SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this post contains some light spoilers from Venom. Proceed at your own risk.
Venom opened on October 5th to… tepid reviews. But most reviewers can agree that Venom is way funnier than anyone expected, and it works best when it lets star Tom Hardy show off his comedic chops. Hardy clearly had a fantastic time playing both human journalist Eddie Brock and villainous alien Venom — and his infectious energy carried the movie. So just how did Venom become a comedy? We went to director Ruben Fleischer for answers, and here’s everything we learned.
Tom Hardy Has Great Chemistry With Himself
Look, Tom Hardy could have chemistry with anyone or anything, and he proves it in Venom. “Tom has amazing chemistry with himself,” Fleischer explained. “[Venom] is like a buddy comedy. It’s at its best when Venom and Eddie are just rolling around like Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte [in 48 Hrs], or Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin [in Midnight Run]. That was always the reference point.”
With such heavy buddy comedy influences, it’s no small wonder that the best part of the movie is Venom and Eddie’s bromance. Fleischer emphasized, “One of the things I’m most proud [of] about this movie is Tom’s performance. He is the movie. Tom Hardy is the movie, and he’s just so entertaining and so funny.”
Hardy Was So Committed He Jumped Into a Lobster Tank
We wondered if this humorous approach lent itself to improvisation from the actors, and Fleischer offered a hilarious story about Hardy’s ability to improvise. During the scene when Eddie interrupts his ex-girlfriend, Anne, and her new boyfriend having lunch, Hardy decided to up the comedic stakes. “We went to rehearse that scene to figure out the blocking and get a sense of the space prior to shooting. There was this giant lobster tank that the production designer had put there, [and] Tom said, ‘Well, I’m going in the tank.’ We’re all like,‘Well, no, you can’t go in the tank, it’s not designed for that.’ He’s like, ‘I’m going in the tank.’”
The crew immediately had to figure out a way to reinforce the tank to support Hardy’s weight, and sub out the real lobsters for fake ones. “There were no expectations [that] Tom Hardy would be in that lobster tank,” Fleischer laughed. “That’s the kind of inventiveness that he brought to the character and that he brought to the movie. Whether it was a line, a gesture, a behavior or even something as big as reinventing the end of that scene, he’s always elevating the material and figuring out how to make the movie the best it could be.”
Venom’s Always Been Funny
When asked about the surprisingly humorous nature of the movie, Fleischer replied, “I think that the Venom character from the comics is funny. He’s scary and he bites peoples’ heads off and everything, but on the page in the comics, he’s really funny.” Fleischer wanted to balance the character’s sinister appearance with his signature sarcastic attitude, and remain loyal to the beloved source material.
“I just wanted to do justice to the comics,” he said. “So while there was an expectation of a dark horror thriller whatever, at the end of the day, I just wanted to make a really entertaining movie for audiences.”
That “Turd in the Wind” Line Was Our First Comedic Clue
When asked about the infamous “turd in the wind” line featured in the trailer, Fleischer insisted that it was included as a comedic wink of sorts for the audience. Fleischer said, “The reason we put it out in marketing early was to let audiences know that this is a movie that you can laugh at. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
He continued, “Sure, it’s dark, sure it’s a thriller, sure it has moments of horror, but it’s also got laughs and is fun.” So whether you loved the humor or not, every funny moment in Venom is a conscious creative choice.
Venom is in theaters now.