Last Saturday, CIVIL WAR directors Joe and Anthony Russo took the stage at Wizard World Cleveland to talk about their journey to fame, what it’s like to make such big movies, and what we can expect from CIVIL WAR. Here are the highlights:
- They broke into the business thanks to no one but themselves – Out of college, Joe and Anthony made PIECES, what they called a “credit card film,” which got the attention of Steven Soderbergh. In turn, Soderbergh financed their next, film WELCOME TO COLLINWOOD.
- Ron Howard snagged them for ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT – Shortly after the Russos’ second feature, FX hired them to make a pilot. It was a single camera piece with an “indie edge,” something they had developed in their films. From this, Ron Howard hired them to develop, produce, and direct ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
- WINTER SOLDIER was the film they’d been waiting for – Both Russos agreed that television is the hardest medium to work in. They were constantly in both pre- and post-production while filming at any given time. They had been “patiently waiting” for the right film to draw them back to features.
- They describe themselves as “action fetishists”- While the brothers have certainly proven their comedy chops, action films have their hearts. When WINTER SOLDIER came across the table, they realized this was the movie they’d always dreamed of making.
- It was a long process before Marvel hired them – After a preliminary “get to know each other meeting,” they were sent the script for WINTER SOLDIER. From this, many more meetings were held. The two brothers were constantly story boarding, creating sizzle reels from other films, and going “all in” to get the job. It worked.
- “Marvel Studios is an amazing place” – When asked, Joe Russo said that when Marvel and Kevin Feige set out to make a new project, they have a totally open mind. They begin with making a list of directors who are doing “interesting work.” This is how the Russos got asked, thanks to their work on NBC’s COMMUNITY.
- “Every day is work” – At the end of the day, Joe said making films is just another job. You wake up, put on your pants, and go to work for eight hard hours.
- Action and comedy are extremely similar – On the subject of switching genres, the filmmaking duo claims that action and comedy are both extremely mathematical genres. Coreographing a fight scene is the same as planning out the camera tricks to land a joke.
- Movies must become “events” to get people out of the house – The Russos touched on the “Netflix model” for a few moments. In their eyes, TV has completely changed. People have almost no reason to leave their homes, which is why films like DEADPOOL or THE FORCE AWAKENS were so successful. They felt like “events” rather than just regular movies.
- Even though it took place in DC, they only shot WINTER SOLDIER there for three days – The majority of WINTER SOLDIER was shot in their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
- Civil War is going to be a “gut punch” – The Russos were coy with their words when it came to their upcoming movie, but they did promise audiences will not see it coming.
- Spider-Man is coming – Getting to bring the wall-crawler to the screen for the first time in the MCU is a “dream come true” for Joe, who has collected comics since he was ten years old. Spider-Man has always been his favorite. When asked what Spider-Man’s costume will look like, he replied with, “Ever worn underoos?”
At their second panel, the Russos brought actor Frank Grillo, who plays Crossbones in both CAPTAIN AMERICA sequels, on stage to answer some audience questions with them. Here’s a few things he had to say.
- “I’ve seen that Batman/Superman movie…and all I’m gonna say is that if you’ve got 15 bucks in your wallet…you might as well save it.” (the crowd promptly went nuts)
- When asked which Avenger he would pick to survive a night of THE PURGE with: “Renner. Hands down. He could survive anything. The guy’s a roach.”
- “I’m just telling the truth…like Donald Trump.”
- When he was told to talk lightly about spoilers: “I ain’t scared of you, Fiege!”
- When asked what it takes to make it in the business: “You ever pushed a rock up a hill? Because that’s what it takes.”
All in all, it was a very entertaining time thanks to Grillo’s charisma and the charming intelligence of the Russos. Hearing from three professionals who are as passionate as they are smart was a real treat. It’s just a few months until we’ll see what that CIVIL WAR “gut punch” actually is…