Vision actor and MCU veteran, Paul Bettany, admits that the thought of working in front of a live audience for the WandaVision pilot terrified him.
Long-term MCU stalwart, Paul Bettany, has recently admitted that working in front of a live studio audience for WandaVision was a terrifying experience. Bettany, who first joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the voice of Tony Stark’s AI J.A.R.V.I.S. in 2008’s Iron Man, was first provided with the opportunity to jump across to the screen in person in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. When the Avengers managed to capture the synthezoid body being created to house Ultron’s consciousness, rather than destroy it, Stark and Bruce Banner managed to upload a new consciousness based on Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S., ultimately creating his character, Vision, in the process.
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Despite being killed by Thanos during the final battle in Avengers: Infinity War for the Mind Stone that was embedded in his forehead, Bettany would return to the role of Vision again in WandaVision, the first MCU television series, earlier this year. The mystery surrounding his character’s resurrection formed a key story arc throughout the show’s unusual blend of television sitcom tropes from various decades. The show’s first episode, which was in black-and-white and based on 1950s sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show, was also filmed using a live studio audience filled with family and friends of the cast and crew who were all bound from spilling any secrets by iron-clad non-disclosure agreements. Whilst successive episodes continued using sitcom settings, the use of a live audience was eventually replaced by a pre-recorded laugh track.
When recently speaking with EW’s The Awardist podcast with his fellow cast members, Bettany recalled his reaction when director Matt Shakman first revealed his ambitious plans for the show’s first episode. Admitting that he was “really recalcitrant” when Shakman talked to him about using a live audience, he does concede that in the end it “was so much fun” and “it went from terrifying to just the most extraordinary experience in about, well, 45 minutes.” His initial reaction was not anywhere so positive, however, and he said:
I was like…What are you talking about? We can’t possibly do that. And I haven’t been in front of a live studio audience for 25 years, and I don’t want to be, and I’m already frightened because I’d started really watching Dick Van Dyke and going, God, it’s so — it’s so skillful, what he’s doing, and I was terrified.
With Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios increasingly working toward incorporating streaming television into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is laudable that they have been so willing and supportive of their creative teams to attempt something as unconventional as the approach they took toward making WandaVision. Whilst The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally intended to be released as the first MCU-connected Disney+ series, by Marvel Studios launching their impressive new range of shows with the quirky and unusual WandaVision, they ended up taking a massive gamble which ultimately paid off big. Scoring an impressive 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, ahead of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s 87%, the show was by all accounts an enormous critical success.
Also outpacing Disney+’s other big streaming hit, The Mandalorian, the first two episodes of Wandavision notched up an impressive 434 million views in the first three days alone. With Marvel having just finished their run on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and as they’re gearing up to release Loki in June, there’s little doubt they are well on track to conquer the small screen in the same way they have already captured the big-screen box office. Moving forward, MCU fans certainly have a lot more coming their way to keep them glued to their screens in anticipation.
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