This article contains no real spoilers, in case our American readers are worried.
There are a couple of cool actors hanging around the edges of The Avengers - Powers Boothe and Jenny Agutter among them - but the very coolest is Harry Dean Stanton. One of the great character actors of all time, and an iconic hellraiser of late 20th century Hollywood, Stanton is one of the crazy, out there, inspiring actors who keeps chugging along years after you would have thought they'd be dead. He's 86 fucking years old.
Stanton shows up in a sequence when Dr. Bruce Banner has reverted to (butt naked) normal form after a Hulk-out incident on the SHIELD Helicarrier, and for a couple of minutes The Avengers gets delightfully odd.
I needed to get Banner from the horror of what he had done and almost killing Scarlett - or Natasha, I should say - in to, you know, a place where he was prepared to go back into that [Hulk] state. He needs somebody who will just accept him.
It turns out that Joss scored Stanton - who has appeared in classic films like The Godfather Part II, Pretty in Pink, Repo Man, Two-Lane Blacktop, Cool Hand Luke and more - through his director of photography. Seamus McGarvey, DP on The Avengers, had been following Harry Dean Stanton around, shooting a doc on the legendary actor (I cannot wait to see this), and that gave Joss an idea.
I sort of got him stuck in my head and I was like who is more accepting than Harry Dean Stanton? And, so I got to write this weird little scene - which when I wrote it was not little, it was about 12 pages long. I was like oh, this is great, Banner falls into a Coen Brothers movie! The fact that they even let me keep that concept and that we actually landed Harry Dean to play it was very exciting.
But the idea was to put [Banner] in a slightly surreal situation with somebody who clearly had no problem with [The Hulk], just to make that little transition without milking it too much. And besides, to work with Harry Dean and to quiz him about Alien and The Missouri Breaks? What a privilege.