Audiences won't actually see James Spader's face in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but they'll certainly recognize his voice. What fans may not realize, however, is that the 55-year-old actor filmed the robot's movements, too.
E! News' Alicia Quarles exclusively interviewed the cast on set in London last summer. Spader had filmed his first scene in April, when he was shooting the first season of NBC's The Blacklist. "I had to come in to do a sequence with Scarlett Johansson. So I flew in, quickly did a sort of introductory tutorial on the process, and then the next day shot the sequence and then back to The Blacklist."
How did it feel to bring the android to life, so to speak?
"It was great, actually. The technology was such that I put on the suit and you do a range of motion," the three-time Emmy Award winner said. "They record the range of motion with all the markers on and all the transmitters and everything, and then they sort of plug it into some program. I would move and I could watch it live as Ultron. And that's the first time I stood up a little straighter."
Spader said writer-director Joss Whedon did "a great job" giving what could have been a two-dimensional character multiple dimensions. "He's written him as very complex and sort of constantly at war with himself," the actor said. "He argues with himself and he's conflicted at times about his actions, but he has a mission."
His mission is to save the world by destroying it.
The Avengers won't stand for that, of course. So, what drew Spader to the role?
"He's just such a strange sort of amalgamation of things, you know? He's a robot, and a brand new robot in that he's just taken form, and yet he has a comprehensive knowledge of history and science and technology and human behavior. He has more power and knowledge and strength and ability than he really is mature enough or wise enough to harness."
Playing the part presented new challenges for Spader.
"I really can't replicate a lot of what Ultron does when he's actually combative. You know, he can fly. He has all sorts of abilities that I simply don't have, and he has a physicality, too, that I obviously don't have," he explained. "So what we've done in terms of me and my involvement is we've done motion capture for everything."
Spader was initially hesitant about playing an eight-foot robot. "I didn't know what I could bring to it. [Whedon] said, 'You can bring everything or you can bring any portion of that.' I said, 'Well, I want to bring as much as I possibly can.' He said, 'Great.' So it's voice and it's expression and it's posture and movement and all the rest of that. The actual process of what it's like to make it, ultimately, I think was indescribable because the technology for all this performance capture stuff and how they shoot it has been revolutionary with every subsequent film."
Be sure to check out Avengers: Age of Ultron, in theaters May 1. Visit E! Online daily at 8 a.m. PT through May 1 to watch more exclusive on-set interviews.
To see Part 1 with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, click here.
To see Part 2 with Joss Whedon, click here.
To see Part 3 with Elizabeth Olsen, click here.
To see Part 4 with Jeremy Renner, click here.