The first season of “Marvel’s Agent Carter” has wrapped its run on ABC, and there’s no definitive word yet on a second — but whatever the future may hold for the show, series star Hayley Atwell discussed the show and answered questions from fans live Friday at Emerald City Comicon, in the main hall of Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center.
Panel moderator Grant Imahara started the session by asking about the earliest origins of “Agent Carter.” “It was thanks to the fans, really, because I had no expectation that it would go any further than the first ‘Captain America’ film,” Atwell said, crediting fan enthusiasm for the character in helping make the series a reality.
Imahara asked if it was difficult to make the show given it’s a period piece. “I was born in a corset,” Atwell joked, referencing the number of period pieces in her career. She also disclosed that she’s accidentally kicked stuntmen in the balls — her words — multiple times in the course of filming the series.
Atwell also shared a penchant for pranking cast members and producers on set, in the name of fostering a fun environment while making the show. “At any opportunity, we would just jump out at people and scare the hell out of them,” she said.
Though Captain America doesn’t actually appear on the “Agent Carter” series, the character certainly has an importance presence on the show. “We didn’t want in the first season for her to have a romantic interest too quickly, because we felt it would undermine the grief she was going through,” Atwell said.
Imahara joked that for an American series, the two most competent people on “Agent Carter” are British, between the title character and Jarvis, played by James D’Arcy. “The important thing was having that comic relief, that banter, that wit, that warmth, and that kind of psychological warfare going on between them,” “They have a love/hate relationship. That wit, that sarcasm, that irony, is very, very British. I’m half-American, but I know I get my humor from my mother’s side.”
Turning to Q&A from fans in the audience, the first audience member at the microphone asked what kind of Howard Stark invention would Atwell like in her real life. “A portable bed,” she answered, to more easily nap.
The next fan asked what Atwell would like to see in season two of “Agent Carter.” “I would like one of two things — I’d really like to explore her background of where she’s come from, what her family was like, what created this exceptionally strong and unique woman, and who it was in her life that told her she could be just as good — or better — as the guys,” Atwell answered. “Secondly, I’d like to go a few years in the future, to see how she tackles being a mother and a wife, as well as being kick-ass in the office.”
Would Atwell be interested in doing an “Agent Carter” movie? “Yes, 100 percent,” she answered. In terms of what she’d like to see in a film, Atwell replied, along with exploring more of the character’s background, “I’d like to see her vulnerability. I think sometimes we can depict woman as strong like it’s a new thing — we’ve always been strong, that’s ridiculous. But I’d like to see her vulnerability. No matter how hard life gets, we can only be strong for so long, before we grab the ice cream and cry into the television. I’d like to see that. The charm of Peggy is that she doesn’t have any superpowers. I’d like to see her everyday life back at home, the loneliness, the cost of what it means to be living this life. I think that’s real.”
Atwell mentioned her fondness for her character’s friendship with Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca), and was asked if there’s a season two, if Daniel (Enver Gjokaj ) could be a love interest. Atwell said that could be possible, or someone new. “It’d have to be someone pretty good to live up to Cap.”
Atwell said she performs in a play every year. “It helps me learn what my limitations are as an actor. I’m always growing, I’m always learning.”
“I think I approach every part with the same commitment to the character,” Atwell said, when asked about the diversity of genres in her career.
Atwell was asked by a fan for her go-to karaoke song, and she responded with “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. She also said it’s “humbling” to see so many Agent Carter cosplayers at the convention.
A fan called Peggy Carter a “massive feminist icon,” and asks how that affects Atwell’s approach to the character. “It gave me a strength to play her,” Atwell replied.
How would the Peggy Carter of “Agent Carter” take to life in 2015? “I think she’d be relieved that the world had caught up with her,” Atwell answered. “She’s a woman who was ahead of her time. I think she’d fit now. She’d probably be running the country.”
What was Atwell’s favorite costume in the series? “My favorite was the brown onesie when I was in the tunnel with Jarvis — you can run with it, you can lunge, you can climb a tree,” Atwell said. “I love the skirt, but when you wear it for 12 hours a day, you want to just stretch.”
A fan asked Atwell what her advice would be for the current generation of young people. “I think it’s always helped me to be inquisitive and curious. It’s a cliche, but I think that life is a journey, and it’s constant exploration,” she said. “The exciting thing is, we change. It’s just knowing that life changes, and we change with that.”
Follow-up question: What’s your favorite color? “Green.”
Atwell was asked what she would tell women who look at her character as a symbol. “Know your value.”
A fan in a Black Widow costume asked what Atwell thinks of the possibility of Winter Soldier being involved in “Agent Carter” season two. “That would be great,” Atwell said. “The exciting thing is, we can have so many crossovers with different worlds in the Marvel Universe.”
A young fan in Agent Carter cosplay asked what superpower she’d like to have, and how Peggy would use it. “The ability to eat whatever I want without consequence,” Atwell answered after some hesitation. “That’s a very vain answer. I’m going to come up with something important and intelligent. Maybe something that would control Howard’s appalling behavior towards women, so he’d get the work done.”
The next audience member up asked what it was like to kiss Chris Evans. “He’s got very soft lips. He smells really good. He’s very hygienic.”
How important is Peggy Carter to the “Ant-Man” film? “She crosses over, but it’s more of a cameo,” Atwell answered. “It’s not a flashback — well, it is, but not to the point where it’s 1946.”
In the last question of the panel, Imahara asked if Atwell has a “spirit animal.” “I’ve got an elephant on my ankle,” she answered, calling them “very intelligent creatures” that grieve their own kind.