Joe and Anthony Russo’s “The Gray Man,” largely publicized as Netflix’s most expensive action extravaganza yet, is debuting on the streaming service this Friday. The tale of an operative who does the CIA’s dirty work (played by Ryan Gosling), who then becomes the target of another, more sadistic contractor (played by Chris Evans), it’s good, old-fashioned spy-versus-spy stuff. The action sequences (there are nine) are huge and elaborately put together, which is fitting given the Russos’ history with Marvel Studios (they made two “Captain America”Movies and the two last ones “Avengers” movies).
spoke with the Russo Brothers about the movie’s limited theatrical release, what it’s like working with Netflix, their decision to put Ryan Gosling in yet another iconic bomber jacket and, of course, their possible involvement in a Marvel Studios “Secret Wars” movie. We also try to unravel the mystery as to why Joe Russo keeps sending Joe Russo gifs Mariah Carey.
Did you ever think of expanding the release of this movie or pushing it harder? Did you ever have that discussion with Netflix?
Anthony Russo: Well, the situation is this – Netflix is a streamer, they don’t live or die on their theatrical all experience, the other studios do live or die on their theatrical experience. Netflix has a stronger relationship with traditional studios than the theater owners and exhibitors. Because they are more dependent on each other. Netflix is currently working on ways to expand their theatrical experience. And it’s a complicated thing. Everyone feels the same about this movie, even Netflix. You can find many other movies like this. That’s a part of their agenda and we’re sort of realizing it to the best degree we can at this moment in time.
You’ve talked about how freeing it is working with Netflix. Was that something you guys were able to figure out? “Extraction”and used to the production “The Gray Man?”
Anthony Russo: We’re very self-sufficient. Our process has been comprehensive. We know exactly what we want. We know what we want to do. And we’ve been most successful in our careers when we found partners who like what we want to do and it just works then.
But there was an underlying working relationship. “Extraction”It was easy to understand who they were and their work. It was amazing. You are supported in all ways possible, which is incredible. None of this can be taken for granted. They were very committed to the movie and love what they do.
There was any hesitation in dressing Ryan Gosling in an iconic bomber jacket.
Joe Russo: No. He loves those iconic bomber jackets. We encourage actors to discover the look and feel of their characters. They have to be happy in their costumes and with their hair, their makeup and you’ll get a better performance out of them if they are right. They’re also going to put a lot of thought into the character. And in fact, our thought is divided amongst all the characters, the action, the execution, the crew we’re dealing with, etc. They’re going to put the exclusive thought into their character. We’re happy to allow the actors to drive the look and feel of their characters.
I’ve got to say, doing the press tour now with him every single day, I get to see him in a jacket that’s more fabulous than the last one. It’s kind of mind blowing.
Was it difficult to convince him to say yes?
Anthony Russo: He’s a very thoughtful actor, as you would expect. While we did have many conversations, it was amazing to share these conversations. It was an amazing experience for us and a significant step for him. Absolutely. However, before he signed, we had a lot of fun talking with him about it, and then he finally did.
Did Soderbergh make any notes?
Anthony Russo: No, we didn’t get any notes. We haven’t got a note from Soderbergh in probably 20 years.
Joe Russo: l tell you what’s very funny is that I probably text with him like every two to three months and it invariably involves a Mariah Carey gif. I’ll ask him a fairly serious question and I will get a Mariah Carey gif in response to my question. They are usually a bit tense.
You’re left to decode it.
Joe RussoI must decode it. He forces me to work for it. Yes.
Here’s the legally required “Secret Wars”Is it possible that you are just trying to bring this project into existence?
Joe Russo: I mean, here’s the crazy thing – everyone asks us and we just answer truthfully. But there are no conversations, there aren’t. It’s just people saying, “Hey, you want to go back to work for Marvel Studios?” Sure. We enjoyed working with them. But, we now run our own company. We have now three to four projects in the pipeline. The dance card’s pretty full. Their dance card’s pretty full. It would have to be a time and place thing, but we’re talking years out.
And then we’re asked, “Well, what project would you like to do?”We say it all the time “Secret Wars”It was our favorite comic as a child. We have no idea if they’re heading in that direction. We have no idea if they’re interested in working with us again. It’s all unknown to us. We just answer the questions honestly, but it’s funny that it keeps turning into a headline and people think we’re trying to manifest this. No, we’re just really answering a question that we seem to get asked over and over and over again, as truthfully as we can answer it.
“The Gray Man”This film is available for a limited release. It will debut on Netflix July 22.