Comic-Con 2013: Hayley Atwell Talks ‘Agent Carter’ One-Shot and Working with Loki
We who braved the crowds and strange odors of San Diego Comic-Con had the good fortune to see the newest Marvel One-Shot, ‘Agent Carter.’ The short film is tremendously fun, but also touching, and gives us a little peek into what Peggy Carter did after Steve Rogers crashed his plane in the ice and saved the day from the Red Skull in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’
Turns out she joined the OSS thinking there would be some adventure and espionage, but her sexist boss (Bradley Whitford) squanders her talents on administrative duties. Until, one night, she gets a call …
You can check out ‘Agent Carter’ on the forthcoming ‘Iron Man 3‘ Blu-ray and DVD, but we had the good fortune to speak to her at Comic-Con. And not in the usual press suite, we mean on the floor of the convention center, surrounded by fans. (Hey, time was tight and we made it work.) Below is a transcript of what went down.
These one shots are a gifts to the fans — a cherry on top of the sundae — but also a gift for you. You develop a character and after the film is over you think you’ll never work on that character again, yet here you are.
It is a unique thing, and one thing was really cool — I was given Peggy [Agent Carter]‘s original pair of shoes. I had worn them in. So, slipping my feet into those shoes felt like I was back in that character.
There could be no better metaphor!
Literally slipped into a comfortable pair of shoes.
How long did this take to shoot?
About five days. I had two full days of stunt training, just to make sure I could follow through with the punches and make it look convincing.
I think you do more physical combat in this short than you do in the entire ‘Captain America’ feature, right?
Tons more. That was part of the appeal for doing it. You get to see what she’s capable of doing. In ‘Captain America’ she’s on the sidelines a bit, so this is a chance to develop her more.
Even though it is a short, it’s a complete story. And an important story. There’s a real desire to see women superheroes and action stars. Everyone who saw the screening last night was asking “where is the full-length ‘Agent Carter’ movie?”
I know, yeah! I would be up for it, certainly. It’s so intriguing to play someone who is equally masculine and feminine in terms of strengths — in terms of her femininity and what she looks like juxtaposed with her capabilities, though living in a man’s world. It’s a very timely piece, I think. There are so many challenges that come her way, so this is a great way to showcase that.
My favorite moment is when she’s using the mirror in her compact to look down a hallway — you know, using it for secret agent stuff. But then, also, she takes a brief glance to check out her hair. “Oh, I still look good.”
Still got it!
She’s a badass, but still feminine, still beautiful.
If I’m going to die and they find my body I want to look fantastic.
It’s great for the character, too. It’s not a “message film,” she’s a human being.
It’s not trying to be anything other than a lot of fun — to be tongue-in-cheek. That was an idea that just came up as we were shooting. Louis D’Esposito, our director, he thought of that. It’s a nice flourish of humor.
Hey, we’re trying to be real professional right now, but we are shouting to hear one another because we’re actually on the convention floor here in San Diego. Many actors wouldn’t dare venture this far into the thick of it. You are not afraid, it seems.
The fans are lovely, they aren’t scary. They are just committed. You rarely get a chance to really feel the response to your work, unless you do live theater, as I do back in England. But this is a great way to interact with the people who like the work the most.
For a lot of film work, other than comic book franchise, you may never get that. If you work on great thrillers or dramas … I mean … there’s no “DramaCon,” right?
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen today? Is it that? [pointing to Daniel-san's shower costume from 'The Karate Kid.']
Yes, it’s that shower! A walking shower!
You know what that is, right?
It’s from ‘The Karate Kid.’
Yes, of course! Yes, yes! It is! I love that. I guess anything goes here. Shows a lot of creative activity. I got into the lift the other day with one of the sloths from ‘The Croods,’ but he was so tired he was in the elevator just slumped over. My favorite thing is seeing people dressed up in amazing superhero outfits, but they are tired or bored or angry. Or on their cell phones.
Whaddya got next after this?
A play in London and then the Jimi Hendrix biopic.
Woah! No way!
With Andre 3000 from Outkast. I play Kathy Etchingham, his longtime girlfriend, they had a very tempestuous relationship. He describes her as his Yoko Ono, his mother, his lover, his sister, his best friend. She came from the North, wasn’t really amazed by him, she was a very down-to-earth girl, they had something of a ‘Sid and Nancy’ relationship.
Who directed this?
John Ridley. He wrote it as well. And after that I’m working on something with Tom Hiddleston — you know, Loki from ‘The Avengers‘!
Yes, he’ll be playing Robert Capa, the famous wolf photographer. And Gerda Tara, the first female wolf photographer.
War photographer. I don’t pronounce my “R”s as much as you.
Oh, WAR photographer. Oh wow. The first woman war photographer, interesting.
She died on the front line when she was 26 years old.
Oh, wow. This sounds intense. Which war was this?
The Spanish Civil War. 1936, just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
So this means you can shoot it in Spain?
Yeah, hope so.
May I recommend the white sangria?
I’m familiar. It sounds lovely.