Grant Ward has been nothing if not polarizing across two and a half seasons of Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The Agent turned Hydra traitor has broken hearts, made bitter enemies of close friends and remained one of the show’s most captivating characters. And then, Grant Ward as we know him died in last December’s midseason finale. Yet actor Brett Dalton is far from finished with the series or Ward’s journey.
Ahead of the ABC series’ midseason premiere on March 8, Dalton visited the world famous CBR Speakeasy in North Hollywood, California to talk with CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching about what’s next for Ward, how there can even be life after death for his character, his bold new transformation on the series and what it means as an actor to dramatically shift the approach to a character. Dalton also described how the show gave him the opportunity to get back into reading comics — admitting he was a massive Lobo fan as a kid — reading up on Marvel books, particularly those written by series co-creator and “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon.
In the first part of the interview, Brett Dalton tells CBR TV about life after death for Agent Grant Ward, what’s next for him as an actor on the ABC/Marvel series and how to dramatically change your approach to a character after several seasons. Dalton also touches on how much of the old Ward will remain in his performance as Season 3 ramps up into what he calls “NCIS: Inhuman Edition.”
On what it was like saying goodbye to the Agent Ward fans have come to know through two and a half seasons:
Brett Dalton: I was very attached, and I still am very attached to this character. I think it was particularly kind of an emotional moment because they had given him such good stuff leading up to Episode 10 of Season Three, where he died on Maveth — or, I should say, where Coulson crushes and that whole… thing happens. Episode 9 was called “Closure,” there’s so much beautiful stuff that happened. I got a really nice couple of ‘attaboys from the EPs, “You’re bringing so much to it,” I think they knew that Episode 10 was coming up. [Laughter] It was a point where I was really feeling some closure myself with the character and like, “Man, I’m finally starting to get this guy.” And then this whole thing happens…
It’s a beautiful act out, it’s great for a midseason finale, but it also then is a new set of challenges/opportunity for when we pick this up and return in March. It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s all good, but really I was at a point where I was all, “You know what, third season, I’m really starting to love this guy.” And then this whole thing happened. I think it’s a good thing, it’s a new, crazy thing that the writers are doing and I don’t think they make any easy choices. It seems that they really are trying to push the envelope here.
On what it’s like as an actor to shift gears and approach his character differently:
Oh, I don’t know, trying to say “Yes and” rather than “No but,” but that’s really it. And I’ve taken all of these things as opportunities. I know that I said earlier, they all have their own new sets of challenges and stuff, but it is an opportunity every time. And look, I’m on a network TV show and more or less I’ve gotten to play a different character every time, which is beautiful.
So this is great, as an actor you couldn’t ask for anything more, and you know, I’m just very thankful for these opportunities. I could be on a lawyer show or a doctor show, and be very close to where I started.
How much of the old Ward is in your performance?
These are the same questions that [Gideon] Malick has, and Malick is asking the same things in his head. And also, you’ll see there’s a lot going on, because this is a weird thing — Hydra has existed for centuries trying to bring this creature back, and they’ve been unsuccessful until now. And so, there’s this whole build up about ‘what’s HYDRA going to do’ and all of this stuff. And now that we’ve done it — okay, now what? What does this mean exactly? What are this guy’s intentions? Do they line up with the people on Earth and Malick and his intentions? How much Ward is left in there? Or is it just ‘it’ in the body of Ward? There’s a million questions here that we’re all kind of asking at the same time. So Malick, in a way, becomes the audience’s lens through that whole thing.
In the second part of his interview with CBR TV, Brett Dalton discusses how “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” reignited his childhood love of comics and his upcoming role in the WWE-produced film, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” which gave him the opportunity to work with wrestling superstar Shawn Michaels.
On growing up as a comics fan and whether or not he’s delved back into that world:
One of the first things they did when we started the show was they gave us a stack of comic books, and we’re like, ‘oh my God, this is going to happen like every week!’ Um, it didn’t, but it was really cool to sort of have a jump start back into that world. And some of them were written by Joss Whedon and some of the graphics — for lack of a better word — [Joking] “Some of the drawins were real good!” … It was extremely important.