Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War.
The Red Skull surprisingly appeared in Avengers: Infinity War on Thanos' path to the Soul Stone, but it wasn't Captain America: The First Avenger's Hugo Weaving in that role -instead it was The Walking Dead actor (and noted impressionist) Ross Marquand. And now with the movie in theaters and his secret role revealed, he is revealing how it came to be - and what the casting could someday be.
"The biggest thing that Marvel wanted to do was come as close to the iconic role that Hugo Weaving portrayed seven years ago and pay homage to it while also giving it a new flavor," Marquand told Entertainment Weekly Radio. "Once Red Skull touched the Tesseract, he goes into this intergalactic astral plane for 70 years. And as the Russo brothers pointed out to me - because I was trying to do a straight voice match to Hugo’s performance - they said,'You know, he’s been by himself essentially in this intergalactic prison of his own making for 70 years. He’s going to sound a little different. We want him to have this kind of ethereal almost ghost-like quality to his voice, so please try that.'
"I think the reference they might have given is Yoda-esque. His ambition has brought him this great pain, but also this great wisdom, and I think that’s what I tried to imbue that performance with."
Marquand also gave some insight to Red Skull's thinking in Avengers: Infinity War - or at least, what he thought it was.
"I think the main thing I wanted to get across is that this Red Skull is quite remorseful. He does feel a certain degree of shame and loss, and he’s conquered by his own ambition, really," said Marquand. "It’s very much like Icarus; he flew way too high - literally because he touched the Tesseract and got launched into space - and he got way too ambitious and lost sight of his humanity, and now he feels genuinely remorseful about that. And there is kind of a forlorn energy to him. It was coming across in the dialogue, and I just really wanted to honor that.
Marquant said he auditioned for the role while filming the eighth season of The Walking Dead, studying Weaving's original portrayal of Red Skull, as well as his role in The Matrix.
"I had flown back to L.A., and then almost as soon as I got off the plane, my manager called and said, 'You got the part! You got to get back on a plane to Atlanta.' And I was like, 'Oh, hilarious. I just left there,'" said Marquand. "So I got right back on a flight, and it was just a day of shooting."
Could Marquand reprise the Red Skull role in future Marvel films? The actor didn't say if he'd signed a multi-picture deal as many of Marvel Studios' major actors do, but said he would like ti.
"I can’t speak to that, and I think that I would obviously love to play that role again anytime," said the actor. "It’s such a rich character, especially now that he’s gone to this intergalactic hellscape and he’s found his own prison there - not to quote Creed. That was a Creed song, right?"
(Yes, yes it is.)
"But he’s a changed man, and I don’t even know if he is a man anymore. He’s almost like this ghostlike deity, and he’s at the service of the Soul Stone now, and his sole purpose is to essentially guide people to this, but you have to wonder: Is there still a part of him that does have ambition? I don’t know. It would be really cool to see where that character goes. But that’s really a question for all the folks at Marvel and the Russo brothers and the writers. I certainly couldn’t speak to that."