THE INCREDIBLE HULK Production Notes
Marvel’s Monster Hero Returns to the Big Screen
Source: Universal Studios
Official Website: THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Special Thanks to Joy O’Brien
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new film.
The following production notes were created by Universal Pictures for the THE INCREDIBLE HULK, opening nationwide on June 13, 2008. The text is © 2008 Universal Studios. MARVEL, and all Marvel characters including The Hulk are © 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.
Welcome to the explosive new chapter in the Super Hero franchise that’s captivated the world for more than 40 years. Universal Pictures and Marvel Studios bring the action-packed epic motion picture of one of the most captivating heroes of all time to a world that’s been anxiously awaiting it—THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
For decades, the brute strength and touching vulnerability of this character have captured the imagination in all of us who are unsure of how to manage the passions that lie buried within. While we try to keep our tensions in check, there is a creature that embraces the pure rage and limitless aggression—living inside one brilliant man who finds his alter ego more and more impossible to suppress.
And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
We find scientist Bruce Banner (two-time Oscar nominee EDWARD NORTON, American History X, Primal Fear) desperately hunting for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk.
Banner has been living in the shadows—cut off from a life and the woman he loves, Dr. Elizabeth “Betty” Ross (LIV TYLER, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Strangers). Living as a fugitive to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (Oscar winner WILLIAM HURT, Into the Wild, A History of Violence), he knows that a military machine seeking to capture him and brutally exploit his power is always only a few steps behind.
As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk’s creation, they are confronted with a vicious new adversary known as The Abomination, a monstrosity whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk’s own. Portraying the human incarnation of this powerful creature is noted Academy Award nominee TIM ROTH (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs). As Emil Blonsky, Roth imagines a Super Soldier whose lust for power manifests itself in The Abomination.
And to defeat this nemesis, one scientist must make an agonizing final choice: accept a peaceful life as Bruce Banner or find heroism in the creature he holds inside— THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
Joining Norton, Tyler, Hurt and Roth for the film is an accomplished cast including TY BURRELL (National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Dawn of the Dead), who portrays Leonard, a man competing for Betty Ross’ affections, and TIM BLAKE NELSON (Syriana, Holes), who takes on the role of Professor Samuel Sterns, a cellular biologist who quite possibly holds the key to Banner’s quest for a cure.
The behind-the-scenes team of THE INCREDIBLE HULK is led by a seasoned group of Super Hero and action film veterans, including producers AVI ARAD (Spider-Man series, X-Men series, Fantastic Four series), GALE ANNE HURD (Terminator series, Armageddon, Aliens) and KEVIN FEIGE (Iron Man, Fantastic Four series, X-Men series). The associate producer is STEPHEN BROUSSARD. The screen story and screenplay for THE INCREDIBLE HULK are by ZAK PENN (X2, X-Men: The Last Stand). The film is directed by noted action filmmaker LOUIS LETERRIER (The Transporter series, Unleashed).
THE INCREDIBLE HULK’s production designer is KIRK M. PETRUCCELLI (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Lara Croft series); the director of photography is PETER MENZIES, JR. (Shooter, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). THE INCREDIBLE HULK’s editors are two-time-Oscar-nominated filmmaker JOHN WRIGHT (X-Men, The Passion of the Christ), RICK SHAINE (Pitch Black, television’s Rome) and VINCENT TABAILLON (Transporter 2, Finale Sentence). Music for the action-thriller is composed by CRAIG ARMSTRONG (Ray, World Trade Center) and supervised by DAVE JORDAN (Transformers, Iron Man); the visual effects supervisor is KURT WILLIAMS (Fantastic Four, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, X-Men: The Last Stand).
THE INCREDIBLE HULK is executive produced by the legendary STAN LEE (Iron Man, Spider-Man series, X-Men series), DAVID MAISEL (Iron Man) and JIM VAN WYCK (Timeline, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events).
BEFORE THE PRODUCTION
Hulk Smash: A Brief History of the Hero
With his off-the-chart strength, size, durability, speed and fighting skills, The Hulk has achieved the enviable status of one of the most popular Super Heroes of the last century. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character debuted in May 1962 in a series of Marvel Comics. A young writer, Lee had just finished the first of the Marvel line of books with a then unknown team called the Fantastic Four, and he was looking for a hero who wasn’t as handsome or pretty—someone, or something, totally different who could capture the imagination of Marvel’s readers. Lee and Kirby wanted a “misunderstood hero.”
Lee remembers, “I had always loved the old movie Frankenstein. And it seemed to me that the monster, played by Boris Karloff, wasn’t really a bad guy. He was the good guy. He didn’t want to hurt anybody. It’s just those idiots with torches kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?’”
Wondering how to bring a new twist to Mary Shelley’s classic character as imagined by director James Whale in 1931, Lee recalled another favorite from his childhood: Robert Louis Stevenson’s half-man/half-monster, depicted in director Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “I combined Jekyll and Hyde with Frankenstein,” Lee tells, “and I got myself the monster I wanted, who was really good, but nobody knew it. He was also somebody who could change from a normal man into a monster, and lo, a legend was born.”
Lee and Kirby imagined Dr. Bruce Banner, a nuclear physicist who was forever changed after a freak accident during the testing of an experimental bomb that showered his body with gamma radiation. (Notably, Lee, a big fan of alliteration [think Sue Storm, Scott Summers, Peter Parker], preferred to give his heroes the same first initials in both their names, therefore Bruce Banner was born.) Whenever seriously angered, adrenaline would course through Banner’s body and he would morph into the fearsome Hulk, a creature of limitless power and endless aggression. When enraged, he became a brutal menace to society, but would learn to use his powers to help the weak and helpless. Dr. Banner would spend the rest of his life battling to control the fury of his alter ego and do good with The Hulk.
Though the series was initially cancelled in March 1963 after six issues, The Hulk immediately went on to guest star in Fantastic Four #12 and, shortly thereafter, became one of the first members of The Avengers, appearing in the first two issues of that famous series. Two years later, he turned up opposite Giant-Man in Tales to Astonish (#59), earning his own story in the very next issue.
By 1968, the popularity of the character caught on with audiences across the globe. The Hulk had taken over the entire book of Tales to Astonish, which was then renamed The Incredible Hulk. The series ran all the way to issue #474, when it ended its publication in 1999; it was quickly relaunched in a new series titled The Hulk. With issue #12, the name was changed back to The Incredible Hulk, and the title remains one of the most prominent in the Marvel library today.
For almost half a century, audiences have responded to the fact that Bruce Banner and The Hulk are two sides to the same man. They have been fascinated by the idea that he represents the extremes of the id and superego that Freud believed controlled us all. When Banner is The Hulk, his consciousness is buried in the monster, and he has next to no control over his green counterpart’s actions.
Lee offers that he originally thought it’d be fun if the monster and the man “both hated each other. The good guy, Bruce Banner, doesn’t want to turn into the monster and wishes he could cure himself. The monster thinks of Banner as a weakling and wishes he wouldn’t have to change back to Banner.” And their battle for dominance raged on for decades while readers devoured it.
Throughout his career as a Marvel Comics character, The Hulk has been seen in a number of incarnations. Not only has he gone from the pages of comics to television to the big screen; he’s turned from gray to green and lumbering lunk to brilliant colleague. He’s taken on aliases from Annihilator and Joe Fixit to the Green Scar and Green Goliath—but he has always retained the core element that has kept him beloved by audiences for nearly half a century. He remains indelibly linked to a scientist confused by the fate dealt him, and the two have been intertwined in a constant, volatile relationship.
Fifteen years after his introduction, The Hulk’s immense popularity generated a successful CBS television series, produced by Universal Television. In 1977, the show The Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby as David Banner and a young bodybuilder named Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk, was imagined. The series, which premiered in March 1978, was a huge hit that enjoyed a five-season run before being cancelled in 1982. Six years after the cancellation, the devotion of legions of fans prompted the network to create three more telefilms, which aired in the late ’80s. In 1993, Bill Bixby passed away from cancer, ending that legacy of The Incredible Hulk on television.
In 2003, director Ang Lee imagined The Hulk in a feature film for Universal Pictures. The Oscar-winning filmmaker captured Banner and his alter ego in an origin story, one that examined a portrait of a man at war with himself and the world. HULK told the story of a beast that was both hero and monster—whose powers embodied Banner’s waking nightmare. The film opened in American markets with a record-setting $62 million, third only to Spider-Man and Iron Man in highest opening-weekend grosses for original Marvel properties.
When Universal and Marvel decided to make the next chapter in his saga, they elected to capture the rawest elements of the franchise, selecting a French filmmaker known for his lightning-fast camerawork and passion for the television show that transfixed him as a child. Opting for a series reboot that embraces the spirit and narrative of the Bixby/Ferrigno series, the studios knew it was time to give fans exactly The Hulk they demanded. THE INCREDIBLE HULK would be full of the pulse-pounding action audiences begged to see from their hero—complete with feats of heroic strength and a nemesis even more dangerous and powerful than The Hulk himself.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Meaner and Greener: The Hulk is Reborn
When opting to make a new film that starred Marvel’s famous green leading man, Marvel and Universal were keen to bring all the action and wish fulfillment that audiences expected out of one of its preeminent Super Hero franchises. Marvel had the luxury of drawing from the seemingly endless stories of a universe its writers and pencillers had imagined over the years. Since the early 1960s, The Hulk has done most everything—from joining The Avengers and The Defenders, engaging in battle with The X-Men and becoming one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to getting married, receiving a presidential pardon and finding himself hurtled deep into subspace by The Illuminati. It was not a stretch that he could recapture his roots as hero and give moviegoers The Hulk they always wanted—one who was there to smash bad guys and save us all.
With this chapter of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Marvel aimed to recall the storylines brought to life by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the late ’70s/early ’80s show of the same name. The studio knew that Banner’s struggles as a fugitive desperately searching to rid himself of the beast that lived inside resonated with fans.
Banner frequently used the power of that creature to protect innocents he met on his journey of redemption, becoming a reluctant hero. While on the run from the military machinery that wanted to exploit his powers, Banner was forced to embrace the darker side of his personality…and to make something good out of the violence that owned a part of him. Bixby and Ferrigno underscored that through line every season the television show was on the air, and that would prove the theme for this iteration of The Hulk’s story.
Marvel chairman and executive producer of the film David Maisel offers, “The Hulk is one of the gems of the Marvel universe, and we are excited about bringing him back to the big screen. THE INCREDIBLE HULK celebrates all the things that have kept the character beloved by audiences for close to five decades, returning to the roots of the long-running comic series and television show.”
Producer and president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, admits that his passion for the project was colored by the effect that The Hulk had on him as a boy—specifically his fascination of the duality that lives in Banner. He reflects, “In the Marvel universe, we have over 5,000 characters. All Marvel heroes have virtues, and all of them have flaws. It’s that dynamic that makes the characters so appealing, so interesting for generation after generation to watch. They’re not one-dimensional characters. They’re characters with a lot of richness and complexity, and the intertwined relationship of Bruce Banner/The Hulk is one of the richest.”
Blockbuster producer Gale Anne Hurd, whose credits include landmark action films such as Aliens, The Abyss and the Terminator trilogy, agrees with Feige’s assessment. “One of the things I always liked about The Hulk is that, while he’s a hero, he’s not really a Super Hero in the same sense as the other Marvel crime-fighting characters,” she says. “Banner isn’t a character who puts on a costume and then saves the world. In fact, he rarely has a choice as to when he becomes The Hulk.
