Thor: The Set Visit


Moving from one gigantic soundstage to another, even more gigantic soundstage, our group gathered on the edge of an ice planet. Stretching across the expanse of the room was a series of icebergs on hydraulic gimbles. When the camera started rolling, the landscape came to life and the actors would jump from one revolving hunk of ice to the next in a surprisingly dangerous-looking performance that, fortunately for the talent, was overcome by their timing and dexterity.  

The scene, we’re told, involves Thor’s friends, the Warriors Three, Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg along with Sif, the sister of Heimdall and Thor’s fellow warrior. The group, along with Thor and Loki, have stolen something from Odin’s vault and gone on a bit of a joyride, much to the chagrin of the Frost Giants, who now pursue them across the icy terrain.

Volstagg, brought to life by Ray Stevenson and Fandral, portrayed by Joshua Dallas, are the first to approach the group, fully decked out in make-up and costume (Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, sadly, was not on-set). Both Dallas and Stevenson, (the later of whom is hidden beneath a tremendous beard and a full-body fatsuit) seem joyously unable to fully drop Fandral and Volstagg, doing the interview halfway in character. 

“Those little metal things?” Stevenson laughed with mock disgust when asked if Asgardians are powerful enough to take a bullet.

“A bullet?” Dallas added, “What is that? I would cut that with my Asgardian steel.”

“[With Volstag] what you see is what you get,” Stevenson explained, “He’s a bon vivant lover of life. An Epicurean goodfellow. He’s a God, which helps. He’s full of life… There’s a wonderful innocence to him and the steadfast loyalty of a big Saint Bernard dog. He’d come running through the snow with a keg of beer to save your life. You know, he’s got a twinkle in his eye. He’s always up for a party… He’s an all-around good egg. Big egg, but a good egg.”

“[Fandril] would like to think of himself,” Dallas smiled, “as the R. Kelley of Asgard. He’s a lover, not a fighter… Fandril is a fun-loving guy. He’s a ladies man. It’s always debatable how successful he is at that. He thinks he’s pretty successful. He thinks that all the ladies love him and, if they don’t, then they will soon come around to the idea of loving him. He’s fiercely loyal to Thor and the Warriors Three. They look out for each other. They would rather have a good time, but if he’s gotta fight, he’ll fight.”

Accompanying the costuming was each character’s weaponry. Fandril is an expert swordsman and Volstagg weilds a tremendous battle-axe. Once everything comes together, the Warriors burst to life on-set. 

“There was one morning where I had the hair and beard and I showed up to call still in my shirt and jeans,” recalled Stevenson, “When you’re wearing jeans there’s a shift in your center of gravity. A costume like this and a character like this, there’s no way to hide. If you try and play him any way sort of modern or normal, you diminish. He’s larger than life. He’s 150 percent. You’ve got to go for it all the time. It was just impossible. I was walking out my door and I thought, ‘No, I’ve got to at least get my suit on. I won’t be able to rehearse. I won’t be here.’”

Most of the Godly cast will feature English accents. As Stevenson explained, “[Humans] think, ‘Oh, you speak our language?’ and it’s actually it’s, ‘No, you’re speaking ours.’” Dallas, using the accent, said that he did his best to channel Errol Flynn for his performance. Stevenson, meanwhile, found inspiration in William Shakespeare’s recurring comedy character, Fallstaff.

 “The way Shakespeare wrote Fallstaff is with a heightened language and everything,” he explained, “That’s the genuis of having Ken Branagh here as well. Shakespeare doesn’t require you to have a doctorate in his language or whatever to understand him. It just has to be directed and played right. It’s all about scale and presence and getting these huge, epic stories across. Hence the genius of having Ken steer this ship as well. You have to invest these characters with a Shakespearian quality and not in a way that might disengage the audience but in a way that actually lets you play to an audience.”

Jamie Alexander, meanwhile, instantly won over the group with her surprisingly detailed knowledge of Walt Simonson, a talent she says her brothers introduced her to at a very young age and who she got to meet just after taking the role. 

Fantastically energetic and charismatic, Alexander appeared that she may be one of the breakout hits of Thor and was every bit as delighted to be on-set as the rest of us.

“I find Sif a lot stronger than Wonder Woman,” Alexander said of finding the character, “so I’m really pleased that I got this role. As you can see, she’s covered. It’s no slutty costumes, you know. No boobs sticking out, any of that stuff. She’s just a strong female, and I think that needs to be done for a lot of young women out there… [There is] a metal corset and underneath it is a regular corset, so I’ve got two corsets on. After a while you, your abs are kind of spasming out and uh, yeah. My stunt girl has to come over sometimes and lift me up under my rib cage, and I let out a burp, and then everything’s fine.”

Though, in the comics, Sif is a romantic interest for Thor, Alexander offered that their relationship will remain platonic on-screen and that she’s just one of the guys when it comes to fighting.

“She kind of thinks [Thor’s] a little bit pig-headed, but she loves him nevertheless, you know? She’s like, ‘That’s my buddy, I’ll do what I can for him.’ But she’ll definitely call him on his s–t, which I like. Because it’s kind of how I am, with Chris [Hemsworth].

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