07 Avengers: Age of Ultron – The Avengers Assemble 4

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Although S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dismantled and is out of the picture, its fearless leader Nick Fury is still lurking in the shadows. “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s in disarray,” says Samuel L. Jackson. “Everybody’s scattered to the wind so it is interesting to see how they bring us back together as we continue to do Avengers business. Fury is on the outside looking in, but still has his hand in there a little bit and the person I trust more than anybody on the planet is Natasha. It’s always been the case, so she is my eyes and ears.”

For The Avengers, their eyes and ears all become fixated on Ultron when he crashes their soiree at Avengers Tower. While the character at first is a heap of scrap metal and throwaway parts, the filmmakers needed a dynamic actor who could infuse the robotic villain with a freshness that hasn’t been seen before on the big screen. Casting was much easier than expected, as the filmmakers didn’t have to search long for their man.

“James Spader is an incredible actor and when ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was coming around and Joss began to put together the character, he said to us, ‘It has to be James Spader,’” says Kevin Feige. “It was another casting moment where we went ‘yes!’ There was nobody else on the list. He’s so unique and has such an amazing voice that is full of humor, darkness and emotion. In the comics Ultron he is a very unique robotic character, but it’s a scary thing. There have been lots of franchises based on robots, so we did not want him to be a normal robot. We wanted Ultron to be borderline insane and full of raw emotional nerve, which you don’t expect out of a synthetic life form.”

The producer continues, “That’s what makes Ultron interesting and over the course of the film James Spader brings various bodies of technological scrap metal to life in a very unique style. It’s exactly what we wanted and then some. You have this metallic face and geared robotic eyes saying these voices he has created.”

For Spader, becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was something that hit close to home. “I had at the time a 19-year-old son who had always loved comic book films and comic books, and throughout my career I have never made a film that any of my kids have been able to see until they were considerably older,” says Spader. “At that time I also had a little 3-year-old son coming along too, and he was already interested in fantasy, so I thought I could finally do something for my boys.”

The actor continues, “I also have had a very long friendship with Robert Downey Jr. and we hadn’t worked together in decades. I thought this would really be fun to get on a set again and play an 8-foot robot who is just hellbent on destroying his character, Tony Stark, in the film.”

For Downey Jr. it was a nice homecoming of sorts for the two actors. “There are a lot of full circles going on with this one,” laughs the actor. “Probably the most personal one is James Spader. He was the first person I saw when I came to Los Angeles and he really took me under his wing. He’s just a couple years older, but I think again it was a very inspired casting choice, not just because he’s on everyone’s lips and minds again, but he really is a bit of an American treasure and I’ve certainly borrowed from his style more than a few times over the years.”

For Spader, the complexity of the character was something he enjoyed exploring. “Ultron is able to access anything technological and anything that is available on the Internet,” informs the actor. “It becomes part of his stimulation and information and is embedded in his psyche. He has ungoverned access that is constantly streaming into his processing chip. So it’s overwhelming and almost impossible to harness the powers and knowledge. He’s a little too strong for his own good.”

“Everything about Ultron has to be motivated,” says Joss Whedon. “At the same time, Ultron’s crazy and mentally unbalanced. James is very articulate and he said, ‘I am going to constantly reference things either in a speech or emotionally that are not happening and that are not relevant.’ It really took me a second to digest that and then I saw the point: he’s doing math emotionally that we don’t see and then suddenly he’s angry about something and then suddenly he’s obsessed with something else because his mind is everywhere. So James really embraced that, which really added so many layers to the character.”

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