“He’s conflicted about his power, but also grasps its potential and, as such, is able to transform his curse into heroism,” Hurd continues. “That’s one of the things that makes this character so relatable. There’s a part of all of us that wishes we had the ability to let go, to let someone or something stronger than us take care of the situations we sometimes find ourselves in. Everyone has a little Hulk in them; this movie is about embracing that.”
Marvel executives and the producers were adamant that the story they wanted to tell in THE INCREDIBLE HULK was about the heroism Banner would learn from grappling with the creature inside him. But, true to the roots of “The Strangest Man of All Time” whom Lee and Kirby created, Banner never set out to be a hero; indeed, this role was forced upon the brilliant researcher who longed for a quiet life of complicated hypotheses. Stan Lee explains: “Banner was looking for a way to cure himself from being The Hulk. All he wanted to do was to be able to be somewhere in a laboratory and be left alone long enough so he could work on a cure. He was a scientist, but he was never able to do that. There was always something happening.” Indeed, the bad guys just never let him be.
“The key phrase on this film is ‘Hulk is Hero,’ says Feige. “We’ve already explored some of the darker, angst-ridden sides of The Hulk. This time around, it’s about the wish fulfillment of being able to tap into strength within you, something stronger than yourself. But if harnessed the right way, and if you’re the right person, it’s a strength that can be used for the power of good. It’s a universal notion and one of the reasons that The Hulk is one of the most popular characters of all time.”
To bring this new chapter in the saga of Bruce Banner and his green-skinned alter ego to the big screen, the producers began their search for a director who shared their vision for a new path for the franchise. The search quickly ended after they met with French filmmaker Louis Leterrier, best known for the action-packed films that launched the career of international action star Jason Statham, Transporter and Transporter 2, as well as the critically acclaimed martial-arts film Unleashed, starring Jet Li, Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman. It was apparent from the first meeting with the inexhaustible Leterrier that he was an invigorating, inspired choice to direct THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
“From the beginning, we all agreed that Louis was a natural fit,” says Hurd. “It was obvious from his previous films that he had a great sense for tremendous action and stylish camera work, but when we met him, we realized that he shared our passion for the genre. He really, really loved these characters.”
“Louis has the unbridled enthusiasm you want in a filmmaker to get the tone of the fun, exciting, heroic action that The Hulk is all about,” states Feige. “He came to us with a vision for how he wanted the film to look. His ideas and what he brought forth to us in storyboards and concept designs just blew us away. He is a superb visualist who understands the importance of combining a well-developed character storyline with incredible action and fun. Where The Hulk goes, action and chaos follow, and Louis completely gets ‘Hulk Smash.’”
Adds producer Avi Arad, “Louis really understands the depth of the character of The Hulk, as well as the tradition the character is steeped in. And being French, he claims the love story comes naturally to him.”
Leterrier, who grew up in Paris where Marvel Comics were not readily available, tells that his love of The Hulk stems from the ’70s television series. “Being French, I was not so exposed as a young kid to comic books, basically because we had only the French and Belgian comics,” he says. “But the TV show was huge in France, and that shaped my strongest memories of The Hulk.”
Like all fans, Leterrier loved the energy and the action of the series, but it was Bill Bixby’s take on a man with deep internal conflict and the dilemmas his power posed that struck home. The director notes: “Bixby’s portrayal of this character was so emotional and lovable as he tried to befriend people and re-create a new life every episode. Every time he was creating the foundation of a new life, the foundation was broken when The Hulk appeared.”
For the same reason he was drawn to his other films, Leterrier admits he loves protagonists who don’t fit a stock mold: “Bruce Banner is an antihero. He doesn’t want this power, but he knows he can’t give it up, because if he gives it to someone else they would harvest it to create evil. That’s the whole journey of this character; it’s a journey of acceptance. Every one of us has anger built inside. Some control it better than others. Banner understands that anger can easily be transformed into courage.”
As the origin story had already been told on screen, Leterrier was ready to enter Banner’s story mid-action, not at the point at which the physicist is irradiated and discovers his powers. He was also eager to make use of recent technological achievements to help him tell the story. Adds the filmmaker: “It’s an amazing thing to be given the opportunity to tell this story with all the technology we have today. The Hulk has such a rich tradition for me to draw on. We’ve got a great story, and we’ve got the action, the excitement and the rush that people associate with The Hulk. Our Hulk is definitely a hero, and our Hulk smashes!”
Monsters and Saviors: An Incredible Cast
When it came to casting THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Leterrier and the producers were determined to assemble a troupe of actors who would deliver an adrenaline-fueled summer film distinguished by solid performances. “Audiences these days are extremely discriminating,” says producer Hurd. “It’s no longer enough to have great CGI characters and really terrific visual effects. You have to have a story that’s powerful and characters that you care about and a journey that’s worth taking. Even though we have great source material to draw from, from the many years that The Incredible Hulk comic has been running, you have to sift through that and find the best story to tell and the best actors to tell it.”
To help present this chapter in The Hulk’s saga, the team would search for a performer who was not only capable of conveying scientist Bruce Banner’s brilliant intellect and dark conflict, but an actor who understood everything about The Hulk’s universe and would contribute creatively over the course of production. After the filmmakers met with two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Edward Norton, the search was over.
“Bruce Banner is a very complex character, and therefore a very complex role,” offers producer Feige. “When Edward came on board, it totally upped the ante; we knew he’d be able to bring a whole new dimension to the character. He’s one of the most exciting actors of his generation. His immense talent and his ability to transform into a particular role made him the ideal choice to take on the character of Bruce Banner/The Hulk.”
For Norton, lending his interpretation of one of the world’s most beloved Super Heroes was something he took quite seriously. He has been intrigued by the Banner/Hulk story since he was a kid. The actor notes: “Bruce Banner is the guy who monkeys with the secret forces and gets burned by them in a way that ends up isolating him, exiling him to this lonely existence. There’s something in the story of a lonely, moral guy in this self-imposed exile, trying to protect the world from this terrible thing inside himself that I think people relate to. They like the story of the oppressed, chased, hunted man who has this righteous bite-back when you push him too hard.
“When you’re a teenager, there’s a terrific fantasy in that,” Norton continues. “It’s that feeling of being lonely, of being outside, and the fantasy that if people push you too hard, you’ve got this thing that’s going to rise up out of you and defend you. That taps straight into the way you feel as a teenager, and that’s where it starts.”
Offers Hurd: “When Edward Norton came on board, he brought not only his terrific acting ability and the dramatic sensibility we’ve seen in his Oscar-nominated performances, but he also brought great insight and love for this character and these stories. Edward is not one-dimensional. He likes things that aren’t necessarily on the surface. He likes to go deeper and find things that are mythic. With a larger-than-life character like The Hulk and a larger-than-life villain like The Abomination, he’s got a really terrific canvas to explore the material in a really enormous way.”
Fortunately, her director agreed. Leterrier provides, “Edward was a perfect actor for a film in which there is a race against the army, a race against himself and his feelings. He brings in that emphatic sadness and intellect without being too big with his acting. It was really good to have somebody who was very internal, because that’s what Bruce Banner is. The Hulk is external and his primal self. Coupled with the substantial creative direction Edward provided throughout our production and postproduction, we wouldn’t have our Hulk without him.”
Norton returns the compliment to the filmmaker, and he looked forward to their collaboration. He offers: “When Louis and I talked about it, he was aesthetically drawn to the same things I was. His reference points were more films like Alien and other films that were not too bright and glossy—that had some grit to them. He talked about using handheld cameras a lot and about having the visual experience be dirty. By that he meant not always perfectly composed, but there’s a certain sense of chaos and horror-film aspect to it. I liked that a lot.”
One piece of THE INCREDIBLE HULK that has endeared the saga to fans for so long is the love story between Banner and his former Harvard co-ed/girlfriend (and wife in certain chapters of The Hulk series), brilliant biologist Betty Ross. It’s the tragedy of their romance—the fact that they’re doomed to be apart until he finds a cure—that makes Banner’s pain so much more unbearable. Betty’s love and empathy for Bruce has never wavered and, though the relationship is complicated, she has a connection to him that allows her to find humanity in his green alter ego.
Leterrier responded to the fact that Betty’s empathy would equal Bruce’s downfall at the hands of his nemesis, Betty’s father, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. He offers, “Banner would not have fallen back in Ross’ claws if it wasn’t his love for Betty and the mistakes he makes because of her, and I loved that dynamic.”
To play the pivotal role of Betty, the filmmakers turned to Liv Tyler, a fan favorite since her memorable casting as the immortal Elvin princess Arwen in Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. “Liv is not only a classic beauty, but an undeniable talent,” comments Feige. “Her roles in such blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings and indie favorites like Stealing Beauty have helped her develop a unique blend of dramatic and action-adventure experience that is perfectly suited for taking on the role of Betty Ross.”
“We really needed someone who could step up to the role—someone who could bring the right combination of intelligence and strength to the character,” adds Hurd, who worked with the actor in the ’90s juggernaut action hit Armageddon. “She had to be fearless but, at the same time, have a vulnerable side. Liv is perfect; she’s smart, accessible and beautiful—the embodiment of the character.”
Something Tyler didn’t know she was getting herself into was the physicality the role demanded, especially acting against what would become a 9’ creature inserted into the film through CGI. The actor, however, was up for the challenge. She laughs, “Even on The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t really do this. I was reacting to things that weren’t there, but I wasn’t necessarily interacting with things that weren’t there. I was never physically carried off by something.”
Once the star-crossed lovers were cast, Leterrier and the producers looked for a performer to play the man who has dedicated his life to capturing The Hulk, General “Thunderbolt” Ross. Says Leterrier: “Once we had Edward and Liv, we had to find Liv’s father. Since Liv is a beautiful, tall woman, we couldn’t get a little, round general. I had to find a mountain of a general, as Thunderbolt Ross was this big, scary mountain of a man in the comic books. I wanted somebody who is rare, somebody you are not expecting and who hasn’t been in these parts before.” Oscar winner William Hurt proved to be the ideal choice.
As he is also a big fan of The Hulk comics, it wasn’t a difficult decision for Hurt to tackle the role. “I found the comics deeply moving,” recalls the actor. “I believe in The Hulk, absolutely. That’s why I did the movie. My son is an even bigger fan—he knows everything about the series. We spent hours talking about Ross’ development and the relationship between Betty and Banner.
“Thunderbolt Ross is a conflicted man,” he continues. “He’s caught between his love and loyalty to his daughter and to his country. And he’s obsessed with stopping Bruce Banner and his alter ego.” This fixation, explains Hurt, ultimately takes his character to the point of putting his daughter in danger. “Ross starts to lose understanding of what he’s doing, and why,” says the actor. “He ends up ignoring his primary instinct as a parent and, ultimately, he’s humiliated by the fact that the thing he hates most in the world saves his daughter’s life. That’s a heavy emotional toll.”
Every good hero needs a villain and, while Banner has General Ross, Banner’s alter ego needed something more visually monstrous—especially to battle a powerhouse as awesome as The Hulk. In THE INCREDIBLE HULK, The Hulk finds himself taking on one of the most formidable adversaries from the comic series. General Ross may be Banner’s greatest nemesis, but he’s not alone in his quest to destroy The Hulk—The Abomination has him in his sights as well.
Elaborates Feige: “When we first encounter Banner, he’s been on the run for five years, looking for a cure to this thing he fears within him. He is being a hero in the way he thinks is best—by staying on the run, in the shadows, away from those he loves and those who want to harness his power for evil. It isn’t until he reencounters the love of his life, reencounters his old foes and a powerful new one, that he realizes that perhaps the monster within is actually a hero within.”
