Just call them… The Revengers. Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth may have put their Marvel personas back in storage after Avengers: Endgame (for now, anyway), but that familiar chemistry from Thor: Ragnarok is there in Men In Black: International.
Agents M (Thompson) and H (Hemsworth) walk through MIB’s London headquarters, trying to discuss a serious matter: M believes there’s a mole among their ranks after a high-ranking alien was killed at a night club near St. Paul’s Cathedral and their main clue is a substance left behind called Zeaphos. H is far from the brains of the operation, but he knows what Zeaphos is. “The right amount will keep you dancing shirtless in Morocco for 14 hours straight… so I’ve heard,” he says.
“While Tessa plays the rookie agent, in some ways she is more like Tommy [Lee Jones] and you might say Chris is more like Will, only in that Tessa’s someone who comes to this through a 20-year study of everything from astrophysics to The National Inquirer,” producer Walter Parkes says. “She’s a very very smart and, not by-the-book, but let’s just say she’s a character who when we meet her tends to not let passion get in the way of her conscious approach to problem solving.”
In Men In Black: International, Agent M, a MIB agent on a probationary period, is sent off to London by New York bureau chief Agent O (Emma Thompson) to partner with Agent H. Together, they are tipped off to a case involving The Hive, an alien force once thought to have been defeated by H and his mentor High T (Liam Neeson), the head of MIB London, years prior.
Bennett Walsh, another production on the film, explains the lead casting happened around the same time for both. “We didn’t go to Chris first and then go to Tessa,” he says. “It was parallel, and when you see Chris and Tessa they just look funny, the height and all that. And they’re great together.”
On the set of International, Thompson and Hemsworth walk us through this new world of MIB, some of the gunplay we can expect (including a vehicle with hub caps that can be turned into weapons), and Kumail Nanjiani as the secret “third” Men In Black agent, the pint-sized Pawny.
The following group interview with press has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Was it an easy yes to work with Tessa again after Thor?
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: Absolutely. Yes. It was early conversations of “Who’s the girl? What are we doing?” She was at the top of the list and I said, “Fantastic, we’ll pick where we left off and letting both of us do something different than the dynamic in that film, the difference in chemistry. I think the script dictated that but also we achieved that. So it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of the time when you work with a costar you spend sometimes the first half of the shoot getting to know each other and so to not have to do that is always a huge relief.
We’re told you got eight suits a piece. This is suit number… which one?
HEMSWORTH: Oh is it? I think I’ve got more than that. I don’t know, they’re just on a rack and people hand them to me to put on.
How do they feel?
HEMSWORTH: They’re good, they’re great. They’re super comfy. They’ve got an elasticity to ‘em, which is nice in particular for the movements and stunts and so on that we do in this. It’s cool.
In terms of that dynamic between the two of you that you’ve worked on… [Thompson arrives for the interview] what were you aiming for? You [Hemsworth] said you were aiming for a different one. What is that, apart from you liking Zeaphos?
HEMSWORTH: Just having a different chemistry, I think. How do we make something unique not only for the franchise but from what we’ve done before?
THOMPSON: It’s fun. It’s like the original movies have such a particular tone and feel. There’s something inherent in the world of Men In Black, particularly when we’re on these real MIB sets, it feels like the ghosts or gods of the movies come down and go, “You will say it this way,” in a nice way. But I think we’re also trying to find what this new thing is.
Tessa, we were just talking to Chris about this? How does the iconic suit feel?
THOMPSON: Well, first, Paul Smith has designed all our suits, which is so cool and I’m such a fan of his so it’s nice to get to wear one of his suits. But when I first put it on, I was saying to Jason, the guy who helps me get dressed, “God, can you imagine some people wear suits all day to work?” And he looked at me and I go, “Oh right! I’m gonna have to do that.” But I love it. I love wearing suits just even in my life.
HEMSWORTH: It’s better than the Thor and Valkyrie costumes.
THOMPSON: Yeah, those are really really uncomfortable. It’s comfortable also being in these spaces where there are a ton of other agents and [costume designer] Penny Rose has done such an incredible job with doing plays on this classic Men in Black silhouette, making it look cool and futuristic and interesting and fashiony. It’s fun to walk around and see the world.
What makes you feel most badass in this role? You’re stepping in as a woman and it’s famously been two men. What makes you feel most badass?
THOMPSON: I don’t think [of] actually being a woman inside of it because I’m used to being that. I think just that she’s a scientist and she’s really smart and that she leads with that and that she’s curious about the world and she’s resourceful, all of those things.
Can you guys talk about the dynamic between your characters? In the scene we just watched, you [M] don’t seem like you’re super into his vibe, at least from what we saw.
HEMSWORTH: She is not. This is pretty early in the film. We certainly want to have the characters pitched pretty far apart and be opposites so there’s a lot more fun to be had there of figuring out that conflict of how to traverse that relationship and trying to get on the same page and missing constantly. It’s a fun dynamic to play through in this part of the film. My character certainly does things his own way and is reckless in his approach. He certainly doesn’t take advice from others, he works alone usually, and then in this particular instance they’ve teamed up together outside of either of their first choice. I think she’d probably rather be saddled with someone a little more on book, but as I said it gives us somewhere to go and gives us a nice arc.
THOMPSON: M, her whole life was transformed by an experience that she has as a really young child with an alien and these men in black — although she didn’t know that they were literally called the Men In Black at the time — change the course of her life and this organization has been so mythologized in her mind and when she hears that [H] is one of the star agents who saved the world, I think for the early part of the film she’s trying to grapple with that idea of him — this heroic, smart, with-it agent — and the reality. I think they also just miss each other, they both misunderstand each other. One thing that we’ve talked about, Chris and I, is this idea of what do they teach each other? That was something that was so touching about Will and Tommy’s dynamic over the course of the three films. You felt like they really offered each other something, that they were able to be better men, frankly, from being in the company of each other, that they made each other stretch and grow in a way, and that’s played with the easiness that this franchise has. Obviously, because there’s also some other layers of dynamics between [us] because he’s a guy and I’m a girl.
We were told about this awesome gun fight with the Jaguar. Do you have a favorite weapon? Have you shot that scene?
THOMPSON: You have a favorite weapon.
HEMSWORTH: Tommy gun-esque thing where I pull the hub cap off the wheel and slam it on the gun.
THOMPSON: Chris is so good at gun stuff. He’s amazing at it.
HEMSWORTH: I don’t think I’ve fired a real gun in my life, but I had a lot of sticks and things I [pretended were] guns as a kid. I’d play in the forest and run around, pretend to be an action hero.
THOMPSON: You’re very good at it.
HEMSWORTH: I make the sounds to myself, as well, which saves us some money in post-production. I’m pretty popular on the production side of things.
THOMPSON: There’s all these hidden guns inside the Jag and for M it’s really a moment. She’s been waiting to uncover this world and so it physically puts her right into this space of being constantly surprised by this organization and this new world that she’s entered which is really fun.