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When it comes to Black Widow, Marvel Studios assembled a strong cast for the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scarlett Johansson shines in the lead role of Natasha Romanoff, but her co-stars, like Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, also bring their A-game. And of course, there’s also David Harbour, who plays hulking, Russian super soldier Alexei Shostakov a.k.a. Red Guardian. Harbour gets to chew his fair share of scenery and ends up stealing a few scenes in the process. And he even enhanced a scene by improvising about Santa Clause, because of course.

The dynamic between Natasha Romanoff and her found family is far and away one of the best aspects of Black Widow. Those interactions can be tricky to nail, though, so the cast focused their attention on the script in order to make the relationships between the characters feel real. CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell recently chatted with David Harbour, who explained how he and his co-stars sought to build connections while prepping for the movie:

There’s a lot of people that work on those action sequences for a lot longer than we do. We come in and do our pieces of them, but they’re, you know, pre-vising, and you know, stunt guys [are] working through stuff 24… I mean it seems like 24 hours a day for months. But in terms of our work, I mean our work really is just to really put the heart into it because that’s where that comes from. And so we had pre-production where we were working on the script with the writer and with Cate [Shortland] and really coming up with the specifics of the relationships in this dynamic. And, you know, the script was already good when we started, and then we made it richer and richer as we went.

It sounds like David Harbour and the rest of the Black Widow cast and crew put in a considerable amount to ensure that the relationships felt authentic. And one of the positive results of this is that it leads to unexpected gold in front of the camera, which, according to Harbour, occurred during one of the movie’s key scenes:

And then a lot of that comes out even on the day, in terms of the particular dynamic between us. I mean we all kind of fell in love with each other and kind of forgave each other in a weird way as it goes on. I mean there was a real spirit of love, and that just bubbled up. And also just humor. I mean, we just had a really good time with each other. That dinner table scene, I mean, there is stuff… There is a version of that on the editor’s floor that is so ridiculous, where I go into talking about Santa Claus, and like… I mean, I just have all these stories of our history together as a family, when they were, you know, I think Yelena is like 3-6 or whatever… I mean, I just had all this stuff that I would just improv. And Rachel would come right back with all this other nonsense, and it was just really, really fun. So, um, yeah, we… That chemistry was, you know, we worked on the history, but the chemistry was natural. I mean, I love all three of those women. I think they’re phonomenal, and I just fell in love with them.

Considering all of this, it’s really no surprise that the dinner table scene and a number of other sequences work so well. Capturing magic like that can be difficult, but those small touches really do come through, even an extended explanation of Santa Claus.

David Harbour’s feelings are also a reflection of his deep love for the character of Alexei. Based on other comments he recently made to CinemaBlend, he was incredibly excited to put on his Red Guardian costume for the first time. And he even has an idea for a movie that would see his character take on Captain America. There’s a good chance fans will want more of the character after seeing him in the movie, and Marvel Studios might just oblige them should that be the case.

Black Widow is now playing in theaters and is available via Premier Access on Disney+, which you can sign up for using this link.

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