- Harbour said he came up with the idea of having the song “American Pie” in “Black Widow.”
- The song became the Red Guardian’s connection to Yelena Belova.
- Warning: Major spoilers below for “Black Widow.”
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Though movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are constructed so elements intersect with both past and future projects, “Black Widow” star David Harbour says there were times on this movie when a spark of inspiration took the story to unplanned places.
One instance is the bedroom scene between Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov character (also known as Red Guardian) and Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova that happens over an hour into the latest Marvel movie.
Shostakov was a father figure to both Belova and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) when they were kids and living in America with Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) as Soviet spies. Reconnected decades later with Belova and Romanoff after they spring him from prison, Shostakov goes back into the fatherly role. But clearly, Belova has resentment toward Shostakov.
As Belova sits alone in Vostokoff’s bedroom, Shostakov enters and tries to connect with her. Then she lets him have it. She tells him that though she idolized him as a child, she’s now disgusted to learn that he only thought of her as a burden when they all acted like a real family back in America.
However, Shostakov finally gets through to her when he begins to sing the lyrics to the classic Don McLean song, “American Pie.” It’s the music Belova wants played when she, as a young child, and her family flee America at the start of the movie.
But Harbour told Insider that originally, the scene was different – and the movie didn’t feature the McLean song at all.
The “Stranger Things” star said while the cast and director Cate Shortland were discussing the character’s family dynamic during preproduction, the bedroom scene came up.”My character is fumbling trying to be a father and in the end he fails. She tells him to get out. In the script, he says something and leaves,” Harbour recalled. “I felt, there’s gotta be something a little more profound.”
That’s when Harbour came up with an idea.
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if back in America when [Belova] 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’?” Harbour said. “So from then on she tells daddy to put in the tape.”
Bringing it forward to the bedroom scene, Harbour felt that would be a better ending for the scene: Red Guardian finally connecting with Belova through that old song.
“He’s a failure as a father, what can he do at the end of this scene? This narcissist who also has a big heart,” Harbour said. “And so he brings up the song, basically as him saying, ‘I tried.'”
The script was rewritten so “American Pie” would be what connects Belova and Shostakov, and ultimately, that bedroom scene is one of the most heartfelt moments of the movie.
“Black Widow” is currently in theaters and available on Disney+.