‘Civil War’ Audio Commentary By directors and screenwriters
It is for the record and all about RDJ thing or related.
MARKUS: It’s also Robert’s last shot, right? ‘Cause he had to shave the beard in order to shoot it.
JOE: I think we have to really, um, give a shout-out to Alfre Woodard here for doing a, you know, very small part in this movie, but a very integral part. It was so important that the audience feel the emotional impact of this and to have an actress of her calibre performing this for us was an incredible gift and a real favour.
ANTHONY: It was Robert’s idea, actually, to cast her. He brought her up for that role ‘cause I think he knew how important this scene would be for the character.
McFEELY: And even on set it was pretty clear. “Oh, wow! Wow!”
JOE: Robert is an incredibly big personality on-screen and you have to have an incredible actor or actress opposite him to hold the screen.
McFEELY: That’s right. He does not talk much in that scene.
JOE: We did a lot of work early on with Robert about the character and our big pitch to him, because he was not contracted to do this movie… We had to go to him and pitch him the film and get him creatively vested in the film, was that we were gonna take a very different approach with Tony Stark. That we were gonna make the character off-balance and emotionally vulnerable and, uh, insensitive and that, you know, he’s going to be in a real place of confusion. He’s dealing with emotions that he hasn’t had to deal with before. And that his moral centre and his narcissism are coming into conflict with each other. And he has to make a choice to submit his ego to the government.
McFEELY: And I think that’s being responsible to the movies that have come before. I mean, you know, you can’t blow off things like Ultron. If you do, then you are just spinning your wheels.
JOE: Right. You’re just making movies…
McFEELY: If he doesn’t learn from his mistakes, we will eventually get sick of him.
McFEELY: Uh, l kind of copped to the idea that Robert brought the pens in.
JOE: Yes. That was actually… So, our process with Robert… We could talk about the process with Robert a little bit. Robert is a very, um… I know the term is thrown around too much, but he’s an organic actor. He likes the mercurial part of the process, inspirational part of the process. And he really has to get under the skin of a scene in order to understand it on an emotional level for his interpretation of the character. So, what all of us would do, is every week before Robert would shoot. And I think he was on the movie for about eight weeks… We would all go over to his house on a Sunday, have a very lovely lunch, and then we would sit for a few hours and talk through the scene with him and Robert would do some improvisation in character. And, you know, the guys would write some of the lines down and then we’d talk through the structure of the scene and then, you know, without compromising the story in any way. Which, really… You know, Robert is incredibly additive, um, certainly in terms of character ‘cause he knows Tony Stark better than anybody on the planet. Um, and extremely inventive in his choices. And the pens were an idea that he brought to the scene as a way to represent what was going on between Cap and Tony in the scene. And it adds for a very lovely…
McFEELY: Oh, it’s great. They basically… It gives you a beginning and an end to that scene.
MARKUS: So, the nerves of Tom Holland being in a room with Robert Downey Jr. are 50% of the scene, and the rest of it is acting like you’re nervous Peter Parker being with, uh, Tony Stark. So, it’s just jazzed up by the fact that…
McFEELY: The dynamic is the same in life.
MARKUS: This kid is in the room with this huge actor.
ANTHONY: Also, this scene is so interesting, too, because it is… We used a version… You guys wrote a version of this scene to audition the actor. And we did screen tests with several actors with Robert Downey Jr. of this scene. A different version of it. But the thing is, we got to really work the hell out of this scene, both with the actors and you guys in terms of what the structure of the scene would be. And I think, this scene is one of my favorite in the film. But it’s interesting that it was a product of a lot of… We had several runs at the scene, so to speak, before we actually had to commit to it.
ANTHONY: Well, also, for a young actor, it’s like… One of the things I was always struck by in this scene is, to be able to act with Robert Downey Jr. when he’s giving… Like, Downey gave this scene his all. He knew how important this scene was. He knew how important Tom’s performance in this scene would be, as well as his own. And he gave this scene so much and he helped… You know, it’s like, you're never gonna be a better actor than when you’re acting across from Robert Downey Jr. It’s an amazing thing.
ANTHONY: He does something here, this line right here about the leg. So, Tom, you know, forgot the blocking of the scene. And of course, that’s Robert staying in character, telling him you’re supposed to move now, so I can sit on the bed.
ANTHONY: But he’s Not only does he use it, but he uses it in a way that’s really entertaining and fun.
JOE: And becomes one of the better moments in this.
McFEELY: He really is great.
ANTHONY: With him totally in character. I mean, that’s such a dexterous and inventive move on an actor’s part.
JOE: I will say that…
ANTHONY: You don’t see that very often.
JOE: To pick up what you were talking about, Anth, this… There’s been many, many, many a moment where I went, “That’s why Robert Downey is Robert Downey. ” But no moment more so than when we blocked this scene with him and with Tom Holland. You know, we knew how important the scene was. And we showed up to start blocking the scene. And, you know, we knew we had about an hour and a half, two hours to do it because we were gonna take the time to get it right. It was a very small space, so there’s not a lot you can do in this scene. But if you notice, they move quite a bit in the scene. And after about 15 minutes of blocking, I saw Downey and I… And this was where I went, “This guy is an absolute genius. “He really understands movement and spatial relationship to camera.” He started moving around the space and Anth and I just kinda stepped back, and we watched as he encouraged Tom’s blocking throughout the whole sequence and… And, you know, making suggestions. “What would… If you went over to the bed at this point.” Or, “What if you… ” And the whole scene developed between he and Tom. Uh, and it is… We’ve seen the movie with a lot of audiences now, at the premieres. It’s always regarded as one of the favorite scenes in the film.
McFEELY: It is charming.
JOE: Uh, and it’s really… A lot of credit goes to Robert for helping Tom craft a star-making performance in the scene.
ANTHONY: This is the kind of scene where, as directors, you have to be very sensitive with actors, ‘cause what Downey was doing in this performance while he was watching the tape is so complicated. It’s sensitive and raw. You have to be very, uh, specific about your shots. You know, you can’t ask an actor to shred themselves emotionally like that.
McFEELY: So, literally, you planned on only doing this a few times?
ANTHONY: Exactly. ‘Cause you know, you can’t dial something up like that over and over.
JOE: And he wasn’t watching anything. We hadn’t shot this yet. I was literally standing off camera with the script just reading what he was saying.
McFEELY: Well, yes, and I remember you gilding the lily at times. You know…
JOE: Yes. I was trying to…
McFEELY: And now they’re pleading!
McFEELY: They’re screaming!
JOE: She’s begging for her life!
JOE: I did try to goose him emotionally, yes.
McFEELY: No. It worked great.