Speaking to Hey U Guys, Agent Coulson actor Clark Gregg spoke out about his role in The Avengers, Marvel in general, his directing career and not appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger. Read some exercepts and click the link below to read the full interview!
On the high profile he now has, and the surreal experience of his growing role in the Marvel movies.
I’ve been such a journeyman actor for so many years, I don’t know how this Marvel thing happened. There were like two parts of New York where I did a lot of plays, those blocks people would maybe say, ‘Hey Clark!’ when I went to work. To walk into the Westfield mall and have them, not only saying ‘Coulson’, they say ‘Clark’, I always think that someone must be standing behind me holding up a card that says my name. It’s surreal.
For me honestly, in all sincerity, it’s not something I saw coming, Agent Coulson was a couple of lines in Iron Man, and to the great credit of the Marvel people, they had an agenda that involved SHEILD. There was something about the snarky rapport between myself and Robert Downey, or Agent Coulson and Tony Stark that they seized on, and Jon Favreau pulled me aside, and said, ‘I hope you’re free, because they like this scene a lot’, and suddenly there were more scenes, and then I was in Iron Man 2, and you could have knocked me over with a feather, and they came in with some lines, and they said, ‘This time tell him you’ve got to go – tell him that you’re going to New Mexico’, and I did that three or four times, and I said, ‘y’know, I don’t feel like I’m imbuing this with truth. Why the hell am I going to New Mexico?’ and they said, ‘didn’t anyone talk to you? You have a much bigger part in Thor. You’re the one who’s in charge in Thor’, and I was like, ‘You’re kidding? This character?’ and they said, ‘Yes’.
That’s kinda how it’s been. Before the panel of Thor at Comic-Con, the king of Comic-Con, Joss Whedon runs up and, hilariously, introduces himself to me, which was not necessary, because I’m a geek fanboy who grew up on comics and loved Buffy, and he said, ‘I’m so sorry, I forgot to call you. I was going to call you, Agent Coulson is a really big part of Avengers, can I introduce you as part of the cast?’ and at this point, I thought this was one of those Make-a-Wish foundations, and I had a terminal illness and no one had told me yet, and they were trying to send me out in a happy way. So then I thought, ‘OK, I’ve been doing this a while, I know not to get my expectations up too high. The script is going to come and it’s going to be, ‘oh there’s the scene where Agent Coulson comes in and he brings Tony Stark a latte, and he gives the Hulk a protein bar, and he goes’’. Instead it came, and it was deep, and funny, and it had something that I have always loved in the comics, which is the moments where the humans that aren’t invulnerable have to step up, and sometimes turn the tables, and inspire the superheroes.
One of the things that Agent Coulson has had, deliciously, for me is some of the funniest lines. They usually don’t give those to the supporting characters, and to see those come through again with Joss, and to have Joss take what everybody else had done with Coulson, and notice something that I hadn’t even quite put my finger on – that through all his sardonic distain for all the behaviour of the superheroes, of course he’s a fanboy. Of course that’s his cover, and he got into this because he was inspired by the comics. So the whole trope about how he grew up loving Steve Rogers’ Captain America, and now here he is on the Quinjet with him, and for the first time we see this ultra-composed spy unable to do anything but act like a teenage girl in the presence of John Lennon in 1967 felt perfect to me.
On his relationship with the fans, and Coulson’s role in the Marvel universe.
It’s been a funny relationship, because at first there was a little bit of a hue and cry like, ‘Agent Coulson is introducing SHEILD? There is no Coulson in the comic book universe. Foul! That’s a foul on the play, he must be eradicated’. And I thought, ‘oh no. I was kind of getting into this’, these guys are going to get me killed off, because Marvel are very responsive to their fans, but then there was a kind of counter movement that I’m just ordinary enough that they felt like they had an avatar, and then they demanded more Coulson, and they got what they wanted. I went from going around at Comic-Con buying up all my old comics the first year, to needing a phalanx of security detail, seeing all these people dressed up as me the next couple of years. I still think at any moment I might have a terrible disease. I couldn’t have designed this for myself, it’s insane.
On not appearing in Captain America
I knew that it was taking place in the 40s. I mentioned, ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if Agent Coulson’s dad was there, and he was also kind of a bad-ass?’, but they were already into production, and I was pretty busy doing Thor at the same time. There is that scene in the present, and I think in the continuity of the Marvel universe, Agent Coulson was handling something pretty scary like one of the short films that day, but no, I’m sad about it.
If you could direct any property in the Marvel Universe, which would it be?
I’m interested in, maybe it’s my background, I’m interested in SHEILD. I’m interested in Budapest. I’m interested in the things, when Barton [Hawkeye] is talking to her about the past, there’s a very dark, very violent, Hong Kong shoot ‘em-up-styled, men in black with sci-fi elements version of a SHEILD prequel that I would be very keen on working on.
SOURCE: Hey U Guys!