Since viewers first met her in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” we’ve seen Agent Peggy Carter best her opponents in battles of both wits and physical prowess. However, she never faced an opponent like Wynn Everett’s Whitney Frost. And, as Everett tells CBR, Frost is particularly dangerous because she believes she’s the one battling for the greater good.
In the comics, Whitney is a wealthy socialite, Maggia boss and super-villain Madame Masque, who wears a golden mask to hide her facial scarring. The “Agent Carter” version takes a different approach, depicting Whitney as a glamorous actress and brilliant scientist. During an altercation with Jason Wilkes, a case of Zero Matter shattered, infecting Whitney became infected by the unstable substance and granting her the unnerving ability to convert people into Darkforce and absorb them into her body. Now, Peggy must somehow defeat a foe who possesses these otherworldly powers — if she can.
Ahead of tonight’s episode of “Agent Carter,” “The Atomic Job,” Everett spoke with CBR News about her reaction to discovering Madame Masque’s iconic appearance, and how the show’s producers are paying homage to it. She discusses Whitney’s growing obsession with Zero Matter, her character’s parallel issues with Peggy as the era’s sexism holding her back, and whether Agent Carter has finally met her match.
CBR News: Madame Masque has such a distinct appearance in the comic books. Did you assume at any point that you would be donning her mask, or did the producers immediately squash that notion?
Wynn Everett: When I saw the picture after I had been cast, I was like, “Oh no. They got the wrong girl,” only because I look nothing like her. I was very nervous about it because I’ve had dark, dark hair in many things. I thought, “They will probably dye my hair dark, and I’m going to need to work out a bit. And those are some pretty big boobs.” I was quite astounded at her image online. When I talked to the producers in the beginning, we had a meeting before we started working. They said, “You know, we have a different take on Madame Masque. It’s a different look.”
I don’t even know if you’ve noticed up until now, but, in some of the episodes, there have definitely been masks in the background. They are bringing that into scenes and stories. As things progress with my face, you’ll see what they do.
From her introduction, Whitney always came off as ambitious. In what ways has exposure to the Zero Matter changed her?
In the beginning, Whitney faked confidence. She faked bravado. When the producers and I talked a great deal about her backstory, they said, “She’s always been the smartest one in the room. She always has that air she’s a little bit better than everybody else.” That’s very funny, because now that we know her background with her mom, it’s very much a false sense of security and self. It’s something she’s built a wall around to make her feel safer because her world was so unsafe as a child.
Now, with the Zero Matter inside her, she finally has that complete and total confidence that she can take over and seek revenge on everyone that has kept her down. I believe Whitney really wants to fight for the disenfranchised. Later on in an episode, they talk about fighting for the marginalized and the underdog. I believe I am doing the right thing.
Whitney appeared to be genuinely horrified the first time she absorbed a person. Do you feel she’s still fearful of what she’s becoming or does she simply own it now?
When I absorbed Rufus — I’ve had different takes on it. I was still quite horrified, and we had this amazing director, David Platt, and he said, “I think this is a conscious decision to use this power and kill this man.” For me, as the actor, I still think there is a mix of horror, complete fascination and complete amazement in this power. It begins to spin a bit out of control, where I can’t quite get a handle on it. The producers talked about what Zero Matter can stand for in so many people’s lives, and the hunger for more. When something takes you over, you don’t even know the day or the minute; it completely becomes everything to you. In normal people’s lives, it can be like a substance. I love that they are using an actual substance, this Zero Matter, that is taking her over. She’s kind of loving it and allowing it, but is also horrified.
Whitney’s husband Calvin seems afraid of her. Does he have reason to be?
Once he sees what she can do, I think he’s definitely horrified. For a long time, even though she’s a very big actress, she’s lived in his shadow. He’s extremely powerful in politics. He’s rising, and she’s the face beside him.
Calvin now sees the massive physical threat that she is. He already knows, intellectually, Whitney is his superior. She’s becoming a force to be reckoned with that he is incredibly frightened of. It will put massive strain on their relationship. Down deep, he really does love her, and deep down she really does love him and they are partners. Like I said, with the substance taking over, anything standing in Whitney’s way has to go.
The Council of Nine has a strong hold on Calvin. What are Whitney’s thoughts on that group?
Deep down, she so desperately wants to be taken seriously. She’s the brains behind Isodyne, and yet her husband is the one in front of the Council. Whitney thinks that is deeply unfair. The only reason she’s not in the Council seat and sitting with those men is because she’s not a man. That fuels her journey and it fuels her desperation to prove herself and to show she’s equal to Calvin and Bob.
When Peggy and Whitney finally square off, in your opinion, are they evenly matched?
Intellectually, they are evenly matched. Physically, Peggy is far above Whitney in any sort of hand-to-hand combat. However, with the Zero Matter Whitney has inside of her, she has a force that puts her above Peggy. Without Zero Matter, Whitney would be annihilated by Peggy in a physical altercation. With the Zero Matter, Whitney has control.
Zero Matter manifests in various forms throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Whitney has only tapped into a small portion of it. Will she continue to push the boundaries of her powers?
I experiment with my powers through the elimination of people in my way. I experimented with my power through finding Dr. Wilkes. It’s that universal, “More, more, more.” I can’t get enough of what I believe is going to allow me to take over completely.
In what ways will Whitney’s new alliance with mob boss Joseph be further explored?
Joseph is a wonderful addition to the cast. He’s become a huge confidant to me. He truly, truly loves me, scars and all. It’s a very different relationship than I have with Calvin. His love, his adoration and his respect for what I’m doing — it’s hard to find someone who would go along with this annihilation and to find a love like Whitney.
It’s so interesting the way they brought in the Maggia. That was from Whitney’s father, who was Count Nefaria [in the comics], but then she was given to an employee of the Maggia to be raised by him and his wife. When they died, her father came back, retrieved her and she became the head of the Maggia. We see that group — in the comics, they call it the Big M. I find that interesting, because it can be for the Big Maggia, and also Masque. In the comics, it was a plane crash that caused her scarring. In the “Agent Carter” world, it’s different. I love that she became the Big M. So, with Joseph, the Maggia, that group, is brought in to help her.
Looking ahead, what steps does Whitney take to achieve her goals?
She eliminates the people standing in her way. She continues to test out the power and what it can do for her. She begins to dive into the science of the Zero Matter, to open the place that’s going to allow here to absorb more power. She also begins to get to the root of why she’s doing this, which is to get justice for the marginalized and level the playing field for all people, so people like the Council don’t run the show for everybody.
“Marvel’s Agent carter” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.