As Agent Coulson and his team learned the hard way, it’s virtually impossible to trust Grant Ward.
One moment, he’s an invaluable member of S.H.I.E.L.D., fighting the good fight alongside friends and allies. The next, he’s a double agent, working for Hydra to destroy all that is good. Suddenly, he’s an independent contractor, out for himself — and, despite her wishes, Skye.
After ending Season 1 captured and locked up by his former teammates, Ward managed to escape early on in Season 2. Since then, he’s been doing some soul searching, and even struck up a romantic relationship with Agent 33/Kara. He’s even re-teamed with Coulson, who recently recruited the wayward Ward to assist S.H.I.E.L.D. in infiltrating Hydra. And while Ward took off after the mission’s completion, rather than have his memories wiped clean by Coulson, it doesn’t sound like he’s finished with S.H.I.E.L.D. quite yet.
Ahead of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” final three Season 2 episodes, Brett Dalton spoke with CBR about Ward’s redemption, Simmons’ attempt to kill him and his feelings for Agent 33. We also discuss the series’ connection to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and the show’s action-packed season finale.
CBR News: At one point, Ward says he’s an independent contractor trying to make amends. In another moment, he insists he likes who he is. How important is it for Ward to fix things with his former S.H.I.E.L.D. friends and get back in their good graces?
Brett Dalton: I think Ward always has a plan in place, whether or not the audience knows it, or even the people involved know. He never walks into a room without knowing how to get out of it. He said that, but there might be an ulterior motive there as well. It’s important for him to achieve his goals.
As we’ve seen this season, he’ll be, “Yeah, I want to be part of Hydra,” and then he’ll just as easily turn against Hydra in order to get to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson. Ward signed on for Coulson’s mission because he’s going to walk away free and clear. They aren’t going to follow him. He’s just a brilliant strategist. He sees every angle, much like his brother, just in a different field. Ward is more violent, too.
He has anger management problems.
That’s the spinoff series. It’s him in therapy.
Ward and Agent 33 met under strained circumstances. What made those two click?
If it weren’t for Agent 33, Ward might have bled out on the floor by himself. That was in the middle of a mission. These were two people completely on a ledge, who happened to find each other. For Ward, he was on death’s doorstep. Agent 33 had just been woken up from a brainwashing session essentially. She then became, I want to say a free agent, but she’s not a free agent. That assumes she’s “free,” but I imagine it’s like sleepwalking and then waking up and all of a sudden, you’re in the kitchen. Ward was never brainwashed, but he was definitely under the influence of someone. When that person died, I found myself in a similar situation as Agent 33.
She saved me from death and, in a way, I saw a lot of myself in her. Don’t take that out of context. That’s also part of the spinoff. We’ll deal with that in another interview. They were two souls that met in dire circumstances, but I think they can teach each other and learn from each other.
Coulson notes that Ward didn’t run because of Agent 33, and that’s how they know he is still good. Do you agree? After the Skye debacle, do you believe he’s relationship material?
It’s not Skye/Ward 2.0. It is its own thing. If we look at Ward’s life, he had a pretty terrible childhood and was in a juvenile home. Garrett [Bill Paxton] comes along and offers him a way out. He takes it and starts doing all these violent things he probably didn’t think he would ever do. But nobody ever messes with him again.
I think Skye represents the only real romantic relationship in his life. He didn’t expect it. Those are things that are liabilities in his line of work. Love and compassion. That’s something Garrett saw in [Ward] and said, “You have to be careful about them.”
I think Ward and Agent 33 found a connection in spite of ourselves. He’s been burned once, but this seems like another opportunity to have a more healthy relationship and definitely one by choice. It is interesting that it is one of the most-stable relationships in S.H.I.E.L.D. Who would have seen that coming?
Upon teaming up with S.H.I.E.L.D., Ward asks Fitz how he’s doing. Considering Ward almost killed him, does he just enjoy poking the bear, or was he being sincere?
The way I tried to play it was sincere. It was a moment when nobody was talking. Fitz was one of the few people, when he found out that Ward was a traitor in Season 1, who didn’t believe it. He had gone on a mission with me. It wasn’t like with Simmons or May, where they were like, “Oh, I knew it. Can’t trust Ward.” They completely turned, all of a sudden, and knew I was the bad guy. With Fitz, there was a ton of resistance because, kind of like with Skye, he thought he saw something in me. A real goodness. The real Ward. There was a difficulty in accepting Ward would do something so deceitful. I tried to ask him in a very genuine way, but obviously it can be read in a million different ways.
