Avengers: Infinity War actor explains how that surprising cameo came to be

MAJOR SPOILERS for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. So if you haven't seen the film yet, you best turn around and skidaddle!

With the the much-anticipated AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR now playing in theaters (and raking in the cash), we can finally begin to understand all of the secrets which Marvel has been keeping close to its chest for the past few years. You wouldn't expect a blockbuster such as INFINITY WAR to hit theaters without having most of its revelations spoiled prematurely, but surprisingly, the film contained more than a few moments which we didn't see coming, including a cameo from a certain character who I certainly never expected to see again.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR saw the surprising return of the Red Skull, Captain American's WWII foe and head of HYDRA. The villain was seemingly destroyed when he touched the Tesseract at the close of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, but as INFINITY WAR reveals, Red Skull was actually transported to the planet of Vormir, the home of the Soul Stone. When Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) arrive on the planet to obtain the Soul Stone, Red Skull, who is forced to act as its guardian, informs the Mad Titan that he must sacrifice something he loves in order to get it. "To ensure that whoever possesses it understands its power, the stone demands a sacrifice," Red Skull says. "In order to take the stone, you must lose that which you love. A soul for a soul." Cue the waterworks.

While Hugo Weaving played Red Skull in THE FIRST AVENGERS, The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand stepped in to play the role for INFINITY WAR, and the actor spoke with Entertainment Weekly about how he came to be cast in the film.

The biggest thing that Marvel wanted to do was come as close to the iconic role that Hugo Weaving did seven years ago and pay homage to it while also giving it a new flavor. Because Red Skull, once he touched the Tesseract, he goes into this intergalactic astral plane for 70 years. And as the Russo brothers pointed out to me — because I was trying to do a straight voice match to Hugo’s performance — and then they said, “You know, he’s been by himself essentially in this intergalactic prison of his own making for 70 years. He’s going to sound a little different. So we want him to have this kind of ethereal almost ghost-like quality to his voice, so if you can do that.” I think the reference they might have given is Yoda-esque. His ambition has brought him this great pain, but also this great wisdom, and I think that’s what I tried to imbue that performance with. I just loved playing this part because I genuinely used to draw Red Skull and Omega Red and all these other villains as a kid, and it was just such a geeky pleasure to play this part. I just absolutely love it.

Ross Marquand added that it took him about a week and a half to nail down the voice and performance, which included watching CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER over and over again. After he felt that he had a handle on it, Marquand sent in his audition and discovered that he had gotten the part shortly after wrapping production on the eighth season of The Walking Dead. The part required just a single day of shooting, and Marquand hopes that it serves as a homage to Hugo Weaving's work, even though the character has gone through some big changes.

I wanted to first and foremost pay homage to what Hugo did because I think Hugo did an exceptional job, and I was frankly honored to step into those shoes because I just thought he absolutely rocked that role in The First Avenger. And I hope Hugo knows that his performance was incredible, and I really wanted to pay homage to what he did, and I really feel like he was one of the best comic book villains of all time, so I really hope he’s happy with the performance and the film as well. I think the main thing I wanted to get across is that this guy is remorseful. He does feel a certain degree of shame and loss, and he’s conquered by his own ambition, really. It’s very much like Icarus; he flew way too high — literally because he touched the Tesseract and got launched into space — and he got way too ambitious and lost sight of his humanity, and now he feels genuinely remorseful about that. And there is kind of a forlorn energy to him. It was coming across in the dialogue, and I just really wanted to honor that.

As Ross Marquand's Walking Dead co-star Danai Gurira is also part of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR as Okoye, you would think that the pair would be comparing notes, but Marquand says that those NDA's are no joke and he literally didn't tell anybody until the movie came out. As for whether we might see Red Skull return, Marquand couldn't, or wouldn't, say. "I can’t speak to that, and I think that I would obviously love to replay that role again anytime. It’s such a rich character," Marquand said. "Especially now that he’s gone to this intergalactic hellscape and he’s found his own prison there — not to quote Creed. That was a Creed song, right? But he’s a changed man, and I don’t even know if he is a man anymore. He’s almost like this ghostlike deity, and he’s at the service of the Soul Stone now, and his sole purpose is to essentially guide people to this, but you have to wonder: Is there still a part of him that does have ambition? I don’t know. It would be really cool to see where that character goes. But that’s really a question for all the folks at Marvel and the Russo brothers and the writers. I certainly couldn’t speak to that."

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is now playing in theaters, so be sure to tell us what you thought of the film!



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