Mark, what was your most memorable moment filming “The Avengers”?
Mine was being naked in front of Harry Dean Stanton (who has a small role in the film).
Sounds like you strayed a bit from the source material if you were flashing Hulk’s green bottom?
No [Laughs] I met with (director) Joss Whedon and he said he really liked The Incredible Hulk TV show and what Bill Bixby did with him, so I rented those on DVD with my 10-year-old son.
Learn anything from the old show?
After the third episode, my son turned to me and said, “Papa, he’s so misunderstood!” I basically based my character entirely on my 10-year-old boy, who has all of the force of nature screaming out of his body while at the same time having everyone around him telling him to f*cking control himself.
Have any manic episodes yourself after realizing you’re going to be playing one of the most famous superheroes of all time?
It was terrifying. I knew what my responsibility was. I felt it just by making the mistake of going online and reading some of the fanboy responses to the announcement that I was playing the next version of Bruce Banner.
Oh yes, the response to you replacing Edward Norton (from The Incredible Hulk) was initially mixed at best. So you wished you hadn’t read the feedback?
That was a mistake.
I will never go online and read again [Laughs]. But, I’ve never had a role be more scrutinized and criticized, even before I’d shot a single frame. Coming onto the set with all of those guys was pretty daunting. Many of my heroes in life are in this cast. So, I knew that I had big shoes to fill, so to speak. It was tough, and I wish that I had a cool costume to wear the entire time, instead of a leotard that was painted like a Chinese checkerboard.
Did you wear the Chinese checkerboard leotard to some of these parties I heard you guys hosted on the studio rooftop each night? Is it true you were the one behind those shindigs?
Yeah that was me. No, no seriously… I just remember going to someone’s place with a group of half-naked stuntmen in a hot tub, and Scarlett Johansson standing over them with a giant ladle, making boy soup.
That’s a broth most of us would kill to be a crouton in. Now looking back, was it a fun experience getting to play the green guy?
We’re all told to be so well-behaved and sometimes we’re all bursting at the seams to let it rip. Bruce Banner gets that moment, and part of the joy for people is to actually see that happen. That’s exciting for us. It’s a nice way for us to blow off steam, in watching movies, especially me.