There’s always something magical about watching a new television show, but WandaVision takes that to a new level! WandaVision is the first Marvel Studios original series to premiere on Disney+, and it’s been a surprising new take on what fans have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first three episodes have been structured like classic TV sitcoms from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s that appear to star Avengers Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they navigate life in a small town called Westview. The show balances classic sitcom comedy with superpowers in equal measure, while also frequently reminding viewers that things may not always be as they seem.
We’re among the fans who count down to new episodes of WandaVision every Friday, so getting a chance to interview TV sitcom royalty Debra Jo Rupp was a dream come true! On WandaVision, she charmed us as Mrs. Hart, wife of Vision’s boss Mr. Hart; but before this she’s had a long career on the silver screen, playing iconic roles on sitcoms like That ‘70s Show, Friends, and more! Truly a perfect fit to tie the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the classic TV landscape.
I'm going to start off with a super important question for you, right off the bat. Do you have a favorite Marvel Super Hero?
Oh, I don't know. I kind of like Thor. [Rupp laughs and then reconsiders.] No, I'm going to remain loyal. I think I'm going to go with Vision.
So, obviously you are a sitcom expert. I would love to know, what were some of your favorite homages to the medium in WandaVision?
I was very surprised because I know that Paul Bettany and Lizzie [Olsen] — I know that they've had very little experience, if any, with a sitcom. I can't remember if they had any. But I think kind of like the pratfalls — and Paul was so good at it, you know, like the fake tripping and Lizzie with the falling backwards. They just were so good at it, never having done any of it before. It was just a pleasure to watch and see.
I was going to ask, since this is kind of your arena, did you give them any pointers or have any conversations about that while you were on set?
You know, I really didn't have to. I mean, maybe the director, Matt Shakman [did]. I think the only thing that was kind of worrisome for them was their nerves because [the first episode] was [filmed before] a live audience and they're used to working in a much closer space with a camera. And then now, all of a sudden, to have this live audience. I think that's what they were most nervous about. But, you know, once you get that first laugh you can do anything.
Do you feel like the element of having that studio audience influences your performance, or that of any of the other actors?
Oh, always. It always does. It's the most fun part of the job because you get energy from the audience. The more they laugh, the more it keeps you up. So, it always affects [how you perform].
Was there a specific moment, when you were shooting the first episode of WandaVision, where something on the page just completely came off differently when the audience got added in?
Not that it was different, but the reaction to the [Sokovian] greeting — the reaction was enormous. And I don't think any of us were prepared for that.
That moment was hilarious. Another one of my favorite scenes from the first episode was the scene where Vision is distracting the Hart family from Wanda doing all of her magic in the kitchen, during which Vision sings “Yakety Yak.” What was it like filming that scene?
We had a week's rehearsal, so we had time to time things out. And then we shot in sections so that the “Yakety Yak” thing, and the dancing, I think they shot that with the blinds shut, and then went back and picked it up later. So, it wasn't like you were competing with something else happening. It was more contained. It came together so well. Because I don't know the music. I don't know the special effects. So when I watched it, I was like ooh, ooh! [Rupp giggles excitedly.]
Do you have any other fun moments, or favorite moments, from the set, when you were filming?
It was just a very comfortable set. It was very nice. And Paul [Bettany] makes me laugh really hard. And Kathryn [Hahn] is just, you know, down to earth and really funny. Everybody's so talented and everybody's just nice.
The fan reception for this show has been really amazing so far and I'd love to leave the fans with something to look forward to. So, in three words, how would you describe the rest of this season of WandaVision?
Watch very closely.
A great three words, indeed! Our eyes will certainly be glued to the screen every Friday when new episodes of WandaVision premiere on Disney+!