The filmmakers cast British actor Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, a special ops soldier with a thirst for domination and glory. After Blonsky volunteers for General Ross to become exposed to the same gamma radiation that transformed Banner, Blonsky eventually becomes The Abomination—a foe dwarfing The Hulk in both temperament and power. The soldier morphs into the creature through two different procedures. The first is through a series of injections of Super Soldier serum from General Ross, which begins his evolution into a military machine. The final, full transformation into The Abomination is as a result of a transfusion of Bruce Banner’s blood from the unethical Dr. Sterns.
While The Hulk can revert into Banner when the adrenaline that courses through his arteries subsides, there is no going back for Blonsky once he accepts the inoculation. His body eventually reacts to the radiation by mutating into a monstrosity whose spinal column and other bones (which he can use to skewer his enemies) protrude outside his body, resulting in a pale-green, color-reflecting mutant that has powers greater than those of The Hulk.
Emil Blonsky, suggests producer Avi Arad, is the perfect antagonist: “People who want to be villains are good villains. What happens to Blonsky is no accident; he brings it on himself. He sees the power The Hulk has; he wants it, and he takes it. He looks at The Hulk as a personal challenge. It’s like the fastest gun in the West—if you take this guy down, you are the ultimate bad ass. That’s Blonsky’s mind-set, and he’ll stop at nothing to destroy him.”
“Blonsky is an action man who is unimpressed by anything,” says Roth. “He’s seen it all; he’s tired, and then he sees The Hulk. He realizes that there is a whole new game, and he wants to be part of that. He wants to own the power.”
Roth likens Blonsky’s thirst for power to an addiction. “Once Blonsky figures out there’s an adventure to be had, he goes for it. He lives for the buzz,” explains the actor. “The injections start small, but when he realizes that they give him an ability to use his body in a way he hadn’t been able to, he goes after the big hit: ‘Enough of these little shots. I can run fast; I am bigger, stronger, smarter…I want more.’”
Bruce Banner’s condition has complicated his longtime romance with Betty Ross and, after five years with no real contact with him, we find Betty trying to put the past behind her. The man who is competing for her affections is fellow suitor Leonard. (In one of THE INCREDIBLE HULK’s many nods to fans, this character is named after the infamous psychiatrist who attempted to cure Banner while saving Betty’s life [after her unfortunate encounter with Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Sandman]. His dabbling in gamma technology would eventually turn him into the 6’ 6”, 380-pound Doc Samson. But that’s another story…)
Leterrier knew that he needed the competition for Betty’s affection to be someone who “was a little older, somebody that Banner could respect.” The director comments of Leonard, “That’s the problem; the guy is amazing. He’s a great doctor; he’s handsome; he’s funny. It was tough to find somebody with all these qualities.”
The search ended when Norton suggested the producers and Leterrier meet with actor Ty Burrell, a performer with whom he had worked in 2003 in Lanford Wilson’s off-Broadway play Burn This. Recalling his conversation with Norton, Leterrier laughs, “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Ty Burrell, wasn’t he the jerk in Dawn of the Dead?’ I met him, and he was so funny and charming. I told him, ‘You are Leonard. Banner and you can interact; you can have the right connection.’”
Pivotal to the story of THE INCREDIBLE HULK is Banner’s search for a cure that will allow him to rejoin society. Tim Blake Nelson was cast to portray Professor Samuel Sterns, a cellular biologist who may hold the key to Banner’s quest (and, in Marvel lore, eventually becomes the massive cranium-ed evil Leader, future foe of The Hulk). Sterns and Banner have been in communication throughout Banner’s exile. While they have never met, Banner believes that Sterns’ research could lead to an antidote. What Banner doesn’t know is that Sterns really wants to create more versions of the infected physicist. The audience is asked to question, once again, just who are the monsters?
“Sterns is brilliant, but he is also ethically challenged,” explains Nelson. “I think that’s what’s really appealing about a lot of the characters in THE INCREDIBLE HULK; they get to explore this sort of id within themselves, this dark side that comes out as a kind of monstrosity. I don’t think Sterns considers himself a villain whatsoever. In fact, because he is so brilliant and so convinced of his own brilliance, he’s beyond any sort of opprobrious morality. As long as he’s discovering and breaking new ground, he feels his life is worthwhile. He doesn’t get too concerned about what’s good, and I love that kind of character.”
With the cast locked and cameos secured for both, The Hulk’s creator and the bodybuilder who is forever associated with the character, it was time to begin building a creature that was half-man, half-beast…and the world he would attempt to not destroy.
Building “The Strangest Man of All Time”: Visual Effects
Naturally, the majority of Super Hero movies rely on CGI to assist the beleaguered, costumed human heroes as they morph from their aliases. While CG effects help them achieve their powers to fly, web sling, retract adamantium claws or walk through walls, The Hulk is the rare hero who must be completely constructed through CG. Still, he needs to be an organic part of his environment, and the audience has to believe that a 9’ tall green menace is battling a psychopath called The Abomination—and that the two are raining destruction upon Manhattan as a terrified populace scatters.
Of the challenge of bringing The Hulk into this world, producer Feige explains: “Louis’ vision for the film was that it had to be a visceral, fun-on-the-run action movie. The way you do that is not necessarily by lingering on visual effects sequences. You do that by adding the effects sequences into the mayhem and into the excitement of the scene you’re putting together—whether it’s a car chase, a foot chase, or whether there are helicopters and armies coming in. This movie is about adding all that action and chaos to the real world, with practical environments. Louis designed this film so that when you put The Hulk into it, you totally buy that he’s part of that environment.”
Creating The Hulk
The process would logically begin with the green guy himself. The filmmakers went through hundreds of iterations and countless sketches to get the final design for The Hulk perfect. “The preproduction process was endless,” admits producer Arad. “We had files upon files upon files. Everyone has an image of The Hulk in their minds, but we needed to move forward and make it this Incredible Hulk.”
Director Leterrier knew what he expected of the final design for his protagonist. “I wanted something überhuman,” he states. “I wanted to feel texture, skin, veins. It was really important for me to hone in on a great looking Hulk.” He adds that the team wasn’t interested in doing simply “a bulked up Edward.” “We wanted to do something different, where Hulk has this iconic shape,” he says.
To accomplish this task (among many others), Leterrier and the producers would turn to visual effects supervisor Kurt Williams, veteran of such Marvel blockbusters as Fantastic Four and X-Men: The Last Stand. Williams, a fan of The Hulk since his brother introduced him to the comic as a boy, partnered with the Academy Award-winning visual effects house Rhythm & Hues for the action-adventure. His team would ultimately be responsible for seamlessly blending more than 900 visual effects shots— 450 of which are full key CG character shots—into the film.
For the behind-the-scenes crew, it was just as important to protect the legacy of The Hulk, as it was to update his look with the tools at the VFX team’s disposal. To achieve the first objective, Williams and company returned to the launching pad: the comic books. “From a conceptual perspective,” Williams says, “it made sense to go back to the source material—the classic Hulk origin and all the things people love about the character, all the things that make The Hulk, well, The Hulk. We found artwork that fit into the way that we saw him—with longer hair and the classic Hulk sculptural positions he struck in those comic books. We started with that as a basis and worked outward. Then we began to translate it to the real world, which is always a challenge with comics.”
Williams knew that achieving the exact blend for a creature he believed was more “linebacker than bodybuilder,” who could be powerful, scary and, simultaneously, empathetic, was a monstrous task. The Hulk fans have huge expectations, and allowing today’s savvy audiences to connect with any CG character requires enormous effort on the part of a film’s visual effects team.
As the VFX supervisor explains, successfully translating our hero from the development stages to the movie screen is predicated on our ability to find emotional characteristics in that creature. He reflects: “As humans, we spend so much time scanning people’s faces. And the difference between being able to read a computer-generated character and a real human is a very narrow margin. But we naturally have the instinct to tell when something isn’t right. We can tell when muscles aren’t firing correctly in the face, or when the eyes aren’t moving properly; we constantly scan other human faces to read emotion.”
When they began the animation process, they knew The Hulk not only had to convey his feelings of rage and displeasure, but do so opposite a very real cast of actors. The visual effects team devised a tool set to create audience empathy for The Hulk; this allowed for the character to have a number of corporeal affectations, giving the audience visual cues to interpret what they think The Hulk is thinking and how he is feeling. Williams provides: “In the tool set, we have physical attributes like a muscle structure and vascular structure that can grow or deflate in volume. To show that he’s active or angry, for example, we can add or take a bit of saturation out of his color—things that allow us to create something humans can relate to. Everybody can relate to the fact that if you’re embarrassed, you become flushed in the face. It’s little details like those that we needed to put into this Hulk.”
Fortuitous, as Stan Lee had come to a similar conclusion more than 45 years ago. Offers Lee: “My first impulse was to make him gray, because as far as I knew, there were no Super Heroes or villains running around with gray skin. When the first issue came out, the printer had trouble with the gray color. So I talked to the technical people and they said, ‘Well, most of the other colors are easier to do; you won’t have to worry.’ I had to pick out another color, and I realized nobody had a green hero I knew of. And I said, ‘Okay, let’s make him green.’ It was as casual as that.”
Finally, size would be addressed by the designers and animators. Offers Williams: “One of the big challenges on the movie was deciding the scale of the characters. Our challenge was to create a consistent size for The Hulk throughout the movie. We didn’t want him to grow. We didn’t want him to ebb or flow. We wanted him to be one size the whole time, so we picked 9’, because it would still allow him to relate to human beings and not be so big that he would be almost alien or unbelievable. It allows you to believe he’s really there, but you still have the ability for him to believably pick up a car and throw it and show other great feats of strength like slamming the ground and creating a giant chasm in the street.”
Designing The Abomination
When reflecting on the epic battle that would be at the climax of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, producer Hurd summarizes the feelings of her crew: “The great thing about where our story takes us is that there is a clash of two titanic forces. You have The Hulk, who is our hero. He is encountering a foe much bigger, much more powerful and more dangerous than he is. And this climactic clash happens in the streets of New York City. How much fun is that?”
Originally imagined by his Marvel Comics creators as a 6’ 8”, 980-pound mutation of a former KGB spy of Soviet Yugoslavian origin, The Abomination in this iteration of The Hulk saga would be made into a super spy whose dreams of domination would make him even larger than his quarry. Roth explains Blonsky’s motivation to turn into such a creature: “He’s a fantastic soldier. He’s reached the limit of what he can do with the body that he has, so the next stage for him is evolution.”
For the filmmakers, designing The Hulk’s antagonist would be even more challenging than The Hulk. Arad offers, “The Abomination was even harder. The Hulk is very iconic, so you have a solid place to begin, but The Abomination doesn’t really have that. It was a real balance to keep him grounded, human, scary—one bump and you had Alien.”
Leterrier explains why it was so important to make The Hulk’s foe one of the fiercest creatures imaginable: Banner believes his enemy’s creation is all his fault. “Everything started in Bruce Banner’s brain: he created a monster; he created the technology,” says the director. As Banner realizes that the government is using his tainted blood and the procedure he developed to manufacture a Super Soldier, guilt racks the physicist. “When forced to face what General Ross has created—The Abomination out of Emil Blonsky, injected with a mixture of Super Serum and some of Banner’s blood—Banner has to become the hero,” Leterrier continues. “He has to face his mistakes, because it’s all because of him.”
