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She can travel the multiverse, films a mean TikTok, and loves Mean Girls.
At just 16 years old, actress Xochitl Gomez is already a renaissance woman. And while it's only been several months since the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the MCU's newest star already has grand plans for her character — America Chavez — whose ability to hop between realities signals the start of a major role in the newly-announced "Multiverse Saga” that will ultimately span Phases 4-6. In true Marvel Studios fashion, Kevin Feige and his trusted inner circle of producers and creatives have yet to inform Gomez on what comes next for America, who was last seen training at Kamar-Taj after the confrontation with Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch.
With Multiverse of Madness arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD this week, SYFY WIRE caught up with Gomez over Zoom to chat about the making of the Doctor Strange sequel, how to keep Marvel secrets, a potential run-in with Kang the Conquerer, and the life advice one can receive from Sir Patrick Stewart, and so much more!
Just to start off, tell me what's it like getting to play a brand-new character in the MCU?
I mean, it's a lot of responsibility, originating a superhero, especially one from a comic. And, of course, she's younger in the movie than any of the comic book versions of her. So, it was also balancing that out. But it's fun. It's crazy. It's insane.
How did you approach the character?
It's trying to add to the version of the character from the comics, where she's confident, she knows what her powers are, and she's in fully capable of controlling them. Whereas in the movie, she obviously has some trust issues and doesn't really know what to do with her powers. People are coming after her, so finding that was really fun with [director] Sam Raimi and [screenwriter] Michael Waldron.
Since you brought up Sam, what would you say was some of the best advice or direction you got from such a legendary director?
The main direction I got from him was always, "More fear! More terror! More tears!" He was just constantly wanting more of that. That's what's great about Sam, he's not afraid to go all the way and really tap into those dark places. The best thing about working with Sam is he's very collaborative and he's really open to everyone's ideas. I feel like most directors aren't really like that.
You also mentioned Michael Waldron. What were the discussions you had with him?
Michael Waldron was constantly working. One thing about him is that he is so sweet and so funny. He's a very funny guy. But that guy was constantly working on the script 24/7 and working for Marvel as a writer, that is really hard work. And he did it. He's [also] doing Loki Season 2 and Star Wars, so he's going places!
What was the experience of getting to work with the two Benedicts [Cumberbatch and Wong], Rachel McAdams, and Elizabeth Olsen?
It's [quite] a list, isn't it? Getting to work with them, especially when you're a huge fan of them... I was a huge fan of Rachel McAdams in a different way because of Mean Girls. But with Benedict, [you've got] Sherlock and Doctor Strange, it was just watching him come on set, especially in the whole get-up. It was just like, [excited noises] "This is real, this is happening, I'm good."
We all get star-struck every now and then. How do you reign in those geeky feelings on set?
It's kind of hard. It's a little tricky. But it really snapped in there when they call you, especially Sam. He would call me "America" all the time. That's how he would get my attention, he'd be like, "America!" and so, I'd be like, "Yeah, I'm part of this too." Just like [casting director] Sarah Finn said, "Welcome to the Marvel family. This is is how it's gonna go..." Giving that little pep talk to myself.
Oh, trust me — I tried. The second that trailer dropped, I was talking to Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong. I was like, "You guys really gotta tell me, is this going to happen or is that gonna happen? I really need to know. You gotta tell me what's gonna happen!" [And] he was like, "No." I was like, "Dude, we're a part of the same thing. You know I have signed an NDA. I'm not gonna say anything, please tell me!" He was not gonna tell me anything.
What was it like keeping things a secret from friends and family?
It was pretty easy. I'd be like, "Nah, that's not happening. Everything you think is happening... not happening." Just to mess with them. But it was fairly easy, just because it all felt so unreal and crazy. It was easier for me to just be like, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'
America's parents are somewhere out in the multiverse. Do you have any theories on where they might be?
I hope they're out there and that someday, she might find them. But obviously, we left off with America being at Kamar-Taj and learning the Mystic Arts. I think that's really cool because it's different than her own powers. I think having some discipline and structure in her life with Wong is exactly what she needs and a place to call home. And hopefully, she'll get to find her parents someday.
