Last summer, the Marvel Cinematic Universe
was turned upside-down on both “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” when it was revealed that the terrorist organization Hydra had infiltrated the government agency, corrupting it from the inside out. It was a devastating blow to what was intended to be the world’s biggest defense against the newly-burgeoning super-powered community, and in the aftermath, S.H.I.E.L.D. was officially disbanded by the U.S. government. However, despite losing virtually all of their resources, and being branded as traitors, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his operatives refused to give up.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second season kicked off with Coulson and company trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild the organization. Part of that process has included recruiting some new blood to the cause. Enter Alphonso “Mac” Mackenzie, played by Henry Simmons. So far, not much is known about the deep-voiced giant, except that he’s a top-notch mechanic and shares a history with Lance Hunter (Nick Blood). However, all that mystery could change soon.
The “NYPD Blue” alum spoke with CBR News about what Mac brings to the table for this incarnation of S.H.I.E.L.D., his character’s growing friendship with “AoS” vet Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and whether he’ll ever be allowed to get his hands on Lola.
CBR News: How well versed were you with the Marvel Universe and S.H.I.E.L.D. before landing this role?
Henry Simmons: I’ll be honest: Not with S.H.I.E.L.D. at all. When I was a kid, I collected comic books. There were things I knew quite a bit about, such as Captain America and Spider-Man. My favorites were always Daredevil and the Inhumans. I was well-versed, but not with S.H.I.E.L.D. I had to brush up on that a bit.
Was this a typical Hollywood audition, or was it shrouded in secrecy?
Oh, gosh. You had to sign a waiver for just getting the pages themselves, saying, “You are not going to mention what this is.” The material I auditioned with had nothing to do with what I’m doing now. It had to be complete secrecy, though. It seems more and more movies are starting to get that way. They are trying to control their content. I understand that.
I went in there and auditioned. A couple of weeks went by. I was like, “Okay, I didn’t get it, but there will be something else.” All of a sudden, I got a call that they wanted me. I always wanted to be part of the Marvel Universe.
Once you landed the part, what was the breakdown for the character?
The breakdown was just that he was a guy with a big heart. He was caring, but he was the kind of guy you didn’t want to cross. When it came down to business, when it came down to getting things done, if you messed with him, he could handle himself. He will handle things, quickly. Besides that, you would see a good-natured side of him.
He goes with the flow. He’s very loyal and very straightforward. He’s not like, “I’m going to lie to you because I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” He’s going to tell you exactly how he feels and what the situation is.
As Coulson is trying to rebuild his S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, what does Mac bring to the team?
What Mac brings to the team is a little bit of muscle. Everybody is skilled, but he brings muscle if things need to get done. It’s also an opportunity to see the other side. We always see the agents going out into the field, but now you see the other side. This is the underbelly of S.H.I.E.L.D., where people build things and get things done with their hands and you work on things like the cars, ships and planes. What you see is more of a well-rounded unit, instead of just seeing one dimension of it. It’s becoming multi-faceted, which I find more interesting. You see it working more as a cohesive unit than a branch.
Mac and Fitz quickly bonded. Why does Mac respond so strongly to Fitz?
Who doesn’t? Everybody does. Your heart goes out to him. I see Mac as a big brother. He wants to protect Fitz. He sees a good-natured, kind soul, and a guy who is a little more vulnerable. It’s like his little brother.
On the flip side, is there an existing bromance between Mac and Lance?
They haven’t developed that as much. I don’t think the bond is as strong as between Mac and Fitz. I do think they are friends from the past. They have history. I feel like they are the kind of guys that go out drinking and carousing together. In terms of getting into deep conversation, I don’t think that’s happening.
All the agents are flawed in their own special ways. When are we going to learn more about Mac?
Very soon. The door has been opened where you start to see a little more about what makes Mac tick and some of his vulnerabilities. I think strength can be a vulnerability, sometimes. It can be a weakness. I’ll say that.
Can you preview what viewers can expect in the next episode, “The Writing on the Wall?”
We get some answers in terms of what Coulson has been searching for. We get answers. How he goes about getting those answers can be controversial. It may not sit well with everyone.
Right now, Mac is trying to figure out what in the world is going on. There seems like there is so much happening. I don’t know if he realizes completely about what happened with Coulson. There are many questions.
As the “muscle,” are you hoping Mac gets out in the field more?
Absolutely. I’m not saying he doesn’t. Things are going to get a little crazy. They are going to need everybody. Let’s put it that way.
I would love to get out there, do some hand-to-hand combat and fire some weapons. I think there are some things on the horizon.
There was some banter between Mac and Coulson over Lola. How badly does Mac want to get his hands on Coulson’s beloved car?
Really bad. I remember the first time Mac heard about Lola. I think Skye [Chloe Bennet] mentioned Lola, that she was a car and that it flies. I was like, “Wait a minute. That car is on a totally different level.” I hope they continue that thing where every now and then Mac nudges Coulson and asks, “When are you going to let me work on that thing?” That would be the dream for Mac, to work on a car like that.
Would you like the show to introduce a version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms?
No, and I’ll tell you why. S.H.I.E.L.D. is disbanded, and with the uniforms, everything would seem together, like we’re organized. We’re not there right now. We’ve disbanded. We’ve broken up and we’re all over the place. We’re still trying to move forward and continue the fight. If we all had uniforms, that wouldn’t be reflected.
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” contains so many plot twists and turns. How tough is it keeping all those secrets under wrap?
For me, it’s been very easy. I don’t have Twitter or Facebook. I don’t have any of that stuff. It’s been easy coming home, too. I don’t really mention much to my wife or anybody. People know better than to ask me questions, because I’m not going to say anything.
I’m going to be honest, though. There are some things that are coming up I’m really excited about. It is hard. My friends are sometimes like, “I love the show.” Then it is difficult not to say, “Oh, my gosh. Wait until you see –” That becomes a little difficult, because I’d rather not spoil it for them. I’d rather them see it and have their minds blown away.