Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Talks Playing Two Characters, Algrim’s Relationship with Malekith, and More on the Set of THOR: THE DARK WORLD

     October 1, 2013


Most people are lucky to play one role in a movie, but in Thor: The Dark WorldAdewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gets to play both Malekith’s trusted lieutenant, a dark elf named Algrim, and the monstrous creature named Kurse.  And neither role was easy, since both required hours of prosthetics and two different accents.  Luckily, Akinnuoye-Agbaje seemed to think the prosthetics and accents helped the movie, as he told us during an on-set group interview:

“I think it adds a new dimension to not only the elves but the movie.  It makes it very real.”

In addition to talking about the makeup process, prosthetics, and different accents, he revealed Marvel wasn’t exactly forthcoming about what would be required for the roles when he signed on, what it was like wearing the costumes, which actors he got to work with, the difference between Algrim and Kurse, how things changed along the way, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to what he had to say.

If you’d like to listen to the audio from this interview click here.  Otherwise the full transcript is below.  Thor: The Dark World opens November 8th.

thor-the-dark-world-chris-hemsworth-natalie-portmanQuestion:  Do you get to use your own accent on this one or do you have to use a new accent?

ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  I very rarely ever use my own accent.  But we’ve crafted an accent for Algrim and also Kurse because there will be some transformation.  So, there is an accent and there’s a modification of it for Kurse.  I’ll give you a little hint as well, there’s a language, which I think is going to intrigue you as much as it has me because I’ve had to spend hours learning it.  But I think you’ll get a lot of fun out of that because I think it adds a new dimension to not only the elves but the movie.  It makes it very real.

How long is the makeup process for you?  It looks like it takes a lot.

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  Yeah, for Algrim it takes about two and half hours, possibly three, it depends depends.  And for Kurse, it takes about an hour and a half. Sometimes I have to do them both in the same day.  So, we’re looking at about five hours—that’s just to put on—and to take off.  It definitely is a labor of love.  I’ve got the most skilled prosthetic team, as you can see, working with me, so they make it very, very easy.  But it’s long.

How much did you know about the characters you’d be playing when you signed on.  Did they tell you, “Hey you’re gonna be spending a lot of time in the makeup chair, you’re cool with this?”?

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  No, I think they purposely evaded that.  It was a very vague discussion actually.  It was like, “We have this great character, we think only you can play it and yeah.”  It was just later as we got into the movie and we started seeing the costumes, “Oh by the way, did we tell you there’s a prosthetics and quite a lot of it?”  It kind of unfolded.  In terms of how much I knew, I’ll be quite frank with you, I hadn’t known an awful lot.  Kurse, I’d known about because he’s quite a figure in the Thor world—in the Marvel world—but Algrim and elves, it was still somewhat vague to me.  And that was the joy of coming on because I got to do all the research and discover who they were, and I think what that did was, allowed me not to have the preconceived notions and come up with something that was a little more unique.  Because obviously Marvel and the director have those preconceived notions, which I’m sure all of you are familiar with, and they bring them.  It just allowed me to sort of come with a different energy from a different side.  I didn’t know a tremendous amount about the characters.  As far as the prosthetics, again, it was all a bit of a revelation—a pleasant one though.  It’s been quite secretive in how we construct because various departments build.  There is pieces, you know, the hair pieces, the face, so you don’t see any of it in its entirety until pretty much towards the end.  Just before the principal photography you’re like, “Ah, this is what I look like.”  It’s a journey and it’s a revelation when you actually see it.  I didn’t know an awful lot, I just went along with the ride and I’m enjoying it.

thor-the-dark-world-christopher-eccleston-2How was it wearing the costumes all day?

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  Kurse is probably the most challenging.  It’s about thirty-forty pounds and then underneath sometimes I wear fiberglass body cast as well, on top of that, because of certain instruments that have to go through me.  It’s a challenge but the good thing about it, the suit itself is quite flexible and what it does is the bulk, it means you don’t have to act it.  The burden is on you, it’s very little you have to do.  I did a lot of mirror work before I went to the stage, just trying to bring a presence to him.  I found that less was actually more with him because the bulk actually said a lot and certain movements.  It’s very flexible, the mask that they put on, so every grimace and wink you can see.  So, we played around with that a lot.  It’s challenging but that’s the task at hand.  Algrim, compared to Kurse, is a walk in the park.  But what it is is great because when I take off the suit—I’ve always had a slight bowed over posture, and now I have this very erect posture.  I walk around like that now, so it’s kind of a good little benefit that kind of comes out of all the burden on my back.  

Who do you play most of your scenes with?

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  I’m lucky, I get to play scenes with all of the main characters.  Probably the most time I spend is with Christopher Eccleston—he plays Malekith.  We are very much bonded in our vision of the world and our purpose in the movie.  So we spend a lot of time together.  It’s great, I’ve got great scenes with Tom Hiddleston, I got great scenes with Chris [Hemsworth].  Fortunately, the Kurse/Algrim characters traverse all other characters, it’s really a nice role to play.  But the most is with Chris.  

What kind of dynamics do your characters have with Malekith?

thor-the-dark-world-poster-chris-hemsworthAKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  With Algrim and Malekith, it’s multi-layered but essentially there’s a fiercely loyal bond between us because we’ve been on the front line together and we’ve lost a lot.  It’s almost like a brotherhood, a very deep brotherhood, but then there’s also a slight—almost like mentor.  The beauty about Algrim is the kind of loyalty that is very rare, somebody who would lay their life on the line for a cause and he feels that Malekith spearheads that cause, so he would do anything for him.  So, they’re tight, they are tight. 

Algrim is a military man, he’s obviously leading these men and having to be in charge of them.  Kurse, I always get the impression he’s got all this rage.  In this case, is there a separation when you become Kurse, you’re not as military strict?

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  It is there, the differentiation is there.  Algrim is very much about—I purposely put in this word.  What we keep using for Algrim is, “It will be done.”  That’s his motto.  He’s your go-to guy to get stuff done.  Kurse, as you said, the rage, it becomes something else.  What I’ve tried to do, instead of just making him this ogre, this powerful brute, is keep the Algrim within him.  We overlap some of the words that Algrim would use.  Also, you see his eyes are very much the same as Algrim, so that you see that there’s a human within the beast.  What I was hoping to do was have people almost empathize with his sacrifice but enjoy the brute at the same time.  

When you were first approached for the project and you were given the script, to when you are now filming, has a lot changed or has it pretty much been what you were presented back then?

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE:  I think they had a really good knuckle on it, they had a really good idea of what they wanted to do.  It hasn’t changed dramatically.  A few scenes have been added, fortunately, I think just to flesh out the character of Kurse.  But it’s essentially as I was told in the beginning—actually better.

For more Thor: The Dark World set visit coverage:

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