Clark Gregg Interview, THORPosted by: Sheila Roberts
After Marvel’s fun and exciting presentation of The Avengers cast at San Diego’s Comic Con, along with a flashy logo and a teaser trailer narrated by none other than Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, MoviesOnline had the opportunity to sit down with Clark Gregg to talk about his new movie, Thor.
Clark, who plays Agent Coulson, chatted with us about his character and what it was like to cross over from Iron Man to Thor and now find himself in the line-up for the upcoming Avengers. After working with directors Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh, Clark was beyond enthusiastic about being a part of the Joss Whedon-directed Avenger movie which brings the superhero team together for the first time.
Did you ever imagine when you started in Iron Man that you would get to crossover?
Clark Gregg: No, no. It was a couple of scenes that Jon Favreau was kind enough to throw my way in his Iron Man movie which people were very like “Really? Iron Man? Robert Downey? How’d you get insurance? It’s going to bomb!” I didn’t think so from the minute I showed up and saw Robert doing what he was doing and the script, but it was still just a little role. And then, something about it worked and they needed a real person and a face of Shield, so I just got really lucky that way, and by the end of it, it had become a great role. They had mentioned to me “Look, we’re going to do another one and we want you to come back.”
Q: So when Marvel came out with their 9 picture plan with The Avengers and everything, then did you get excited?
Clark Gregg: You know, I’ve been doing this awhile. Every time I get really excited, you find out “Guess who’s playing Coulson in the next one?” But they’ve been really cool so far. Then I did a scene in Iron Man 2 where they said “Tell them you’re going to New Mexico” at the end of it.
Q: You really didn’t learn that until...?
Clark Gregg: No, I didn’t. I swear to God. I said “What’s in New Mexico?” “Thor, dude!” “What are you doing in January? Are you free?” I was like, “A little. I mean, I’m working, but I’ll quit.” And then today, when I saw Joss Whedon, I was like “Oh my God, I’m such a huge fan.” And then he came over and introduced himself and said “We’re hoping you’re going to be in The Avengers.” I was just like “Kill me now! Kill me now!” And then to go out and see the Thor footage and have it be so terrific and have such a Coulson presence in the footage, I’m justâ€¦I can barely talk right now I’m so happy. (Laughs)
Q: Can you talk about the difference between working with Jon Favreau and working with Kenneth Branagh?
Clark Gregg: The way that the Coulson fans evolved in both Iron Man movies were so specific to the way Robert works and the way Jon works and we had our own little thing. Some of the script would get used and some would get thrown out. We’d improvise some. It just had a very specific experience like nothing else I’d ever worked on. So, I was a little intimidated by the idea of taking this character from Iron Man and putting it into the world of Thor and having it still feel like the same guy that the audience was starting to get to know and still work in that movie with a different director. But I came to feel like Ken Branagh was exactly the right choice for Thor and that world and at the same time, like Favreau, an actor who directs, funny as hell, gives you notes in a way that you can’t wait to do them because the way he put them to you was so sarcastic and hilarious. Instead of having it be exactly the same Coulson, the Marvel guys started to unveil more about Coulson and Shield which, for me, is the fun part of showing up to work on these is I get to find out where they’re going to take this guy and this world in each movie. And I don’t think they know ahead of time always. They have a crazy master plan, but it really evolves out of who they hire.
Q: The scene we saw in the clip where you’re interrogating Thor and you ask him where he learned the training, do you guys respond to the Hammer hitting the guy and then after you catch him? What’s the context of that scene?
Clark Gregg: I’m trying to figure out what I can say without being immediately evaporated from space by the Marvel satellite. The Hammer we know shows up and the crater from its impact. That’s what I’m sent to figure out. I’m not sure that the person who shows up looking for the Hammer, I don’t think we’re really clear who that is right away. It’s a miracle I’m not dead right now.
Q: What did you like best about playing one of the villains?
Clark Gregg: You know, I don’t really see myself as a villain. I think what’s cool about it is you’re not sure about Shield. They have a little more power than anybody ought to have and there are a little more secrets and we haven’t even seen the Helicarrier yet. But, on the other hand, some of the forces of evil that you see are so formidable, you’re kind of glad somebody’s around pulling these superheroes into some kind of order.
