Well, Mack certainly was en fuego in the latest episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” wasn’t he? And a bit too literally for his taste.
Of course, you’ll want to have seen the Nov. 29 episode, “Deals With Our Devils,” before diving into the upcoming spoilery conversation as the series moves into the endgame of its Ghost Rider story arc. All caught up? You may proceed…
During the episode, the Spirit of Vengeance abandons Robbie Reyes for the more malleable form of Mack, possessing him and imbuing him with Ghost Rider’s traditional blazing skull and making immediate use of Mack’s motorcycle.
The everyman agent is ultimately freed from a torturous existence as the latest Ghost Rider when Robbie cajoles the demonic force into reclaiming its grip on him once again. Its clear that while actor Henry Simmons enjoyed his single outing as the flaming force of revenge, he’s glad Mack’s himself again — minus some long-buried psychic wounds the spirit may have knocked back up to the surface…
On his reaction when he learned of Mack’s transformation:
Henry Simmons: I was shocked. I was completely shocked and flattered. That’s a pretty big property. Ghost Rider is a lot of responsibility! So, I started my work beforehand. The one thing they told me was that they said, “Okay, we want you to have something a little bit different from Robbie Reyes and what Gabe [Luna] is doing. We want to put your spin on it.”
And when I went home and started thinking about it, I was like, “It’s already different because it’s me. What I need to work on is not the difference, but the similarity. It’s the spirit that’s similar.” So I looked at what Gabe was doing and I tried to incorporate some of the things that he did physically, but in my own way.
Let me tell you, it was great for one episode, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Oh, my gosh! Geez! Where’s the humor?! It’s a little different. It’s hard to crack jokes when you’re a skull.
On Mack’s lack of control over the Spirit of Vengeance, and the mark it leaves on him:
That was easier, in a way. As an actor, you just let go and let the Ghost Rider speak through you. It wasn’t the struggle. But I will say that every person that’s inhabited by Ghost Rider, there are residual effects afterwards, and that’s going to be interesting to see.
The Ghost Rider has a way of tapping into pain and rage and your vulnerability. He has a way of tapping into that and using it for strength, and when he does that, it opens wounds and opens doors that people have tried to close for a long time, or may have buried.
So when Mack is no longer the Ghost Rider, he has issues he has to deal with, and because of those issues, it affects other relationships that he has. I’m grateful that the writers gave that to me. It was absolutely wonderful.
On the coolness factor of being Ghost Rider:
There’s a stunt that I got to do: at first, I was like, “Okay, when you’re done with the stunt double, I’ll be right here.” And they were like, “No, Henry, you’re gonna do it.” I was like, “Excuse me, what?! Really?! You know I could die, right?!” It was a lot of fun.
On how Mack’s perception of Robbie changes after his own Ghost Rider experience:
You’ve seen in the episodes that have already aired that he doesn’t care for Robbie; he’s another super powered person that’s unpredictable, and he just doesn’t like that stuff. But after experiencing the spirit of the Rider and knowing what that’s about, there’s absolutely a great deal of respect that he has for him, and an empathy, as well. He understands that that is a burden. It’s not a gift, by any means.
On superheroing up after seasons of playing Mack as an everyman:
When they were just handing out Inhuman powers like a deck of cards, I was like, “Where’s mine?!” And then, they called me in and were like, “Yeah – you know, we’re not going to give you any powers.” I was like, “Okay. All right.” They wanted me to be the guy to represent [not having powers] because I’m the biggest guy on the show.
It’s why I get knocked out, all the time! It shows that, “Oh, wow, if he gets beaten, then whoever is beating him down must have some serious power.” And I understand that. Coulson has a [cybernetic] hand. Daisy has her powers…
Now, I like it. I like that Mack doesn’t have powers. I like that he’s not invincible and can get hurt. That’s what I consider true bravery, when you know the odds are against you, but you go ahead anyway. That’s truly being brave.
Airing Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Chloe Bennet as Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons, Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and more.
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