MarvelVision: The Falcon And The Winter Soldier – Olli Haaskivi Interview

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Olli Haaskivi

On a special bonus episode, we’re interviewing Olli Haaskivi, a.k.a. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s Dr. Wilfred Nagel! Find out what goes into snagging a super-secret Marvel guest star role, what it was like filming on that shipping container lab set, and whether Haaskivi can make a better Negroni than Stanley Tucci.


Full Episode Transcript

Alex:                             It’s MarvelVision, a podcast about Marvel, the MCU, and right now Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I’m Alex.

Justin:                          I’m Justin.

Pete:                            And I’m Pete.

Alex:                             And we are coming to you with a special bonus episode with a special [crosstalk 00:00:20] guest. We have Dr. Wilford Nagle, himself, Olli Haaskivi. Holy. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Thank you for having me. How are you?

Alex:                             Oh, so good. This is a big deal, being on a Marvel show. I’m not sure if you’re aware.

Pete:                            Yeah, do you know what’s going on? It’s great.

Olli Haaskivi:                 The answer is I don’t really know what’s going on. I’m only becoming aware of what a big deal it is.

Alex:                             Well, so talk about this a little bit because the Marvel actors always like to go on talk shows and say, “Oh, we can’t talk about what’s going on. There’s so much secrecy about it.” You’re coming in as this guest character for this episode. What is the secrecy level like for that? Is it more, is it less, is it about the same?

Olli Haaskivi:                 It’s probably a little bit more, I mean, I don’t imagine that… It’s interesting because I mean, even thinking back to the audition, when I got the audition, it was not for the Falcon and the Winter soldier. It was for something called Untitled Marvel Number Four.

Justin:                          Wow.

Olli Haaskivi:                 I don’t know if that was the exact number, so [crosstalk 00:01:24] maybe someone will write in and say that I’m wrong about that. But, so from the drop, I mean, it was incredibly secretive. The audition scene was a version of what you see in the show, but with all the specific details taken out, names were changed, and then I got the job and still didn’t know what the job was and I assumed as soon as I got the job, I Googled to see what Marvel things were happening, which things were in production.

Olli Haaskivi:                 And I assumed that it was WandaVision because Matt Shakman, who directed WandaVision, he runs the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles and over the years I do a lot of theater. And over the years I’ve almost done a couple of plays there and so my brain immediately assumed, “Oh, I auditioned for his show. My tape crossed his desk.” And he went, “Oh, I know who that guy is. Yeah, fine.” And it wasn’t until I got my official script pages, a couple of days later, that I responded to whoever sent the pages. And I just said, can you tell me what show this is? [crosstalk 00:02:35] Can you tell me anything about any of this? And they sent a very nice email back that said, you know, it’s [crosstalk 00:02:43] the Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Right? Exactly.

Justin:                          No, I can tell you.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Thank you. Thank you for your interest. But no, [crosstalk 00:02:49] but no. They sent back a very nice email that said, “This is the title. This is the code name. It’s being directed by Kari Skogland.” That’s when I got the rundown, but it was not immediate. And so the whole thing from the very beginning was shrouded in a lot of mysteries.

Pete:                            It’s so crazy because it’s like, you hear these actors talk and it’s almost like they get bagged and tagged and they wake up on set and then they’re like, read this and it’s all redacted. Like, is it hard to act when they’re… You don’t really have any kind of like ground to be like, “Oh, okay. I understand what’s happening or where I am.”

Olli Haaskivi:                 I mean, I think that luckily in this particular scenario that scene, the Dr. Wilford Nagel sequence [crosstalk 00:03:42] the actual text of that did tell me everything I needed to know.

Alex:                             Okay. Yeah. I mean, he does a good job of saying, “Hey, here’s who I am. And here’s what I’ve been up to lately.” [crosstalk 00:03:52] It’s a good second.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Totally. And I also think that so much of being an actor is just deciding that whatever is happening is what should be happening. And so if I get a full script with a ton and every once in a while on a certain kind of project, they’ll send a research packet or they’ll send references and you sort of go, “Oh, great, I’ll dig into all of that.” And then sometimes you get no information and you go, “Okay, this is what I got.” And I’ll do the best I can. And there is something a little freeing about that actually, not having to sort of hold the entire scope of it in [crosstalk 00:04:34] your work. But, and I also trust it, I mean, the people that work on this show are so extraordinary on so many levels that I did feel like I could trust that if I needed to know something or if I had… If there were holes in my work in some way, and someone needed to say, “This is actually about this and this and this.” I trusted that between all of those wonderful people, someone would tell me what was going on.