Now that she is learning to master her powers and learning the Mystic Arts, where would you like to see the character go from here?
They haven't asked me or called me or anything for what's gonna happen next with her. But I can't ignore the fact that America's powers are traveling the multiverse and the next chapter of the MCU has been called the "Multiverse Saga." I'm just hoping that America has a role to play in what's going to unfold in the next four years or so.
Moving forward, who would you love to see America team up with in the MCU?
That's a good question. I hope America gets to be in a show or a movie with Loki because that's obviously from the comics. But also Kang. He seems like he's gonna be a great villain, and I can't wait to see what's gonna happen with him and what he's going to unleash with the craziness. Hopefully, America will get to be in a Kang-related project. I think that would be really cool.
Speaking of Kang and the "Multiverse Saga," we just got a ton of news about the next few phases at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend...
I feel like no one's really talking about the fact that Kevin [Feige] was like, "And if you'll come into the future with me, let's start with Phase 6..." I was like, "What?! What is going on with that?!" I freaked out.
That was my next question, which was how you reacted to all the big announcements...
I freaked out, especially with the Black Panther [Wakanda Forever] trailer. I'm really excited for Black Panther.
Now that Multiverse of Madness is streaming and available on physical media like Blu-ray, have you gone back and watched the film? Is there anything that you didn't notice the first time around?
I have. First time around, second time around, third time around. I've watched that movie so much, I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. I actually did recently watch it not too long ago, just because I was like, "Why not?" I think when I was younger, I had a hard time watching myself act. And watching myself back, I'm like, "She did that...13-14-year-old Xochitl did that."
You're one of the few Marvel stars who regularly documents your experience and journey with the MCU on social media. What's that like, having to clear on-set videos with the studio before you post them?
It's actually really funny you say that because they gave me a phone, this Marvel phone, to document my stuff for their featurettes. I just kept all the footage and I waited until they released a few of those bits. I also checked in with Marvel security. I was like, "Okay, I'm going to release some of this stuff at least a week after the movie is released, so that people have enough time to watch it."
It was very strategic; everything that I posted for the first two videos was stuff that was already in the trailers, so that it wasn't really giving away too much. And then slowly, I gave more footage, but surprisingly, I haven't gotten a call from Marvel saying, "Whatever TikToks you're doing are showing too much." They haven't said anything, so I'm good. I actually found out that I an example for Marvel for them to show other people who are starting in [the franchise] and have to do more stuff on social media. I'm an example. I'm like, "Wow, look at that. I'm an example, you guys."
There are a lot of stunts in Multiverse of Madness. Which one was your favorite to film and why?
It's [the one in] New York, where I'm running down the street and there's like over 50 special effects going off. There are walls coming down and a fire hydrant going off, cars literally on fire, and I'm running down the street. There was this guy on a bike who had a camera strapped onto him on the back. It was this crazy shot with all of that going on in the background and me running. It was insane because it was one of those shots that you could only get once and we got it and it was really just incredible seeing the reactions of all the special effects and VFX guys going, "We did it! Oh my God! We got it all it all! It all worked!" It really showed how Marvel's a team and it takes a lot of people to get it all done.
Last question: did you get to meet any members of the Illuminati?
I got to meet all of them. I got to meet John [Krasinski] and Haley Atwell, and then also Sir Patrick Stewart. I got to have a full conversation with him and he gave me great advice. He told me to pay it forward and just be really welcoming, which is exactly what he was doing. He was telling me about his journey through acting, and he's just such a beautiful soul and there's this caring-ness this to him that just makes you feel like you're being hugged when he speaks to you. You just feel like everything he says is very important, which it is. Everything he said was very important. I felt worthy.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+. The film is also available in DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD formats with a maddening amount of bonus features — including a gag reel and director's commentary. Click here for more details.
Looking for more horror films that will make your spine tingle and blood curdle? You can currently catch Keith Thomas's Stephen King adaptation Firestarter on Peacock, Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone on VOD, and Jordan Peele's NOPE on the big screen.