Since “Iron Man” hit theaters in 2008, the Marvel universe has seemingly taken over the movie world, not unlike one of its hell-bent super villains—only without the mass destruction. Along the way, several established actors have brought Marvel’s comic characters to life.
But when Marvel decided to reboot “Fantastic Four,” which hits the big screen this weekend, it turned to a collection of up-and-coming talent. Jamie Bell, a BAFTA winner for lead work in “Billy Elliot,” Michael B. Jordan, known for his breakout role in “Fruitvale Station,” Kate Mara, an Emmy nominee for “House of Cards,” and Miles Teller, who delivered star-making turns in “Whiplash” and “The Spectacular Now,” were eager to take on the roles of The Thing, The Human Torch, The Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic, respectively.
After sitting down with Bell, Jordan and Mara at a recent press junket, it’s clear that this cast loved working with one another as much as they did playing their iconic characters. The three consistently joked, finished each other’s sentences, and even asked questions of their own. (Teller was not in attendance, but he did answer one question via FaceTime at the end of the interview.)
“Fantastic Four” is an update of the 2005 film starring Jessica Alba and Chris Evans (who would later go on to Marvel fame as Captain America). The story follows four humans who accidentally take on special powers after suffering an accident in an alternate dimension. The four have to deal with controlling and honing their powers, while also battling Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell), who endured alterations of his own during the accident.
Boca Raton spoke to the actors about everything from the differences between this and the 2005 film to what superhero they would hook up with.
This is a darker spin on Fantastic Four than the 2005 version. It was interesting how you played the characters more like you had disabilities than superpowers. How did that affect how you took on the roles?
Kate Mara: That was one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of it. That’s a unique way of dealing with characters that become superheroes. I always admired that sort of take, and [director] Josh Trank was specific about making that as real and honest as possible.
JB: It’s more like, ‘Look at what amazing thing happened to me in my life, and let me do something good [with it].’ I appreciate the message because people do have to endure and continue on.
What do you want kids to learn from that message?
Michael B. Jordan: Life throws you unexpected curveballs, and you have to overcome them. You have to try and find the silver lining in bad situations and work together.
What type of research did you have to do for the roles?
MBJ: Zero. I’ve been a comic book fan forever, so I’m pretty familiar with Johnny Storm and … [Trank] had such a specific vision and tone and idea for what he wanted the movie to be. I guess the most research I did was sitting down with him for a couple hours, like we all did, to get a really good understanding for what the movie was trying to be.
In the superhero world, who would you want to see your character face-off with or be friends with or hook up with?
KM: Oh hook up with? I like that question.
MBJ: Human Torch and Spiderman are best friends so that would be pretty cool.
KM: Oh that’s cool.
MBJ: That would be pretty dope. And then maybe hook up with Storm or something.
KM: She wouldn’t have to change her name.
KM: She would be Storm.
JB: I mean I guess I’m not hooking up with anyone. But, I’d probably kick it with the Hulk.
KM: That would make sense. You guys should do that.
It seems like there are superhero movies set up until 2037.
MBJ: That seems about right.
Was the time commitment something that you really had to think about when you signed on? And were you nervous about the fan reaction?
KM: I wasn’t concerned about the fan reaction and all of that stuff because I think a lot of that is really positive. I definitely took some time just to think about the commitment aspect of it because it is potentially three movies, if not more. I didn’t feel nervous about that as soon as I heard who the other members of the cast were because I love all of the guys so much as people but also as actors. So I know I’m going to want to work with them another five years down the line if that happens.
Do you have to wear a green suit for The Thing? How many hours a day did you have to wear it?
JB: When he’s like that, all day every day.
KM: But his suit is nothing.
JB: It’s like PJs. It’s like onesie pajamas.
Would any of you switch superpowers with each other?
KM: I wouldn’t. I like mine.
JB: I don’t think anyone is going to be switching with me.
MBJ: No. I’m pretty good. Maybe Reed Richards [aka Mr. Fantastic], maybe.
You want to stretch?
MBJ: Yeah. [Fire becomes] a wardrobe malfunction and you’ve got to wear the same thing everyday. Always the same outfit over and over again. It gets a little boring.
KM: He loves fashion.
JB: Can you ever take off your containment suit?
MBJ: See I don’t know yet.
KM: That’s why we need to make a number two.
JB: [Chris] Evans [the 2005 Human Torch] did. Didn’t he?
MBJ: Evans did. But his was coming from a place of being able to control it and turn it off and on. I think my suit contains it, like I’m always on.
KM: Way cooler than Evans.
JB: Flame on. Flame never off.
Did you stress out at all over the classic catchphrases like “flame on” and “it’s clobberin’ time?”
JB: I don’t like saying catchphrases. It’s inevitable that you’re never going to get it right.
MBJ: Oh for sure.
Did you ever feel insecure? Like this isn’t how they would say it?
JB: I could say it like a thousand times right now, and it would never be good enough. It’s just one of those things. I don’t like things that are already really well known. I like taking things that are not as well known and trying to do something with it.
How did you guys build your chemistry?
KM: It was kind of like this pretty early on. [Jamie and I have] known each other forever and [Michael and I] kind of knew each other. And we just spent a lot of time together on. We went to New Orleans on a couple weekends and just hung out all together as a team. It was kind of effortless, which was lucky.
MBJ: Yeah that doesn’t happen often. I worked with Miles before on “That Awkward Moment,” so we already had a relationship. The chemistry was already there.
Other than your powers, what is it that makes your character fantastic?
KM: Sue’s brain is pretty special.
JB: Ben’s hot.
KM: Good one.
MBJ: Johnny’s courage.
KM: What are we? “The Wizard of Oz?”
MBJ: Miles Teller’s brains.
KM: His wit. I’m brain.
MBJ: No, not Miles. I meant Mr. Fantastic. Reed’s brain.
KM: Guys, let’s FaceTime him.
(Teller joins via FaceTime) What was it like playing an iconic role like Mr. Fantastic for you?
KM: And who was your favorite of the four… three?
Miles Teller: It was great. It was an honor to play the character. I was honestly most excited about doing it with Kate, Mike, and Jamie. I think that’s what people were really excited about, and I think we had a kickass cast and it was a lot of fun to film.
KM: Thanks honey. We miss you.
Was working on a Marvel film what you expected or was it completely different?
JB: I think we have to stop saying a Marvel film. It’s a Fox film.
KM: That’s true. I didn’t really have expectations.
JB: The thing about a comic book move is the same people made X-Men. You’re still in pretty good company and they want this to do really well. We want this to do really well and we want to make more of these movies. There’s no reason why these two franchises won’t meet and we’ll spawn a whole other universe. I think it’s a big honor.
KM: I think so.
JB: I’m excited for it.
This article first appeared on Boca Magazine on August 7, 2015 and can be found here.