Justin:                          I think we need to get a super cut of all of the fake audition scenes that all of the actors and all the shows. [crosstalk 00:05:06] So whatever, like, “You’re auditioning for a romantic comedy set in space.” And it’s suddenly, it’s like, [crosstalk 00:05:12] “No, I’m in Guardians of the Galaxy.” [crosstalk 00:05:13] Like I want to see [crosstalk 00:05:15] that show.

Olli Haaskivi:                 And do you know, what’s also really funny is that when I auditioned for it, the role didn’t have a name obviously, and it just said doctor. And so my audition tape is me looking pretty spiffy. Like I’m wearing a button down shirt and glasses, and I’m pretty well put together because I saw, he’s a doctor and I [crosstalk 00:05:37] played plenty of doctors on television. I know [crosstalk 00:05:40] how it goes. And I think it speaks to how wonderful those people are actually that they saw something in that tape and went, “That’s the person we want.” And we can envision what that would be looking a little different, feeling a little different, not everyone has that much imagination. [crosstalk 00:05:58]

Justin:                          Yeah, they look to you and say, “Take his hair and go like this.”

Alex:                             Yeah. You know, you touched on this a little bit earlier, but I feel like it’s relatively rare to have a guest actor who comes in essentially for one scene and then you get a meaty monologue like that. What was that experience like coming on set, and then be like, “All right, I’m going to just lay all this information out to everybody.”?

Olli Haaskivi:                 Sure. You know, I mean, I’ve done a pretty good amount of that in other jobs. I feel like I’m often saddled with a good amount of [crosstalk 00:06:36] exposition and jargon and all of these things. I was definitely a little intimidated by it. I didn’t have the real script pages for that long before we shot. I probably had them for five or six days, but not that long. [crosstalk 00:06:51] And we shot for… We actually shot that sequence for three or four days all told, [crosstalk 00:06:58] which felt like a real luxury, because a lot of other, a lot of other TV shows and films would sort of go, “It’s one location. We’ll just slam through it in a day.” [crosstalk 00:07:08] Yeah. It’s truly, and I will say, I mean, this is bragging slightly, but we did finish a day early because we all right [inaudible 00:07:19]

Justin:                          [inaudible 00:07:19] early

Olli Haaskivi:                 It felt really nice to go, Oh, this was budgeted on this schedule for X amount of days and look at us now. [crosstalk 00:07:26] But there was a lot of me… One thing that is helpful for my memorization for whatever reason is to physicalize it as I’m memorizing it. I think because then your body is doing two things at once. For some reason, that sinks in deeper for me. So there was a lot of me walking around my hotel, holding my script pages and just like quietly mumbling to myself, [crosstalk 00:07:53] these speeches, because I mean, the biggest thing, like you said, about being a guest star is that you really don’t want to feel like you’re dropping the ball. We’re well aware that you’re coming into something. It’s sort of like trying to like jump on a moving train as fast as you can and not attract any attention [crosstalk 00:08:12] and not be the reason that there is a train, an unexpected stop or something. [crosstalk 00:08:14] And so I did sort-

Alex:                             Your character then threw a grenade over his shoulder and jumped off the train. [crosstalk 00:08:24].

Olli Haaskivi:                 Yeah. He’s yeah, and the last thing you want to be thinking about while you’re acting is what are the lines? And so I definitely remember getting the actual script and going, “Oh, wow, okay. I have my work cut out for me here.” But also how wonderful, I mean, that’s such a great opportunity

Justin:                          Given that Dr. Wilford Nagel is a character from the comics. He is from Truth: Red, White and Black. Once you finally did find out who the character was, did you go back and look at that at all or since he’s relatively so different, did it not really matter?