As with The Hulk, the designers returned to base material in the comic books, but they deviated just enough to keep it visceral for the audience. Whereas The Abomination of the comics has a serpentine look, the filmmakers wanted a character that was physically a mutant version of The Hulk. They questioned, “What if The Abomination’s gamma injections have caused his bones to grow outside of his body?” They felt the exoskeleton would result in a grotesquely different structure than The Hulk—one with hard surfaces on his head, chest and back…and a spine that grows out of his skin. To complete the look, the monstrosity has huge gnarled hands.
The Abomination in this film is 11’ tall, 2’ taller than The Hulk; a fact Williams says gives him “a significant advantage in our movie.” “One stride by The Abomination is 5’ to 10’, depending on if he’s running or not,” he says. “He can move up to 30 miles an hour pretty easily. We worked from the fact that The Abomination needed to have an advantage, especially in the third act, because the character arc is about heart. At the end of the movie, The Hulk comes back because of his heart…he’s got to save Betty.”
As the performers were developing the layers of their characters, the visual effects team was crafting the layers of effects that would be seamlessly blended with the actors’ performances to give THE INCREDIBLE HULK plausibility. Perfecting The Hulk’s and The Abomination’s movements and creating a tool set of how each character moved proved to be an ongoing process. The direction of all scenes involving The Hulk and The Abomination was driven by the groundbreaking process that combines use of computer generation and motion capture (mo-cap), developed to astonishing results for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings precious character (and Liv Tyler’s former co-star), Gollum.
Explains VFX supervisor Williams: “Motion capture is a way to capture body movement digitally, so it can be transferred to a digital character. What it gives you is human nuances you wouldn’t necessarily get from a drawn animated character. It is a key part of designing any action sequence.”
Movement coach TERRY NOTARY was brought in to provide The Hulk’s and The Abomination’s character and movement references for the digital masters at Rhythm & Hues. A veteran movement instructor with credits such as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Planet of the Apes and James Cameron’s upcoming epic Avatar, Notary got his start as a gymnast and member of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystre before branching out into film work.
Early in preproduction, Williams, Notary and Rhythm & Hues VFX animation supervisor KEITH ROBERTS began the long and arduous process of creating and defining the characters’ movements and iconic positions, amassing a collection of more than 2,500 takes before they were finished. Their approach was not only to use the process to create motion for each shot with The Abomination and The Hulk, but to use mo-cap to define the differences in their movements and fighting techniques.
Offers Roberts: “Motion capture today has evolved to the point where rendered times are very short; you’re actually able to see the results in real time, so you can target a performance and see immediately if it’s the right dynamic. You have to be able to direct your motion-capture actors like you do your regular actors—right then and there. That interactivity is crucial to us, because even though the end result is a character that is computer generated, there are human movements unique to each of them.”
Working closely with Leterrier and drawing on the characters’ comic origins, Notary and Roberts came up with a basic template for movements for The Hulk and The Abomination. From The Hulk’s infamous thunderclap to the rapid lope of The Abomination, once the template was established, the team began the process of realizing the characters’ on-screen lives.
Wearing a specialized suit that enabled cameras to read and instantly transfer every angle and subtlety of his movement to two 40’ monitors, Notary spent more than two months choreographing and refining the beats, hits and kicks that define the enemies. Every movement and the driving force behind it was thoroughly explored. For his performances, Notary credits the comic books as his starting point for each character. “It’s important to pay homage to the history of the characters,” he explains. “The Hulk has a very human quality to him; he’s a heart-driven character. His movements are grounded and his physicality is very real. The Abomination, on the other hand, is a very mind-driven character. His mind is in charge, and the body just follows. He doesn’t feel everything like The Hulk. The head leads all of his movements, and his body follows.”
From the way they walk to the manner in which they turn their heads to react to stimuli, The Hulk and The Abomination share nothing, save their gamma-irradiated blood. Everything from the differences in their skeletal structures to the manner with which they regard humans was explored. The Abomination whips his head about to react, while The Hulk has a much slower, contemplative, childlike sensibility.
“One of the things we got out of the motion-capture stage with Terry and Keith is to come up with distinguishing movements,” offers Williams. “For instance, Hulk has very rounded movements, and he’s also a very defensive character. If you were to push Hulk, he might step back for a second, then he’ll come back at you. Whereas, if you push Abomination, he’s not going to move much; he’s right in your face again. So, we created these moves where Abomination can land on his back, do a quick tip up, and he’s right back into the action…whereas Hulk rolls over, jumps up, then walks back toward the fight again.”
Both Norton and Roth were integrated into their characters with cyber scanning through a process known as Mova—painting them with infrared paint, and then shooting the actors with 37 infrared cameras to capture their facial performances. Leterrier elaborates on the rationale: “This way, you get a performance reference. We also shot HD reference of their faces, all the film we could get.”
Integrating Two Worlds
No one knows better than Leterrier the obstacles that may come when making a film seamless for audience members. He relates: “A well-accomplished visual effects movie is a mixed bag of tricks. You need to fool the audience, because our eyes get used to CG; you can really recognize the CG elements. If you can mix it with prosthetics, real people, body doubles, and cut around all these elements to make it seamless, the audience won’t know what came their way.”
One of the biggest challenges when working with visual effects and CG characters is that of physical production. Of course, The Hulk doesn’t just share screen time alongside the main actors in the film; he interacts with and acts opposite them. As one of the biggest stars of THE INCREDIBLE HULK would never actually appear on set, however, it was up to the visual effects team to construct proxies to represent him.
Explains Williams: “Once the movement of the characters has been defined by motion capture, the next challenge was cuing in our actors so they are able to understand how big the characters are, how they move and how quickly they move. It’s hard for people to fully understand what’s happening when you shoot scenes with CG characters, because they don’t see the creatures in front of them. It’s tough to imagine the scale and the nuances of their movement.”
The visual effects department relied on a number of visual aids to better provide Leterrier, the actors and crew an understanding of The Hulk’s and The Abomination’s on-screen motions. As every major scene was storyboarded, then computer animated through the process of pre-visualization (pre-vis), Williams was able to show the cast and crew animated images of The Hulk “acting” in scenes. But the pre-vis didn’t solve the issue of the actors and cinematographer Peter Menzies’ camera team needing exact eye-line references. “There was no one solution we could use,” admits Williams. “We came up with a lot of different stand-ins for The Hulk over the course of production; it depended on the scene and the shooting environment. We did everything from putting Terry on stilts and using tennis balls on a telescoping pole to using cutouts of The Hulk’s face with LED lights in it—whatever made the actors comfortable, whatever made people look in the right direction.”
Two of the performers with the toughest challenges in the integration were Liv Tyler and Edward Norton. As Betty Ross, Tyler was often reacting to Norton as The Hulk, sometimes as he stood on a box for her. “We would talk out the scenes in advance, and I would try to give her a sense of what was happening,” says Norton. “It’s all very collaborative, me and Louis and Terry…the guy holding the dummy head. You had to work together to make sure Liv knew exactly what we were imagining was happening on the other side of the scene. We tried to be as specific as possible about what she was interacting with. I think it went off really well, and she did beautifully.”
For her part, Tyler was up for the challenge, even if she didn’t know what to expect for the next a.m. call time. “Over the course of the shoot, we’ve come up with all these different ways of my interacting with The Hulk,” she laughs. “Originally, I was going to be being carried by an actual mechanical arm. Then, at one point, it was going to be a huge man, and then the team came up with this brilliant idea of having two guys—because The Hulk’s width is rather large.” To add extra realism, Leterrier would ask the weapons adviser to shoot blanks in the air, just to get Tyler, along with Hurt, to react to their co-star.
Tim Blake Nelson sums up the way much of the cast felt: “It’s difficult to act against a big green sheet with an enormous, bulbous, expressionless plastic green approximation of a human form with eyes on top of it [what Leterrier affectionately called “The Hulkinator.”] But, you know, a lot of what we do as movie actors is extremely silly. We have intense conversations or love scenes—or we’re mourning someone’s death in close-up—and then there are lights all over the place, and this camera on a sled is moving at us…it’s all so unreal. So, acting opposite someone like The Hulk, who isn’t really there, is par for the course.”
Prosthetics and makeup also played their part in blending the comic world of THE INCREDIBLE HULK with the practical and CG. Having stepped into the Marvel universe, Hurt wanted his character to look as if he had walked off the page of one of the original comic books, menacing to Bruce Banner and anyone who crossed his path. To that end, he endured hours at a time in the makeup chair. “In every one of the iterations of the comic book, there’s a theme to Ross’ look,” says Hurt of his character. “He’s got the silver hair, the silver ’stache, the big eyebrows and all the rest of it. He’s a bold statement, and we made the decision to play him that way.”
Hurt embraced the character, and on his first day on the set, he was unrecognizable. “When William stepped out of the makeup trailer that first day, we all did a double take,” recalls Hurd. “It was as if William had disappeared and Thunderbolt Ross had taken his place. It really mattered to William that he portray General Ross in a way that fulfilled the vision of the character that the fans have. He had a whole dossier on the character he had created with the help of his son, who is probably one of the biggest Marvel fans on the planet. He was determined to get it right.”
Hulking Out Globally: Design and Locations of the Film
Principal photography for THE INCREDIBLE HULK began in July 2007, for an 88-day shoot that started in Toronto and finished at the end of November in Rio de Janeiro. From the beginning, Leterrier and the producers knew they wanted their “man on the run” epic to have a global feel to it. Feige comments: “We meet Bruce Banner walking to the ends of the earth to get away from society and be away from others. The story then begins to be his journey back toward America, toward characters he knows and loves. It takes us through South America, the East Coast of the United States and ends up right smack in the middle of Manhattan.”
Veteran production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli led the design team in creating more than 100 sets for the film. As THE INCREDIBLE HULK begins, Banner is in Brazil, keeping a low profile and working at a bottling plant, while he continues his never-ending search for a cure. His whereabouts discovered by General Ross, Banner finds himself once again on the run. On a journey that takes him through Latin America and the East Coast of the U.S., Banner winds up in Harlem.
For Petruccelli, there was strong appeal at the idea of working on a film with such a large and imaginative canvas. Key to his establishing the visual feel was to ensure all elements reflected the shadowy world into which Banner disappeared. “One of the first things Louis said to me was that he wanted The Hulk to be as real as possible, bashing and smashing through the real world,” recalls Petruccelli. “This is a road picture, a chase movie. Banner is always on the run, and as a designer, that gave me so many avenues in which to take it and contribute to the action.”
To create the world, Petruccelli and crew blended a majority of location-based shoots with a handful of staged sets. From multiple city streets, homes and buildings, they integrated recognizable, real locations. For his part, Norton would often arrive on set and be amazed by what the crews had accomplished. He offers, “A lot of times, I came onto the set and realized that Louis and Kirk had gone much bigger with it than I had in my head—much bigger. The scale of it was really amazing to me.”
Of his interest in so many locations, Leterrier took the screenplay and literally ran with it. He wanted his action movie to be “an interesting mix of a Zen chase on one side and extremely kinetic on the other.” He knew that when Banner was being hunted— whether in the favelas of South America or the streets of Manhattan—he could “cut to him, and it’ll be calm as he’s trying to regain control. Then he won’t be able to hold it in, and Banner will just explode and Hulk out at any moment.”
