From the Set of Thor: The Dark World

 

THE DARK ELVES

One of the more interesting aspects of the sequel is the introduction of the Dark Elves and how they would look in the movie compared to how they were depicted in the comics where Malekith almost had the appearance of a court jester with a face that was half white and half black. Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith is a lot more fearsome with half of his face badly damaged under his mask.

Along with his second lieutenant Algrim, they lead an army of Dark Elf “Storm Troopers” who are clearly more alien in appearance as well as looking more war-like and wearing masks that mirror the black circles for eyes with what looks like tears coming down from them, which mirror Malekith’s blank stare from the comics . They’re black shell-like armor looks more like muscles than any familiar substance, creating a contrast to the Asgardians’ colorful costumes, and they all have a spikey weapon attached to their arm. We spent some time in the design room where they have constructed 20 individual Dark Elf uniforms, all of which are sculpted specifically for the stuntmen that are wearing them. Although Kurse’s outfit is also made up of separate plates, we were told his transformation will be heavily enhanced by CG as well similar to how Bruce Banner is transformed into the Hulk.

To create Svartalfheim, home of the Dark Elves, they shot in Iceland to take advantage of the country’s black rock landscape, although they created part of it on the backlot for the final battle (which was being shot on our previous day on set).

To get an idea of the relationship between Malekith and Algrim, we got to watch an early scene on the Ark between the two of them in which they seemed to be speaking in some form of Elfish and it’s the first time we see Malekith without his mask. Malekith seems to be injured as he stumbles onto the bridge barefoot and is joined by Algrim who is wearing his mask.

While we didn’t have a chance to speak with Christopher Eccleston–he was far too busy being evil–we did get a chance to talk to his second-in-command, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, best known for playing Adebisi on HBO’s “Oz” and Mr. Eko on “Lost.” The journalists all gathered in his trailer between scenes for a quick interview noting that without his mask, he had long white hair, tied into a ponytail, and had pointy ears as well as sensors on his face and a noticeable scar on his face. It was quite a contrast from seeing him on set as Kurse the day before.

Q: Do you get to use your an accent in this one?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
I very rarely ever use my own accent, but no we’ve crafted an accent for Algrim and also Kurse, because there will be some transformation. So there is an accent and there’s a modification of it for Kurse and I’ll give you a little hint as well. There’s a language which I think is gonna intrigue you as much as it has me ’cause I’ve had to spend hours learning it, but I think you’ll get a lot of fun out of that because I think it adds a new dimension to not only the Elves but the movie. It really makes it very real.

Q: How long is the makeup process for you?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
For Algrim it takes about two-and-a-half hours, possibly three, depends, to put it on. And for Kurse, it takes about an hour and a half and sometimes I have to do them both on the same day so we’re looking about five hours. That’s just to put on and to take off, but it definitely is a labor of love. I’ve got the most skilled prosthetic team as you can see working with me so they make it very, very easy, but it’s long.

Q: How much did you know about the characters?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
No, I think they purposely evaded that. (laughter) It was a very vague discussion actually. It was, “We have this great character. We think only you can play it,” and yeah, it was just later as we got into the movie and we started seeing the costumes. “Oh, by the way did we tell you there’s prosthetics, quite a lot of it?” so it kind of unfolded. But in terms of how much I knew, I’d be quite frank with you, I haven’t known an awful lot. Kurse, I’ve known about because he’s quite a figure in the Thor world and the Marvel world but Algrim and the Elves, it was still somewhat vague to me and that was the joy of coming on, because I did all the research and discovered who they were. I think what they did is it allowed me not to have the preconceived notions and come up with something that was a little more unique, because obviously Marvel and the director have those preconceived notions, which I’m sure that you are familiar with and they bring them. It just allowed me to sort of like come with a different kind of energy from a different side. So I didn’t know a tremendous amount about the characters and as far as the prosthetics, again it was all a bit of a revelation, a pleasant one though, because it’s been quite secretive in that how we construct (it), because various departments build various pieces–the hair pieces, the faces–so you don’t see any of it in its entirety until pretty much toward the end, just before the principal photography. “Oh, this is what I look like.” It’s quite a journey and it’s a revelation when you actually see it, so I didn’t know an awful a lot. I just went along with the ride and I’m enjoying it.

