Agent Carter Premieres TONIGHT January 19th at 9/8c on ABC!
Are you an Agent Carter fan?
While last season of Agent Carter (Tuesdays on ABC) we saw Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in New York trying to clear the name of billioniare Howard Stark with the help of Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). If you haven’t seen Season 1 I won’t spoil it for you but GO FIND IT on ABC GO or Amazon Instant Video.
Season 2 is no longer in New York. Peggy has moved to Los Angeles, California, finds Jarvis, and new discoveries, mysteries, and mayhem ensue (like flamingo-chasing). I got a chance to sit down with Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy to talk about the new season. The topic began immediately on the hugest change in season 2 – California:
Hayley: Jarvis doesn’t like L.A., do you?
James : No.
Hayley: With palm trees and everyone eats avocados with everything.
James: Yes, they do, and now they eat brussell sprouts with everything, which I hate…
Hayley: Which you hate. I like.
James: Personally, I don’t what Jarvis thinks about it.
Hayley: You like avocado though.
James: I do.
Hayley: You’re funny like that.
James: But Jarvis doesn’t.
Hayley: Jarvis doesn’t. It makes for a quite iconic moment.
This is the exchange and chemistry Hayley and James have – they riff off of each other – nearly completing each other’s sentences. This is a big reason why they are so dynamic on the small screen. It also turns out that Hayley and James are much like their characters they play. Hayley says that , like Peggy, she is “stubborn, determined, and tenacious, all the bad stuff I relate to”, she laughed.
“I manage to avoid all dignity”, James smiled, relating it to Jarvis’ demeanor. “I absented myself from dignity for all social media. I think he’s really kind, and I think he’s like one of the world’s first feminists, particularly in season 1 when all the men just dismissed Peggy. They didn’t even bother hating her. She just didn’t even count. Jarvis was the only person who saw her as a fully rounded three-dimensional human being, and I love that about Jarvis and I do identify with that actually. He’s a bit of a Wally, isn’t he? I guess I identify with that. He’s not afraid if his inner Wally, Jarvis. He’s not afraid to be uncool. I am afraid to be uncool, but I am just uncool”.
“And very lovable”, added Hayley. “You’ve just got a very strong marriage, which is I think quite exciting for Peggy in a way, because she’s had such bad luck with men, that to see it demonstrated, a loving relationship between two people who respect each other. I think it makes it possible for her, in her imagination. So I think she admires Jarvis’ home life”.
“Too much really, ’cause she gets out and about this season, doesn’t she?”, adds James “She does. There are a few gentlemen callers. That’s not a spoiler! There is, that’s been announced. There are not just one but multi, would- be Mr. Carters”.
6 months have passed between Season 1 and Season 2 of Agent Carter, so much has happened in that time. When Peggy first gets out to LA she feels a sting of rejection from Detective Souza (Enver Gjokaj) in a miscommunication when she is told he wants her out on the West Coast, but in reality he never made that request. But she does meet a few new men, including a “hunky scientist”…
The Incident With The Flamingo
James: In between season 1 and season 2, Jarvis has been practicing a bit and he’s invented a few moves. The Tortoise of Fury.
Hayley: You also made a very bold choice in flying out the front door.
James: They may not use that take. I did have to chase a flamingo around for a bit in, in, because Howard has obviously decided to open a zoo. So they brought some flamingos onto the set and they brought 4 flamingos in various,grades of rage. This one was, this one, this one was very nice. The nice one was called Simon and there’s two in the middle and then there’s on at the end called Cannibal.
And Cannibal was the one they used. I was like I thought it was very funny when I read it. Oh, this is great. He takes the flamingo and the flamingo chases him, blah, blah, blah. And then when we got to shoot it, for some reason the flamingo handler insisted on calling me Cowboy. Don’t know why. Don’t know why. And I said, ah, tell me, is this flamingo, is that, is it dangerous? And he goes: “oh, yeah, Cowboy, that thing will pluck your eyes out.”
And then he got his wife, the other wrangler, to put her arm out, at which point Cannibal went bananas like jabbing away at her arm! That’s obviously now tremendous. And we went with Simon, the nice one. Even Simon is not going to give you a cuddle, but, ah, it turned out that Cannibal really liked me. I think I’m sort of a human flamingo, and I think Cannibal recognized the kindred spirit.
