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Interview with Captain America: The Winter Soldier Directors Joe and Anthony Russo

 

Russo Brothers

Joe Russo (L) and Anthony Russo (R)

The just released film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is kicking some major butt in theaters across the country. It’s the top grossing film with an April opening of all time. I had no doubt that the film would do exceptionally well in theaters. I know a lot of people who were anxiously waiting for it’s release.

For all those die hard Captain America fans, and new fans of the series, the third Captain America film is slated for a May 2015 release. Yeah!

A few weeks ago a blogger group I was in had the wonderful opportunity to interview some of the talent from the film – Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie. We also have the opportunity to interview the President of Marvel, Kevin Feige. If you are interested in any of these interviews, or my review of the film, simply type in Captain America in the search bar on my site (upper right side on the side bar).

Another interview we conducted that day was with Joe and Anthony Russo (“the Russo brothers”) who directed the film. Below is some highlights from their interview.

Q: As brothers who work side-by-side every day, what do you find challenging and do you work off each other’s strengths?

Anthony Russo: Without question. There wouldn’t be a great partnership unless we compensated for each other – helped mitigated each other’s,  weaknesses and complement each other’s strengths. We’ve been doing it for a long time now – about 15 years. There’s a real shorthand that we have. It’s not a very formal relationship, like the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) who divvy up producing and directing. Ours is less defined than that. We always say that if you’ve asked one of us a question and you get an answer then you got an answer from both of us. We share a lot of the same influences, obviously, we grew up together. We’ve read the same comics, we read the same books, we watched the same movies, watched the same television shows, so all of our influences are very similar. So when we look at material we tend to look at it in the same way and it seems to make it very easy for everybody.

Q: You guys are primarily known for comedies (You, Me and Dupree, Community). What was it about this – did you want to start something new or really interested in getting into the Marvel?

Anthony Russo: If you had asked us before we got started if we would ever be known as comedy directors we would have never guessed that. I mean, we didn’t start off our directing career necessarily intending to be comedy directors. We loved comedy. We started down that road because we wrote a comedy called “Welcome to Collinwood” that we ended up directing. But our  tastes run everywhere. We shoot all kinds of things. We shoot TV, we shoot films, we shoot commercials, we shoot TV pilots and episodes. Our tastes run all over the map. We like to explore everything as filmmakers. The action genre is something that’s been on our agenda for a long, long time.

Joe Russo: Well, it was a double whammy for us.  I started collected comic books when I was 10 years old and one of the first books I ever got was a Captain America and Falcon team up. When Marvel came to us and said, “Listen, are you interested in making Captain America – The Winter Soldier?” it was a 30-year dream come true for me to be able to make a comic book movie.

Helicarrier Captain America Winter Soldier

Q: What were your favorite scenes to work on, and the hardest scenes to work on?

Joe Russo: Favorite scenes? I love the relationship between Chris and Scarlett in the movie. I think that’s the real heart of the film. They were extremely integral in the interpretation of those scenes, both Chris and Scarlett. They wrote some of their own dialogue. They’ve been working together for so long. I think this is their fourth film together and they’ve been really good friends for years. And so they brought all that energy and chemistry to the movie and I think it really is the spark of life in this film. Those are the easiest and funnest scenes to work on, where it was anytime we had the two of them together.

Anthony Russo: I would also add the scene with Robert Redford when he and Chris Evans are in Nick Fury’s office. I loved working with Robert Redford. It was certainly a career high. Secondly it’s just such a great scene to just watch those two play chess with each other through that scene and watch Captain America be put in a position where he has to lie to somebody who’s like basically his commanding officer. It was just a really exciting and interesting scene. I’ll just never forget that experience.

Joe Russo: The hardest scenes are the action scenes, obviously. There was a scene where the Winter Soldier attacks Cap and Natasha and Sam in a car on the freeway. We had to shut down a freeway in Cleveland for two weeks to shoot that scene. If you could imagine in your own town if a filmmaker came in and said, “Hey we’re going to shut down your major freeways for two weeks, what do you guys think?” Have fun getting to work, right? [LAUGHS] . There was a lot of pressure on us because there was no room for error. It was a very complicated sequence. We had to get all that work from the time he lands on their car till the time his mask comes off. All that work has to be done in a two-week period. So he and I worked around the clock 14-days straight. We had multiple units to make sure we got it. That  was, that was probably the toughest thing we did in the movie.

Captain America Winter Soldier

Q: Knowing that this was a Marvel film, was there any pressure with the fan base and make sure you got it right?

Joe Russo: There’s always pressure with the fan base. It’s an intense fan base. But what something that we’ve learned in our career is that  you cannot predict what people are going to like. You can only make the movie based on how you feel and what you feel you would want to see. And then you hope everybody else likes it too. We’re comic book fans and film geeks. Our approach to the movie was, “I’m finally getting the opportunity as a fan boy to make a comic book film?’ What do I want to see in a comic book movie?” And then we put all of that into the film. And, like I said, you just keep your fingers crossed. You know you’re never going to make everybody happy.

Anthony Russo: It’s like Joe mentioned. It’s important to remember that the fan base does not speak with a single voice. You find the entire spectrum of opinion.

Q: You said you were a huge comic book fan and you’ve been reading since Captain Falcon Team in the 1970s – what was your reaction in the comic books when Bucky came back as a Winter Soldier?

Anthony Russo: We thought it was genius… It’s so rare that you get a villain who has such an emotional connection to the hero. That’s a gift as a storyteller – because you know, there’s an old adage that the hero is only as good as the villain and it’s so true. And you think about – your favorite hero/villain movies, the villain is always a very Seminole figure. So basically to have your doppelganger or your this sort of antithetical Captain America character, he’s got a robot arm that’s as strong as your shield. You know his strength is equal to your strength. He’s fighting for principles that are opposite of your principles…

Joe Russo: … yet he’s your best friend.

Anthony Russo: We couldn’t have been more excited to make this film.

Q: What was your favorite completed scene to see on the big screen?

Anthony Russo: There were so many of them but I would have to say there was a particular thrill to watching the climax – the battle with the helicarriers sort of finally completed. Because that was such a long road. It was computer graphics. That scene didn’t really come together until the last couple months. Other scenes, like Fury’s car chase, or the fight on the bridge with the Winter Soldier, those things we had  edited back in September. The final climactic battle is something that came together at the very end of the process because of all the graphic work for it.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, what are you waiting for? LOL! 🙂 Seriously, it’s an awesome film. The action and special effects will blow your mind.

You can check out the film’s official Facebook page as well as the Twitter page.

Have you seen the film yet? If so I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Feel free to leave a comment. I always love to hear from my readers.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Poster

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. The opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted. My travel expenses to the press interview were covered.