Interview: Venom Director Ruben Fleischer Talks Tom Hardy's Comedic Timing

Venom Tom Hardy Director Ruben Fleischer

Tom Hardy wasn't just acting when he heard an alien parasite talking to him in VENOM. The actor, according to VENOM director Ruben Fleischer, went method by recording the sentient alien Symbiote's voice himself beforehand and then playing it back in his ear during those hilarious scenes. CineMovie sat down with the director to talk about Tom Hardy's surprising turn as a comedic actor and some cool behind the scene reveals.

VENOM finally hits theaters Friday, October 5 starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, the investigative reporter whose body is invaded by a Symbiote and giving him superhuman strength and power. Many will be surprised by the usually serious actor's comedic and physical timing in this movie. Fleischer tells CineMovie he was constantly suprised by Hardy as well.  

CineMovie: I had a lot of fun watching VENOM. And I'm not just pulling your leg.

Ruben: Yeah, you never know. Everyone's like 'this is a great film' and then they go write whatever they write. But I got to say, I think people are surprised by just how fun the movie is. It's just like a really fun, entertaining film.

CineMovie: Yeah, most people are saying they just don't know what to expect because there's so many iterations of Venom. But I think most will be happily surprised.

Ruben: Hopefully. Yeah. We set out to make a movie for the audiences. Just a really fun action-packed adventure about these two really cool characters, Eddie Brock and Venom who go on an incredible journey together and over the course of it forge an unlikely friendship.

CineMovie: Back when you started production you live streamed into the Brazilian Comic Con, and talked about how nervous you were and Tom was very nervous. How are you feeling about it now?

Ruben: Well, I can't say I'm not still nervous. I think any director is before their film hits theaters, but I'm really proud of the movie that I made and I'm really excited for people to see it. It's fun and Tom's incredible... like the performance he gives is just so entertaining. He's my favorite actor to watch on screen and the way that he interpreted Eddie Brock and brought Venom to life by providing the voice and the attitude is just really cool. And I think singular within the comic book genre.

CineMovie: Yeah. I didn't know that until I was reading the production notes that he was Venom, the voice. That's cool.

Ruben: Yeah. He would do this incredible thing before we shot scenes with Venom where he would record the whole scene as scripted between Eddie and Venom. And then they would take out Eddie's voice and then he would put in an earwig where he would be able to hear and then so in the middle of a scene, if Venom starts talking to him, they would play his recording of the Venom voice in his ear so he had something to react to. Even if it's as simple as when he's on the street car and he's 'HUNGRY!' and he has to stand up like he did. He heard that voice and he had that thing to react to. And so Venom was always around on set, but just an audio form and Tom totally created that character and made him so fun and entertaining and scary at times. And it's all Tom Hardy.

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CineMovie: It's a great balance, kind of reminded me of ZOMBIELAND, the horror aspect and the comedic timing. And it was perfect. That makes sense that he did that because it's all about timing.

Ruben: Yeah. It's just a reaction, reacting to real things. I love that at the end of that fight in his apartment he's [Venom] like 'outstanding, now we should bite off their heads' and he's [Eddie] like, 'why would we do that?' And he's like, 'pile of heads, pile of bodies.' You see on Tom's face that he's like, he's just reacting. If you had the script supervisor reading the pages off screen, it just wouldn't be the same. But for him to hear this giant larger than life voice in his ear, or in his head, like he's actually Eddie Brock - it made it real for him. And that's why I think he was able to deliver such a strong performance.

CineMovie: Yeah. I don't think we've seen Tom Hardy in the comedic role. 

Ruben: He's just incredible the way that he's able to be totally in the moment. And so if you imagine that you're possessed by an alien and you're in the middle of a restaurant and he decides he wants to go over and eat off somebody else's plate, like there's not much you can do to stop them. And so Tom has to imagine all that and bring it to life. As a director when you're sitting there, you have thought about the scene a million times, but then when you watch him actually perform it, it was my experience that it always exceeded my expectations.

CineMovie: So what do you make of people making a big fuss about the whole PG-13 versus rated R. I thought it was rated because it's very violent.

Ruben: I'm glad to hear that actually because that was our intention is to push it as far as we could. And so we definitely set out to make a PG-13 movie, but like the DARK KNIGHT we know that you can make a PG-13 movie that really doesn't pull punches. And so that was our intention all along the way. It was to make the most aggressive version of this film. But so much of the audiences for Venom is actually young kids that we didn't want to exclude them. We wanted to be able to make a movie that everyone could go see.

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CineMovie: In the scene on the trolley where his body jerks up. And then in the restaurant, is that him jerking or did you add any kind of effect to his movements?

Ruben: For the most part it's all Tom. I love that scene in his apartment where his hands going up and then down, but that's just Tom doing it. The only time we really put him on a wire is in the scene where we're actually in the fight. You see some guys come in the door and he goes, shit, and then he gets tossed into the fridge that we jerked him on a wire and then when he runs through the woods and he smashes through the tree and ends up on his belly, and then he gets uprighted and jerked out of the shot - we did those with wires, but almost all of its self-motivated by Tom.

CineMovie: Wow! That was some weird body jerking.

Ruben: Yeah. It's physical comedy, I guess you could call it or just his physical aptitude is really impressive.

CineMovie: I think a lot of people are going to be really surprised to see it's a different type of Tom Hardy.

Ruben: Yeah, for sure.

CineMovie: So that car chase was insane. How many cars did you destroy?

Ruben: Oh, great question. It's funny because sometimes for movies you try to get free cars, like product placement, and we actually ended up getting Jeeps, but I think we went through 13 Jeeps for that thing. Most people were like, 'no, there's no way,' but Jeep gave us all the cars, which we busted a lot of them.

CineMovie: Wow. That was pretty intense. Was that shot in San Francisco or in Atlanta where the majority of production occurred.

Ruben: It was a combination of both. There's some iconic moments in the chase, like when he does the big jump - that was in San Francisco. There's a street called Broadway, which goes through North Beach that we shoot him on with all the neon signs where he's dodging cars. That big jump that he does when Eddie says it's a dead end and Venom goes 'not for us.' And then they jump over and the cars, that was all San Francisco, but a lot of it was in Atlanta as well, like the end of the chase where he gets smacked and tossed and then jumps up and runs out. That was all in Atlanta.

CineMovie: That was a pretty amazing chase. And then, everyone's talking about superhero fatigue, but I think your found the solution to it.

Ruben: Thank God. I mean, I appreciate you saying that.

CineMovie: Because you worry when you come in. I didn't know what to expect. You hear a lot of things in the social sphere.

Ruben: That makes me so happy to hear that honestly. We really did work hard to distinguish our film and make it feel different. I mean Marvel knows what they're doing. DC knows what that they're doing. We wanted to make a movie that felt different from those worlds and I think stylistically we just tried to make it feel like its own world, you know, the way it looks, the gritty kind of San Francisco dirty, down and out. It's not bright. It feels real. Like, or at least that's what I try to make it feel real. Like the World Eddie's living in our world. Like it's real. It's not like I'm pretend world. And then with, um, the tone, I think it's unique as well. It's like, you know, a little darker, a little more horror. But also pretty funny and entertaining.

CineMovie: I think you did. Thank you so much.


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