In the second act of Marvel’s most recent movie, Thor: Love and Thunder, the titular Asgardian rallied his friends and traveled to a place in the cosmos called Omnipotence City. This grand palace served as a meeting area for the universe’s gods and deities and was presided over by the Greek God of Thunder, Zeus, portrayed by Russel Crowe.
Zeus was content to let Gorr the God Butcher carry on with his reign of terror uninterrupted, as he slaughtered gods left and right. Thor attempted to appeal to Zeus‘ decency, but the latter didn’t want to cause a full-blown panic and instead focused on continuing to live in the lap of luxury.
In the film, Zeus (and his son Hercules) spoke in distinct Greek accents, but according to the films writer and director Taika Waititi, this was not initially the case.
Zeus Almost Sounded British
Speaking to BBC Radio 1, Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi had the following exchange with the host regarding Russel Crowe’s performance as Zeus. They discussed how the character was originally developed as having a British accent before landing on the Greek one that’s present in the finished film:
Plumb: “How do you direct [Russell Crowe]?”
Waititi: “When you talk about ‘The’ Russell Crowe as opposed to ‘A’ Russell Crowe?
Plumb: “That’s right. Not just a crow called Russell.”
Waititi: “Not just your run-of-the-mill Russell Crowe. I got ‘the’ Russell Crowe to come and do that. Here’s the thing, it helped that I was friends with him before that. So, you know, I think the order of doing things with Russell is befriend him, then ask him to wear a mini skirt… and a cuirass with abs on it. In terms of the accent, ’Im glad you brought that up. It’s a Greek accent. We actually did record him doing the [Received Pronunciation] version as well.”
Waititi: “Yes, which is like a thing that, you know, kind of… ‘Oh, you’ve got to make them sound more British,’ like all the Greek gods in Clash of the Titans… And I’m like, yeah, but… I feel like the Greek accent is better and haven’t the British taken enough from the Greeks? You want to… now take away their accent? And not give it back?”
Previously, Waititi interviewed with Insider and responded to an assumption that Crowe showed up on set to shoot his scenes, using the Greek accent right off the bat. The director revealed that two versions of all Crowe’s scenes were shot: one with the actor using a British accent, and another sounding Greek:
“No. You would love to think that, I would love to think that. We actually talked at length about the accent. We wondered if someone did a Greek accent of a Greek god, is it going to be a farce? Will it be too silly? And Russell was very much wanting it to be Greek. But I wasn’t sure, so we ended up doing two versions of every take with Russell. One in a Greek accent and then another in a British accent. Because I felt people would think Zeus would sound British like Laurence Olivier in “Clash of the Titans.”
Waititi eventually came to the conclusion of having Russel Crowe use the Greek accent after considering multiple factors, noting that it was something “test audiences loved:”
“But then I realized in post that it’s actually more offensive to the Greeks to have Zeus sound like he’s British. And test audiences loved the Greek accent. I’m really happy with it. But, yeah, he had to do every take once in the Greek accent and once with a British accent because I couldn’t make up my mind. But Russell was right all along.“
A Fresh Spin on Zeus
The unmistakably Greek way of speaking used by Crowe as Zeus in Love and Thunder helped to bring some uniqueness to the character. Thor and the rest of the Asgardians all have mostly regal sounding British accents, so to have Crowe mix things up proved to be an interesting, fresh take.
Hopefully, Zeus will be back in a future MCU project. After all, he’s sworn revenge on Thor and sent his son Hercules (played by Ted Lasso‘s own Brett Goldstein) after him. This was probably intended as setup for a potential Thor 5, but Hercules’ clash with Thor could possibly be seen in another project.
Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder is now available for streaming exclusively on Disney+.