"Avengers: Infinity War," in wide release Friday, was filmed largely in Atlanta. While the Marvel stars were in town, they put their talents to use in a very special performance to raise $500,000 for a very worthy cause: hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
Proceeds from the November event at the Fox Theatre benefited the Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund at the Center for Popular Democracy.
Scarlett Johansson came up with the idea to pull together a benefit event. Her colleagues Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. eagerly joined the effort. Atlanta’s Tony-winning director Kenny Leon served as director.
“Thank you for letting me call Atlanta home,” Leon said at the event, before turning the microphone over to Johansson.
“I knew I could count on you, Atlanta,” she said. “We love to shoot here. It’s a very inspiring city, an incredibly inspiring community.”
Leon joked early on that the audience should expect a live reading – not a full theatrical performance – saying “We had one rehearsal!”
Johansson was determined to take action after seeing the harrowing reports out of Puerto Rico, where electricity has yet to be restored on much of the island and where access to clean drinking water remains a challenge for many. When she called Leon, they kicked around some ideas before deciding a live reading of Thornton Wilder’s classic 1930s play “Our Town” was the perfect fit.
“‘Our Town’ is this kind of warrior cry to remind us of the fragility of life,” she said. “It reminds us to be present and live moment by moment. It’s really about people and connectivity.”
She was thrilled to report how successful the evening had been.
“Thank you for reaching into your wallets, into your hearts,” Johansson said.
Leon noted that none of the A-listers taking the stage took a paycheck.
“As artists we’re always looking in the mirror. It’s incumbent upon us to make our world the way we want to make it,” he said. “Most artists I work with are in it for a deeper reason. They want to make a difference in the world.”