Q: How is it wearing the costumes all day?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
Kurse is probably the most challenging. I don’t know if you can see this. No, you don’t see it today but it’s about 30, 40 pounds and then underneath, sometimes I’ll wear fiberglass body cast as well on top of that because of certain instruments that have to go through me. So it’s a challenge, but the good thing about it, the suit itself is quite flexible and what it does is the bulk, it means you don’t have to act it. You know, what I mean? The burden is on you. There’s very little you have to do. I did a lot of mirror work before I went to the stage because just trying to bring a presence to him and I found that less was absolutely more with him because the bulk actually said a lot and there’s certain movements. It’s very flexible, the mask that they put on, so every grimace and wink and you can see. We played around with that a lot, but it’s challenging but that’s the task at hand. Algrim, compared to Kurse, is a walk in the park. But what it is, is great because when I take off the suit I’ve always had a slide bowed-over posture and now I have this very erect posture. I walk around like that so it’s a good little benefit that comes out of all the burden on my walk.

Q: Who are most of your scenes with?

Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I’m lucky. I get to play scenes with all of the main characters. Probably the most time I spend is with Christopher Eccleston. You know, he plays Malekith and we are very much bonded in our vision of the world and our purpose in the movie so we spend a lot of time together. But I’ve got great scenes with Tom Hiddleston, I’ve got great scenes with Chris. Fortunately, the Kurse, Algrim characters traverse all are characters so it’s really a nice role to play but the most is with Chris (Eccleston).

Q: What is the dynamic your character has with Malekith?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
Well with me and him, with Algrim and Malekith, it’s multi-layered but essentially there’s a furiously loyal bond between us because we’ve been on the frontline together and we lost a lot so it’s almost like a brotherhood, a very deep brotherhood but then there’s also a slight, almost like mentor. The beauty about Algrim is this is the kind of loyalty that is very rare. Somebody who would lay their life on the line for a cause and he feels that Malekith heads that cause, so they’re tight. They are tight.

Q: Algrim is also a military man who leads men while Kurse is all about rage so is that true when you become Kurse, that he doesn’t have the military rigidity?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
It is there. The differentiation is there. I mean Algrim is very much about, and I purposely put in this word that we keep using for Algrim and it’s “It will be done, it will be done” and that’s his motto. He’s your go-to guy to get stuff done. Kurse as you said, the rage, he becomes something else but what I’ve tried to do instead of just making him this ogre, this powerful brute, is keep the Algrim within him. So we overlap some of the words that Algrim would use and use it and also you see his eyes are very much the same as Algrim. So you see that there’s a human within the beast and I think what we’re hoping to do is have people almost empathize with his sacrifice but enjoy the brute at the same time.

Q: Has the script changed a lot since you first got involved with the project?
Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
No, I think they had a real good knuckle on it. They had a real good idea of what they wanted to do. Hasn’t changed dramatically. A few scenes have been added fortunately I think just to flush out the character of Kurse but it’s essentially as I was told in the beginning, actually better.

COSTUMES AND WEAPONS

Normally, the costume department would be the part of the set visit where we start to zone out, but for this one, we spent some time with Simon Brindle, billed as the film’s “costume armorer” and for good reason since they’ve modified all the Asgardian costumes from the first movie so that they’re made to look sturdier for battle, adding metal and leather to all the familiar outfits, including Thor’s. As had been mentioned by the actors, there are different versions of their costumes in this movie with Thor having an “action version” of his costume as well as one he wears during more laidback moments with different colored capes to go with each one. Being that Odin is mainly in military mode for this movie, he mostly wears a war helmet with large horns.

The propsmaster’s weapons room, on the other hand, was something to behold as it was covered from floor to ceiling with a wide array of weapons, not just for the Asgardians but also the weapons assembled by the hundreds of Marauders during their journeys through space. These included all sorts of knives and lances and clubs, as well as sniper rifles, gattling guns and even a rocket launcher, so the Marauders seriously mean business. The Dark Elves’ weapons were even cooler including a backpack gun that transforms into a blade and a lance that had an end which looked like a star-like pike. There were realistic looking rubber versions of these weapons for the battle scenes and we were told that they used a lot of 3d prototyping in designing the weapons.

They also had on display Thor’s “hero hammer” which was made out of metal and weighed 30 lbs. as well as a lighter version which weighed just one-and-a-half pounds for long shots. Most of the journalists decided to pose for pictures holding Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, but we decided to be different and posed with Hogun’s cool-looking mace. (Although honestly, the best part of that photo  on the above right is that you can see many of the cool weapons we mentioned  behihd us, and you can click on the picture to see a larger hi-res version to get a clearer look at them.)

We watched more filming on the Dark Elves ship and then towards the end of our second day, we had a chance to speak with director Alan Taylor, and you can read that full interview on the next page.