Olli Haaskivi:                 I definitely did look. But like you said, as soon as I saw what he looks like, frankly, and that he looks not a thing like me in any conceivable way, I sort of felt like that gave me the freedom to go, “Okay. We’re clearly doing something different with this character here.” And I don’t know a ton about the MCU and I definitely didn’t know before I had the job, but I did know enough to know that the films and television shows are not literal translations of the exact comic books. I mean, had I looked at the comic book and seen someone who’s tall and slim and 33 years old with glasses, Maybe I would have, maybe I would have gone. Okay, now I need to pay attention to [crosstalk 00:09:50] how does he stand and all of those kinds of things, but I pretty immediately went, Oh, okay. So we’re doing something different here. And I think that really freed me up to feel like I could use the script that I had and you like use all the clues there to come up with something that was interesting to me.

Pete:                            Now, the character is picking up from Stanley Tucci’s Abraham Erskine back from Captain America: The First Avenger, since you’re saying you can do a better formula than him in the show, do you think you could do a better Negroni than Stanley Tucci?

Alex:                             Wow.

Speaker 5:                    No. No one can.

Alex:                             Asking the hard questions.

Speaker 5:                    That is a, that is a hard question, but the answer is simple that I really do feel like no one can do anything better than Stanley Tucci can. I really did feel incredibly honored and sort of blown away when, again, I didn’t know a ton of heading into this. And so it wasn’t until I had been on set for a couple of days that Eli, this PA, was walking me to the set to shoot. And he said, “You know, it’s a really big deal that you’re the guy who’s playing this part.” [inaudible 00:10:58] Okay. It was really nice. I appreciate it.

Speaker 5:                    And he was like, well, you’re the next, mad scientist or whatever you would want to say after Stanley Tucci’s mad scientist. And I sort of felt like, “Oh, wow. That’s like mentioned me in any sentence with Stanley Tucci. I think he’s extraordinary.”

Justin:                          Yeah. I feel like you could make a better Negroni, but it wouldn’t be a hundred percent sexual experience. Like it is with Stanley Tucci literally mixing. [inaudible 00:11:32]

Alex:                             We have a delivery coming your way. We’re going to have you do an groany live on the pump.

Olli Haaskivi:                 I hope I get to just meet him somewhere someday or shoot something with him at some point. Yeah.

Justin:                          I got to think there needs to be that sort of MCU party where it’s like, “Hey, where do the mad scientists? We’ll be over here by the hummus. Space gods over here.”

Olli Haaskivi:                 He’s a hero.

Alex:                             Just to take a little bit of a step back and talk about that set again, because it is, therefore, a very brief period of time. But that container set, that lab that he has is so cool. What was it like walking onto that for the first day?

Olli Haaskivi:                 It was wild. I mean, I’m sure there is a budget for these shows, but it certainly doesn’t feel like there is. I mean, It feels like a no expense is spared in making these sets and these costumes that are so detailed and so rich, and that adds to your performance obviously, because you go, “Okay, if this is this person’s lab and it’s this sort of sprawling and intricate and all of that, what does that say about the character?” And I was really stunned by it. And that’s another funny thing about being a guest actor on something, is that you don’t know what any of those things will look like usually until you’re there. I mean, I remember starting to shoot The Deuce and getting onto the set and just going, this is not at all what I envisioned [crosstalk 00:13:10] my office to look like. And that was for whatever reason, that was a real impediment to me that day to like, [crosstalk 00:13:19] adjust my mind to what, especially when it’s something like your office or your home, like something that a character would spend a ton of time in.

Justin:                          Yeah. And you sort of have to do that visual work, in general, to get to into the character. So then all of a sudden you’re like, “Aye, this is not where I am here.”

Olli Haaskivi:                 Yeah. And again, just in the moment, I think part of the skill is being able to go, okay, that’s not what I thought, but how can we work with this?

Justin:                          You find the one object that does resonate. And you’re like, that’s the thing. And

Olli Haaskivi:                 Totally, and, and I mean, my experience on that set is just that it, I mean the whole thing just sort of feels like a playground or something. I mean, it is movie magic to the 900th power. And so, I mean, it did sort of have the feeling of the kind of thing you might imagine when you were a kid with these gigantic blue screens. I mean, I watched them film some of the shipping container stuff going into the lab and some of the fighting stuff. And I mean, that shipyard set was the size of a football field or something. And a lot of, a lot of the shooting you do when you’re an actor, especially a sort of an actor in New York city who does the kinds of things that are available there. A lot of that is trying to steal a shot on the subway before the police show up or something. [crosstalk 00:14:48] So yeah, it was, I was really blown away stepping onto those sets. The work that those people do is my look to me.

Justin:                          I feel like in one of your speeches, you talk about the blip interrupting the work that your character is doing. I feel like that has become, that really hit me because of Corona virus as like, “Oh man.” How does it feel doing that and having that resonance going forward?

Olli Haaskivi:                 I mean, I shot that pre-Corona virus.

Justin:                          That’s what I figured.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Yeah, and so it has crossed my mind a couple of times recently, “I wonder if my performance would be richer now.” I don’t have to imagine the experience anymore. None of us do, unfortunately, of being trapped in one location for a really long time, trying to stay alive. And yeah, it is funny to, to think about that now, but [inaudible 00:15:53]

Justin:                          The post-COVID performance is you hard, look it down the lens. I can’t believe we’ve been gone all this time.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Right. Or like looking at the lens, being like, we all know what [crosstalk 00:16:04]

Alex:                             Yeah, no, I don’t know if you’re aware, but your character dies at the end of the episode. I hope that’s not too much of a shock. [crosstalk 00:16:16]

Olli Haaskivi:                 And I mean, that’s, what’s amazing if the gunshot didn’t kill him, the explosion, I mean, it’s mo-… We’ve got a lot going on in that.

Pete:                            Well, what’s that like, though, because you get this role, you get a chance to be in the MCU, in the Marvel universe and that they’re like, great. And then by the end of the seed, you’re shot, you’re dead and you’re blown up.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Yeah. I mean, I, and this might sound like sort of like a Rosie Pollyanna answer or something. But, I think I was just thrilled to be there ever. [crosstalk 00:16:47] And also my, my first thought was, “Oh God, I don’t love guns. And I don’t love fire. So how are we going to, am I just going to be terrified on set the whole time?” I was not because, I mean, the safety on that set is top-notch and they made me feel so comfortable. And, but I think that was the technicalities of it were where my brain was at. But, I also know, is anyone really dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Justin:                          That’s a good point. It does seem that guns and fire are your character’s weakness.

Olli Haaskivi:                 But I also feel like, maybe this is just the actor begging for a job or something, but I feel like, if anyone could have come up with a way to come back after that, Dr. Wilford Nagel.

Alex:                             I mean, he could have injected himself with a super soldier serum. There could have been a back out of the shipping container. There’re possibilities.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Uh-uh (positive). Who can say?

Alex:                             Who can say? Before we let you go, what else do you have going on? Anything else you want to plug in particular, since I know you’ve balanced a bunch of different roles.

Olli Haaskivi:                 Yeah. This is sort of the last thing on the docket in terms of things to come out. I did an episode. It’s really funny. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was sort of my last big job before the shut down and then during the shutdown, I did an episode of Social Distance, the Jenji Kohan series, it’s on Netflix. That I shot downstairs in my family’s living room. And, and it was funny to feel like going from the biggest possible thing you could imagine to me being the camera operator and the sound person and the lighting person and trying to act in this thing. And which is really, I mean, that’s so much of what I love about this is trying to have as wide a range of experiences as you possibly can.

Olli Haaskivi:                 But I think that that series is really beautiful. And I think the episode that I did, it’s anthology series. And so every episode is a whole different story. And the episode that I did, I got to be with Oscar Nuñez and Daphne Rubin-Vega and Guillermo Diaz and Miguel Sandoval and this like unbelievable cast. And yeah, if people are in the mood for something different, that’s there for them. I’m really, really proud that I got to be a part of that one.

Alex:                             Awesome. Olli, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. [crosstalk 00:19:25] Really appreciate it. I love the role, love the episode. For all of you listening out there, if you’d like to support us We do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. Come hang out. We would love to chat with you about Falcon and the Winter Soldier. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen. Listen at MarvelVision Pod on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for this podcast and more. Until next time, Marvel you later.

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