Tom Hardy and Andy Serkis get their teeth into ‘Venom’ sequel – The Journal

Not everything worked out in the first “Venom” movie, a darker and more viscous spin-off adjacent to the Marvel world “Spider-verse” from Sony Pictures

NEW YORK (AP) – If there was one big takeaway from 2018’s “Venom”, it’s that when you let Tom Hardy get away, good things happen.

Not everything worked out in the film, a darker, more viscous spin-off adjacent to Sony Pictures’ Marvel world “Spider-verse.” But “Venom,” directed by Hardy’s Jekyll and Hyde, managed to break free from some of the prescribed rhythms of superhero movies.

In his most talked-about scene, reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy), is overwhelmed by the alien symbiote that lives in him: Venom, a slimy and sinister alien also voiced by Hardy. Venom has a voracious appetite, so in a scene set at a seafood restaurant, Hardy improvised that Brock, under Venom’s control, would jump into a lobster tank. What was meant to be a backstory dress-up was rebuilt to support Hardy, and thus spawned the defining moment for a weird and twisted comic book franchise.

“That tone was what everyone considered the epicenter of this world,” said Andy Serkis, director of the “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” sequel. “This is precisely the watershed moment we started with this.”

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which Sony hits theaters on Friday after a year of delay due to the pandemic, extends what may be the strangest superhero series around. The dominant conflict is less about saving the world than about the cohesion of a very strange couple in one body. And given that both lead roles are played by the same actor, this is the most focused comic book movie about an actor’s freewheeling performance.

“What’s exciting is being able to dive into the human psyche and the paradox of the human condition and play them in a ridiculous superhero action thriller,” said Hardy, speaking by phone from London. . “The Eddie Brock and Venom masks are larger than life, but they are ultimately two sides of the same coin.”

In the reliable realm of superhero movies, the first “Venom” was kind of a risk. Venom is a relatively marginal Marvel character; the movies, Serkis says, “swim in the darkest part of the Marvel pool.” But even though the reviews weren’t very good, the film was a hit, grossing $ 856 million worldwide.

“When it came out critics didn’t like it – which is fair enough – and audiences liked it. It worked pretty well, enough for Sony to make another one,” says Hardy. “We did. had to do a debriefing and a wash and say: what worked here? What did not work? What can be improved? “

For the rest, Hardy took a tighter control. On the first “Venom”, the actor said there were about 30 minutes of scenes left on the editing room floor. This time, he asked Serkis, the actor-director best known for his extensive work in motion capture performance, to follow the director of the original, Ruben Fleischer. Hardy was also involved in the development of the follow-up; he and Kelly Marcel (co-writer of “Venom”) are credited with the story of the film. Hardy is also a producer, a first for him on a feature film.

“Putting your hat in the ring is a logical step. We asked Sony, Kelly and I if we could have a chance to launch the second movie, “Hardy said.” And they said, “Of course.”

“Let There Be Carnage” takes on a gothic twist, bringing Brock into the orbit of a serial killer, Cletus Kasaday (Woody Harrelson). Kasaday attracts his own symbiote, Carnage, allowing his escape from prison. The sequel also talks about Brock and Venom going through what Serkis calls “the seven-year itch” in their relationship, as both yearn for independence. In a scene turned to Louis Prima, Venom cooks breakfast for Hardy to cheer him up.

On set, Hardy usually retreats to a corner to record his Venom lines, which are enhanced with a pitch modulator. Then, while Hardy takes on the role of Brock, the Venom lines are played through an earpiece. Serkis calls Hardy’s system “hypnotic” to watch. For Hardy, acting against himself has become a familiar process.

“I got used to seeing myself as a piece of meat and observing myself from the outside like: what do I want to do with my vehicle? OK, Tom is not working properly. What is not working? Said Hardy.

“It may sound schizophrenic and I like to sound crazy when I do,” adds Hardy. “I hope you’ll see it on screen as well – the frenzied, manic nature of someone judging two personalities.”

For Serkis, who directed in 2018 “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”, “Breathe” of 2017 and is preparing an adaptation of “Animal Farm” by George Orwell for Netflix, it is another turn in a career which changes form. . Serkis, who revolutionized the use of motion capture in characters like Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” and Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, was increasingly drawn to the connection between cinema and technology.

“What I’m really interested in is the future of storytelling and how it’s going to change over the next 10, 20, 30 years,” says Serkis. “Right now, we are at a crossroads. We had a pandemic, which forced people to watch things on a very small screen. But pretty sure we’ll go back to what was starting to bloom before the pandemic. “

“Let There Be Carnage,” originally slated for release last October, will be one of the biggest theatrical-only releases to launch during the pandemic. After several delays, Sony brought its release forward by a few weeks. “Venom” will effectively kick off the fall film season, with many closely monitoring its performance.

“Now is definitely the time,” said Serkis. “There really is a moment here, because there are big movies coming out, and they dare to put their heads above the parapets.”

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Follow AP Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

This image released by Sony Pictures Entertainment shows a scene from “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”. (Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)

This image released by Sony Pictures shows director Andy Serkis, left, and Woody Harrelson, right, on the set of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”. (Jay Maidment / Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Hardy in a scene from “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”. (Jay Maidment / Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Hardy, left, and Michelle Williams in a scene from “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”. (Jay Maidment / Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)



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