Ward has mostly been on his own this season. To borrow his phrase, how did it feel to have the team back together in “The Dirty Half Dozen?”
I don’t know if that’s his phrase, but it’s certainly a good one-liner for sure. I don’t always get those, but I love when I actually get to say those beautiful words. There are a million of them in our show, and Clark and Chloe and Iain are amazing with those one-liners. I was excited I got one, too.
It was really cool. We hadn’t even really been on set that often at the same time. I had the occasional scene with Skye, maybe one with Clark, but I hadn’t even worked with these guys practically since Season 1. Yeah, it was a little awkward. Yes, there were a ton of inside jokes between the actors where I was like, “Hey, cool. What are you guys talking about?” There was catching up that needed to be done.
I think they cast us because we do all have such great chemistry together. They cast good people in addition to good actors, so we all genuinely love each other. It was great to be in the same room with all of them again. And I, much like the character, wanted to just forget all about the other stuff. “Let’s pretend we’re back together again. We actually did have something.”
In that episode, Simmons lived up to her promise and tried to bump off Ward. How did you like how that played out and Ward stating his disappointment in her?
That’s a really big shift in our show with maybe one of the least likeliest people to go and try to kill Ward. You may expect that from May or Fitz. My, God. I realize a lot of people want payback. Wow. I must have a target on me that I walk around with.
That scene was genuine. That’s one of the things that stings, even more than taking Simmons out in some fashion. For her to live with that, it’s kind of fatherly. It’s one of those things where your parents say, “You’re better than that.” That hurts even more than, “I’m mad at you. Go up to your room. You’re punished.” It’s, “I know you, and you can do better. That’s beneath you.” Simmons did fulfill her promise. I understand where she’s coming from, but it was really interesting to see that whole thing unfold.
How does Ward feel about leaving Agent 33 with the real S.H.I.E.L.D.?
It was a conscious choice. There was a conversation they had outside of the cargo bay. If you re-watch that scene, there’s more than one layer in what is happening. As we’ve seen this season, Ward is always telling the truth. To what end, and how much of the truth are questions that are still in play. You are getting that scene, and you are getting a conversation between the two, but that’s not to say that’s the only exchange going on between Agent 33 and Ward. Everybody should go watch it again.
What was your reaction when you read the script with the show’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”tie-in and the implications the film could have for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?”
All of us knew it couldn’t, and wouldn’t, have the same impact “Winter Soldier” did. That completely changed our show, because in the movie, the organization we supposedly worked for crumbled from the inside out. I didn’t think anything could quite have that effect, but we’re always excited when these things tie together. These are two separate entities, but there’s a lot of connective tissue between them. It rewards people who are watching both, and yet they work independently as well. You can watch “Avengers” and not watch a single episode of our show.
The season ends with a two-part episode titled, “S.O.S.” What does that refer to in context of the story?
S.O.S. is a distress call, and there is a huge tie-in, story-wise, with that. It’s not just metaphorical. It becomes not just an issue with the six members of the original team and the other agents we’ve grown to love over the season. It also involves S.H.I.E.L.D. as a whole, as an organization. There’s also the Inhumans. You’re going to see some very big things happen. What I like about the season finale is, not only is it two hours, which is incredible, but there are storylines that are tied up, so there’s a real satisfaction with seeing some closure with those.
But, there are also a couple of WTF moments in there that will leave you with your jaw on the ground and rewinding on your DVR. “Did I just see what I saw?” You get some resolution, and then you get a couple of cliffhangers that will make you tune into Season 3 to find out what happens.
Season 1’s finale was pretty epic in its own right and one highlight was that brutal physical confrontation between Ward and May. Will Ward experience that level of action again? What are you excited for viewers to see in this year’s finale?
I’m glad you liked the Season 1 fight. We put so much work into these things and we put in 12 to 14 hours of at least two cameras on it. We’re blocking away, having thrust ourselves into these fights. I am glad they deliver.
This season, there hasn’t been a lot of action on Ward’s part. We haven’t seen a lot of action, but we have seen Ward get a little jacked this season, or at least that’s what I tried to do in the gym. If we do some action, I think it’s going to blow people’s minds. I’ve gotten good feedback on some of the dailies on the action you might see. I’m saying “might,” still. It’s probably some of the coolest, if not the very coolest, action you might see. If you liked last season’s finale — if there is a fight, you might love this season’s finale.
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