One of the most surprising members of the cast of Iron Man 3 is Rebecca Hall, who plays scientist Maya Hansen. Hall has had a prolific career since her first film in 2006, but had never been in any sort of big budget film until appearing alongside Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man 3. She spoke to The Los Angeles Times about preparing for the role
Hall was able to get a feel for her character’s personality by reviewing the 2005 comic book storyline that introduced her character. She reveals, “I went and had a look at the Extremis comic books and found out who she was, because I just felt like I’d be at a tremendous disadvantage if I didn’t. I’d be very ignorant, and I wouldn’t want to be in that position. And also, you do a disservice to people if you don’t respect where it’s coming from. But the moment I looked at them properly, that was kind of it. I just thought she had very little to do with the script that I’ve got to work on, there’s no point really beyond just sort of the respectful action of looking at it.”
Despite co-star Ben Kingsley saying there was very little improvisation done on set, Hall claims otherwise. She says, “There was loads of improvisation, and we all spouted reams and reams of nonsense. It’s quite surprising what made the film and what didn’t. I have no idea, so it was fun.”
Hall isn’t known for blockbuster films — perhaps the closest she has come to that before Iron Man 3 is Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film The Prestige — and she admits starring in Iron Man 3 is not the type of career move she ever expected to make. She explains, “It is a departure. There’s no two ways about it. It’s not like I’ve been churning away at some imaginary chess game, and I’ve now made my final move to do the kind of film that I want to do. This is not ever the kind of film that I wanted to do. The films that I’ve aspired and am interested in doing are the ones that I have done, and will carry on doing. But I think it’s important to have balance and understanding of what’s out there. I’m a big advocate of popular culture, and as far as popular culture goes, these films are the most popular around. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that to see how it works?”
However, part of doing a big budget blockbuster involves new acting experiences. One that Hall had to get used to was working with green screen. She admits, “It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of it. I really wanted someone to tell me to go and, I don’t know, go to the gym eight times a week and learn some sort of obscure sort of martial arts. But no, I was playing a nerd, so I just had to carry on being me.”
What’s with all these actresses talking about how “nerdy” they are in real life lately? Is it some kind of bizarre desire for Comic-Con street cred?