In this THOR: RAGNAROK interview with Karl Urban, we learned about his favorite takes that didn’t make it in the movie, the freedom with improvisation as an actor, and how director Taika Waititi got him on board with just a phone call (basically)! This press event was part of the #ThorRagnarokEvent hosted by Disney and Marvel.
One of my blogging friends is a little bit obsessed with the Wellington, New Zealand hometown boy Mr. Urban. From his first Hollywood acting role in Ghost Ship, she’s adored him in everything he’s done: the latest Marvel comic book movie is just the tip of the iceberg for her!
When she heard that I would be going on this trip, she wished me well and hoped I got all the #ThorAir I could handle, but she admitted she might not forgive me if I happened to touch Karl Urban or get too close to him, or even get a picture with him.
She, uh, claimed Karl as HERS.
I’m happy (and relieved) to say that she is still talking to me, despite doing all of the above.
THOR: RAGNAROK Interview With Karl Urban
I share this story to explain just how strong Urban’s fanbase feels about him.
With his extensive movie credit history that spans family favorites like Pete’s Dragon to science fiction movies like Star Trek: Beyond, Dredd, The Lord of the Rings, and more, they have seen him in a lot of significant roles.
I didn’t realize until we started talking just how many films I’d seen him in! And now he’s part of the MCU! If you need to catch up on the movies you should watch before Thor: Ragnarok, check out this list of Marvel movies in order.
When he walked into the room, we surprised him with our enthusiasm. A loud chorus of cheers and clapping washed over him.
I suppose 24 moms and one dad can make some noise when they are excited!
Then it was his turn to surprise us.
He did something that I’m told has never happened in the history of these Disney press trips: he walked up and down each row of us (3 rows) and shook our hands.
Every one of us received a “good morning, nice to meet you,” and a warm handshake.
Sorry, Kuleen, my friend, I broke your directive within the first 30 seconds of meeting Urban.
Improvisation in Thor: Ragnarok
We knew there was a lot of improvisation going on in this movie.
And Karl’s role seems to have some moments that might lead to a bit of ad-libbing.
So we asked about that and how it was to work under that kind of an environment.
Karl Urban: “Allegedly [LAUGHTER] yeah, you know what, I guess full credit to Marvel.
They hired a director in Taika who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility and they actually let him do his job.
There was already a brilliant foundation in the script and we would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page and then shoot a wealth of material that that Taika quite frankly just made up [LAUGHTER] and there was nothing sacrilegious about a take, you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, oh why don’t you say this, say this line.
Or a piece of direction– just yell it out.
And it was actually kind of liberating.
You felt comfortable in that you could- there was no such thing as a bad choice that there was nothing precious about it.
I think that really kind of afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to, you know, fully explore all the options.
I can’t wait to see the extras on this movie.
I mean the movie is funny and entertaining but I think the extras are going to be as equally entertaining and I can’t wait to see them.”
Favorite Scene to Not Make It In Thor: Ragnarok
I wanted to know if there was something he hoped would make it in, but didn’t.
I figured in a movie like this with so much humor and so much improvisation there had to be something he was hoping to see on the big screen.
Karl Urban: “I like Skurge’s introduction when I’m trying to woo the young ladies [LAUGHTER]. They had a whole collection of stolen stuff that Skurge had pillaged from the universe.
And you only got to see one thing of me shaking the [LAUGHTER] whatever that thing was.”
We were able to tell him what it was: a Shake Weight!
Karl Urban: “A Shake Weight! They had all sorts of stuff, we shot like for hours with me with fishing rods with lures [LAUGHTER] and all sorts of crazy stuff, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.”
If I wasn’t looking forward to the Blu-ray, I certainly am now.
I can only imagine the outtakes and unused shenanigans that went on with these guys.
I also heard about some crazy scene Taika did with Loki’s headdress on, so the extended scenes should be the stuff Marvel behind-the-scenes legends are made of!
How He Got Involved with Marvel
Karl Urban: “I got a call from Taika saying listen there’s this character in this movie that I’d love you to go and I’d wanted to work with Taika for a long time.
I’m a huge fan of his work from What We Do In The Shadows, to Wilderpeople, and Boy.
So already he had my half hooked right just by calling me [LAUGHTER] but he sent me the script and I immediately recognized that there was actually something profoundly emotionally compelling about this character’s journey that was eminently relatable.
Here’s a character that’s put in a situation where he has to make a decision, he has to align himself with a cause that he does not believe in but it’s the only thing he can do in order to survive.
And I thought that was a very interesting moral dilemma.
Then once he’s crossed that bridge and he realizes there is no turning back, then he is looking for a way to redeem himself and that was ultimately, his journey.
It resonated on the page.
So I had full confidence that left unmolested it was going to translate onto the screen.”
The Women in Thor: Ragnarok
Was the inclusion of these strong, fighting women on screen vital for you to see as an actor?
How did you feel about the experience?
Karl Urban: “It’s imperative.
I think it would have been a boring movie without them [LAUGHTER].
Cate and Tessa are so wonderful in this film; they are my favorite parts of the movie and I love seeing Tessa’s swagger.
I love the journey of her character from the dark place that she was in, to redemption, to the reclaiming herself with her identity.
I thought it was a strong compelling, journey.
I had such a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett.
I mean to be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie; it was the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett.
I read that script and saw that ninety percent of my material was with her— I’m like where do I sign up?
How much do I pay you?”
Final Thoughts on Interviewing Skurge
Throughout the interview one thing was clear: Karl had nothing but positive things to say about his time on set and complimented the cast members he worked with profusely.
We all thought he might be the nicest guy in Hollywood!
And I could see that my friend’s passion and fandom for the guy were perfectly well placed.
You will love watching how Skurge develops throughout the film, and you’ll get both laughs and #allthefeels from this performance as well.
It was such a pleasure to be part of this interview with Mr. Urban.
I cannot wait for you guys to see him in the movie!
THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters on November 3, 2017!
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Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)