Q: Are you a comic fan yourself?
Clark Gregg: I am. I was a big Iron Man fan and Spider-Man, Batman. I was an Iron Fist fan. I was a big Bruce Lee junkie so I was a big Iron Fist fan when I was a kid. I’m more of one now and that’s not just because they put out a Coulson comic recently online.
Q: Do you have any interest in working on the other side in Marvel’s universe as well – maybe writing or directing?
Clark Gregg: You know I would actually. I would. The movie that I made was such a -- this movie Choke, the Chuck Palahniuk novel was a small, dark indie comedy and it doesn’t really lend itself to this world and I watch what Jon or Ken do in terms of the stuff that they marshall and the sets and the effects and I’m intrigued by it. I would like to try to figure that out. I don’t know that they’ll let me but I’m going to try.
Q: An Iron Fist movie?
Clark Gregg: Iron Fist. I actually saw that mentioned recently online. I feel like there’s something that’s between what I do and that where it’s a little more character driven. A Coulson movie. I’d feel like a Coulson movie.
Q: You’re really pushing for that then?
Clark Gregg: I didn’t feel that was such a hard sell. You should hear my hard sell. (Laughs)
Q: On a movie like this, you’re looking at it and you’re trying to observe what the director is doing, you really have to see how logistically capable a guy like Favreau or Branagh is in terms of gathering all the elements together. It’s really more than just about storytelling. It’s really about mass crowd control.
Clark Gregg: Sometimes it is. They have to be able to do both. What they’ve managed to do that I think is so amazing is these movies work on a character level and they’ve gotten the best actors. The actors they had on stage are all my favorite actors. I couldn’t believe I was standing up there. So they’ve got to be able to make those scenes work and at the same time make some giant epic battle happen and work and they’ve also got to be able to visualize what it’s going to be like when they layer in the effects and that’s a whole skill that I’m kind of in awe of.
Q: How about the convention in general? Since you’re a fan, do you walk around?
Clark Gregg: I was here a couple of years ago with Choke and I walked around for the first time and I was blown away. I loved it. I’ve only been here a couple of hours and I’ve been really taken up with this and I’m actually going to stick around tomorrow and walk around.
Q: Do you have a favorite artist and writer?
Clark Gregg: There’s a guy, Jim Starlett, who did this thing Warlock that I was a huge fan of. He’s who I used to copy.
Q: So they just started Captain America when you go to work on this?
Clark Gregg: Captain America takes place in the Battle of Britain in the 1940s. C’mon. I’m not dead so that must be something I can tell. So I think it’s unlikely that Agent Coulson will get to get through a worm hole although I’ve been pitching that to â€¦
Q: Maybe you could play your own grandfather.
Clark Gregg: Where’s Kevin Feige? (Laughs) I’m seriously going to pitch that at Nobu. They only just started shooting. Agent *Pat* Coulson.
Q: Jim Starling, you like the cosmic comics?
Clark Gregg: Yeah.
Q: That’s impressive. You’ll get a lot of good pub out of mentioning Starling’s name.
Clark Gregg: Oh really, is he someone?
Q: That’s cred.
Clark Gregg: I just love his stuff. I love some of those Edgar Rice Burroughs books and that guy, Boris Vallejo, who drew those paintings on the covers of those. I was a huge fan of those. He did Conan. He did some great Conan too.
Q: When you’re playing the role now in Thor and earlier in the Iron Man films, how conscious are you of the fact that you really are the connecting point that connects Thor into Iron Man?
Clark Gregg: It hasn’t really sunk in. There just hasn’t been time. They asked me to be in another one and I went “You’re kidding? Really? Okay! Fantastic!” It’s exciting. It’s real exciting because it feels like there’s something about it where I get to be the real person in a way. I feel like I represent in this superworld the thing that not just connects the worlds together but kind of connects that world to the audience. Because what I like about him is they keep – I mean, he’s a smart ass and he’s clearly been trained in some very serious ways to have earned this role in Nick Fury’s organization but to me he still feels like a guy who goes home.
Q: That sounds to me like you want a super power.
Clark Gregg: Who doesn’t want a super power?
“Thor” is scheduled for theatrical release on May 6, 2011.