It’s not quite like Luke finding out Leia’s his sister, but it’s not far off. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen starred in last year’s staggeringly popular Godzilla movie where they played husband and wife (albeit with not a lot of shared screen time) and in one month’s time, we’re going to see them play brother and sister in the behemoth that is Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which they will have plenty of scenes together as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch respectively. We spoke to the actors, along with several other outlets, during a set visit last year about playing scenes together, creating their characters, and joining the biggest franchise in history. No pressure or anything.
Olsen says it was much easier to play Taylor-Johnson’s twin after coming off playing husband and wife, weirdly. “If you look at the comics,” she says, “the two of them are always so close to each other, that the proximity, their comfortability around each other is so specific, and to the rest of the group. And so it’s nice to know Aaron and it’s also nice to have a friend when you’re joining such a big project like this with potentially intimidating people. It’s been really nice to have Aaron.” And she felt like the two actors had their origin also, even though it was a totally different franchise. “It is nice to feel like we have this; they have their movies, well we had a movie too.”
Taylor-Johnson says the hardest part for them was coming up with the accent of their characters’ (as-yet undisclosed) fictional Eastern European country. “What we didn’t want from mine and Lizzie’s standpoint is for our accents to be like the humorous thing,” he says, “and we don’t want to be laughing at the fact that we’ve got these silly accents you know, wanting to actually make the words and the feeling of the scene have humor.” He also added that their different nationalities also made it tricky, but that the accents were something they wanted to keep. “We’ve been working…trying to get the sound similar; we’re playing twins, brother and sister, but her being American and me British… But yeah, when I spoke to Joss about it a long time ago and he approached me for the role it was one of the things I kind of wanted to keep, you know.”
One thing Olsen commented on was just how fast the pace of everything was and how there was never time to ease into the characters or the movie, and Jeremy Renner helped them immensely. “He’s sort of straight about how this is gonna go,” she said. “[It was] one of the first days of shooting the cast I think, and he always–it’s seriously been the most waiting I’ve done on a film–so that keeping energy up is really difficult. But you get on set and you just have to have like one thing that you hook into to remind yourself, to give you that energy and the drive of your character.”
Scarlet Witch, we were told, will be getting into the heads of the different Avengers, which results in her being one of the most emotional characters in the movie. “I’m able to go in someone’s head and feel and see what they feel and see, so it’s not just me manipulating them,” Olsen says, “but what I love about her is that in so many, in superhero films, emotions are kind of negated a bit, but for her, everything that someone else could feel, like their weakest moments, she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool. Like if they have the biggest, darkest fear, I get to see that.”
But it wasn’t all mental for Olsen; a lot of her performance came though physicality. “It’s been so fun, because you can’t be like well, ‘how does this magic witch hero move?’ Like there’s nothing physically that you can just reference from dance or, you know, martial arts or anything like that. So we started off with Joss kind of having these ideas based off just images in the comics of what the hand gestures would look like or the arms look like, and then I work with a dancer, Jenny Wade–she’s a choreographer and dancer–And so the two of us get locked up in a room together and we move and we try and figure out what looks strong, where the energy comes from.” She also adds that her experience in that realm is not the same as the other Avengers. “It’s funny, because everyone’s doing like stunt practices and choreography, and she and I are just like doing weird moves and pretending like we’re making things shoot out of our hands,” she said laughing, “I can’t get like injured that way and I feel not as tough as everyone, but it’s super fun.”
On the complete opposite end of that spectrum is Quicksilver, who is all physicality and athleticism, having super speed and all. Training for Taylor-Johnson, therefore, was much different. “I run a lot,” he said, as dryly as possible. He also said that getting the power of super speed to look right has been something he and the filmmakers have been working on perfecting. “Right now, I think they’re gonna play around with, maybe getting into kind of Quicksilver time, which would be sort of my point of view and kind of playing around with that. The first time we did a running test, I was on like on this, what’s essentially like a running machine but it was a huge lorry [truck]-sized rig which this, you know, something, the width of this but it was, uh, something that they sped up and it was a great big running machine, and they had me on a harness on a green screen. And they put it at sort of an incline and I ran on that. But what it did, it didn’t really give a sense of anything was really traveling.”
Olsen said playing in a big movie like this is a million miles removed from some of the smaller indie things she’s done in the past. “There’s a huge difference…a massive difference and it’s really interesting, because you get to learn a different way of working. You know, you have to in this you get to work, but I like having a lot of structure. I’ve always enjoyed having tons of structure because then you can be as free as you want within it. And in this, it’s like you have that structure and you have more structure and everything is in Joss’ head or Kevin’s head, and everyone has figured out how this is gonna go. It’s almost like a cartoon before you get there, so you have to bring this humanity and life and your own personal interpretation of everything. But it’s not like you can decide oh, I’m gonna go walk over and touch that thing across the room. You can’t do that. It’s totally a different way of working, and you have to be so specific and you just have to do it right when they give you the opportunity to, because you don’t have a lot of opportunities, because they have to keep moving with all the other set ups.”
Taylor-Johnson also said he has nothing but respect for Marvel Studios and is beyond excited to be able to play in this world. “It’s a great Studio to be a part of and I’m not just saying that cause it’s like that’s the kind of easiest thing to say. It’s like, you know, you work with other big sort of studio movies and you’re just one of the film in the mix of many others and you’re just a character and many other in their Films. Marvel guys only care about the Marvel Universe and the characters they came from so therefore that’s all they think about creatively and care about. And they care about the storyline. So it becomes a really creative kind of family and a place that I enjoy working. And it’s part of my life and important to have fun and work with good people.”
We’ll get our first real glimpse of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch very soon because Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron hits cinemas on May 1st!