You can definitely tell that the cast has a ton of fun on set – this group became a family. Even the flamingos…
See below for more Q&A and watch the season premiere of Agent Carter Tuesday 1/19 on ABC
How does Agent Carter Fit into the Marvel Universe?
Hayley: I do feel that because it’s 1940’s, because we do exist in our own world, really. And it feels unrelated. It feels like this show has it’s own tones, very different from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example. And because of that, there’s a freedom. I kind of signed up for Peggy, I didn’t know she’s end up here. And I don’t think anyone did. There was no expectation. You see the reaction of the fans, and we were interested in that. And, and me feeling that, that I could find different things to explore in her, but it felt like kind of, against my stubborn single mindedness, that it had to be more on my own terms as an actor of what I feel like I could do, I could bring to it, that was outside of the fandom, because I wasn’t familiar with Marvel, or the comic book world.
So I thought, well, if I’m not and I’m not in the center of my own little microcosm of that, then it’s got to feel relatable to people who are outside the fandom. And so I approached the characters as I would any other job, which is: commit to finding some kind of depth or some kind of psychological story behind what drives her, and then commit to it in the best way that I possibly could so that from the biggest avid fan of comic books to my granny could be, there’d be something in it. It turns out, it was the costume.
James : If you miss one of the films, you feel like, ah, now I’ve screwed it up. Now I have to watch, I need to see everything in order to understand. What’s great about this is you really don’t need to know anything else. We do pre-date all the other stuff that comes along, with the exception of the first Captain America film, so you can watch it kind of in it’s own…
How do you feel being a female role model? In the 1940’s, there aren’t many women doing that kind of job.
Hayley : I, I love it. I love it so much. It’s a very humbling experience. I’ve been doing lots of conventions, and the great thing about that is I get to meet the fans of the show face-to-face. I get to see the faces of the audiences, and that comes up all the time, young people and parents of young people going it’s so nice to see a woman represented. And it’s always a shock to me, ’cause I’m like, well, women are strong. They’ve just been underrepresented and, and so, you know, I feel, for example, my grandmother was a telephone operator back in England. And my mum went to a school where everyone became housewives or hairdressers or secretaries, but she was like no, there’s got to be something, there’s always something else. And she at age 17 moved to London and she became a nanny and then worked away in different things, but she’s very adventurous. And I found that she’s has a natural leadership quality about her, although she didn’t become a politician or a high-powered businesswoman, in her own way, she was a leader.
And this is someone who came from a working class background. I see my mom as I see many people in, in her kind of situation given the resources that she had of forging her own way and her own path as an everyday hero. Um, with, with natural qualities of what a hero was. And I, and I also found that, you know, the one thing that I think is great that people can relate to is that Peggy doesn’t have these superheroes, and she’s at fault, and she makes mistakes, and she’s terrible in love, and she’s trying to sort things out.
She has this drive and she has a determination and she has this kind of, tenacious desire and purpose to get things done and to endure and despite the situations that she finds herself, to get up every morning and put her curlers in and put her red lipstick on and get out there and be a part of the world and to engage in the world. And I think that’s something that’s a very appealing quality for especially young girls to see that despite whatever circumstance or situation or position that you’re in your life, whatever your background, whatever your socio-economic position in society, that heroic quality of just getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done, is very appealing to me, and also, and completely underrepresented in this industry.
And I love the fact that here we have this, this kind of superhero franchise which loves to put women in cat suits and look really sexy, great, fabulous, I have no problem with that, but it can be slightly over-objectified and over-sexualized. I have no interest in that. I remember from a young age as going “No.” I–I had no authority to say ‘yes or no’. I didn’t have the power of choice. I still don’t to a large extent, but I know what I won’t do.
The Incident With The Award
Talk about your stunt work.
Hayley: I’m really good at jogging to the craft table and having myself a donut.
James: She does all her stunts.
Hayley: I do, I have, yeah, I loved, I do love it. I love it. I do, you know, I played rugby at school and I was quite, as a tomboy, so I had that in me.
James: Talk about your award…
Hayley: So, James and I actually, we were discussing today, James and I have won…
James: Don’t tell them about that one.
