Going into her fourth season of “Agents of SHIELD,” actress Chloe Bennet — who plays Daisy Johnson, A.K.A. Quake, on the Marvel Comics-based series — is ready to shake things up, literally and figuratively.
The flash-forwarding finale of the Marvel series’ third season revealed a Daisy that, in the wake of her mind-control by Hive and the loss of her paramour Lincoln, appears to have gone back to her pre-SHIELD existence as a rogue agent provocateur — only this time equipped with three years of espionage training and an array of increasingly versatile seismic Inhuman powers. She also has her recent mentor Phil Coulson, now no longer SHIELD’s director and back in the field, and her partner Mack Mackenzie hot on her trail.
Bennet recently joined CBR and a small gathering of reporters at the Television Critics’ Association fall press tour for a tantalizing discussion about the increasingly shaky ground Daisy’s standing on.
Why is the setup this year for Daisy especially fun for you?
Chloe Bennet: You know, it really feels that we’ve kind of closed all of the loose ends from the first season to the third season. Now, there’s kind of a reset button on our show, and everything’s gotten a breath of fresh air now – or a breath of fire!
So things are different. We have a new director, and that comes with a new leadership. He’s changing the tone of S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s changing the way things are done, which will be interesting for the audience to kind of be dropped into the new world and how we’re all getting along on the base.
Daisy’s gone rouge. She’s really mourning. She’s really in pain. Everyone she’s gotten close to has actually died, so I think she feels like her way of protecting the team – and Coulson, Simmons, Fitz, May, and Mack – is to really just distance herself from them, because I thinks she feels like that’s the only way she can keep them safe.
Does she have a purpose? Has she found a new direction?
I think her direction, she really feels like she’s serving penance for what she’s done, and I think her purpose has just been, I think she’s just trying to do as much good as she possibly can, and help as many people, and Inhumans in particular, as she possibly can. I think also, I think her way of doing good in her mind is staying away from the people she cares about.
After three seasons, what do you love most about her?
My favorite part about Daisy is her empathy. And no matter what she’s been through, and no matter what has happened to her throughout the season, she still remains so empathetic towards the people she cares about, and towards complete strangers. She’s such a big heart.
People say, “Why is she so cold this year? She’s really turned dark.” That, I don’t think, has ever gone away. I think her way, she loves these people so much that she feels, she’s going to sacrifice herself and just distance herself to kind of protect them.
What’s been fun for you on the action front?
The first episode, there’s some pretty awesome fighting that goes down – and that’s all I can say.
How do you train to prepare for that?
I train for a month out of shooting. I train for, like, two hours every day for boxing, kick boxing, and choreography, just to have a base so I’m ready for any fights that come during the season. No injuries yet, knock on wood!
Do you like the training, or do you have to force yourself go to the training?
Some days I like it. Most days I like it. When I’m really sore and tired, I don’t like it. It’s actually much harder to maintain it during the season, because when the only training is after a 16-hour day of work, or before a 14-hour day of work, it’s not very fun. It puts me in the mindset for Daisy. Physically, she’s strong. She’s a badass. I feel right for her when I’m in better shape.
Do you relate to that part? Are you a badass yourself?
I think I can be in certain ways. What I love about Daisy, she is physically a badass. Yes, she can kick ass. I feel like she’s redefined what that means. It doesn’t necessarily mean being more masculine. Being a badass, being a hero does not mean being more masculine.
I think her most badass traits are her empathy and her kindness. She has such a big heart, and that to me, those are very feminine traits as well. Those to me are equal ways badass.
Daisy can kind of fly now?
She can definitely, like, jump for long periods of time.
Does she have to pick and choose when she uses that ability?
She’s incredibly powerful. I think her power, since you’ve seen her in season two, to now she’s grown so much power-wise and just skill-wise between fighting and arms and her powers. But you’ll see the toll of being on her own and being rogue being taken on her, because S.H.I.E.L.D. regulates these Inhumans and their powers for a reason, and you’ll see that.
She’ll still be grieving Lincoln’s loss, but is another romance off the table for her this season?
I don’t know about this season, but it’ll definitely be a while. I think she’s in so much pain. Right now, she doesn’t want anything to lose. She’s going to work really hard to make sure she doesn’t have anything to lose.
Does Daisy come into conflict with Ghost Rider?
I think she might!
What do you think of Ghost Rider as a character?
I wasn’t familiar with the Robbie Reyes version. I was familiar with the Johnny version. I’ve become familiar with the Robbie Reyes version, and I think it’s really exciting. It’s exciting for the Latin American community. I think it’s exciting to have that extra diversity on our show. I’m a big advocate of representing all communities of people on our show. So I think Gabe [Luna] is also really excited about that. Gabe’s awesome. There’s definitely going to be some badass fights happening.
How much more of her Inhuman story to you get to explore this season? Does it take a little back burner for a bit? Or is it still front and center?
I think her being an Inhuman will always be…not an issue, but relevant, because she is one. She feels very protective over them.
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns Tuesday, September 20, at 10pm ET on ABC.
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