Black Widow star David Harbour reveals a key element of Red Guardian’s poignant reunion with Yelena Belova in the movie was improvised.
Black Widow star David Harbour improvised a key element of Red Guardian’s poignant reunion with Yelena Belova in the film.
Harbour talked to Insider about the way his character evolved throughout the movie’s development, stating, “There was a lot on the page but there was also a lot of evolution.” He went on to praise Black Widow director Cate Shortland for giving the cast “real freedom” to contribute to the story, revealing the song “American Pie” was not in the script, along with “little things like [Red Guardian] having a fake earpiece at one point [during the film’s third act].”
Expanding on that, Harbour said the moment where Red Guardian tries to support Yelena by following her into the bedroom at Melina Vostokoff’s farm originally played out differently. “She tells him to get out. In the script, he says something and leaves,” Harbour explained. “I felt there’s gotta be something a little more profound and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if back in America when she was little and was terrified having been taken from her family the Red Guardian would put her in the car and drive around and play ‘American Pie’? So from then on, she tells daddy to put in the tape.'”
Black Widow establishes this during its prologue set in 1995, wherein Red Guardian and Melina flee Ohio with Yelena and Natasha Romanoff after being exposed as undercover Russian agents. During their getaway, Red Guardian plays “American Pie” for Yelena — who’s too young to understand they’re pretending to be a regular family — to keep her calm. Years later, while attempting to comfort Yelena at Melina’s farm, he sings the song, allowing the pair to reconnect, if only for a moment.
“So for this bedroom scene, I’m thinking, he’s a failure as a father what can he do at the end of this scene?” Harbour explained.” This narcissist who also has a big heart. And so he brings up the song, basically as him saying, ‘I tried.'”
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, O-T Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. The film is in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access now.
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