“I had dreams of being [Evil Ex #5] Roxie Richter, but God had other plans,” Brandon Routh joked. Instead, Routh portrays Evil Ex #3 Todd Ingram. He, along with Satya Bhabha, spoke with CBR News about the roles in the film, working with director Edgar Wright and the film series he hosted while shooting in Toronto, Canada.
“Oh, I didn’t want to be anything but [Evil Ex #1] Matthew Patel. I mean, who else gets to dance and sing?” added Bhabha.
In the Universal Studios produced film, each actor is featured in a key sequence followed by a fight with Matthew Cera’s Scott Pilgrim and both actors were actually quite happy with the roles they played. “It was a lot of fun to play such a big character – and to play a character – which is something I’ve been looking to do for quite some time,” Routh told us. Best known for playing Superman, the actor is eager to break the hero mould and mix it up with some antagonistic characters. He has already taken on a decidedly villainous role on the television series “Chuck,” but sees “Pilgrim’s” Todd as more of a multilayered character than a mere bad guy. “I was just going to say there’s no humanity because he’s vegan,” he laughed. “But yeah, there is. You see at the end, before he’s extinguished; you see a flash of that, guilt, because he did betray the vegan way. There is real passion or hate for Ramona, or jealousy that she left him. That somebody’s better than him. So those are flashes of emotion. He’s not a robot. He’s just not very good at controlling it, his humanity.”
An additional departure, albeit a somewhat more superficial one, from Superman is Routh’s character’s blonde hair. “I hope people watching this movie will go, ‘Who’s the vegan? Oh, Brandon Routh is in this movie!?'” laughed the actor.
Bhabha considered the layering of emotions in the Exes one of the story’s strengths. “I think that both Bryan and Edgar – you see in the comics – do a really good job of sort of coloring these villains in many colors. You have the initial image of them as these arch-villains,” he explained, “then, as you learn more about them and we hear a little bit of backstory, [we discover that] everybody’s been really hurt badly by Ramona Flowers; a fickle lady. So that, I think, comes across in every character.”
For his big encounter with Scott Pilgrim, Bhabha learned to dance, sing a song and fight. “The song-and-dance stuff is definitely one of those ‘what-the-fuck?’ moments, where the movie kind of like takes a left turn and lifts off into Crazy Land, and I think that it works,” he said of his sequence. “I don’t know too much about Bollywood at all, but I’ve done quite a bit of dancing…and not much singing,” he admitted. It was a genuine production, which found Bhabha working with a choreographer to build the routine. “Between the stunt choreography and that, there was a lot of choreography there, but I do feel that the majority of the work was in terms of the kung-fu and the hand-to-hand stuff. I mean, that was something very alien to me. I had never been in wires before. I couldn’t do Superman, which is why they called Brandon.”
Routh quipped, “They cut my song-and-dance routine. It’s on the DVD.” Asked if he would have actually liked to do a similar scene, he responded, “I would have done whatever Edgar would have asked me to have done in this movie. It would have been an interesting song and dance. I don’t know if Todd Ingram can dance very well, but neither can I, so it would have been perfect.”
Both actors readily and sincerely praised Wright’s confidence and skill behind the camera while making the film. “When you have a director who’s so in control and has such a strong vision, it actually frees you up as an actor to play, to have fun,” said Bhabha. “If there’s something that’s needed, we’d know and we’d get told, ‘We need to get that shot, we need to get that shape.’ But apart from that, I really felt totally free and easy to play and to experiment with stuff, knowing that Edgar would tell me if he wanted it this or that other way. There’s nothing worse than a director who’s like, ‘I don’t know, just kind of do what you feel, figure it out…'”
“Wishy-washy,” added Routh.
“Then, you feel completely unsupported as an actor,” continued Bhabha.
“It’s like a tightrope without a net,” offered Routh.
“Exactly and it’s also like, ‘Do what you feel.’ I’m an actor man, I don’t feel anything,” joked Bhabha. “What do you want me to feel? So getting some sort of guidance from Edgar was great, but I never felt imprisoned by his vision.”
Though the film is filled with special effects, Routh found it easier compared to flying as Superman. “Learning to play the bass is easier than learning to fly,” he laughed. “Although, I was strapped to a guitar and in wires a couple of times. Doing that at the same time was strange. But it was for a day, maybe, and not four or five months.” Having had that previous experience, he understands the actor’s place in the special effects machine. “Technical aspects were very key. Many times, you’d have to do something again. It’s a big set up, but because of all the effects that are involved and wanting to match the comic book so well, that’s part of the job. You know that going in, and it’s because of that that the movie looks so polished and works so well,” he explained.
While shooting in Toronto, Wright hosted several film nights at the Bloor Cinema in addition to his directoral duties. “[It was] open to the public. He hosted every Sunday, for about a month or two, double features. I think it started with ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ but then he also did a ‘Spaced’ marathon,” Bhabha recalled.
“They did ‘The Warriors,'” added Routh. “He’s done it in other places. I think when he shot in London, he’s done that kind of stuff; a celebration of movies.”
“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” opens August 13. For more news and info, visit CBR’s Scott Pilgrim hub!