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Being a sci-fi fantasy story, Thor: The Dark World will feature hundreds of actors that have been disguised in all kinds of prosthetics and make-up that help them appear to be something very not human. But the case is a little bit different for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who not only needed to undergo one massive physical change in the movie, but two.
In the Marvel Studios film, Akinnuoye-Agbaje will star as both Algrim The Strong – a Dark Elf who serves as a lieutenant to the villainous Malekith (Chirstopher Eccleston) – and Kurse – a large demon like beast that Algrim transforms into. Both characters required the actor to sit in the makeup chair for hours on end, but, as he explained to myself and a small group of other film journalists visiting the set, it’s all been worth it.
In the set visit report that I ran yesterday I went into full depth about the new characters of Thor: The Dark World, and now you can read about the movie straight from one of the star’s mouth. Read on to find out about the new Elf language being created for the film, Algrim’s close bond with Malekith, how the Kurse costume helped fix the actor’s posture, and much more.
Do you use an accent in the film?
I very rarely ever use my accent but, no we’ve, we 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 because 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 makes it very real.
How long is the makeup process?
For Algrim it takes about two and a half hours, possibly three, depends. And for Kurse, it takes about an hour and a half and sometimes I have to do them both at 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 but 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.
How much did you know about the characters going into the movie? Did they tell you how much time you would be spending in the makeup chair?
No, I think they purposely evaded that [laughs]. It was a very vague discussion actually. It was, “We have this great character, we think only you can play it.” 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?” And 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, you know, he’s quite a figure in the Marvel world. But Algrim and the Elves, it was still somewhat vague to me and that was the joy of coming in. I did the research and discovered who they were. And I think what they did is allowed me not to have the preconceived notions and come up with something that was a little more unique. Obviously Marvel and the director have those preconceived notions which I'm sure that you are familiar with, and they bring them and 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 can we construct, and various departments build various pieces. The hair pieces, the face, you don’t see any of it in its entirety until pretty much just before the principal photography and it’s “Oh, this is what I look like.” It’s 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.
How hard has it been wearing the costumes and all of the prosthetics?
Kurse is probably the most challenging. It’s about 30, 40 pounds and the underneath sometimes I’ll wear a 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. So it’s very literal. I did a lot of mirror work before I went to the stage because I was 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 it’s very flexible, the mask that they put on, so every grimace and wink and you can see. And so we played around with that a lot. It’s challenging, but that’s the task at hand. Algrim compared to Kurse is a walk in the park [laughs]. It’s 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 [laughs].
Who do you get to play in scenes with in the movie??
I'm lucky. I get to play scenes with all of the main characters. Probably the most time I spend is with Christopher Eccleston. 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 it’s great. I’ve got great scenes with Tom Hiddleston. I’ve got great scenes with Chris [Hemsworth].
What can you tell us about Malekith?
With 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 a mentorship. The beauty about Algrim is it’s 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.
So he’s a military man?
It is there. The differentiation is there. I mean Algrim is very much about… I purposely put in this word, this word that we keep using for Algrim and it’s “It will be done,” “It will be done.” That’s his motto. He’s your go to guy to get stuff done. Kurse, the rage, it 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’s. 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 brew at the same time, you know?
Has a lot changed in the script from when you were first given the script and where you guys are now?
No, I think they had a real good knuckle on it. They had a real good idea of what they wanted to do. It 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.