Iwan Rheon on Making ‘Marvel’s Inhumans’, Filming in IMAX, and Maximus’ Accent
I can usually separate an actor from their part with ease; I know who they play in a movie or TV show is not who they are. But when you are sitting across from Iwan Rheon, who previously played Ramsay Bolton on HBO’s Game of Thrones, it’s a bit harder to separate the person from the role because he was so good at playing someone so bad. Thankfully, in real life, Rheon is nothing like his previous character. He’s willing to joke around about that past role, too, while also revealing new details about his upcoming role as Black Bolt’s brother Maximus on Marvel’s Inhumans.
When Inhumans was filming earlier this year in Hawaii, I was able to visit the set with a few other reporters where we did a group interview with Iwan Rheon during a break in filming. He talked about working on another show with a high amount of secrecy, what it’s been like making a show that will premiere in IMAX theaters and then air on ABC, filming in IMAX, the relationship between Maximus and Black Bolt, and a lot more.
If you’re not familiar with the series, based on the Marvel comic, it’s doing something incredibly cool and unusual. The first two episodes were filmed using IMAX cameras and will premiere globally in IMAX theatres for a two-week period, beginning September 1, 2017, and then ABC will air the entire eight-episode series beginning September 29th. It’s an incredibly ambitious idea, but one I can’t wait to see.
Finally, before getting to the interview, check out the first teaser trailer for the series followed by the official synopsis:
“Marvel’s Inhumans” explores the never-before-told epic adventure of the royal family including Black Bolt, the enigmatic, commanding King of the Inhumans, with a voice so powerful that the slightest whisper can destroy a city. After the Royal Family of Inhumans is splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii where they are greeted with surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them. Now they must find a way to reunite with each other and return to their home before their way of life is destroyed forever.
“Marvel’s Inhumans” stars Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Iwan Rheon as Maximus, Serinda Swan as Medusa, Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, Ken Leung as Karnak, Ellen Woglom as an undisclosed character, Sonya Balmores as Auran and Mike Moh as Triton.
The series is executive produced by Scott Buck, along with Marvel’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory with Buck serving as showrunner. Roel Reiné directed the first two episodes. This series is a Marvel and IMAX project and is co-produced by Marvel Television and ABC Studios.
Question: How often do people come up to you in line at Starbucks and just fight you for no reason for something you’ve done in the past (Game of Thrones)?
IWAN RHEON: No one really does. I think there’s something that happened in the character that because people enjoyed hating him so much I think there’s a little small and they’re kind of like, ‘Whoa you’re evil you are, you are so evil’ I think people enjoy the fact that he’s so evil.
Could it be that more people are buying you drinks rather than wanting to fight you?
RHEON: I think more so, yeah. It says a lot about us, doesn’t it, as a race. Generally I think people know that I’m an actor it and when you see me in a bar or whatever I’m probably not quite as intimidating as Ramsay.
Tell us about the experience making Inhumans. How does it compare?
RHEON: It’s great. Marvel’s Inhumans is being shot on IMAX cameras, the first two episodes including the pilot and those first two episodes will also be shown in IMAX in theaters which is making television history which is really exciting and then it will continue on ABC. It’s a story that hasn’t really been told before within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s a slightly different twist on a sort of superhero genre where you know they’re not going out there to save humanity or help fight villains, they essentially don’t want anything to do with humans, they’re hiding from the humans. They all have these wonderful powers so it’s kind of interesting to see what we will discover through the series, how the humans and Inhumans interact, how they clash and what happens during that initial meeting and how that happens. I think we see a totally different side to what Marvel are capable of and I think it’s a very anticipated set of stories in the Marvel literature that hasn’t really been explored before on film so that’s all very exciting.
You’re no stranger to working on shows that involve high levels of secrecy as this one does. Are you used to that and how has that been because many people also currently don’t know a lot about the show?
RHEON: It’s kind of becoming more the norm now for me that I don’t say a word. You can see some intriguing stuff but it’s just easier to just not say anything, just keep it vague but it’s really it’s a wonderful relief when it goes on television and in IMAX so then you can actually speak about it.
We saw you filming a scene with Black Bolt, a character who doesn’t speak, and you were acting with three cameras. How is it acting in that kind of environment and who is it to act with someone that can’t respond to you through speech?
RHEON: I’m quite used to working in the environment with many cameras anti always, as actor, blows you away when you think about how much attention there is to detail, how wonderful the sets look it’s very interesting working with a character that doesn’t speak at all so you have to communicate with each other through eye contact. With Black Blot as well, it’s just the thought that if he was to just breath you’d get blown apart and that’s a very interesting thing. Anson’s great job with the training, everything that he’s feeling through to essentially looks. It’s something I’ve never done before, it’s amazing. It’s a slightly different dynamic when Medusa is around because she can communicate as well through a sign language that they’ve developed which is really cool as well, it’s very original. It’s a totally different challenge but it generally means I just have to learn a lot more lines which I’m not complaining about.
