The Actor Behind Taskmaster in ‘Black Widow’ Had to Keep Their Casting a Secret From Their Own Mother [Interview]
Black Widow has been in theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access for a week now, and those who’ve seen it know how memorable Taskmaster is…and how the character’s identity is one of the film’s biggest reveals.
/Film had the chance to interview the actor behind Taskmaser’s helmet about being part of the film and what may be in store for the Marvel supervillain, should they appear in the future. Read on for that interview, though be warned – major spoilers for Black Widow lie ahead.
That actor playing Taskmaster — something that was amazingly kept under wraps for years — is Olga Kurylenko. Before taking on the role of Antiona/Taskmaster in Black Widow, she was best known for her leading role in the 2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. In our conversation, we talked about her playing Taskmaster, what it was like keeping that secret for so long, and if the character could return.
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
What was it like for you to have to keep it under wraps for so long? And also, what did Marvel do to help you keep that a secret?
Well, they asked me not to tell obviously. They did help on set while we were filming because they had me wrapped up — they had me walk under an umbrella with fabric hanging from the umbrella on all sides so no one could see me. You could just see that a big dot, a weird shape moving around. I kept the secret, but it’s not that difficult for me.
Of course, obviously when people would speak about the film it was strange. Even my mother said, “Oh Olga, I saw this trailer.” That was a year ago, not now, but it was supposed to come out a year ago. And she said, “I want to see this great film, Black Widow.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, yeah. We can go together.” And I had to pretend I didn’t know anything.
Oh wow, your mom didn’t even know?
No! She was like, “Yeah, can we go together to the cinema?” And I said, “Yeah, sure. We’ll go.” And I had to keep cool and act like I knew nothing about it. So it’s kind of strange, but it’s not difficult for me because I don’t spill secrets. They didn’t ask me, but the same thing happened when I got James Bond. I just didn’t want anybody to know, and I didn’t tell any of my friends. For awhile, no one knew that as well.
When you were on the set of Black Widow, how much of it is you all the fight scenes? Because obviously Taskmaster’s face is covered. Were you there for those scenes as well?
Well, I wish I could say it was all me throughout. That’s unfortunately not the truth, because Taskmaster has very, very complicated fight scenes and some incredible skills that I just unfortunately couldn’t do, and I had to be dubbed by stunt doubles. But yeah, believe me — would I have liked to do it? I would. If they had told me before, “Olga, we’re going to take months and we’re going to train you so you actually can do it.” I would have said yes. I love it — I love stunts and action and fighting.
You definitely have the experience with that with Quantum of Solace. You had a little bit of a Bond reunion on Black Widow with David Harbor. Did you reminisce at all about shooting that film?
Like a couple of jokes, yeah.
Nice. One thing I thought was really touching was at the end when Natasha removes the brainwashing Antonia’s father did to her. Her words — “Is he gone?” — were so impactful. Just three words that spoke so much. How did you approach that scene and what Antonia might’ve been feeling and going through at that moment?
There was a lot of thinking and getting into that pain and all those traumas that Antonia has been through. It’s ironic because obviously, it’s a member of her family, but it’s also someone who was abusive and manipulating her. We can also see clearly that he’s abusive to women in general. It’s the worst thing to experience that from someone who is part of your family or a loved one. If someone like that is part of your family, it’s much more of a struggle because you’re supposed to love them and be protected by them. And yet the opposite happens.
And so the character is confused and yet she can’t help but be in pain anyway because she’s lost him. It’s an incredible moment. It’s so confusing and contradicting, and there’s a whole explosion of emotions. That moment when she comes to with Black Widow, I think it’s a beautiful moment of recognition.
And what do you think she feels about Natasha? Obviously there are conflicted emotions there too.
It wasn’t explored, but I think she would be thinking what she was instructed to think since she was a child when that event damages her physically and probably emotionally. Whatever she’s been fed, she believes. I think the character is confused, because she will only start thinking on her from the moment that the spell has gone. And that happens in the end. Before that, I don’t think she’s quite aware of what the reality is. She just simply doesn’t know.
And now that she’s in control of her own mind again and she’s with the Widows, what do you hope for her? What do you hope she goes off to do?
There’s so much you can do. She’s going to be, I think, conflicted between the bad and the good, and probably torn in all directions and try to figure out which way she wants to go. But I think because underneath she’s a vulnerable human, she could be explored in all sorts of ways. The thing is, she could be always caught up in that power and manipulated again. So that’s always a danger. It’s always a danger to keep away from being possessed and concentrate on keeping her freedom. But it doesn’t mean that she’ll succeed at it. And there’s always bad forces that will try to capture her, I would imagine. It’s that kind of character. The character’s too valuable and too skillful to let go. Obviously, even though the main baddie is gone, there’ll be others that are going to try and do it. I would just imagine. I know nothing at all, I’m just speculating.
Would you like to play her again?
Oh, I’d love it. I’d love it. It would be awesome.
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