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Why Hugo Weaving Didn't Return As Red Skull For Infinity War

Hugo Weaving isn't one to be pushed around — even by Mighty Marvel.

The actor recently revealed that he passed on the opportunity to reprise the role of Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame when contract negotiations with Marvel Studios hit a serious snag. Weaving spoke about the situation during an interview with TimeOut to promote his appearance in The Visit, a stage production being mounted at London's famed National Theatre.

The Skull's reappearance as keeper of the Soul Stone on the planet Vormir was one of the more unexpected and crowd-pleasing moments in Infinity War, but to this day, there are probably a number of fans who don't realize that it wasn't Weaving under the makeup. Rather, it was Ross Marquand (The Walking Dead), who so thoroughly nailed Weaving's take on the character that audiences could be forgiven for failing to spot the substitution.

Surprisingly, Weaving indicated to TimeOut that, in contrast to remarks he made in 2012 indicating that playing the Skull was "not something [he] would want to do again," he actually enjoyed the chance to indulge his villainous impulses in the role, and would have been down to return if only Marvel had played ball.

"I loved playing that character Red Skull — it was a lot of fun," the actor said. "We were all obliged to sign up for three pictures: I was thinking [Red Skull] probably wouldn't come back in [another Captain America movie], but he may well come back as a villain in [an Avengers film]." This turned out to be reasonably accurate, although the Skull was more of a supporting character than a villain in Infinity War and Endgame — so, what went wrong?

Hugo Weaving ran into sticky negotiations with Marvel

Weaving says that while he was indeed approached to reprise the role, Marvel basically failed to abide by the terms of the agreement that was forged when he signed on for Captain America: The First Avenger

"They'd pushed back on the contracts that we agreed on, and so the money they offered me [to return] was much less than I got for the very first one, and this was for two films," the actor explained. "And the promise when we first signed the contracts was that the money would grow each time. They said, 'It's just a voice job, it's not a big deal.' I actually found negotiating with them through my agent impossible. And I didn't really wanna do it that much. But I would have done it."

Well, that's certainly a bummer to know — but, like we previously opined, Marquand stepped in and absolutely crushed the role in both movies. In fact, even though it's tough to envision a circumstance in which the HYDRA mastermind-turned-Infinity Stone guardian would make a return to the MCU, Marquand has enthusiastically stated that he would love to come back for another go-round as the Skull.

Speaking with ComicBook, the actor said, "[Red Skull was] one of the characters that I drew the most as a kid. I would draw Sabretooth, I would draw Omega Red — a lot of Omega Red, surprisingly — Mephisto, and [Wolverine], obviously. But Red Skull was probably one of the first characters that I learned to draw, so [portraying him was] like the craziest, most amazing dream."

Will Hugo Weaving return as Agent Smith in Matrix 4?

We have the feeling you're now asking a couple of questions. "Wait a minute, Looper," you're asking, "Aren't they making another Matrix movie? Will we see Weaving in his signature role of Agent Smith one more time?" Yes, they are, and no, we won't. Hey, you've got questions, and we've got answers, even if they're not exactly the ones you want. Later in his TimeOut interview, Weaving explained that he had indeed been offered the role of Smith in director Lana Wachowski's upcoming, as-yet untitled Matrix 4 — but unfortunately, the stars had stubbornly refused to align.

[Matrix 4] is a very different story," Weaving said. "It's unfortunate, but actually I had this offer [for The Visit] and then the offer came [for] The Matrix, so I knew it was happening, but I didn't have dates. I thought [I] could do both, and it took eight weeks to work out that the dates would work — I held off on accepting [his role in The Visit for that period]. I was in touch with Lana Wachowski, but in the end she decided that the dates weren't going to work. So we'd sorted the dates, and then she sort of changed her mind. They're pushing on ahead without me."

That is a real bummer, as it either means that Matrix 4 will be without Agent Smith altogether, or will have to fill the role with someone other than Weaving, whose icy, near-mechanical delivery helped define the character. We can't help but wonder if Wachowski has given Marquand a call; he does a pretty damn good Hugo Weaving impression.