Is the Red Guardian Black Widow's dad?
Harbour says he flipped through a few of the character's comic-book appearances but knew the “Black Widow” movie would not lean in to those tales too heavily. In the comics, the Red Guardian is the Black Widow's husband. Harbour's version would be a reluctant father figure. The Washington PostThe Red Guardian was a ‘Black Widow’ role David Harbour couldn’t turn down
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She was trained from childhood to be an elite assassin and intelligence operative by the Red Room, a secret Soviet super-soldier program notorious for its brutal methods. Memphis FlyerBlack Widow: Super-Sisters Doing It for Themselves
Who is Black Widow's dad?
In a deleted scene from Captain America: Civil War, it is revealed that Black Widow's father is Ivan Romanoff. ParadeWho Is Black Widow? Sister, Dad, Avengers, Enemy, Husband
Is Hawkeye in Black Widow?
The confirmation “Black Widow” would reveal the character's mission in Budapest also had MCU fans banking on an appearance from Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. Neither MCU heavyweight pops up in “Black Widow,” and that was a deliberate choice. IndieWireKevin Feige Supported ‘Black Widow’ Excluding Big MCU Cameos: ‘She Doesn’t Need the Boys’
'Stranger Things' star David Harbour embraced his 'sweet tooth' to play a Russian Captain America in Marvel's new spy thriller 'Black Widow.'
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Actresses Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh chat with USA TODAY's Brian Truitt about working together for the new movie, "Black Widow." USA TODAY
One of the realest things ever in a Marvel movie occurs in “Black Widow” when David Harbour’s beefy Russian super-operative Alexei struggles to squeeze himself into his Red Guardian suit since he hasn't worn it in a long time.
After a year during COVID-19 lockdown when a lot of folks are currently figuring out if their pre-quarantine wardrobe still fits, “it's very prescient,” the “Stranger Things” star says with a chuckle. “Who knew we'd go through this? That scene takes on extra resonance.”
While “Black Widow” (in theaters and on Disney+ now) is Scarlett Johansson’s first solo superhero movie, the 6-foot-3 Harbour steals plenty of scenes as the title character’s father figure from their spy days. An egotistical Russian version of Captain America (but with a good heart under all his tattoos), Alexei is broken out of prison by his “daughters” – Natasha (Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) – and reunited with his old partner Melina (Rachel Weisz) to take on the secret organization responsible for the shady Widows program.
“He's stuck in his life and he has tremendous shame, guilt and remorse, but ... he's so invested in his own narcissism that he doesn't think anything's wrong,” Harbour, 46, says about his character. “He thinks he's a big shot, and then the family exposes to him that there's more to do and that he should overcome (his ego).”
Harbour, who married British singer Lily Allen last September and also stars in Steven Soderbergh’s “No Sudden Move” (streaming on HBO Max), discusses his “Black Widow” diet, his musical side and what’s next for his “Stranger Things” character Sheriff Jim Hopper.
USA TODAY's Brian Truitt breaks down his top Marvel heroines ahead of the highly-anticipated "Black Widow" hitting theaters. USA TODAY
David Harbour: It's one of the best things I've gotten to wear. It feels like a great onesie. And I was very flattered. The (costume) guys were sweet and they're buttering me up and they really liked making it for a big guy. They were like, “With some of these, we put the fake muscles on, but you got these big shoulders. It's great.” I was like, “Yeah, guys, talk me up.” (Laughs)
Harbour: I could eat whatever I wanted, he's supposed to be big, but I did a lot of training to get as good as I could at the minimal stunt stuff I had to do. They threw me into boxing and working with a little bit of Russian Sambo like flips and things like that. I really loved boxing to the point where I continue to do it now. The biggest part of my Marvel training was just convincing the stunt people to put the stunt guy in and (that) they don't need to really see my face.
Harbour: If I'm eating just on my own, whatever the hell I want, I really do have a sweet tooth. It's bad. I'm not a salty guy. I don't care about potato chips and stuff, but you give me baked goods – in particular, I love cakes and donuts – and I could kill myself with sugar.
Harbour: There's a lot of sounds that Russians make that the American dialect does not have. For some of these throaty guttural things, it was very hard. But eventually you start to just get into an attitude of a character and a vibe and the way they sit and the way they carry themselves. That helps me a lot.
Harbour: I sang along with a little Jim Croce last year in “Stranger Things.” I sing terribly in lots of different stuff now. I guess it's my new brand.
Harbour: (Laughs) She's not interested in helping me with that at all.