The filmmakers took advantage of a number of locales in and around Rio de Janeiro. Filming portions of THE INCREDIBLE HULK in Brazil brought a look to the movie that could not have been achieved by a majority-set shoot. Some of the most vibrant sequences were filmed in the hillside favela of Tavares Bastos, a winding maze of narrow back alleys and steep steps that offered a spectacular backdrop for the elaborately staged sequence at the beginning of the film—in which Banner attempts to escape from Ross’ commandos.
In addition to shooting main and second-unit action sequences in Tavares Bastos, scenes were also filmed in a number of other locations in the storied city, including the older, colonial neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa. The team took advantage of its close proximity to Tijuca Forest, the world’s largest urban rainforest, to lens breathtaking ground and aerial sequences.
During preproduction scouting trips to Brazil, Petruccelli meticulously researched the look and design of the favelas in order to re-create on a Toronto soundstage the interior of Banner’s Rio apartment. “Because we were going to be filming in Brazil, it was even more important that our constructed interior set have the same details and textures to give a smooth transition between what was shot on location and what was shot on stage,” Petruccelli says. “The favelas are so individual—a little plaster here, a brick there, vivid colors or no color at all. They are very organic.”
Leterrier found the favelas, with their endless stairways and 3.5’ pathways quite the bustling “ant farm.” The director remembers, “It’s a little difficult to shoot in the favelas. But with the right favela people knowing we were doing everything to not abuse or destroy the space, but respecting it and making it shine to the world, we were fine. People have a really bad impression of what a favela is; it’s actually very clean, with a sewer system, some electricity, video clubs, rental video places and hairdressers. It’s a town within a town.” And to his alternate delight and chagrin, they were in the middle of Brazil’s rainy season, which was good for the dark mood of the film, bad for the cast and crew’s interest in staying dry.
One of the more formidable tasks for the team was the bottling plant set where Banner works (and has increased access to flowers and plants he can analyze for a possible cure to his gamma-irradiated cells) during his self-imposed exile in Brazil. This would be where Blonsky (pre-Abomination inoculation) has his first encounter with The Hulk. The exterior factory-yard scenes were filmed at the former Behring Chocolate factory located in the Santo Cristo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. But as an integral part of the first act takes place in the interior of the bottling plant, it was necessary to construct a set that would satisfy the specific parameters of the script. The action sequences were so detailed that several weeks filming would be required.
“It was a very involved sequence with tricky geography,” explains Petruccelli. “We needed a massive space we could take over and fashion to our needs—The Hulk needs a lot of space to throw stuff around.” After scouring almost every old factory in and around the Toronto area, the filmmakers found an ideal location at an abandoned glass factory in Hamilton. What followed was an exhaustive eight-week construction schedule as carpenters, painters and riggers worked in tandem with set dressers and prop masters to create the illusion of a working bottling plant. This place would eventually be destroyed in an explosive confrontation between The Hulk and General Ross’ team of commandos.
To achieve the level of mayhem and destruction the filmmakers were looking for in this and other action sequences, the combined expertise of special effects coordinator LAIRD MCMURRAY and stunt coordinator JOHN STONEHAM, JR. was called into play. To bring realism to The Hulk’s destructive fury, McMurray and his special effects crew devised elaborate wire rigging mechanisms and machinery capable of exerting thousands of pounds of pressure and pull. These apparatuses could accelerate large weighted objects at very rapid speeds to make it appear as if The Hulk was tossing or kicking them around. Working closely with McMurray and his crew, Stoneham and his stunt team were able to devise scenarios in which the destruction The Hulk leaves in his wake is rooted in high-flying reality.
Face-Off in Manhattan’s Abomination Alley
The script also called for a fight of monumental proportions in which The Hulk must save New York City and her citizens from the wrath of The Abomination. Recalls Petruccelli, “When Louis told me he wanted the climax of the film to take place in Harlem in front of the Apollo Theater, I said ‘Sure, but we’ll have to build it,’ because there was no way anyone was going to let us throw cars around, blow things up— basically trash and terrorize a historically designated area—for a couple of weeks in New York City.”
The team explored a number of locations and options, but, in the end, they decided to film the sequence in three different locations over a period of several weeks. Dubbed “the biggest bar fight in history” by visual effects supervisor Kurt Williams, the clash between two titanic forces was one of the film’s most multifaceted and complex sequences. Almost 80 unique visual-effects shots were seamlessly blended with action to give audiences, The Hulk and The Abomination a fight to the end. Here especially, integration between the art department and the visual effects team was critical. Comments Williams, “Where The Hulk goes, action follows. Our mandate was to devise a scenario as realistic as possible by combining practical environments with CGI.”
An urban section of Toronto’s Yonge Street was deemed the ideal location to re-create some of the storefronts of Harlem and, in mid-September, the production was given permission to shut down a four-block section of the street where, over a period of four nights, the main and second-unit crews worked in tandem with the visual effects, special effects and stunt crews to film elaborate sequences involving hundreds of extras and a lot of pyrotechnics. To accommodate the scripted mayhem of cars crashing and buses blowing up, façades and storefronts—including a façade of the Apollo Theater and its legendary marquee—were constructed and positioned along the route.
With the aid of visual effects, the destruction continued across a two-block section of downtown Hamilton, where Petruccelli and crew erected façades replicating a Harlem street on a couple of parking lots—buildings that would be destroyed in the brutal fight along the route Leterrier and the producers called “Abomination Alley.”
Finally, the action culminated on a virtual Courthouse Plaza set constructed on a backlot at Toronto Film Studios. The set had to accommodate, among other chaos, a helicopter crash and the ensuing havoc. The project kept the scenic art mold shop busy making breakaway bricks for months, not to mention the countless “stone and marble” plaster molding and vermiculite tiles—always helpful to cast and crew disinterested in being injured by flying debris.
While filming in Toronto, the production also made good use of a local university campus, Morningside Park and the city’s Financial District. Toronto Film Studios housed the movie’s constructed interior sets, including the place where it all began, Banner’s laboratory. Other filming locations included the Canadian Air Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario, and a glacier in Bella Coola, British Columbia.
Regardless of the shoot, the cast and crew grew very accustomed to seeing their director in one location in particular: at the helm of his 15’, 30’ and 50’ techno cranes, with their telescoping arms. Recalls Norton: “Louis uses a techno crane like other people use a shoulder cam; he is very dynamic with the camera. I told him once, ‘I’ve never seen anybody more married to his cranes.’”
For Leterrier, his commitment remains to give audiences nothing less than the full-force action they want. “Part of the whole Hulk experience is that you put the audience in Bruce Banner’s shoes by literally following him when he runs down the favelas. But you also are next to him on that motorcycle through the cable cams. When he’s Hulk you want to be behind him…so the Russian arm [key camera crane] helped us to run as fast as The Hulk, be as high as The Hulk and get into ‘Hulk Vision.’ To do that, we used the Russian arm and techno crane to make you feel like you are The Hulk, so you move like him. You are fast, and you push in and you grab and throw stuff out—that is the total Hulk experience.”
Keeping THE INCREDIBLE HULK Green
At a time when more and more people and productions are supporting environmental causes and charities, the cast, filmmakers and crew of THE INCREDIBLE HULK decided that it was time to take their beliefs one step further and to apply them to their own industry.
Gale Anne Hurd explains: “When we first started having meetings back in Los Angeles about THE INCREDIBLE HULK, it brought to mind that we were dealing with the biggest, most well-known green character on the planet. Edward Norton has been a committed environmentalist for a long time, and when you have a green character and people with an environmental consciousness, the opportunity is there to put the two together.”
The production team embraced the idea. Much of the cast and crew already employed green practices at home; so bringing the same environmental consciousness to work was a logical next step. THE INCREDIBLE HULK adopted a vigorous program to reduce the film’s impact on the environment. The goal was to be as green as possible, and every department participated to reduce its waste and energy consumption—the production’s carbon footprint.
By its very nature, the transportation department on a film can be a huge polluter. One of the first practices instituted on the production was, wherever possible, to use hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles. Transport found a source of ultra-low sulfur diesel for all diesel vehicles and generators and instituted a strict “no idling” policy on all lots and locations.
The construction department chose to forego the use of lauan, an affordable and readily available tropical hardwood that is, unfortunately, not harvested in a sustainable manner. In its place, a sustainably harvested, locally sourced yellow pine was used. Whenever possible, the pine was recycled, repurposed or reclaimed and offered for use by agencies such as Habitat for Humanity. The scenic art department crewmembers used zero-or low-VOC paints and took turns taking paint cans to the hazardous waste drop-off center on their weekends off work.
The craft and catering departments sourced locally grown produce and eliminated plastic grocery bags with the use of cloth shopping bags. On-set food was served in biodegradable rather than Styrofoam containers, and china and silverware were used for lunch, as were biodegradable utensils for those on the go. As a start-of-production gift to reduce plastic water bottles and take-out hot beverage containers, Hurd gave everyone on the crew a stainless steel mug. Additionally, a contractor was hired to provide and remove bins at every location and set, thereby recycling paper, plastic, glass and cans.
Other green activities and efforts instituted throughout production included:
-Paperless distribution or use of recycled paper wherever possible
-Use of rechargeable batteries by the sound department
-Implementation of biodegradable soaps and cleaners in trailers and production offices
-Installation of compost and green bins in the production office kitchen, as well as in the lunch tents and craft
Sums up Hurd, “As filmmakers, I think it’s our responsibility to be leaders and to be able to find new ways of making movies a much more environmentally conscious enterprise. The cast and crew of THE INCREDIBLE HULK chose to take the mission of the greening of our film seriously; it’s time for this kind of initiative to become the norm, not the exception, in film and television production.”
Production wrapped, THE INCREDIBLE HULK team said goodbye to 3:30 a.m. mountain shots, being bruised up by men in green suits, the noise that was the constant propane bomb poppers, and, of course, The Hulkinator.
Bruce Banner himself, Edward Norton, summarizes why this tortured man and his powerful alter ego have, for so many decades, remained a fascination to generations of fans, especially those who hold on to Bill Bixby’s legacy: “The reason you tuned in week after week to watch this guy’s lonely existence is that you wanted him to find the cure. You wanted him to get to come in from the cold and be a real person again—not this haunted, hunted fugitive. He lost everything. There’s an aspect of Hulk that is a little sadder, a little more tragic.”
Fittingly, The Hulk’s creator has our parting words. Lee concludes: “The thing I’m happiest about is that he has lasted this long, thanks to so many brilliant writers and artists who did that strip after Jack and I went on to other projects. Now it’s going to be a major motion picture, which I know will be great. I wonder how many Hulk sequels there’ll be after it. I’d better stay in good with the guys at Marvel so I’ll get my cameos.”
Universal Pictures and Marvel Entertainment Present A Marvel Studios Production and A Valhalla Motion Pictures Production: Edward Norton in THE INCREDIBLE HULK, starring Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell and William Hurt. Casting is by Laray Mayfield; music is by Craig Armstrong. The music supervisor is Dave Jordan; the visual effects supervisor is Kurt Williams. THE INCREDIBLE HULK’s editors are John Wright, ACE, Rick Shaine, ACE and Vincent Tabaillon. The action-thriller’s production designer is Kirk M. Petruccelli; the director of photography is Peter Menzies, Jr., ACS. Executive producers for the film are Stan Lee, David Maisel, and Jim Van Wyck. The film is produced by Avi Arad, Gale Anne Hurd, and Kevin Feige. The screen story and screenplay are by Zak Penn. THE INCREDIBLE HULK is directed by Louis Leterrier. www.incrediblehulk.com ©2008 Universal Studios
ABOUT THE CAST
EDWARD NORTON (Bruce Banner) has starred in the films Primal Fear, Everyone Says I Love You, The People vs. Larry Flynt, American History X, Rounders, Fight Club, Keeping the Faith, The Score, Death to Smoochy, Frida, Red Dragon, 25th Hour, The Italian Job, Down in the Valley, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil and in 2008, Pride and Glory.
Norton has been nominated for two Academy Awards, for Primal Fear and American History X, and won a Golden Globe along with numerous other awards for his performances. The film Frida, for which he wrote the screenplay, was nominated for six Academy Awards® and won two. He won the Obie Award in 2003 for his performance off-Broadway in Burn This by Lanford Wilson.
Norton produced and directed Keeping the Faith, produced Down in the Valley (Cannes Film Festival selection) and The Painted Veil, and is currently producing Leaves of Grass and adaptations of Dan O’Brien’s “Buffalo for the Broken Heart” and Jonathan Lethem’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” for which he is currently writing the screenplay.
Norton also founded and runs Class 5 Films in partnership with writer Stuart Blumberg and producer Bill Migliore. Class 5’s first two features, Down in the Valley and The Painted Veil, were released in 2006. The company’s documentary division produces nature, science and documentary films independently, including a feature-length film about Barack Obama and the American political system, currently in production.
Class 5’s documentary productions include: The Great Rivers Expedition, a film made by Jim Norton for Versus about a historic white-water adventure that took place in China in 2003; and Dirty Work, a film by David Sampliner that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on the Sundance Channel last spring. Class 5 also collaborated with the Sea Studios Foundation on their highly acclaimed, multimillion dollar series about Earth system sciences for National Geographic, Strange Days on Planet Earth, which Norton hosts and narrates, and which premiered on PBS in April 2008. This is the second installment in the series.
Class 5 also recently announced a partnership with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and National Geographic to produce an epic 10-part series for HBO based on Stephen Ambrose’s acclaimed book “Undaunted Courage” about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Norton and Brad Pitt will executive-produce the series.
Norton is also a committed social and environmental activist.
LIV TYLER (Betty Ross) starred as Arwen in the blockbuster hit trilogy The Lord of the Rings. She was most recently seen in the films Lonesome Jim, starring Casey Affleck and Steve Buscemi, who also directed the film, and Reign Over Me, starring Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler. She will next be seen in May 2008’s suspense-thriller The Strangers, as well as in the upcoming film Smother, with Diane Keaton.
Tyler’s other film credits include Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl, co-starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez; a starring role in the Bernardo Bertolucci film Stealing Beauty, opposite Jeremy Irons; Pat O’Connor’s Inventing the Abbotts, with Joaquin Phoenix and Billy Crudup; and Michael Bay’s Armageddon, opposite Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. More recently, she has been seen in Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune, alongside Glenn Close, Julianne Moore and Charles S. Dutton; the Jake Scott-directed Plunkett & Macleane; Onegin, co-starring Ralph Fiennes; and One Night at McCool’s, opposite Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman.
Tyler made her film debut with the leading role in Silent Fall, directed by Bruce Beresford, opposite Richard Dreyfuss. After another lead in Empire Records, she portrayed a waitress in a local diner in James Mangold’s Heavy, a favorite at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.
Tyler is the face for Parfums Givenchy, the first celebrity to be connected to the designer since Audrey Hepburn more than 40 years ago.
Born in New York, Tyler was raised in Portland, Maine, until the sixth grade when her family returned to Manhattan. She began modeling at age 14, and was seen in numerous print ads and television commercials before moving into acting. Tyler recently gave birth to her first child, a son, Milo. Tyler and her family currently reside in New York City.
TIM ROTH (Emil Blonsky) has made a career out of portraying unforgettable characters in one independent film after another. He made his studio feature debut in MGM’s Rob Roy, opposite Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, in a role that has been touted as one of the best villains in screen history, earning him a Golden Globe nomination and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. He also co-starred in Tim Burton’s remake of the classic Planet of the Apes, opposite Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter.
Roth was most recently seen in Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, opposite Naomi Watts. He was also recently seen in the Wim Wenders’ film Don’t Come Knocking. He will next be seen in The Other Side, opposite Ryan Gosling and Brittany Murphy.
Roth made his return to the stage in Sam Shepard’s off-Broadway production of The God of Hell, for the first time since early in his career in London where he received great notices in Kafka’s masterpiece The Metamorphosis.
He made his directorial debut with the stunning, critically acclaimed film The War Zone, starring Ray Winstone (Nil by Mouth), based on the book by Alexander Stuart. The film premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was also at the Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.
Roth gained worldwide recognition for his roles in two Quentin Tarantino films: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. In Reservoir Dogs, Roth starred with Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn and Steve Buscemi in a grim tale of a jewelry heist gone wrong. Roth’s portrayal of Mr. Orange, an undercover cop who gets caught in the line of fire, is a compellingly realistic glance at the agony of dying. Roth also co-starred in Pulp Fiction (Golden Globe and Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay) as a petty robber who picks “the wrong place to hold up.” The ensemble cast included John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Harvey Keitel.
This British-born actor’s career was surprisingly spawned out of a schoolyard dare. With art being his passion, Roth spent his youth aspiring to become a sculptor and painter. But when he jokingly auditioned for a play in high school and landed the role, Roth soon found that he truly loved the craft of acting. After graduation, he went on to study drama at a fine arts school in London.
Working steadily in public theater, his first job in front of the camera was the lead in the controversial and Prix Italia Award-winning telefilm, Made in Britain.
Roth’s second project came immediately after, starring in Mike Leigh’s critically acclaimed film, Meantime.
As his success continued, Roth starred in over 15 film and television projects including Stephen Frears’ The Hit, for which he won the Evening Standard Award for Best Newcomer; The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, with Gary Oldman; and Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo, in which he portrayed Vincent Van Gogh.
Brought up on American films like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets, Roth had always wanted to come to the U.S., so he jumped at the chance when asked to take part in a publicity tour for Vincent & Theo. He soon after moved permanently to the States, and has since continued on the same path of offbeat films.
His other credits include Lucky Numbers, directed by Nora Ephron; Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Legend of 1900; Werner Herzog’s first English-language film, Invincible; Jumpin’ at the Boneyard; Bodies, Rest & Motion; Murder in the Heartland; Heart of Darkness, opposite John Malkovich; Four Rooms; Little Odessa; Captives; Gridlock’d; Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You; Hoodlum; Dark Water; and The Beautiful Country.
TIM BLAKE NELSON (Samuel Sterns) has appeared in over 30 films including Warm Springs, Meet the Fockers, Holes, The Good Girl, Wonderland, Minority Report and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Nelson was recently seen in the films Syriana, The Amateurs, The Big White, Come Early Morning and Fido.
Nelson’s The Grey Zone, which he wrote and directed, starred Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Allan Corduner and Natasha Lyonne. The film premiered at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival and opened in October 2002. The Grey Zone is a dramatic story of the Sonderkommandos, a special squad of Jews who processed corpses in the crematoria at Birkenau. Shot in Bulgaria, The Grey Zone is based on his award-winning play. The National Board of Review (2002) honored The Grey Zone with a “Special Recognition of Films that Reflect the Freedom of Expression.”
Nelson also directed O, a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, starring Martin Sheen, Julia Stiles, Josh Hartnett and Mekhi Phifer. O premiered at the 2001 Seattle International Film Festival, where Nelson was awarded Best Director.
Nelson wrote and directed the film Eye of God, starring Martha Plimpton, Hal Holbrook and Kevin Anderson, which appeared at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, and was released theatrically in the United States later that year. The film received the top award at the 1997 Seattle International Film Festival, as well as the Tokyo Bronze Prize at the Tokyo Film Festival.
TY BURRELL (Leonard) most recently starred in Steven Shainberg’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, a drama about the life of photographer Diane Arbus. In the film, Burrell plays Allan, the husband of Diane Arbus and stars opposite Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey, Jr. The film premiered at the Telluride and Rome Film Festivals. He was also seen in Finn Taylor’s romantic comedy The Darwin Awards, which premiered at Sundance.
Burrell’s other film credits include Nicole Holofcener’s Friends With Money, opposite Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Jennifer Aniston; David Jacobson’s Down in the Valley, opposite Evan Rachel Wood; the Weitz brothers’ In Good Company; Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down; Dawn of the Dead; and Ivan Reitman’s Evolution.
Burrell’s extensive Broadway and off-Broadway credits include starring in the highly acclaimed Signature Theatre off-Broadway production of Burn This, opposite Edward Norton, Catherine Keener and Dallas Roberts; starring as Lord Buckingham in The Public Theater’s production of Richard III, opposite Peter Dinklage and directed by Peter DuBois; and starring in Paul Weitz’s Show People, opposite Debra Monk and Judy Greer, and directed by Peter Askin at Second Stage Theatre.
He most recently starred in the world premiere of Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, opposite Stephen Dillane at the Royal Court Theatre in London. James MacDonald directed this play about the dysfunctional relationship between two men; it is scheduled to open in New York in the spring of 2008 at The Public Theater.
On television, Burrell currently stars in the half-hour FOX sitcom Back to You, opposite Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. He recently starred in the half-hour CBS sitcom Out of Practice, opposite Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler.
He resides in New York City with his wife.
WILLIAM HURT (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross) trained at Tufts University and New York’s Juilliard School of Music and Drama. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the most recent nomination for his supporting role in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. The film screened at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. Hurt received Best Supporting Actor accolades for his role from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle.
Hurt recently wrapped the remake of Yoji Yamada’s 1977 film Yellow Handkerchief, opposite Maria Bello. The film stars Hurt as an ex-convict recently released from prison for the accidental murder of another man. Udayan Prasad (My Son the Fanatic) directed the project.
Hurt was most recently seen in Vantage Point, opposite Dennis Quaid, Sigourney Weaver and Forest Whitaker. He was also seen in Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn and starring Marcia Gay Harden, Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn, and in Mr. Brooks, a psychological thriller opposite Kevin Costner and directed by Bruce Evans.
In early 2007, Hurt was seen in The Good Shepherd, written by Eric Roth and directed by Robert De Niro. The film starred Matt Damon, Robert De Niro and Angelina Jolie, and followed the history of over 40 years in the CIA, told through the eyes of Edward Wilson, one of its founding officers.
In 2006, Hurt starred in James Marsh’s film The King, with Gael García Bernal. The film follows a troubled man (Bernal), recently discharged from the Navy, who returns to his childhood home in Texas to reunite with his father (Hurt). The King was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Also in 2006, Hurt appeared in Beautiful Ohio, directed by Chad Lowe and Noise, an independent comedy opposite Tim Robbins and Bridget Moynahan. Beautiful Ohio was screened at the 2006 AFI Film Festival.
In 2005, Hurt was seen in Syriana, directed by Stephen Gaghan and starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Amanda Peet. The same year, he also completed production on the ensemble independent film Neverwas, opposite Sir Ian McKellen, Alan Cumming and Aaron Eckhart.
In 2004, Hurt was seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller The Village, opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver as well as the independent film The Blue Butterfly. Hurt starred in the film as a famous entomologist who takes a terminally ill boy into the rainforest to grant his dying wish. The film was screened at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in Canada and Japan.
In 2002, Hurt appeared in Disney’s Tuck Everlasting, directed by Jay Russell, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and had a cameo appearance in Paramount’s Changing Lanes, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
In 2001, Hurt starred in the independent film Rare Birds, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. He was also seen in a supporting role in Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence: AI.
In 2000, Hurt delivered a memorable performance in Sunshine, opposite Ralph Fiennes. Directed by István Szabó, Sunshine received three Genie Awards, including one for Best Motion Picture.
