MCM London Comic Con – Interview: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Before the start of Comic Con, the organisers sent the press a link to a registration page for talent interviews. A lot of the actors and personalities had “TBC” on their name so I couldn’t pick them and as for the others, I based my decision on whether I had something I wanted to ask them. Because of that, I decided against interviewing Willa Holland and Katrina Law from Arrow. Same with John Noble, as much a fan as I am of him, I don’t watch Elementary, where he portrays Sherlock Holmes’ dad. I quite dislike the show, in fact. My questions for him would be Fringe related or some of his earlier work, but I felt it would be discourteous to join that interview group when I didn’t know anything about his current work.

The ones I did pick, as I mentioned yesterday, were for the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sleepy Hollow.

For Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we had four actors present at comic con:

  • Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons)
  • Nick Blood (Lance Hunter)
  • Luke Mitchell (Lincoln Campbell)
  • Lotte Verbeek (Mrs. Jarvis in Agent Carter)

When we press people first grouped up outside the door to the pressroom—which took me the better part of two hours to find—we all had the idea or delusion that the interviews would be one-on-one with the cast, or one-on-four as the case might have been. But the organisers then dashed our hopes and told us that because there were so many of us, the only option they had was to put us all in the room with them, like a press conference, and ask our questions for as long as they could stay there. They had busy schedules, including signing and taking photographs with fans. Elizabeth Henstridge, in fact, had been taking photos downstairs with the queueing fans before the interview. Sadly, this meant that most wouldn’t ask because others would ask the same things. This is what happened to me. Also, I’ll admit the press conference style threw me off my game. First time and everything.

Because of these responsibilities—and the fact most of them didn’t even have the time for a proper lunch—they got to the room slightly later than they should’ve, something we all joked about amongst ourselves. Before they brought the actors in and we started the press conference, the Comic Con staff told us that we’d have twenty minutes and that the moment one of them  put their hands up forming a cross, it meant the interview was done—or that someone had a real injury in a wrestling match nearby, who knows.

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From left to right: Lotte Verbeek, Elizabeth Henstridge, Nick Blood and Luke Mitchell

Below you’ll find a transcription of the interview in broad strokes, the meaning if not the actual words spoken by the cast and press. I recorded about half of it before my mobile’s memory ran out, but the footage is so shaky I won’t make you watch it. For the next comic con I’ll have the proper equipment to record the interviews we do.

Q: What was your first big thing?

Elizabeth laughed and said “This!” while Nick stated his first big thing was a UK TV series called “Material Girl,” where they brought him on as a regular.

For Luke on the other hand, his first big thing was “The Tomorrow People,” but it only lasted for a season, to which Elizabeth says “Thank God!” and I agree, because The Tomorrow People was appalling, though I’m sure she meant something else entirely.

Q: What’s been your highlights, each of you, this season?

For Elizabeth, while so much happened this season, her highlight were the planet episodes, because of how challenging they were for her. For Nick & Luke these were also the highlights, they jokingly said, because they got time off from the show.

Elizabeth mentions that being part of an ensemble cast, it means that when you work, you always have your mates with you, so when you’re on your own you feel, as she puts it, as “Billy No Mates.” For her it was fun to do it, but she was happy to get back to working with the rest.

Q: What are you doing now? Any series or projects?

Elizabeth says she’s on holiday, in Sheffield, so “glam.”

Nick said he’s thinking on a few projects, but can’t say anything about them, mostly in case he then says he won’t do one of them. He joked around with us when someone asked for a hint and he said: “It’s an acting job.”

Q: How has the show changed your expectations? (Based on Jemma’s first reaction to the crowds waiting to see them at the San Diego Comic Con)

Elizabeth says when they started, Jeph Loeb from Marvel sat them down with a stack of comic books and said “Your lives are about to change.” He told them to stick together and look after each other and Elizabeth says they’ve taken that with them, and Clark Gregg has kept a tight ship and encouraged the cast to talk to each other and seek each other out for advice and that she comes to him for advice almost every day, “which I’m sure he’s regretting!” she said, jokingly.

When asked who was the “Mother Hen” on the set, between Gregg and Ming Na, Nick jumped to it and said, jokingly, “I wouldn’t trust Ming Na with stuff like babysitting,” to which Elizabeth mentioned Ming Na’s led the astray many a time.

For Elizabeth, the cast is like a family and they support one another.

Q: With it being such a family, how does it feel when a certain character doesn’t…make it?

We obviously referred to Luke’s character’s death and he immediately laughed.

Elizabeth says that there’s nothing they can do about it, but that it always comes as a shock, particularly because they’re only told about it maybe a week before it happens. They know not everyone will make it to the end, but they still share that with the audience somewhat. It’s not unusual for them to film episodes and get the scripts one page at a time.

