”
Of playing a villain, Bale said: “There’s a great pleasure in playing a villain. It’s a lot easier to play a villain than it is to play a hero. Chris had a much tougher job, you know. Everyone is fascinated with bad guys, right, immediately. And then, the beauty of it is that Taika can make it bloody hilarious and then really moving as well in this story. I don’t know if it’s pushing it too much to say sympathy, but certainly you sort of understand maybe why this guy is making awful decisions. And he is a monster, and he is a butcher, but yeah. He’s possibility a little understanding of why he came to be that way.”
Tessa Thompson plays King Valkyrie, who has taken over the leadership of New Asgard. She said of her character’s journey, “It’s been really fun. I mean, the thing that I’ve really enjoyed about these films, and certainly I think something that Stan Lee talked a lot about, whether it’s a villain or a hero. The thing sometimes that connect them to their power, whether it’s used for good or bad, is actually their trauma.
“And so, when we first met Valkyrie, she had a tremendous amount of it, and she was dealing with that by drinking a lot. And for Taika and I, we talked a lot about upending what it looks… what a female superhero looks like. That you sort of have this moment where she comes out, and you think it’s gonna be sort of that badass thing. And then, she immediately falls over.”
Thompson continued: “And that was really fun to both try to inhabit the spirit and the kind of physicality that it takes to be a hero, which is its own skill. It’s like, Chris is so tremendous at it. And you’re right. It’s not an easy thing to do. And that also, to allow her to be fun and sort of goofy. And it’s just been really nice.
“With this one, we also talked about the idea of someone that has a job that they really love, but they’re also kind of disgruntled. She was a professional soldier for thousands of years and now finds herself kind of stuck in bureaucracy. So, she’s really missing being on the battlefield and missing her sisters. It’s been great fun to get to have that again, with Natalie in particular as Mighty Thor.”
The soundtrack to the movie is pretty phenomenal. “We just wanted to spend as much money as we possibly could on some songs. It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Waititi of the musical choices. “The whole aesthetic around the film was always we wanted it to be this bombastic, loud, colorful palette, which kind of reflected, like, spray painted panel vans in the eighties and rock album covers.
“And, even the title treatment, you know, for the film, it’s the kind of thing I would’ve drawn on my school book in class when I wasn’t listening. I remember spending months and months perfecting the Metallica logo at school. So yeah, and just to tap into all that stuff and Guns N’ Roses, was like one of my all-time favorite bands. To be able to use that stuff to reflect the sort of crazy adventure that we’re presenting visually was another one of my dreams that came true.”
Bale spoke about improv, saying he didn’t do that at first on set. “No, certainly not a first. I’ve worked with a lot of directors who enjoy improvisation and whatnot. You know, you do the script first and then you just see what else you can do beyond that. But what I liked a lot is emotion comes through the ears, right, and he plays music nonstop.”
He mentioned Kate Bush being played on set and mentioned a previously-reported planned dance sequence that didn’t happen.
Portman said her vision of a superhero has changed over the years since the first film. “I feel like getting this opportunity, first of all with such an incredible way to explore a female superhero that could be quite vulnerable and weak and find strength in that, and be more like a human I could relate to personally.
“And then also I think it just gave me renewed respect for what Chris has been doing for over a decade, Tessa’s been doing, because I see how much work goes into it that I don’t think I was aware of when I was just like the chick in the first one. I didn’t see everything that went on behind the scenes that now when I got inside into like all of the choreography and the training and everything. I would [be] like, wow this is a triple job of what I was doing back then.”
Feige was asked about the future of Thor and where he goes after this film. “Well, there are these things called comic books that have a lot of stories in them. And that’s where all of our stories come from. And it’s the question, ‘Have you told all the great Thor stories from the comics and movies?’ The answer in no. There are lots of them. And I’ve always said our interest in making additional stories is somewhat about continuing the character.
“It’s almost entirely about continuing the experience with the actor and being able to see… I think of all of our cast, not as their individual characters, but as the Marvel players who within that character can grow and evolve and change. And if we look at the comics as our guide, there are plenty of other incarnations of Thor that we’ve yet to see.”
Of Gorr the God Butcher, Hemsworth said, “He’s my favorite villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I love everyone I’ve worked with, but this was particularly special. And lot to do with what Christian said before, there’s this empathic quality there, there’s a vulnerability.
“You kind of find yourself going, oh what’s he’s doing is wrong, but I get the sort of demotivation behind it. And every time you work with someone different, different characters that bring different things out of you, and that was the case here. And yeah, he did an incredible job.”
The Thor: Love and Thunder cast also includes Russell Crowe as Zeus, Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.
The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity.