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Executive Producer Grant Curtis Shines Light On Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac, And Sam Raimi's Influence - Exclusive Interview

While the Marvel Studios miniseries "Moon Knight" is executive producer Grant Curtis' first big dive into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his association with the comic book movie empire extends back nearly 25 years — when the filmmaker was associated with an iconic director who helped usher Marvel into a new cinematic era. Starting off as director Sam Raimi's assistant in the late 1990s, Curtis quickly rose in the auteur's ranks, co-producing Raimi's Marvel blockbuster "Spider-Man" in 2002 and "Spider-Man 2" in 2004, before becoming a full-fledged producer on "Spider-Man 3" in 2007. After that, Curtis also produced the "Evil Dead" filmmaker's return to horror "Drag Me to Hell" in 2009, as well as "The Wizard of Oz" prequel "Oz the Great and Powerful" in 2013, which marked Raimi's most recent turn as a film director.

After being involved in a number of projects in the interim, Curtis is one of the major creative collaborators in the MCU on "Moon Knight," which debuts on Disney+ March 30. In the series, Oscar Isaac stars as former mercenary Marc Spector, who, because of his trials with dissociative personality disorder, also lives his life as Steven Grant, a nebbish London museum gift shop employee with an expertise in Egyptian history. His knowledge all makes sense, as Spector-Grant's alter-ego is the vengeful superhero Moon Knight, who serves as a conduit to the Egyptian moon Khonshu (voice of F. Murray Abraham) and the target of a dangerous cult leader, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke).

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Curtis discusses his past work with Raimi, as well as his thoughts working alongside the likes of Isaac and Marvel President Kevin Feige. In addition, Curtis reveals his thoughts on the appearance of some key characters from his and Raimi's "Spider-Man" movies in the blockbuster "Spider-Man: No Way Home," as well as a prophetic sign years ago that his mentor Raimi would eventually become a part of the MCU.

Spinning a web with Raimi

You started working as Sam Raimi's assistant back in the late 1990s before becoming a producer of Sam's "Spider-Man films." How instrumental would you consider Sam to be to the success of your career?

I don't have a career without Sam. I worked my butt off once I got my foot in the door, but Sam was amazing. Sam's amazing to this day. He let me do whatever I wanted to as long as I proved myself when I was his assistant, and he kept opening doors for me that are continuing to be open to this day. I can't say enough about what I think about that man as a director, as a storyteller, as a producer, but more importantly as a human being. He's amazing.

Word surfaced last week that Sam said he would direct a "Batman" movie in a heartbeat if he had the chance. Ironically, a lot of people have said "Moon Knight" is akin to Batman, if Batman had dissociative identity disorder. Do you recall any desires that Sam may have had to direct a "Moon Night" film way back then, when you were producing his "Spider-Man" films?

When I was in Sam's world, it was always "Spider-Man." As we were actually packing up our offices at Sony after the "Spider-Man" series was done, I was packing up some boxes and I saw some "Dr. Strange" comics — and that's when I first realized that he was also a massive "Dr. Strange" fan. Those are the two comic books that I know from my history with Sam that he leans into more than anything, but the guy is so talented, he can do anything he wants to.

Curtis says Oscar Isaac's full body of work makes him the perfect Moon Knight

Oscar Isaac is incredible in this series. It involves a complexity of emotions. Was there any particular performance in Oscar's resume in the past that made you say he is Marc Spector and he is Steven Grant? Is there anything that you can recall when it was at the very beginning of the process?

I think it's really the collective of all of his performances, because you realize as you know from the character Moon Knight, and Marc Spector-Steven Grant, you need an actor who can play multiple characters and is absolutely comfortable going from one to the other at the drop of a hat. That's what Oscar Isaac is as an actor. He's a painter at the highest level. There wasn't one performance in his filmography that we leaned to, it was, "Look at the embarrassment of riches that this guy's putting on the screen, we need to be part of his world." [We were] absolutely lucky and blessed that he's signed on and he is Marc Spector, he is Steven Grant, and the world is going to be mesmerized on March 30th by what he's bringing to the screen.

Giving Moon Knight the proper amount of time to shine

As much as you thought that you knew of Oscar Isaac, was there anything that surprised you that you hadn't seen before when this process came together?

No, and this is not a commentary on Oscar as a performer because I obviously didn't know him before this, but when I saw the commitment that this guy brings to the set day in and day out ... and you're playing multiple aspects of that character — it's 24/7 and you're on set every day — when I saw that commitment, it was intoxicating, it was invigorating to the whole cast and crew, and it was what allowed our shoot to be so successful is what he brought to the screen every day.

You have to be really thankful for the fact that Disney+ is around giving you the opportunity to tell this broad story, even though Marvel would've been great doing a "Moon Knight" movie. But you have to feel like if there was ever a right time for a "Moon Knight" series, this had to be it because it really does need the time for that story to unfold, doesn't it?

Absolutely. It's really a testament to Kevin Feige, our leader, but also the writers of those decades of "Moon Knight" stories because you do realize, yes, Kevin and Marvel would've knocked a "Moon Knight" movie out of the park, and maybe that's in the future, who knows? It's a great question for Kevin, but what Disney+ brought to the table and this being a series is a much broader canvas that the complexity of the "Moon Knight" story demanded and needed, and so that was a luxury of the was built into this incredible platform we've been handed.

Curtis says Isaac was crucial in dressing Moon Knight for success

I talked with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead about how the costuming process is long and very involved, but there is a point where Oscar steps on the set with that — which I think is one of the coolest costumes ever — the ceremonial Moon Knight costume. Can you recall what your feelings, your emotions were when you saw him on set with that costume for the first time?

I'll tell you this. When we were in the development stage, we had a version of the costume that Oscar said, "I love that, but I think we can do better." We went back to the drawing board with the Moon Knight costume, which is what you see on the screen ... When I talk about commitment in Oscar, he keeps turning the screws and saying, "How can we do better, how can we be more complex, how can we be more intriguing all the way down to the costume?" Him asking those questions early on is what the costume was emerged into the story.

When he walked onto the set in that costume, I got to be honest as a fanboy of "Moon Knight," it sent chills down my spine, because even when you see him as Marc Spector in his apartment or on the streets of London, it's like, "Okay, that's the character," but it's not until he climbs into the suit it's like, "Oh my gosh, we have a superhero." That's what it was like that first day.

Bringing the original Spider-Man trilogy home in the MCU

I need to ask, what were your emotions when you saw the characters from yours and Sam's "Spider-Man" movies being included in "Spider-Man: No Way Home"? It had to have been a very emotional moment for you.

Totally emotional. It's a little cliché, but my jaw dropped. Because I work at Marvel, there were certain aspects I knew were coming and as a fan, there was a lot of things I did not know. My jaw dropped. They did such an amazing job. I was a fan and I'll be a fan of "Spider-Man" until the end of time. It's an incredible franchise and they did an amazing job.

Also starring May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly, who has deep ties to Spector's past, with episodes directed by Mohamed Diab, as well as Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, "Moon Knight" debuts on Disney+ Wednesday, March 30. New episodes will premiere every Wednesday through May 4.

This interview was edited for clarity.