Photograph: Courtesy of Sony Footage
The Venom movies are all about unlikely symbiosis: Between man and the gooey alien being that provides him superpowers however desires to eat brains, between romantic comedy and horror, and because it seems, between screenwriter and film star. The primary movie, starring Tom Hardy as each Eddie Brock and the growling voice of the symbiote Venom, was written by a coterie of writers, however a lot of its signature humor got here from the collaboration between him and screenwriter Kelly Marcel. She’s greatest identified for writing Saving Mr. Banks, although she’s had a profession engaged on quite a lot of studio tasks (together with, famously, a model of the Fifty Shades script), and has lengthy been buddies with Hardy; he acquired a tattoo of the word “skribe” in honor of her re-write work on his movie Bronson. For the sequel, Let There Be Carnage, Marcel will get sole credit score for the screenplay, and splits credit score for the story with Hardy himself, since they labored collectively by hours and hours of video calls hashing out their concepts for the venture. With the film out in theaters, Marcel spoke with Vulture over the telephone about her and Hardy’s distinctive collaboration, how the film features as an odd couple story, and that sequence within the credit.
I’ve learn that you simply began collaborating on the script for the sequel over FaceTime with Tom. What was that course of like?
We began speaking about it on the set of Venom, simply if there was a second film, what would that film seem like. As quickly as we knew we had been undoubtedly making Venom 2, we began working collectively on FaceTime. He was in London, I used to be in L.A., and we spent many hours discussing what the assorted storylines may very well be. We had been clearly bringing Carnage into the film, as a result of we had put Woody Harrelson into the coda on the finish of Venom. However we stored touchdown on The Odd Couple, as a result of we had landed on the concept Venom and Eddie had been residing collectively for awhile, however they’re very totally different folks. What does it seem like whenever you’re compelled to dwell with anyone who actually rents a room in your physique? That was what would make us giggle.
Tom has an amazingly creatively agile mind, so he can spitball concepts for hours. There was a variety of that, a variety of laughing. Then we whittled it right down to what we thought it was, after which we spent in-person time in London with our producer Hutch Parker, holed up in a resort room stress-testing the storylines we cherished most.
Talking of the Odd Couple dynamic, it feels just like the film has an nearly traditional Hollywood comedy of divorce construction, the place it’s about two people who find themselves collectively, break up after which get again collectively having discovered one thing. Was that an intentional reference?
It’s like The Seven Yr Itch. They notice they’re higher collectively. They drive one another loopy, as roommates typically do. I feel that in all probability occurs quite a bit within the pandemic as properly, so it’s fairly well timed. They’re locked inside they usually can’t exit. So I assume it does comply with that rom-com mannequin.
Whenever you’re spitballing, do you discuss when it comes to particular movies you wish to reference?
It runs the gamut of each movie ever made. We knew that the tone that had labored for the primary film was comedy combined with horror. We knew the Venom-Eddie relationship could be our mild level, as a result of clearly the darkish would come from Carnage and Cletus. So that you’re spitballing horror concepts on the identical time you’re speaking about rom-com concepts. So it’s very a lot on objective.
Cletus additionally has this relationship with Shriek, performed by Naomie Harris. You knew you had been introducing him on the finish of the primary film, however when did you resolve to have her character as properly?
Tom went by the canon of Marvel characters that we’re in a position to work with at Sony and located Shriek. She was the primary character we landed on earlier than we knew what the story was going to be, as a result of we thought she was a captivating feminine supervillain, and she or he is linked to Cletus within the comics. So we introduced her in first after which constructed the world round that love story. The film is a love story, in a variety of alternative ways, with Cletus and Shriek and likewise Eddie and Venom. You assume that Cletus and Shriek and Carnage are symbiotic as a result of they need the identical factor and Eddie and Venom will not be as a result of they need various things, however you be taught by the top of the film that symbiosis doesn’t look the best way you assume it ought to. Actually, Venom and Eddie work significantly better than that threesome.
How did you resolve on the foundations of how Eddie and Venom’s symbiosis would work? For example, on this film they’ve settled on Venom surviving by consuming rooster brains and chocolate.
Within the comics, brains and chocolate each comprise phenethylamine — which takes take after take to say — which Venom must dwell on. The chocolate and all of that was simply fabulous, as a result of it introduces Mrs. Chen [the shop owner played by Peggy Lu] and we cherished Mrs. Chen and needed to deliver her again. So it was simply very useful that we had her and had a provide of chocolate.
It’s nice when she will get to be Venom.
She was so excited! She was excited to return again for the second film after which came upon she will get to be Venom, too.
The flicks will often reference the dynamics of symbiote existence off in house. For example, within the first one, Venom says he’s a loser on his dwelling world and on this one, when he sees Carnage, he goes, “Oh no, it’s a red one” and references billions of light-years of data. How a lot do you become involved within the world-building and imagining what that existence is like?
We’ve got to stick to the foundations considerably, as a result of we all know that sure issues can hurt them, like hearth and sound. The billions of sunshine years of data can also be true. However in the best way we play Venom, we fastidiously stated that he’s principally a janitor on his planet. He doesn’t essentially have the billions of sunshine years of data. We will have him behave the best way he behaves, which is sort of a pouting toddler. We have a tendency to stay to the foundations of the comics as they’re laid out, however I don’t assume there’s anyplace within the comics the place they’re like, “Oh my god, a red one is the shit.” We simply thought it might be humorous if Venom was like, “Oh no, we have to go now.”