Harbour: I love it. This season is so enjoyable, it's epic in a scope that we've never had. Enjoyable is a strange word: It wasn't easy. It was a lot of cold nights, we're out on locations in crazy snowy environments sometimes and in actual prisons (in Lithuania). And also even where Hopper is in his life, he's in a dark, fragile, vulnerable place, to the point where he has a shaved head and he's like a baby almost. He's discovering himself and what he is, and we also are going to see a lot of dark backstory from Hopper that we've only hinted at. It's not “happy” enjoyable, but enjoyable in terms of eating a hearty meal.
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14 July, 2021 - 04:00am
Harbour clarified the circumstances that led to his casting in the film, stating that his interviewer's "perception of events" was wrong.
"Marvel does not call me and say we want you to play Red Guardian," Harbour told Insider. "What happens is I'm in London randomly doing some stuff and [Black Widow director] Cate Shortland calls my agents and asks if I want to have lunch and talk about some stuff. I go to lunch and she tells me she's shooting a movie called Black Widow about [Scarlett Johannson's] character in the Marvel Universe and there's this guy we want you to play."
David Harbour added that he had no idea there was a Black Widow movie or what the production team had going on. "I couldn't believe it," Harbour concluded. "And [Shortland] describes this character that is this guy who is a father figure and has all these tattoos, so to me, it was a fresh character. Then I went back and did some research and was like, 'Oh, the comics are clearly all wrong. Finally, the movie will correct them.'"
Originally slated to open last year, Black Widow was delayed several times due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The movie was eventually released on July 9 simultaneously in theaters and Disney+ Premier Access, with the latter earning $60 million globally.
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to be released on Disney+. Fans can decide whether or not to view the MCU film by paying $30 for Disney Premier Access, or heading to their nearest open theater.
13 July, 2021 - 01:47pm
David Harbour, who plays Red Guardian in Marvel Studios' Black Widow, thinks his character should be the one to hunt down Hawkeye over Natasha Romanoff's death.
In an interview with Insider, Harbour opened up on what he would do with Red Guardian if he had ultimate creative power. "When he finds out that she was on that cliff with Hawkeye and maybe the version of the story he hears is that Hawkeye pushed her off or something, it's a moment when Red Guardian turns back to the guy he was," he said. "He now wants vengeance for her. That I feel would play well."
Harbour preceded the suggestion for his character's desire for vengeance by illustrating a scene at the end of Black Widow where Red Guardian takes Natasha's hand following the climax of the action. He said the idea would be "going off this story, having this experience with Natasha and having this beautiful end when he takes her hand and says 'I can't even speak to you because I would mess it up.'" Harbour's other idea for more Red Guardian would see the superhero back in his prime, when he was the Soviet equivalent of Captain America during the Cold War.
Harbour's idea originates from the post-credits scene of Black Widow, where Yelena Belova is contacted by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine about getting revenge for her sister, pointing out that Clint Barton/Hawkeye is responsible. In Avengers: Endgame, Natasha and Clint fought over who would make the ultimate sacrifice to retrieve the Soul Stone in order to undo the events of Avengers: Infinity War, with Natasha ultimately losing her life to procure the artifact.
Fans first saw Valentina at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where the mysterious Contessa recruited former Captain America John Walker for purposes unknown. She offered the character a new, black version of his Captain America suit, saying that people don't need a Captain America, but rather a "U.S. Agent." According to Harbour, he would have Red Guardian join in Valentina's mission as well.
Harbour's Red Guardian can be seen in Black Widow, now in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.
13 July, 2021 - 01:47pm
The new MCU film Black Widow is turning out to be a profitable release with the expansion of box office turnouts. Many people were left wondering about one random notion – a supposed rivalry between Captain America and the newly introduced character Red Guardian.
It's a recurring conversation in the film, and the father figure to Natasha Romanov and Yelena Beloav is convinced that he faced off with Steve Rogers in the late '80s. As pointed out in the film, there is pushback about him still being on ice at that point, but Red Guardian (played by David Harbour) sticks by his story, even discussing the topic with Black Widow about her Avengers comrade. In a new interview with Inverse, Harbour and director Cate Shortland discussed the topic and offered their own stance on the issue.
Harbour explains, "I will say they are absolutely true, 100 percent. Part of the fun thing about Alexei is that I wasn't interested in reality. He doesn't even know that he's lying. Sometimes as an actor, I'll have to know the reality because I'll know [if] the character is lying. But Alexei simply believes this stuff is true."