In 1980, Hurt appeared in his first film, Altered States. He received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Broadcast News and Children of a Lesser God. For Kiss of the Spider Woman, he was honored with an Academy Award as well as Best Actor awards from the British Academy and the Cannes Festival. Among his other film credits are Body Heat, The Big Chill, Eyewitness, Gorky Park, Alice, I Love You to Death, The Accidental Tourist, The Doctor, The Plague, The Simian Line, Trial by Jury, Second Best, Smoke, Confidences Ë Un Inconnu, Jane Eyre, Michael, Dark City, The Proposition, The Big Brass Ring and One True Thing.
In 2006, Hurt returned to television in the TNT special-event series Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, based on the stories of Stephen King. The series was a four-week collection of eight tales based on King’s anthology, which featured all-star casts including William H. Macy, Samantha Mathis, Claire Forlani and Ron Livingston. Hurt’s episode, entitled “Battleground,” premiered the series. Hurt’s television credits include the Hallmark Channel’s miniseries Frankenstein, opposite Donald Sutherland, CBS’s The Flamingo Rising, the title role in the CBS mini-series Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story, Sci Fi Channel’s Dune and Varian’s War for Showtime. Directed by Lionel Chetwynd and produced by Barbra Streisand’s Barwood Films, Varian’s War co-starred Alan Arkin, Julia Ormond and Lynn Redgrave, and followed the story of Varian Fry (Hurt) who rescued prominent European artists and more than 2,000 others from Nazi persecution during World War II.
Hurt spent the early years of his career on the stage between drama school, summer stock, regional repertory and off-Broadway, appearing in more than 50 productions including Henry V, 5th of July, Hamlet, Richard II, Hurlyburly (for which he was nominated for a Tony Award), My Life (winning an Obie Award for Best Actor), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Good.
For BBC Radio 4, Hurt read Paul Theroux’s “The Great Railway Bazaar” and E. Anne Proulx’s “Shipping News.” He has recorded “The Polar Express” and “The Boy Who Drew Cats” and narrated the documentaries Searching for America: The Odyssey of John Dos Passos, A. Einstein: How I See the World and the English narration of Elie Wiesel’s To Speak the Unspeakable: The Message of Elie Wiesel, a documentary directed and produced by Judit Elek.
In 1988, Hurt was awarded the first Spencer Tracy Award from UCLA.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
LOUIS LETERRIER (Directed by) most recently directed the high-octane action film Transporter 2, the follow-up to his successful 2002 directorial debut, The Transporter. Both films were written and produced by Luc Besson and starred Jason Statham in the role of the mysterious Transporter. Leterrier recently helmed Unleashed, starring Jet Li, Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins.
Leterrier is a native of Paris. He developed a love for cinema at an early age, winning several awards for short films before turning 18. Leterrier left France to study film at New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. He was an assistant director and worked on visual effects on Alien: Resurrection, directed by fellow countryman Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He was then an assistant director on Luc Besson’s historical epic The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and on the big-budget Astrix & Oblix: Mission Cleopatra, adapted from the comic books.
For more than 15 years, ZAK PENN (Screen Story and Screenplay by) has carved out a successful and eclectic career in the film industry. While Penn is best known for his work as a screenwriter on Hollywood blockbusters, he is equally devoted to his role as director of independent, experimental and improvisational films.
Penn first directed and co-starred with Werner Herzog in Incident at Loch Ness, his award-winning “hoax” documentary about the legendary director’s attempts to make a film about the equally legendary monster. The film was entirely improvised and featured nonactors playing themselves, constantly blurring the line between fiction and reality.
For his second film, The Grand, a comedy set in the world of professional poker, Penn employed a similar improvisational style. Notable for its large, eclectic cast (Woody Harrelson, David Cross, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines, Dennis Farina and Penn-staple Werner Herzog), The Grand uses some of the same experimental techniques as Incident. Telling the story of six poker players who make it to the final table of a $10 million tournament, the film’s ending had not been determined at the start of filming.
Instead, each actor played the final table of the tournament in real time, in character; Penn reconceived the ending based on the actual finishing order in the tournament.
Penn was born and raised in New York City. He attended Wesleyan University and, soon after, began his career as a screenwriter when he sold his first script, Last Action Hero, at the age of 23. Since then, Penn has been a credited writer on PCU, Inspector Gadget, Behind Enemy Lines, X2, Suspect Zero, Elektra and X-Men: The Last Stand. He is currently working on a remake of The Dirty Dozen for Warner Bros.
In addition, Penn has done uncredited rewrites on Men in Black, The Mask of Zorro, Mighty Joe Young, Charlie’s Angels, Reign of Fire and Rescue Dawn. He co-wrote the original story for Antz. He has acted in a number of films, including Star Maps and Chuck & Buck, and produced the animated film Osmosis Jones for Warner Bros.
Until recently, AVI ARAD (Produced by) was the chairman and chief executive officer of Marvel Studios, the film and television division of Marvel Entertainment, and chief creative officer of Marvel Entertainment. In June of 2006, Arad branched off to form his own production company, which is producing some of Marvel’s most renowned properties, such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man. Arad has been the driving force behind Marvel’s Hollywood renaissance with a track record that has been nothing short of spectacular, including a string of number-one box-office openings. As an executive producer and producer, his credits include Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 (Columbia Pictures), which set an industry record for opening day and opening weekend box-office receipts and was the top-grossing film of 2007; X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox); HULK (Universal Pictures); Daredevil (New Regency); The Punisher (Lions Gate Entertainment); Blade, Blade II and Blade: Trinity (New Line Cinema); Elektra (20th Century Fox); Fantastic Four and its sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (20th Century Fox); Bratz (Lionsgate); and Ghost Rider (Columbia Pictures). Arad’s current live-action feature-film slate includes Iron Man (Paramount Pictures) and Robosapien: Rebooted.
Arad has also been producing animation for over 20 years on such series such as X-Men, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Conan the Adventurer, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice and The Bots Master and on direct-to-video animated features such as Avengers, Iron Man and many others.
Born in Cyprus and raised in Israel, Arad came to the United States during his college years and enrolled at Hofstra University to study industrial management. He earned a bachelor of business administration from the University in 1972. A long-established expert in youth entertainment, Arad is one of the world’s top toy designers. He has been involved in the creation and development of over 200 successful products, including action figures, play sets, dolls, toy vehicles, electronic products, educational software and video games. In fact, virtually every major toy and youth entertainment manufacturer, including Toy Biz, Hasbro, Mattel, Nintendo, Tiger, Ideal, Galoob, Tyco and Sega, has been selling his products for more than 20 years.
GALE ANNE HURD (Produced by) is one of the most innovative and respected producers in the entertainment industry. She has produced more than two dozen feature films that have generated billions of dollars in revenue, and earned Oscar nominations and numerous awards. Hurd has distinguished herself by championing paradigm-shifting technological innovations and carving out a preeminent position within the previously all-male ranks of epic-scaled, sci-fi action-adventure productions.
As the chairman of her own production entity, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Hurd is continually developing a broad range of projects, including the recently wrapped Marvel’s Punisher: War Zone for Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Hurd’s other recent films include the futuristic sci-fi thriller AEon Flux, starring Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand for Paramount Pictures/MTV, and The Punisher, based on the classic Marvel comic property, which was one of the top-grossing independent films in 2004. Prior to that, Hurd produced HULK, the epic fantasy-adventure based on the Marvel Comic character, directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee.
In addition, Hurd served as executive producer of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the third in her Terminator trilogy. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, the characters in the film were based on those created by Hurd and James Cameron in the 1984 classic, The Terminator. T3 was an international hit, grossing more than $420 million worldwide in its theatrical run.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, Hurd began her entertainment career as an executive assistant to filmmaker Roger Corman, at whose legendary New World Pictures she learned all aspects of the business. Rising to become New World’s head of marketing and later one of its producers, Hurd displayed the creative talent and business skills that continue to define her career.
In 1984, Hurd earned a place in film history with the first of many event-films she would produce: The Terminator, which she also co-wrote, directed by James Cameron. A worldwide success, the film was followed in 1986 by Aliens, the blockbuster sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi thriller Alien. Uncharacteristic of Hollywood films at the time, both featured women in the role of action heroines. Hurd continued in the action-adventure genre with 1989’s The Abyss, a groundbreaking film in its own right. Aliens received seven nominations and two Oscars and The Abyss won for best visual effects and garnered three additional Oscar nominations.
During the 1990s, Hurd consolidated her reputation as one of the most successful producers in filmmaking. In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released; it was that year’s top-grossing film and a technological tour de force. Its achievements in the realm of visual effects were rewarded with yet another Oscar.
In 1996, Hurd returned to event filmmaking with the Academy Award-winning The Ghost and the Darkness, followed in 1997 by Dante’s Peak, The Relic and the mega-hit Armageddon, which was the number-one film at the box office in 1998. The sci-fi thriller Virus was released in 1999, as well as the political comedy Dick, starring Kirsten Dunst and Will Ferrell, which was included in many top-10 lists nationwide.
Hurd is well known for her service to the entertainment community and her charitable work. She serves as a board member of the Producers Guild of America, is on the Board of Trustees for the Southern California Chapter of the International Women’s Forum, as well as Waterkeeper Alliance, founded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; and was honored by Global Green USA with the Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2004.
Hurd’s other honors include the Crystal Award from Women in Film and the New York Women in Film & Television’s Loreen Arbus Award for those who take action and effect change. Hurd is the owner of the popular new bar/restaurant, Vertical Wine Bistro, in Pasadena, California.
KEVIN FEIGE (Produced by) is president of Marvel Studios and has creative oversight of its film projects, as well as its animation work for television and DVD and theme park activities.
Feige joined Marvel in 2000 and has been involved in key capacities for all of Marvel’s theatrical productions, including the blockbuster X-Men trilogy, the Spider-Man trilogy, the Fantastic Four films as well as a producer on Marvel’s Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Feige recently served as executive producer on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Punisher: War Zone. Previously, Feige served as executive producer on HULK, Elektra and The Punisher and co-produced the 2003 hit Daredevil.
After graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Feige worked for Lauren Shuler Donner and Richard Donner at their Warner Bros.-based The Donners’ Company. While there, he worked on the action-adventure Volcano and the hit romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail. He transitioned into a development position that led to an associate producer role on X-Men, the film that revamped the comic-book genre.
STAN LEE’s (Executive Producer) singular co-creations include Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, The Avengers, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange, among many others. Lee, known to millions as the man whose Super Heroes propelled Marvel Comics to its preeminent position in the comic-book industry, first became publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972 and is presently the chairman emeritus of Marvel Enterprises, Inc. In 1977, he introduced Spider-Man as a syndicated newspaper strip that went on to become the most successful of all syndicated adventure strips. Spider-Man now appears in more than 500 newspapers worldwide, still written by Lee—making it the longest running of all the Super Hero strips.
Without question, Stan “The Man” Lee has exerted more influence over the comic-book industry than anyone in history. He created or co-created 90 percent of Marvel’s recognized characters, which have been successfully licensed and marketed since 1965. The numbers are staggering—more than two billion of his comic books have been published in 75 countries and in 25 languages. In Europe alone, Lee’s name appears on more than 35 million comics annually. Each year, X-Men sells more than 13 million copies. Lee has successfully established himself as the creator of the modern-day Super Hero.
