Gemma Chan rounds out the last of our interviews from the set of Captain Marvel. The British-born actress plays a member of Starforce, the galactic team that Carol Danvers is part of at the start of the movie. Minn-Erva is a Kree sniper who was the star of the team before Brie Larson‘s Carol Danvers showed up, which should add some drama.
In the interview, Chan tells us a little more about Minn-Erva, her rivalry with Carol, the extensive make-up process, comparisons to the comic books, working with Goose the cat, and more.
(This interview was conducted in a roundtable format with other assembled journalists.)
Question: So to start could you tell us, who is your character and tell us a little bit about her?
Gemma Chan: Yeah, I pay a character called Minn-Erva. She is a member of Starforce. She is a sniper. Yeah, she’s talented. She’s very dedicated to her team. So she’s a Kree, obviously. See? I’m blue. [Laughs] So, the Kree have been involved in this very bitter war with the Skrulls, which has been going on, and Starforce are the Kree’s elite special forces team. And the beginning of the movie, I can say they’re on a mission? Yeah, a secret mission.
Yes, so Brie’s character is on our team as well and there’s a slight rivalry between the two characters. I would say that to a certain extent, Minn-Erva doesn’t quite trust Carol but they’re all, as a team, they’re very efficient and they get stuff done. Yeah, I don’t know what else to add.
Question: If you can expand on it, is the rivalry more for power position or for affections?
Chan: Not so much affections. I suppose before Carol joined the team, Minn-Erva was probably kinda of the star of this Starforce team, and she was probably the favorite of the commander who is played by Jude Law. So yeah, so I suppose there’s more to do with their abilities rather than affections as such. But yeah, I think there’s a mutual respect, but yeah, someone else who’s also very good at their job. It’s kind of playful rivalry.
Question: When you say she’s a sniper is that like what we would think of traditionally or is there like a sci-fi spin?
Chan: I would say it’s fairly traditional. I mean, obviously the gun, it’s like a long gun. So yeah, I have skills in that department.
Question: What does the makeup process entail?
Chan: Really early starts. [Laughs] I think my call times have been at like 3:00am this week. But yeah, then we’ve got an amazing team and it’s airbrushing, lots of layers of airbrushing and the upkeep throughout the day when it gets hot and sweaty and the costume rubs at it, but they’re great. They try to maintain.
Question: How long does that application take in the morning?
Chan: It started off taking four hours, but we’re cutting it down. So we’re around about three at the moment. But we can get it even quicker, hopefully.
Question: What’s something you’re going to do with this role that you’ve never gotten to do before?
Chan: Well, I’ve been doing some boxing training, which has been good fun. Because she is this elite warrior, I’ve got to do lots of physical stuff. So, I’ve gone work training with the stunt team and yeah, it’s fun, really fun. It’s really different to anything I’ve done before.
Question: How close to the comic book version of the character are you?
Chan: I would say it’s a little bit of a – they’ve definitely taken it in their own direction in terms of their imagining of this team. There are elements of her there, but I would say it’s a little bit different.
Question: In the comic book Minn-Erva is more of an antagonist for Captain Marvel, so are we gonna see hints of that?
Chan: That’s a good question. I think it’s definitely a developing relationship. I’ll say that, yeah.
Question: Were you into comic books before this or did you have to study up?
Chan: I was interested in comics, but I’ve definitely read more since entering this world. It’s great to see how much love there is out there for these characters. And yeah, it’s exciting.
Question: You were saying you get to take it in your own direction. Is it fun to kind of expand on something that is beloved and [that] people are really passionate about, but also carve your own?
Chan: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I should say there is all this affection for the comics, but the script and what we’re doing is very much the same thing so in a certain sense, you can’t get too tied to the versions, because there have also been different versions of that character through different kind of time periods. In a way, you have to kind of just go on what the character that is in this script, so that’s what I’ve tried to do.
Question: Now we’ve got full costume.
Chan: This is full costume. Yeah.
Question: So Jude Law said that his relationship with Carol is kind of a mentor/mentee. Would you say that’s a similar relationship you have with his character or are you more independent?
Chan: He definitely was her mentor as well. He still is, I should say, not in the past tense. Yeah, I would say actually they have quite a complex dynamic between the two of them. She doesn’t always agree with his decisions. I can say that. But obviously he is still her mentor and her superior. But yeah, there are a few cracks in that relationship starting to show.
Question: Just looking at the costume, just curious how that is to move in and what kind of physical stunts you’ve been doing.
Chan: There are a lot of parts to it and it’s not the most comfortable costume I’ve ever worn. [Laughs] But I’m sure, yeah, Brie would tell you the same about hers. Yeah, it’s cool though. I like it.
Question: What’s the general group dynamic for Starforce? Are you like a family?
Chan: Yeah, there’s lots of banter between them. They are a close knit team. They have to work together intimately all the time. So yeah, they are kind of like a family. They have their in-jokes and their little kind of, yeah, playful rivalry things going on.
Question: Do you get to work with the cat?
Chan: I have worked with the cat, yes. I’ve worked with the live cat as well. I had to hold the live cat. But they’re so well trained. They’re amazing! Like, yeah.
Question: Do you know which cat it was?
Chan: It was the real, real live cat. Although there were two. I think I might’ve worked with both of them, actually. But they’re, yeah, they were great. I didn’t get scratched.
Question: Has there been something so far with Minn-Erva that you’re really excited for audiences to see? Like a moment that you feel is really going to speak to them or be kind of iconic for your version of this character?
Chan: Probably can’t say without giving too much away, yeah.
Question: But you have a moment that you are really excited about, even if you can’t tell us it?
Chan: I think the whole – well, yeah, there are several moments I think, yeah.
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