Shortland, on the other hand, was a little more reluctant to confirm one way or the other – but is still intrigued at the idea of the two going toe to toe. The Black Widow director shares, "I wanna see Alexei and Captain America together. If we saw them together now, I think we know what would happen. I don't want to see Alexei poo his pants. I think that's what would happen. You'd find this little boy in the corner crying his eyes out."
For those of you who have seen the film, what's your take on the idea of a Red Guardian and Captain America rivalry? If you don't think it's true, would you have enjoyed the idea?
13 July, 2021 - 12:06pm
"I was like, 'Let's use the weight.' So I started eating even more. I got up to 280 lbs., and I loved it," Harbour told The New York Times.
Right around then, he met singer Allen.
"It's a true testament to my undeniable charisma when I say that my wife met me at 280 lbs. with this beard and this hair," he said, dryly. "We went on a date at the Wolseley [restaurant] in London, and she really fell for me at my worst, physically and hair-wise."
But Harbour's role in Black Widow had several flashback scenes showing his character, the Russian solider Alexei Shostakov, in his younger days, so the actor committed to losing weight.
"I said to the first A.D. [assistant director], 'Listen, we have to shoot the flashback stuff at the end, so that by the time we shoot the flashback, I'll lose the weight and I'll be thin.' And he was like, 'You'll never be thin,' " Harbour recalled with a laugh. "I was like, 'Yes I will, man.' And I lost like 60 lbs. through the shooting. The first stuff we shot was at the prison, so that belly that's coming at you, that's all real belly. And then as we shot, I started to lose weight. I was just hungry a lot of the shoot."
And after dropping those 60 lbs., Allen had "mixed feelings" about her husband's new look.
"She honestly has some mixed feelings about it. Which is a good place to be in a relationship," he said. "It's really good to start the relationship from that part, as opposed to being the young, handsome buck and watching yourself degenerate over the years."
Allen, though, is big on complimenting her husband. In 2019, after Harbour was named one of PEOPLE's Men of the Year in the annual Sexiest Man Alive issue, he shared one of the best things Allen has said to him.
"Lily Allen once told me that I was so gorgeous it was an outrage," he told PEOPLE.
And Harbour said he's got a few favorite parts of Allen's body.
"I really only look at my girlfriend's eyes, until she's turned away from me and I stare at her stunningly beautiful butt," he said.
David Harbour recently revealed that wife Lily Allen "honestly has some mixed feelings" about his weight-loss after she began dating him when he said he looked his "worst."
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Black Widow director on what’d happen if Red Guardian met Cap: ‘I don’t want to see Alexei poo his pants’
13 July, 2021 - 12:04pm
And by the time Steve was thawed out, Alexi was in a Russian prison.
But one thing they agree on: if he’s lying — and basic math would suggest he is — he doesn’t realize he is.
“He doesn’t even know that he’s lying,” said Harbour. “Sometimes as an actor, I’ll have to know the reality because I’ll know [if] the character is lying. But Alexei simply believes this stuff is true.”
Harbour explains further: “There’s a thing, confabulation, where people actually just believe their lies to such a degree that even when confronted with reality, they can’t process it. It doesn’t make sense [to them]. I think Alexei is very much the same way. He lives this reality completely independent of what other people have seen or heard.”
Meanwhile, Shortland believes both things about the former Russian spy now turned (in the immortal words of James Joyce) “praiser of his own past:” he’s lying and telling the truth. Regardless, there’s one thing Shortland does know about a potential fight between Cap and Guardian: it wouldn't be pretty.
“I wanna see Alexei and Captain America together,” she admitted. “If we saw them together now, I think we know what would happen. I don’t want to see Alexei poo his pants. I think that’s what would happen. You’d find this little boy in the corner crying his eyes out.”
Ouch. Fair. But still: ouch. And gross.
Black Widow is in theatres and available to stream on Disney+. Check it out and determine for yourself whether Red Guardian could take on Captain America.
13 July, 2021 - 10:25am
Harbour broke down the Russian super-soldier's tragic nature during a press conference attended by CBR. "The funny thing about him is that it's sort of built out of the same -- or it hatches from the same egg, the pathos and also the humor of his character, because he is filled with grief and remorse about the choices that he's made emotionally, spiritually, nutritionally," said Harbour. "The comedy itself comes out of the ego that is built to defend against the feelings of that remorse."
Red Guardian's regret stems from his decision to allow General Dreykov to place his surrogate daughters, Natasha and Yelena, into the Red Room program following the completion of their undercover mission during Black Widow's prologue. "So in other words, he has to be some bombastic, because he can't stop and feel these things, the failures that he made. So he has to build around him a world of a confabulatory, psychotic reality where he's the hero, and that's inherently silly. I mean, that's inherently funny," Harbour added.
