Clark Gregg, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson discusses his character's expanding role in the Marvel film universe
Although actor Clark Gregg starred opposite Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus for five seasons on the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, directed the critically acclaimed film Choke starring Sam Rockwell, wrote the hit film What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and made over fifty film and television appearances, it wasn't until he appeared in the phenomenally successful Marvel movie Iron Man, as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, that he became a household name to fan boys around the world. Gregg returned to the role, which is original to the films and was not based on a character from the comics, earlier this year in Iron Man 2 and fans that stayed until after the credits discovered Agent Coulson is going to have a big role in next summer's Thor as well. In fact, Gregg himself was surprised when he arrived at Comic-Con in San Diego this year, and was introduced as a cast member of Joss Whedon's The Avengers, cementing his character's importance in the newly established Marvel film Universe.
We recently had a chance to sit down and speak with Clark Gregg while he was out promoting the Iron Man 2 DVD and Blu-ray, which will be in stores on September 28th. The actor talked candidly with us about his up-coming role in both Thor and The Avengers, as well as the status of Iron Man 3, which villain he'd like to see appear in The Avengers, the inclusion of more S.H.I.E.L.D. characters from the comics and when we are going to see Agent Coulson and Nick fury finally kick some ass on screen. Here is what he had to say:
Can you describe your character's role in "Thor?" Does it basically pick up right where "Iron Man 2" left off with Agent Coulson finding Mjolnir (Thor's hammer) in the desert?
Clark Gregg: Yeah, I can only say really little without suddenly being incinerated by the Marvel spy satellite but I think its clear from the secret scene at the end of Iron Man 2 that a hammer has shown up in New Mexico and Agent Coulson has been detailed to figure out what that's about and to see if anybody ... Donald Blake ... anybody might be there. I think Nick Fury is pretty busy so it's pretty much Agent Coulson's chance to go take care of this hammer thing. I don't think any one would have stationed Agent Coulson there without Nick Fury if they knew how nuts it was about to get.
Can you talk about the tone of the film and how director Kenneth Branagh was able to balance the magical world of Asgard and the Gods with the realistic Marvel universe that has already been established in "The Incredible Hulk" and the two "Iron Man" movies?
Clark Gregg: That is certainly part of the unbelievably complex job that Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Feige and the Marvel guys had. Its one thing to introduce the world of Tony Stark where everything's almost technologically doable and very realistic, which is what has always been really cool about Iron Man, and then start a whole other movie that is connected to it that is very different like Thor, the god of thunder with his hammer mjoinir and Asgard, an alternate universe dimension. It's really kind of gutsy of them to go there next and at the same time have it feel like a world where Agent Coulson can move into and it doesn't feel forced. It's certainly what I was most nervous about going into it so when I saw footage at Comic-Con with everybody else I was really relieved and happy to see that it looks like it works.
Have you had a chance to read the script for "The Avengers" yet?
Clark Gregg:The Avengers? I just finished the script. Want to know what's in there? .... They've never shown me a script! Are you kidding me? I probably won't ever get the script. I'll get my pages but that's it. It's a top-secret universe.
Do you know when shooting on the film might begin?
Clark Gregg: No. I read online that we begin shooting in February but I don't know? That's what I read. I have to call and find out if that's true.
What do you think it is going to be like on the set working with an all-star cast of A-list actors such as Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson?
Clark Gregg: I don't know? It's going to be fireworks. That's a lot of divas. No, I don't think that. It's actually, as far as I can tell, a nice bunch of people. That's what's been cool so far is that you get to work with a kind of caliber of actor in these Marvel films that I didn't grow up associating with Super Hero movies. Also, everybody seems to be having a good time so it's really kind of a pleasant place to work in. There is also something about, even though there is a real reverence about the fan base and wanting to make sure the fans are thrilled by what we and what Marvel comes up with for this, at the same time it's a comic book movie. There's a real sense of humor and an irony. I think in a way it allows people to take chances with their performances and that makes it a good gig.
Clark, since you are a self-admitted comic book fan from your youth, which villain from the Marvel Universe would you like to see "The Avengers" face in the upcoming film?
Clark Gregg: You know, this might not be a fan-friendly answer by I would like to see the red herring version of it where you think it's Dr. Doom or Loki, somebody like that and maybe they're connected to it but that it takes it in a really surprising direction. That maybe it's somebody that we've never met before, I think to create a villain substantial enough to have brought those characters together. I think it's got to be something kind of mind-bending, something kind of universal.
While the characters of Agent Coulson and Nick Fury have been seen in both "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" they were relegated to mostly just explaining the Marvel Universe to Tony Stark. So can fans expect to see you and Sam Jackson's characters finally kicking some ass in "The Avengers" and the following sequels?
Clark Gregg: I hope so. I've been training so hard to actually look plausibly at my age like I could kick some ass. I think all of that gets revved up in The Avengers. So not having seen a word of what Joss has written I got to assume that there is going to be some of that there.
Agent Coulson might be Nick Fury's right-hand-man in the Marvel film universe but in the comic books he is aided by popular heroes like Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan, Sharon Carter (Agent 13) and Maria Hill, do you think that any of those characters could possibly be making appearances in the upcoming films?
Clark Gregg: I wish I knew. I have a feeling that one or more of those S.H.E.I.L.D. characters are going to make an appearance somewhere.
Finally, what is the status on "Iron Man 3" and is it true that the film will probably not begin shooting until after "The Avengers" has finished production?
Clark Gregg: You know I can tell you but I'll probably be referring to the same Internet source as before. But yes, that's what I hear.
Thor was released May 6th, 2011 and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba. The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Marvel's The Avengers was released May 4th, 2012 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg. The film is directed by Joss Whedon.
Iron Man 3 was released May 3rd, 2013 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale. The film is directed by Shane Black.