Q: For the events of the season finale, how long in advance did you know? Was it a thing of literally ‘days’?

Elizabeth says that was the case, with Nick commenting that if they were lucky, they’d find out a week before, but most of the time you needed to be “in” with someone in the crew, to which Elizabeth points out everyone has a source on set. Nick then relates the tale of his last episode acting alongside Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki), when he spoke to an Assistant Director and got him to spill on what was happening in the episode.

Q: With Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming, would you like to see more overlap between the show and the films?

Elizabeth says she would love it, but she understands that logistically it’s a nightmare, considering that those films usually take a few years to make.

Q: If you could pick any of the film, which would you go for?

Nick (deadpan): “Any of the films? You mean any of the films ever made?”

Q: Any of the Marvel films!

Elizabeth says she’d love to be in a lab with the Hulk, while Nick says he wants to be in the Fits & Simmons rom-com.

Q: The relationship between Fitz, the character, and you (Jemma), was it ever awkward?

Elizabeth says that it is, but not in a bad way. Fitz (Iain De Caster) and her are very close friends, and they get along marvellously, but the kissing and romantic scenes were weird for them. She says that for the longest time, the showrunners told them it wasn’t happening, and if it did, then no one would know about it, but then they got the script and realised, “Yep, guess everyone will know now!” Elizabeth, jokingly says that the weirdest part is that Iain knows her boyfriend and would have such strange conversations:

BF: “What are you doing today?”

Iain: “I’m kissing your girlfriend today!”

Q: Your show has so many strong female roles. How do you feel about that?

Elizabeth says what she likes the most about it is that they don’t shine a light on it. As she puts it, “Agent May is strong and powerful, and an amazing agent,” but it’s not based on her gender but because the character has earned it. She likes how the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows how it’s all based on their merits and feels like that is the ultimate feminism, when you don’t shine a light on it and shove it down people’s throats—my words, not hers—making it seem and feel normal (which I agree).

Q: How do you feel about Agent Carter’s cancellation?

Elizabeth says she still can’t believe it, such a strong show and such a powerful lead. She mentions the online petition to save Agent Carter, and she hopes it finds a new home, because she loves it, both the events and the style and period.

At this point, Lotte Verbeek joins them, as she’d been out on other responsibilities. When asked about this, she expressed her hope to have it continue and was happy to know that most in the crowd had signed the petition. She mentioned she enjoyed playing her character very much.

Q: Back to the character of Simmons, how do you feel she’s evolved?

Elizabeth mentions how proud she is the of the character, how much she’s grown. She’s much more feisty and can take care of herself, though she’s not an amazing fighter, which Elizabeth is thankful for because it means she doesn’t have to be. She said Jemma had a dodgy relationship with inhumans but now has realised the world isn’t black & white, though she’ll always side with science, even though that puts her in a bad position with her inhuman friends.

Q: How much are you ok in giving a physical scene to a stunt double and how much do you like to do?

Nick replies he’s all for stunt doubles but mentions Adrianne (Bobbi) wants to do everything herself, to which the producers and even he tells her “No, love, you can’t do that.” Luke goes on to say he at least does the running scenes on his own. Nick then turns to him and mockingly says, “did you need any special training for that?” With all of us laughing, Nick explained he did need special training for the Hunter slow-mo running scenes. The point of the training was to make it look real and not like he couldn’t run like a normal human being.

Q: Speaking of Inhumans, how does it feel to be the spearheads for such a big part of the Marvel universe?

Luke says “Nerve-wracking!” He then explains he didn’t really know anything about the inhumans when he got the job but that he learned quickly enough and realised there was such a rich history to the characters. For him it’s a really cool experience to be one of the first ‘representatives’ of the inhumans and introduce the audience to them.

When asked how he would feel to be in the Inhumans film, he said it would be awesome, but “we’ll see.”

A follow up question was on the announcement of the Inhuman film a few months ago, and how it made him feel. He said he was terribly excited and that a small part of him said “Maybe I can be a part of that!” before the more practical part of his mind told him to “shut up, there’s no shot in hell.”

But Elizabeth did make the point that he was a part of that regardless of the films because as a TV series, what they can do is show more sides of the inhumans and how people deal with them and how they, as characters, deal with life, the different struggles of fitting in.

Q: (To Lotte) How hard was it coming from Outlander to Agent Carter for you?

To Lotte the biggest change was the wardrobe, and how she loved the stuff they had to wear. With Outlander being much more in the past and in Scotland, the colour scheme was browns and grays, but Agent Carter was much more colourful.

 

Sadly, at this point a big cross came up and we had to cut the interview there.

The cast was lovely and Elizabeth Henstridge was so into things it was awesome. Tomorrow I’ll come back with the interview on Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow.

 

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