Harbour went on to discuss the tragicomical nature of Red Guardian's family dynamic with Natasha, Yelena and their surrogate mother Melina when the four reunite at Melina's farm later in the film. "What I found developing, too, was there's almost a traditional shot, which I feel like is the perfect image for this movie," he said. "It's all of us around a table in these very specific positions, which I remember talking about that day that we shot it, but we're all in super suits, right? You have this almost Norman Rockwell thing of dad coming in last to sit at the head of the table, while eldest child sits here and mother and baby sit over here. I found us all sort of falling into these traditional cliche roles, and then riffing off of that."
Interestingly, it was Harbour who improvised Red Guardian's most poignant scene, in which he sings Yelena's favorite song as a child, "American Pie," to her as an adult in an effort to comfort her. "So for this bedroom scene, I'm thinking, he's a failure as a father what can he do at the end of this scene?" explained Harbour in a previous interview. "This narcissist who also has a big heart. And so he brings up the song, basically as him saying, 'I tried.'"
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow is currently playing in theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access. The film has pulled in $215 million, giving it the largest Pandemic-era opening since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in Dec. 2019.
David Harbour Explained Why Lily Allen Had "Mixed Feelings" About When He Lost Weight For "Black Widow"
12 July, 2021 - 08:53pm
12 July, 2021 - 04:26pm
When it comes to Black Widow, Marvel Studios assembled a strong cast for the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scarlett Johansson shines in the lead role of Natasha Romanoff, but her co-stars, like Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, also bring their A-game. And of course, there’s also David Harbour, who plays hulking, Russian super soldier Alexei Shostakov a.k.a. Red Guardian. Harbour gets to chew his fair share of scenery and ends up stealing a few scenes in the process. And he even enhanced a scene by improvising about Santa Clause, because of course.
The dynamic between Natasha Romanoff and her found family is far and away one of the best aspects of Black Widow. Those interactions can be tricky to nail, though, so the cast focused their attention on the script in order to make the relationships between the characters feel real. CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell recently chatted with David Harbour, who explained how he and his co-stars sought to build connections while prepping for the movie:
There’s a lot of people that work on those action sequences for a lot longer than we do. We come in and do our pieces of them, but they’re, you know, pre-vising, and you know, stunt guys [are] working through stuff 24… I mean it seems like 24 hours a day for months. But in terms of our work, I mean our work really is just to really put the heart into it because that’s where that comes from. And so we had pre-production where we were working on the script with the writer and with Cate [Shortland] and really coming up with the specifics of the relationships in this dynamic. And, you know, the script was already good when we started, and then we made it richer and richer as we went.
It sounds like David Harbour and the rest of the Black Widow cast and crew put in a considerable amount to ensure that the relationships felt authentic. And one of the positive results of this is that it leads to unexpected gold in front of the camera, which, according to Harbour, occurred during one of the movie’s key scenes:
And then a lot of that comes out even on the day, in terms of the particular dynamic between us. I mean we all kind of fell in love with each other and kind of forgave each other in a weird way as it goes on. I mean there was a real spirit of love, and that just bubbled up. And also just humor. I mean, we just had a really good time with each other. That dinner table scene, I mean, there is stuff… There is a version of that on the editor’s floor that is so ridiculous, where I go into talking about Santa Claus, and like… I mean, I just have all these stories of our history together as a family, when they were, you know, I think Yelena is like 3-6 or whatever… I mean, I just had all this stuff that I would just improv. And Rachel would come right back with all this other nonsense, and it was just really, really fun. So, um, yeah, we… That chemistry was, you know, we worked on the history, but the chemistry was natural. I mean, I love all three of those women. I think they’re phonomenal, and I just fell in love with them.
Considering all of this, it’s really no surprise that the dinner table scene and a number of other sequences work so well. Capturing magic like that can be difficult, but those small touches really do come through, even an extended explanation of Santa Claus.
David Harbour’s feelings are also a reflection of his deep love for the character of Alexei. Based on other comments he recently made to CinemaBlend, he was incredibly excited to put on his Red Guardian costume for the first time. And he even has an idea for a movie that would see his character take on Captain America. There’s a good chance fans will want more of the character after seeing him in the movie, and Marvel Studios might just oblige them should that be the case.
Black Widow is now playing in theaters and is available via Premier Access on Disney+, which you can sign up for using this link.
Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.