“WandaVision” Cast and Filmmakers Talk About Highly Anticipated Disney+ Series at Press Conference

Hi everyone!

I was invited to participate in a WandaVision press conference on Zoom. WandaVision debuts exclusively on Disney+ this Friday, January 15th, 2021 and is a unique series that also hearkens back to classic sitcoms. Actor Jaleel White (best known for playing Steve Urkel in Family Matters) moderated the event, which included Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris,  Kathryn Hahn, director/executive producer Matt Shakman; writer/executive producer Jac Schaeffer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who also produced WandaVison.

  

White began the press conference with one of the questions I planned to ask, about the first episode of WandaVision being set in front of a live audience. White asked how that affected their performance. Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) said emphatically, “It was the first thing we shot, it was so nerve-wracking.” She said it confused her brain and that there was a lot of adrenaline and quick changes. She asked White if he shot in front of a live audience a lot and he laughed and said, “Of course, we shot 215 episodes in front of a live studio audience”.  Olsen said she was really grateful when they added the fourth wall.

Olsen talked about how she pulled from Elizabeth Montgomery, Mary Tyler Moore and a little Lucille Ball from the 1970s for her performance. She and White talked about the changes for each era, in depicting the sitcom reality (and not “real” reality”) of shows like Bewitched and The Dick Van Dyke Show including how she moved and dressed. Paul Bettany (Vision) said his character is always “becoming something else”. Bettany continued, “He’s Jarvis, he’s part Ultron, he’s part Tony Stark”. Bettany also threw in a little bit of Dick Van Dyke and Hugh Laurie.

Shakman talked about the “sitcom boot camp” that he ran for the actors. “Well, we wanted to be as authentic as possible…so we watched just a ton of old television episodes, talked about how comedy changes”. He said that the approach to comedy was different in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  White had seen three episodes of the series (just as I have so far), and was wondering how far the series got into present day. Shakman said, “I wouldn’t want to ruin it for everybody but we definitely do take quite a trip”.

White asked Schaeffer about Wanda and Vision’s journey and relationship. Schaeffer replied, “I think that Wanda and Vision are really as a couple a fan favorite”, explaining that it is due to not only being tragic but warm and intimate. “It’s actually been a small amount of screen time but very powerful and soulful”. He said in WandaVision they are in a “domestic sphere” – washing dishes, homebody stuff. “It’s a lot of cute-cute until it’s not”.

Feige talked about it being Marvel Studios’ first foray into television with the cast and characters that we see from the films. “I’m actually very happy and it worked out perfectly that this is the debut on Disney+ for the MCU”.

While watching WandaVision, there was an eeriness that reminded me of The Twilight Zone, particularly in the black and white episodes. Schaeffer said during the press conference, “Twilight Zone is an enormous influence on my personally” and added that he thinks that is how he learned to tell stories.

WandaVision debuts on January 15th, 2021.