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The grand finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, saw the return of a lot of characters that we never expected to see again. However, the most shocking cameo of them all might have been Red Skull. Captain America's original nemesis was discovered to be the keeper of the Soul Stone in Avengers: Infinity War, but something about him was different.
While Hugo Weaving had played Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, it was another actor taking it on for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Many wondered why Red Skull had gone through this change, and it was eventually confirmed that Weaving was asked to reprise the role, but that he turned it down. Now, the actor has spoken out as to why.
Apparently, while Hugo Weaving claims he loved playing Red Skull and would have happily done it again, he found working with Marvel Studios on the contracts to get it done "impossible." It seems that Hugo Weaving's original Marvel contract guaranteed him a certain amount of money for return appearances, but Marvel wanted to renegotiate the deal, and the two sides just never came to agreement. As Weaving told Yahoo...
Oh, yeah. I loved playing that character Red Skull – it was a lot of fun. We were all obliged to sign up for three pictures: I was thinking [Red Skull] probably wouldn’t come back in Captain America but he may well come back as a villain in The Avengers. By then, they’d pushed back on the contracts that we agreed on and so the money they offered me for The Avengers was much less than I got for the very first one, and this was for two films. And the promise when we first signed the contracts was that the money would grow each time. They said: ‘It’s just a voice job, it’s not a big deal.’ I actually found negotiating with them through my agent impossible. And I didn’t really wanna do it that much. But I would have done it.
As is the case with many Marvel Studios contracts, Hugo Weaving originally signed a deal for three appearances, but this was done without any specific plan of how Red Skull might appear after Captain America: The First Avenger. The idea to bring the character back didn't happen for several years. When it did, Red Skull wasn't being brought back to be a major villain anymore, but simply a supporting character.
It seems that, since the plan was for a smaller role, one that would have only been voice over, Marvel Studios didn't want to pay the agreed upon amount, which would have seen Weaving paid more for his Avengers: Infinity War appearance than he was for Captain America: The First Avenger.
It's easy to see how this deal was having trouble from the start. While it's understandable to see Marvel wanting to change this payout, especially considering how expensive these two Avengers films were going to be, If Hugo Weaving had signed a deal, of course he's not going to want to take less.
If the two sides had been able to come to agreement, Weaving would have done the job, but it seems he wasn't that excited about it, and so probably wasn't as willing to move his side of the negotiation very far.
One way or another, money is often the reason these things don't come together. In this case, it's too bad that happened, it would have been great to see, or in this case, hear, Weaving's Red Skull back in the MCU.