The first two hours are being filmed in IMAX and we’ve heard its one of them most expensive pilots that have ever been done. Is the action that we’ll see on that level and what can fans look forward to?
RHEON: There is plenty of action. What is wonderful about it is you got to see a completely different world and this idea that these people live on the moon, that they’ve been there this whole time and we just haven’t known about it. They’re hiding, they’ve created this amazing dome which means that humans can’t find it. I think to create this world and what they’ve done fantastically in the physical sets is unbelievable. I think that that’s really where you see where the money is spent. That’s the difficult thing, to create an original world and to you know and to reach all these aspirations because Attilan could be anything so you know you have to create something. There’s plenty of action in this but what’s wonderful about it is very much a family drama as well, it’s about the family and their relationships and how they all respond to each other and there are wonderful moments of humor as well as drama and action so it’s kind of go to everything.
You are a Welsh actor so can I ask if Maximus will be the first Marvel character to have a Welsh accent?
RHEON: I’m afraid not because I think that would have been weird on the moon. Yeah, that was kind of a challenge because I had to ask myself how he would speak. Obviously it would be an incredible coincidence if everyone on the Moon had American accents but I’m not really worried too much about that. He’s got an American-ish twang but as he grew up on the Moon I’ve gone a bit Moon-ish with this one too.
Obviously, the relationship between Maximus and Black Bolt is an important one. Are there other characters and relations and things that you really enjoyed playing with?
RHEON: Definitely. I think the relationship between him and Medusa is very interesting as well because in this story that they were very good friends when they were younger and I think Maximus always had a bit of a thing for her, thinking that you know one day maybe they’d be together and maybe even be on the thrown together. Then for her to go off with Black Bolt is kind of always kind of been a bit of an issue for him as it’s obviously hurt so that’s going to be a very interesting relationship to develop but they’re amicable. It’s not that they’re shouting to each other and he’s not like, ‘Oh I hate you.’ They’re part of the family and I think that’s what’s interesting is how each character is part of his family and how they respond. Everyone kind of looks down on Maximus because he’s a human so he’s not really got any power, he’s kind of looks on as a bit of a runt of the family which is kind of hard for him. Without his brother he’d be working down the mines, it’s just that his brother, because he’s the King’s brother, he got pity, basically. His function in society has come to him through pity and what his family name is rather his own self-worth and what his terragenesis made him. It’s a very difficult thing for him to deal with and he’s had to live with his own life.
Because you and others in the cast have come to Inhumans not having a full script or perhaps not fully knowing what they’re characters are or will become, as well as the fact that this is being shot in IMAX, there are a lot of unknowns, has it been like a form of guessing or improvisation to see what works?
RHEON: Yeah, I guess it has, it’s a weird way to work where you don’t know where you arc is going, to do a scene, but that’s just how it is. Obviously they’ve told us certain things that we need to know but yeah I guess working with the IMAX it was great. Also, because we’ve all been plonked here from all over the world and we’ve just been put in Hawaii, we’ve had to sort of cling to each other so that’s been kind of a nice way for us, as people, to bond and, as actors to learn together especially in those first scenes where we’re all together. It’s uncharted territory so it was exciting but we just don’t know what’s what it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like, no-one’s he’s got a clue really. You just have to get on with your job and all I can do is do the best you can, trust the people around you and hope for the best.
How do you prepare for such an emotionally demanding role?
RHEON: I guess it’s like any role really, but I do quite a lot of work ay home trying to find out things about the character, it’s all about understanding essentially what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It seems pretty obvious but that’s what it is. Why am I doing this? Why is the character saying this? You just bring that in and imagine it and empathize with that. I use my imagination really, I learn my lines and I do that, it’s not that exciting I’m afraid.
A lot of superheroes are American icons but we’re having a lot of British actors play them such as Superman, Batman and, Spider-Man. Do you have any idea why so many British actors are getting these kinds of roles?
RHEON: I really don’t know the answer to that, to be honest. I think that for British actors there is so much more work here in America because the industry’s much bigger, there is a lot more money in it so there’s more and more different things being created and I think this is a natural sort of pull for British actors to just want to go into that world and be able to do all these roles as well. Why it’s happening so much? I don’t know I guess maybe we just maybe we’re just better? Only joking, it’s not. I think it just happens. It seems to be a crop of very talented British doctors coming over at the moment and I think because of advances in technology in terms of being able to self-tape, you don’t necessarily have to be in the states to do this. I think the world is getting smaller, the industries are coming together a lot more and I guess it just seems to be a group of actors at the moment that fit the criteria that these studios are looking for.