Rachel Weisz has said she was "quite surprised" but "really chuffed" to be asked to star in a Marvel film.

The actress, 51, who became a household name after starring opposite Brendan Fraser in blockbuster The Mummy, won an Oscar for her role in The Constant Gardener and has starred in a string of acclaimed films, including The Favourite, The Lobster and About A Boy.

She stars opposite Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and David Harbour in Black Widow, the long-awaited standalone film for Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and the first Marvel film to be directed by a solo woman, Cate Shortland.

Weisz said: "Cate was already attached as the director, and she’s actually someone I wanted to work with for a very long time.

"I’m a proper fan of her film work and Scarlett brilliantly asked her to do the Black Widow film, and then I read the script and thought the role was a lot of fun.

"I was quite surprised to be invited into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but very, very pleased, and really chuffed."

She added: "I actually didn’t know until this second that it was the first time [a solo woman has directed a Marvel film].

"About bloody time is what I say! Fantastic!

"Cate is so incredibly talented, and she has such heart and soul and humour. And then she directs action scenes and for me, some of the most iconic action scenes I’ve ever seen are between Scarlett and Florence Pugh, fighting to the death.

"It just felt real. It really felt like they were going to kill each other. And it was incredibly exciting."

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The film was initially due to come out in May 2020 but was delayed because of the pandemic and will now have a dual release in cinemas and on streaming service Disney+, for an additional fee.

Weisz said: "It’s a proper, big action movie with a lot of heart and soul and laughs, and I’m so glad we’ve waited for cinemas to be open, because you do need to see it with a big crowd, with some popcorn, in a dark room.

"I think it will be really emotional for people to be able to get together and experience a story like that on the big screen."

Black Widow is out now in Irish cinemas and will be available on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9.

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Source: Press Association