Hayley: … Some, James was, James was, you were actually intolerable on set today because you got a text to say that you were..
James: These are journalists, you know. This is going online. This is all, this is all intolerable. By intolerable, I think you mean that’s English for lovely.
Hayley: James is like we found out that we won some award from something we’d never heard of, that, that we were like have we won an award for like best actress and sidekick in a 10-episode series sandwiched between Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. series 2015 that involves like…
James: Called Agent Carter.
Hayley: … called Agent Carter that also was like…
James: It was pretty slim, we were in a field of one. Well, I’ve never won an award before, so I’ve, well, so for disclosure…
Hayley: We were talking about what we’d won awards for in the past.
James: The only other think I’ve won, and you know, you can’t count a swimming certificate because you don’t really win it, you just, everyone has, you have, you have to do it, otherwise you’ll drown. I did, and you can quote this. This is fine. I don’t mind you writing this down. You, you clearly want to put it as the headline. I took bronze or third place in the West London under eights chess championship. It was hotly contested until, full disclosure, two o’clock in the afternoon when someone set off a stink bomb in the loo. I just remembered this, and three-quarters of the kids went home. There was only three of us left! And I lost. I just remember that day. Any way, It’s been a little bit of a weight until today, people, when I knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. Best comedy sidekick who is Jarvis, and the show is at 1946. Brilliant.
Hayley: And I have only one, a most improved rugby player, 2000, and I only joined a rugby team because I thought it meant like you could go on tour with the boys rugby team. It was true. I got a boyfriend out of it and everything. So I was also a winner that year.
The Incident With Dominic Cooper and The Photograph
James: It’s a nightmare. Work work work! They’re slave drivers! (when asked about what it’s like on set).
Hayley: We won’t show them. We’ll just tell them about the t-shirt. Alright, so at any given time, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. My trailer is still covered in pictures of James. He went on to Google and got the art department to print every possible online picture and they plastered it all over my trailer. I was like, oh for God’s sake.
James: I was going to say, but you, your not like you ever seen the picture. There’s only one copy of it in existence. I also got her hat, her red, iconic hat and struck the Burt Reynolds 1970’s pose complete with mustache, with the hat. You’ll never see that picture, but you are, I permit you to know that it exists. It was my Halloween gift to her.
Hayley: It greets me every morning. I even, I even found a picture of you in the toilet.
James: Yes, if you open up the loo, there’s a little picture of me staring up at her. Happy Halloween.
Hayley: So we also, um, we also, we love to tease Dominic (Cooper, who plays Souza) ’cause he’s, he’s great fun.
James: He’s so teasable.
Hayley: So teaseable. And the three of us are kind of very naughty. I would, you even said it in Casting on the way here. You were like you know the directors all chat about us before they come in. So you’re saying like, so they know they obviously gone like Hayley’s a bit like this, Jim’s a bit like this. Be careful when Dominic get involved because the three of them make life a complete nightmare because no work gets done. It’s just a mess, it’s…
James: We do very good work.
Hayley: We do very good work, but it’s always a fear of creating a loss of joy in something that’s upbeat, which really helps with the speed of, in which the language is delivered, ’cause the thing of the, the, a lot of the scenes especially between the three of us, there’s a rhythm to it which carries it own wit and you have to kind of hit the mark. And in order to deliver it in such a way that feels like it’s–it’s hitting it, we have to create an absolute perfect atmosphere of fun, of joy, of tongue and cheek, um, ah…
James: And also to be afraid to fail, to NOT be afraid to fail. We, we really do…
James: Fail. Sometimes. Sometimes.
Hayley: So Reggie, who plays Doctor Wilkes, took this picture of Dominic and I on the floor. Ah, we’d fallen the floor or something,
James: And flip it round so it now looks like he’s standing up against some gravel, but it actually looks like he’s standing up against the wall, but because he’s upside down, his face and neck were all squished up a bit.
Hayley: He was absolutely devastated when he saw this picture of himself, ’cause it obviously blew his image. And so what he doesn’t know is that we’ve, we’ve printed it on lots of t-shirts. And when he comes to work on Wednesday, in this very room, the entire crew will be wearing that t-shirt. And that’s the kind of, that’s what we get up to.
James: Oh, God, what have we said?
Hayley: I’ll remind you later. We have a break now.