How do you strategy writing the dialogue between Eddie and Venom? I’ve heard there may be a variety of improvisation concerned.
It goes in levels. We hash out the concept collectively and description the movie. Then the dialogue is me. I take the script and go away and write all of the phrases. Then, as soon as the script’s written I come again to Tom and he’ll then carry out the scenes for me as Eddie and Venom and I can see what’s working.
Then, there’s additionally this different half, which is that after we are on set, we frequently change strains additionally. It really works fairly properly for us, as a result of Tom has to put on an earpiece to listen to Venom speaking to him in a scene. He is available in within the morning and information all of the Venom strains, they get Venom-ized, after which he will get an earpiece, goes onto the set, and reacts to the Venom he’s listening to in his head. What that earpiece additionally does is provides me and [director] Andy Serkis a microphone in our respective video villages. I can see if a line isn’t working, or I’ve considered one thing that may work higher, I can throw that line into Tom’s earpiece and he’ll react to it dwell in digital camera. He’s sensible. He’ll simply maintain going by the scene.
Had been there explicit strains or scenes that had been significantly influenced by that?
There’s in all probability strains in each single scene, to be trustworthy. When Eddie’s saying, “Come out, I’ll let you eat everyone,” the improvisation was him pointing on the priest and being like “except that guy.” As a result of now Reece Shearsmith is visibly within the room so that you’re like, We’ve acquired to check with the priest, which we didn’t do on the web page. Then, afterwards, the priest will get his head bitten off and there’s a line we threw in that was like, “He’s with God now,” although that acquired minimize. We throw strains in that may very well be enjoyable to maintain in however typically don’t make it.
When Eddie and Venom break up up, there’s a scene the place Venom goes off to a rave and he refers to it as his “coming out” occasion. He’s speaking about how he desires love and clearly it’s in San Francisco so it seems like there’s a queer component. However what had been you fascinated by approaching that scene?
All people wants love — all sentient creatures. For that specific second, it was borne out of needing to have the ability to get Venom into the world as himself with out the entire [place] going, “Oh God, it’s an alien!” We thought, pre-pandemic, that the film would in all probability come out at Halloween, so needed to do a carnival of the lifeless, a giant Halloween-y celebration so we might put Venom in that atmosphere and folks would assume it’s a dressing up. We needed him in a celebration so we might see him be free. Clearly, he takes it too far as a result of he will get onstage and addresses a complete viewers in regards to the merciless therapy of aliens. Look, there’s all the time strains which have secondary meanings in these motion pictures. We needed to handle some stuff in a enjoyable means in that scene. However finally, Venom is all love, so it’s simply true to his character that he would say that out loud. These phrases felt like the correct phrases for Venom at the moment.
Talking of his loving nature, there’s the strain of the truth that Venom nonetheless desires Eddie to get again with Michelle Williams’s Anne whereas Eddie desires to surrender on that relationship. How did you consider how that dynamic would play in relation to the opposite romantic arcs within the film?
We’ve all the time stated it’s really Venom that’s fully obsessive about Anne. Eddie is aware of it could possibly’t work. How would all of them be along with an alien in his physique? It’s to not say that he doesn’t love Anne, however he loves himself extra. He’s a egocentric dude who simply desires to write down his novel and win a prize. However Venom genuinely cares for Anne.
There was a second the place we thought of placing Venom and Anne again collectively, however she very clearly desires a safer life and stability. She has that in Dan [Reid Scott], who I actually do love. He’s so humorous. We love messing with Reid. So the real looking method to go was to have Anne go together with Dan however once more get dragged into the chaos of Eddie’s life. We knew we needed to see She-Venom once more, albeit briefly, and we knew it was essential to have some decision to Anne and Eddie’s relationship, significantly because it pertains to Venom.
There’s a line on the finish of the primary film the place Anne goes, “I’m sorry about Venom,” and I simply needed to ask the place that got here from within the writing course of, as a result of it’s such a humorous means of switching again right into a rom-com, “sorry about your ex” second.
We had been all the time strolling that unusual tonal line between rom-com and likewise out and out scary stuff. Actually folks didn’t know what to make of that. It was like, what are they doing? However I feel as a result of we’ve doubled down within the second film they’re like, “oh, they are trying to do this weird hybrid and trying to make a batshit movie.” Which is what we’re doing! That “I’m sorry about Venom” does take from the sweeter rom-com aspect of the coin. It’s like a cop buddies and the associate being killed within the line of obligation and the man being like “I’m sorry about Rick, man.” However she is aware of! Anne is aware of! She’s not silly.
Properly on this one, I really like when she leans in and is like, “Can I talk to Venom?” It’s like she’s on Contained in the Actors Studio.
Yeah, precisely, and when she’s speaking to Mrs. Chen within the store like, “You get out there.” She all the time is aware of he’s there!
Within the mid-credits sequence of the movie, Venom and Eddie seemingly get shifted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe by the multiverse for the following Spider-Man film. How a lot did it’s important to coordinate with the folks operating that entire enterprise in writing the scene?
I’m not allowed to go on the document as saying something in regards to the scene that occurs within the credit, however I’ll say that I did write it. As a result of it’s nonetheless a Venom and Eddie scene, and so sure that will get coordinated with all of the individuals who work on that scene. I’ll write it, all people will learn it, they’ll have their notes, and I’ll rewrite it. However the scene and the writing got here from the Venom-verse. It’s actually bonkers, making an attempt to do all that stuff and maintain it secret.