In 1981, Lee transformed his Spider-Man and Hulk creations into Saturday morning and syndicated television cartoons. When Marvel Comics and Marvel Productions were acquired by New World Entertainment in 1986, Lee’s horizons expanded even further, giving him the opportunity to become more deeply involved in the creation and development of filmed projects for both the big and small screen. He supervised such diverse animated series as X-Men, Spider-Man and The Hulk. To date, Lee’s characters have populated over 24 separate television series, all of which continue in syndication around the world. Movies based on a Marvel character, such as Blade, Blade II, X-Men, X2, The Hulk, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Ghost Rider have all become hits at the box office. Additionally, many of Lee’s other creations, such as Dr. Strange and The Mighty Thor, are in development for motion pictures and television series, including a feature-length film version of Iron Man, which was released in May 2008. In the last three years, Lee’s movies have grossed approximately $2.5 billion, not including other ancillary markets. Also, a number of Lee’s classic animated series are available on video, released globally by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The saturation factor is high—the X-Men series has a 90 percent recognition factor among the 30 million American children between the ages of six and 14.
In 2001, Lee formed POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment, with producer Gill Champion and attorney Arthur Leiberman, a company unrelated to Marvel, which has been active in creating a number of new projects that are now in various stages of development, preproduction and production. POW! specializes in franchises for theatrical release, television, DVDs, video games, merchandising and related ancillary markets.
Stan’s biography Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee, a Simon and Schuster Fireside Trade paperback, tells the story of Lee’s life, his impoverished childhood, his amazing accomplishments and his many exciting plans for the future, and was used as a basis for a documentary.
Now, despite the incredible record of his past achievements, as we have entered the 21st century, Lee—with the characteristic enthusiasm of a teenager—feels that his creative career is just beginning.
DAVID MAISEL (Executive Producer) has served as Marvel Studios executive vice president, office of the chief executive since September 2006 and became chairman of Marvel Studios in March 2007. He is an executive producer for the Marvel release Iron Man. From September 2005 to September 2006, Maisel served as executive vice president, corporate development, and from September 2005 to March 2007, Maisel served as vice chairman of Marvel Studios. From January 2004 to September 2005, Maisel served as president and chief operating officer of Marvel Studios. Prior to Marvel, Maisel served in senior positions at Endeavor Talent Agency, The Walt Disney Company and Creative Artists Agency.
JIM VAN WYCK (Executive Producer) graduated from the University of Oregon with a mathematics degree and played eight years of professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins organization. He then entered the film industry through the Directors Guild Training Program. His first job was as a production assistant on the telefilm Elvis, starring Kurt Russell, his former teammate in baseball.
Van Wyck has now produced or executive produced many films, including 16 Blocks, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Timeline, Swordfish, Lethal Weapon 4, Armageddon, Maverick and Conspiracy Theory. Van Wyck currently lives in Newbury Park, California, with his wife, Cindy, and has a daughter, Julee Merrill, married to Jayson Merrill. He has two wonderful grandchildren, Jaylee and Jensen.
Well known for his action/drama cinematography, PETER MENZIES, JR., ACS (Director of Photography) recently filmed Shooter for director Antoine Fuqua and Four Brothers for John Singleton. His credits include Die Hard: With a Vengeance and The 13th Warrior for director John McTiernan, and three collaborations with director Simon West: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The General’s Daughter and When a Stranger Calls.
Other action thrillers include Hard Rain for Mikael Salomon, A Time to Kill for Joel Schumacher, both The Getaway and White Sands for Roger Donaldson, and the historically based World War II POW drama The Great Raid, directed by John Dahl.
On a lighter note, Menzies has also enjoyed filming comedies such as Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous for director John Pasquin; Jerry Bruckheimer’s Kangaroo Jack for director David McNally; Man of the House, directed by Stephen Herek; and Disney’s The Kid, directed by Jon Turteltaub.
Peter Menzies, Jr. was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1957. His father, Australian cinematographer Peter Menzies, introduced him to the film industry.
Menzies first established himself as a commercial director of photography in the 1980s and continues to enjoy filming commercials between his feature film commitments. His commercial work has earned several cinematography awards including the Australian Television Award, the New York One Show Prize, the London International Advertising Award and the Cannes Advertising Film Festival Award.
Menzies is a member of the Australian Cinematographers Society and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is married with three daughters and divides his time between his native Sydney, and his U.S. residence in Lake Tahoe.
KIRK M. PETRUCCELLI (Production Designer) most recently designed the hit action-adventures Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis, and Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, based on the popular Marvel characters. His other credits include both Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and its sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; as well as The Last Castle; Roland Emmerich’s The Patriot; Mystery Men; The Thirteenth Floor; Blade; Anaconda; Murder in the First; Where the Day Takes You; and 3 Ninjas. He served as art director on Poetic Justice and Philadelphia Experiment II, and was assistant art director on Son in Law.
Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Petruccelli attended Penn State University where he studied film, graphic design and illustration, ultimately receiving a degree in film. He also studied the art of steadicam operation at the Rockport Film and Television workshop. He gained his experience in the film business in a variety of production jobs, including camera, set design and decoration.
Established film editor JOHN WRIGHT, ACE (Editor) comes to THE INCREDIBLE HULK after editing Mel Gibson’s Mayan epic Apocalypto. Wright has enjoyed a successful career working on such films as The Passion of the Christ, X-Men, The Thomas Crown Affair and Die Hard: With a Vengeance. His work on Speed and The Hunt for Red October earned him Academy Award nominations, and he won ACE awards for Life Goes to War: Hollywood and the Home Front and Sarah, Plain and Tall, the latter of which also earned him an Emmy.
RICK SHAINE, ACE (Editor) has an extensive list of credits, including the films The Goodbye People, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Gig, Crossing Delancey, Loverboy, Blink, Safe Passage and Extreme Measures. Shaine’s more recent work includes Pitch Black and its sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick (as additional editor), starring Vin Diesel; Enigma, starring Kate Winslet; Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez; the action-adventure Nomad; Behind the Smile, directed by Damon Wayans; the period-piece Amazing Grace; and the upcoming film The Ramen Girl.
Shaine’s television work includes HBO Pictures’ telefilm A Private Matter, for which he received a CableACE award nomination; the telefilms Blind Side, starring Rutger Hauer and Rebecca De Mornay and Always Outnumbered, starring Laurence Fishburne; and several episodes of HBO’s epic series Rome.
French editor VINCENT TABAILLON (Editor) recently cut the French films Dikkenek and Camping. Tabaillon’s work can next be seen in the animated film Asterix at the Olympic Games (Astrix aux jeux olympiques). The film features the voice of Gérard Depardieu and is based on the series of Astérix comic books.
Tabaillon previously worked with director Louis Leterrier on 20th Century Fox’s high-octane action-adventure Transporter 2, starring Jason Statham. His additional film credits include Bandidas, starring Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek, and French films The Story of Marie and Julien, starring Emmanuelle Béart; Don’t Worry, Be Happy; Shooting Stars; Va Savoir (Who Knows?), which was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival; Great Idea; and The Bridge, directed by Gérard Depardieu. He has also edited several award-winning short films, including Final Sentence; Novice; Pas bouger!; MajoritŽ; La Vache qui pleure; Squash, nominated for a Best Short Film, Live Action Oscar; Mon meilleur amour; and Suspendu.
KURT WILLIAMS’ (Visual Effects Supervisor) career includes working many years as a commercial producer and assistant director. Driving the vision of movies through its creative and complex technical journey has become a proven strength. Over the last 10 years, he has produced and supervised visual effects on many movies including The X Files, Broken Arrow, End of Days, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat.
Williams’ knowledge of the production process from start to finish has allowed him to help bring to life characters and whole worlds that oftentimes are adapted from printed materials like comic books. One of his most recent challenges has been originating the feature version of Fantastic Four, which included developing five different characters from the comic-book page to the live-action film. For X-Men: The Last Stand, Williams organized the delivery of more than 900 visual-effects shots on a 16-week postproduction schedule. This work included scenes with very tactile, 3-D environments tied to live-action footage.
DAVE JORDAN (Music Supervisor) has more than 45 major studio films and soundtracks to his credit, including the Steven Spielberg/Michael Bay mega-blockbuster Transformers, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, Cheaper by the Dozen, Iron Man and Old Dogs. Jordan’s versatility and facility with how music plays an integral part in film and television has enabled him to work on a wide scope of projects in multiple genres, including big-budget comic book adaptations such as Daredevil, the comedic Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the dramatic Reign Over Me and the children’s movie Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.
Additionally, Jordan has consulted with the music direction on a number of highly successful films, including The Fast and the Furious, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and Behind Enemy Lines. Jordan has proven his ability to create at the highest level: the soundtracks he has created for The Fast and the Furious, American Pie 2 and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps are all platinum and multiplatinum.
CRAIG ARMSTRONG (Music by), born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959, studied composition and piano at the Royal Academy of Music, London, from 1977 to 1981. Since then, from his base in Glasgow, he has written award-winning film scores and classical and theatrical compositions, and he has recorded his own solo albums.
Armstrong’s score for Baz Luhrmann’s groundbreaking musical Moulin Rouge! earned him AFI’s Composer of the Year, a Golden Globe for Best Original Score of the Year and a BAFTA for Achievement in Film Music. Armstrong was awarded an Ivor Novello Award for Best Original Film Score for Phillip Noyce’s The Quiet American. His other feature film scoring credits include the Oliver Stone drama World Trade Center; the Oscar®-winning bio-pic Ray, for which Craig was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Original Score; and the worldwide ensemble comedy smash Love Actually. His scores can also be heard in The Magdalene Sisters, Kiss of the Dragon, The Bone Collector, The Clearing, Plunkett & Macleane, Best Laid Plans and Orphans. His score to William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (again with Baz Luhrmann) also earned him a BAFTA for Achievement in Film Music and an Ivor Novello Award. Most recently, Armstrong composed the score for Shekhar Kapur’s film Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Armstrong has had many collaborations including recording and performing the album “The Dolls” with the Berlin laptop artist AGF and Vladislav Delay. He has worked with a wide variety of artists, including U2, Madonna, Luciano Pavarotti and Massive Attack.
Over the last decade, Armstrong has released two solo records on Massive Attack’s label Melankolic, “Piano Works” on Sanctuary in 2004 and “Film Works” on Universal in 2005.
Armstrong has written several classical commissions for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Hebrides Ensemble and the Scottish Ensemble. In 2006, Armstrong collaborated with the visual artists Dalziel and Scullion for the reopening of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow with a joint exhibition called “Once.” In 2007, Armstrong’s first opera premiered as part of the Scottish Opera’s “Five:15—Operas Made in Scotland,” a 15-minute opera with a libretto by Ian Rankin.
In 2007, Armstrong recorded his first classical record for EMI Classics France with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for release in 2008, which includes a violin concerto for Clio Gould. Armstrong also continues teaching as a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
DENISE CRONENBERG (Costume Designer) has created the costumes for nine David Cronenberg pictures: The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, eXistenZ, Crash, Spider, A History of Violence and more recently, Eastern Promises. Some of her other credits include Shoot ’Em Up, Dead Silence, Dawn of the Dead, Avenging Angelo, Bless the Child, The Third Miracle and Dracula 2000. Her additional features include A Cool, Dry Place; Murder at 1600; and Moonlight and Valentino.
Cronenberg is currently designing the original Fly Opera, which will premiere in Paris in July and Los Angeles in September. She began her career as a ballet dancer in the theater, and with Fly Opera is returning to that medium, but as a costume designer. She will next work on her brother’s film Painkiller.