We get to be the charm now, says WandaVision's Olsen
Avengers stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany happy to team up again on Disney+ miniseries WandaVision
For fans feeling starved after the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered the theatrical release of Black Widow last year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a TV near you.
WandaVision starts streaming today on Disney+, which will be available in Singapore from Feb 23 and revolves around superheroes Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) from the Avengers blockbuster movies.
The miniseries is based on the The Vision and Scarlet Witch comics, in which the pair have adventures together - House of M where Wanda creates an idyllic alternative reality, and The Vision where Vision tries to live a normal life with his family.
It is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and the nine episodes play out across different decades starting with the 1950s.
The pair portray a sitcom-y married couple in suburbia trying to live a "normal" life, at least as normal as it can be considering they have to hide their powers, and Vision is actually dead.
Or at least he was - after supervillain Thanos killed him when he forced the Mind Stone out of Vision's forehead.
But do Wanda's reality-bending powers have something to do with him being alive in WandaVision?
US actress Olsen and English actor Bettany, reprising their movie roles, won't tell when they call in on Zoom to publicise the show, but they assure fans that everything will be explained in time.
The on-screen lovers are happy to be teaming up again too, and being in the spotlight for once rather than the sidelines.
On why this job was particularly satisfying, 31-year-old Olsen, calling from London where she is shooting the Doctor Strange sequel which WandaVision is supposed to lead into, said: "These Marvel movies, you feel stupid most of the time because people are dressed in onesies and have dots on their face or helmets on with cameras.
"I'm pretending to shoot things out of my hands while saving the world, so you just feel very silly most of the time.
"Paul and I have been put in these positions where we have to kind of forget about how stupid we both look, so that already has created this sense of trust between the two of us."
She added: "In the Marvel films, our (characters') journey is usually like an emotional, grounded, sincere part of the films while everyone else is being funny or scary.
"So it's really fun for us in this show where we get to be the mystery and the humour. We get to be the charm as well as the emotional sincerity."
Odd things happen that let the audience know this is a sitcom unlike any other, and suddenly what started like a Bewitched episode turns into something from The Twilight Zone.
Olsen said: "There is a game that we're playing where the reality is fighting with the sitcom, and we maybe get a sense that something's not right.
"We did a sitcom boot camp. For me, a lot of it had to do with the placement of my voice, the rhythm and delivery of the dialogue, because it's not that we're depicting life in the 50s or 60s - we are depicting the sitcom version of the eras, and so it's so specific to the style and the physical comedy."
Bettany, 49, calling in from New York, calls WandaVision "really bonkers", and watched every episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show for his prep.
He said: "The thing that's extraordinary is how gifted they are and how much work has gone into the skill that they have in physical comedy. They can play the guitar, they can play a ukulele, they can sing, they can dance, they can make jokes.
"I think Lizzie and I looked at each other and went, 'Woo, we've got a lot of work to do'. And so, we knuckled under and sort of rehearsed and practised doing those things."
He added: "It is not an arbitrary decision that it's set in sitcoms. It will absolutely make sense as the two worlds collide."
Bettany revealed Episode 4 is the one that reveals more.
"It's quite a shift and so it's a really fun perspective swap and I think a lot gets understood at that moment."
The attention to detail and the resources expended is the same for Marvel whether it is a movie or TV show, according to Olsen.
"The only thing that felt different from filming a Marvel movie was the speed in which we had to film, because we had to film about three times more content than we do in these Marvel movies so we were always racing against time with this show," she said.
Bettany has been in lockdown with his US actress-wife Jennifer Connelly and their kids, Stellan, 17, and Agnes, nine.
When asked what he's learned about quarantine, he said: "To give each other space. I was really happy and proud of how we all weathered it together and we came out of it in very much the state we went into it.
"We didn't get into any rows and we stayed very calm. There was enough going on that was frantic and terrifying that it seemed stupid to make the house feel like that too."
Olsen, on the other hand, is chafing at the lockdown restraints in London, where she will be for the next four months as the city faces its worst weeks of the pandemic.
She said: "We're paused for a bit because the hospitals here are being overwhelmed and hopefully we get to go back (to filming the Doctor Strange sequel) in a couple of weeks.
"Everything's closed. The moment restaurants were open for like two weeks, I was like racing to them. I couldn't wait to get out.
"I've been really frustrated by the lack of human connection. The grocery store is like my favourite journey. In our normal lives, we try and get our groceries done once a week, but here during lockdown, I think, I'll save that for tomorrow so I have something to do."
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