The only constant on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is change. Few know that better than Skye, who is now Daisy Johnson and possesses Inhuman powers; Gemma Simmons, who has been to another planet; and Melinda May, whose background and tragic backstory has been revealed across two and a half seasons.
Stars Ming-Na Wen, Elizabeth Henstridge and Chloe Bennet — who play Agents May, Simmons and Daisy, respectively — visited the world famous CBR Tiki Room at WonderCon in Los Angeles to talk about S.H.I.E.L.D. as a family unit, how that family has grown and changed over the years and more. They talk the ins and outs of Daisy’s new role as a leader, whether FitzSimmons will get a happy ending, and what it’s like for Wen not to be able to outwardly show emotions in her role as Agent May.
On whether Daisy can rise to the occasion and both lead the Secret Warriors and keep the world safe for her fellow Inhumans:
Chloe Bennet: What’s great about the show and about Marvel is that what’s so relatable about the characters is that you see these people in leadership positions but it’s not just an obvious choice. So many times you’re kind of dropped into a show and there’s just the leader and it’s just who they are and they’re in a position of power and they’re confident and that’s just it — they’re the leader and they’re confident and they’re leading everybody.
But for Daisy, I think what makes her such a good leader is how much she’s been through, so she can relate to everyone on the team and she really has so much empathy and that’s what I love about playing her. She really genuinely cares about everyone so deeply and it wears heavily on her because she obviously went through this big Inhuman change and there’s basically a whole episode dedicated to her really dealing with that change. It’s really important to help other people for her. And so what I think makes her such a good kind of… unconventional leader is that she’s really kind of still learning and I think that’s so realistic that leaders are — it’s almost like when you grow up and you realize that your parents are just humans, parenting.
Ming-Na Wen: Not my mom. [Laughter]
Bennet: Yeah, well they have flaws and they raise you and they’ve really just done their best and that’s such an eye-opening moment that I feel that’s kind of a version of what Daisy’s been going through in front of everyone on the show. She’s really just trying her best and it means so much to her. And I don’t know if she sees herself as a leader yet but I think she’s kind of like a baby giraffe kind of stumbling, and it’s not going to be as easy as people think. It’s not going to be like, “Oh, she’s overcome — she’s an Inhuman now she’s going to lead everyone.” ” It’s that there’s definitely–
Elizabeth Henstridge: She asks for help, too. She’s very honest as a character, you’re happy to say, “I’m going to try my best but I don’t know.”
Bennet: Yeah, there’s kind of like a self-deprecation that I can definitely relate to.
Wen: But she’s also very confident about her own opinions as well and I think that is the quality of becoming a leader is that she believes in herself and she believes that she can and that she has some of the right choices in what she’s thinking and who she’s choosing as her team.
Bennet: And she also knows that she’s not always right, I think. I think that’s probably one of the most important traits of being a leader.
Wen: And I love how her character has evolved from being so anti-establishment into suddenly being someone who wants to create an establishment that would help and enhance the betterment of the world.
Bennet: Yeah, I mean she was lost for a really long time, she was an orphan and she wanted to find her parents and all of a sudden she does and it’s not what she expected. You know, when your mom tries to kill you and your dad is Hyde. So she’s kind of grown into this. It is crazy to think that my first audition scene for Skye was, I was talking Deathlok or to Jay or to Mike and it’s like, “So you’re going to be a superhero, that’s so cool,” and that’s literally the line and to think of where I am now it’s pretty crazy.
Henstridge: Yeah, that is crazy.
On whether Henstridge hopes Simmons gets her happy ending or if she’s excited to play a tragic twist:
Henstridge: You have to earn those moments of tragedy in a way because you’re asking the audience to care if your’e crying or upset or something. I think that the way it’s going right now is she’s kind of — she’s rebuilding her relationship with Fitz and who knows how long that can stay as good. [Laughter] I’m up for having a bit of closure and moving forward. There was a point where I couldn’t do a scene with Iain De Caestecker, who plays Fitz, without crying. They’d have to say, “Elizabeth, you’re not crying in this scene,” but when he had his little shaky hands and he couldn’t finish his sentences… I’d leave work just feeling like, “Oh god, poor Fitz. What are we gonna do?” [Laughter] Now it’s nice that he’s healing and Gemma’s healing, so yeah, that episode was amazing to get the challenge to do something like that but I’m happy to see her become kind of… more together.
On whether May will get another spotlight episode soon:
Wen: We wait until they tell us [Laughter] and that’s the honest truth. It’s really been an incredible, fun challenge to play a character like this because she is such the antithesis to who I am.
Bennet: Truly. [Laughter]
Wen: Sometimes it’s really frustrating as an actor to want to have more of — really, she’s Inhuman in a different way — to have a more human connection with characters because she does care about them so much. She is the maternal aspect, between her and Coulson, of this family. And yet she does it in a very unmaternal way? Is that a way?
Bennet: Unconventionally maternal? [Laughter]
Wen: Unconventionally maternal. Thank you. It’s so tough to show that she cares without showing it. It’s all in her actions.
Henstridge: You do it so well, though. That’s the hardest thing to do is just have a straight expression and show something behind the eyes.
Bennet: You do. Especially since you’re so different, you’re so loving and so caring and so bubbly and outgoing, to have to–
Wen: One of the things I always get from the producers or directors is, “Okay, less Ming, more May.” [Laughter] And I’m like, “Just let me go through the emotions during rehearsal so I could lock it all up and get it out.” I don’t want to seem like one note, you know.
Henstridge: You never do.
Wen: She’s been Skye, and now she’s taking care of Simmons and really believing that she needs to be able to protect herself, she’s very, very concerned about the family’s well being. And yeah, anything that the writers want to throw at me.
Bennet: She really shows people how much she cares about them by–
Wen: Beating them up! [Laiughs]
Bennet: Yeah, but by making sure that they can handle themselves. By making sure they have what they need to protect themselves.
Wen: And that’s the best gift, I think. Thank you! [Laughter]
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Marvel Comics.
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