Last month when I was in LA for the Disney/LucasFilm/ABC TV press event I got to have a little fun and get my con girl geek on. We had a chance to visit the the set of Marvel’s hit show AGENT CARTER, which begins its second season today, January 19th at 9 pm EST/PST on ABC. We had get a special sneak peek preview of the Season Two premiere episode and and exclusive sit down a interview session with Hayley Atwell (“Agent Peggy Carter”) and James D’Arcy (“Edwin Jarvis”).
I couldn’t wait for this. When I did the Marvel Agents of SHIELD set visit last year, a few of the sets we visited were also sets for Agent Carter. I wondered what might overlap this time. Because as we know in the Marvel Universe: It’s all connected.
Hayley Atwell is one of my most favorite talents ever. She’s even more stunning in real life as she is on camera and in photos. and James D’Arcy is hilarious. OMG and so tall. The two of them were an entirely too funny interview. Read to to learn what’s happening on Season Two of Marvel’s Agent Carter, shenanigans, and more. They were fun, silly, and at at times you couldn’t tell if they were going to give it to us straight or take us for a ride. I laughed so hard I thought I might pee myself. It was honestly more of a comedy sketch than an interview. Hilarious. The chemistry between the two is crazy. They’re like brother and sister the way they jab at one and other. Adorable. I can’t wait to see what Season Two brings.
On Season Two of Agent Carter
James: I’ve moved to Los Angeles—we can’t ever tell you anything, so it’s terrible. Things happen, which are terribly exciting, but they all take place in L.A., so instead of being a sort of New Yorky, dark, dingy vibe, now it’s bright sunlight and palm trees and a sort of Chinatown type deal.
Hayley: And glamorous, but Jarvis doesn’t like L.A., do you?
Hayley: With palm trees and everyone eats avocados with everything.
James: Yes, they do, and now they eat Brussels sprouts with everything, which I hate…
Hayley: Which you hate. I like.
James: Personally, I don’t what Jarvis thinks about it.
Hayley: You like avocado though.
James: I do.
Hayley: You’re funny like that.
James: But Jarvis doesn’t.
Hayley: Jarvis doesn’t. It makes for a quite iconic moment.
James: They have, I think, particular fun with my character in terms of the Los Angeles-ness of it all because they didn’t want to make me any more costumes. So I’m wearing three-piece woolen suits, which is alright now, but in August when we started was complete misery. The writers just came and sort of hooted with laughter all day long. They loved it.
In what ways are they like their characters
Hayley: Stubborn, I think, quite determined, quite single-minded, tenacious, I think, all the bad stuff I relate to. All the good stuff, I’m like, “She’s amazing!” I can’t relate.
James: I relate to that in you, though. Even if you don’t see it, all the good stuff.
Hayley: Alright, you can come back for Season 3.
James: What do I relate to in Jarvis? I think he’s very…
James: Which I am
James: Occasionally, but never when Hayley was on Twitter, never on her Twitter feed. I manage to avoid all dignity. I absented myself from dignity for all social media. I think he’s really kind and I think he’s like one of the world’s first feminists, particularly in Season 1 when all the men just dismissed her. They didn’t even bother hating her. she just didn’t even count.
Jarvis was the only person who saw her as a fully rounded three-dimensional human being, and I love that about Jarvis, and I do identify with that actually. He’s a bit of a Wally, isn’t he? I guess I identify with that. He’s not afraid if his inner Wally. He’s not afraid to be uncool. I am afraid to be uncool, but I am just uncool.
Hayley: And very lovable.
James: I really like Jarvis. He’s my favorite character I’ve ever played.
On why Jarvis is his favorite character he’s ever played
James: Oh, because he just plows his own furrow. He really doesn’t care if people don’t like him. He has his way of doing things, and he’s totally at peace with that. And I personally, I don’t know about you guys, but I respond really well to anybody who is just very comfortable being themselves, you know, even if they’re people that are nothing like me, but they’re really comfortable in their eccentricities. I’m really good at that. I’m like, “Oh yeah, great.” Actually, I think I should have a mustache like that, too. That would look really good on me. You know, I’ve become very susceptible to that. I sort of fall in with it.
Hayley: You get a sense he’s very happy in his home life, too, I think.
James: You do.
Hayley: That you’ve just got very strong marriage, which is, I think quite, quite exciting for Peggy in a way, ’cause she’s had such bad luck with men, to see it demonstrated a loving relationship between two people who respect each other, I think it makes it possible for her in her imagination. So I think she admires Jarvis’ home life.
James: Too much really, ’cause she gets out and about this season, doesn’t she? She does. There are a few gentlemen callers. That’s not a spoiler! That’s been announced. There’s not just one, but multi, would-be Mr. Carters
Hayley: Any guy with three-and-a-half legs.
Hayley: Three-and-a-half legs. Or five legs. Yeah.
James: Depending on how you look at it. No, that’s too much of a spoiler.
On Agent Sousa: Will Agent Carter take him up on his offer of dinner and a drink?
Hayley: Well, the thing is, without giving too much away, when you see them reunite after season 1, they’re so awkward around each other that they just ruin it the minute they see each other because they want it so bad.
James: Six months or a year or something from the end of Season 1 to Season 2, so stuff’s happened.
Hayley: Yeah, stuff happened. And also the first time they meet is a misconception, because Peg has been told that he’s asked her to come out. So she’s out like, “Oh, oh my God!” And she gets out there, and she’s like, “I’m here.” And he goes, “What are you doing here?” I asked this, anyone, anyone, and then not a woman. So that immediately makes her feel kind of a little bit rejected and backfooted again. So they’re kind of back to their awkward stage, really, so they have again this kind of long way to go.
And in the mean time, this sexy, hunky scientist comes along, so she’s like well, you know…
James: Howdy Doody.
Hayley: A Howdy Doody. [she laughed uncontrollably]
On Agent Carter tying into the larger Marvel Universe. Do they find themselves exploring that as fans, watching the movies and shows, and wondering how the pieces hook together
James: We took an executive decision: I haven’t watched any TV at all, because in 1947, no TV was invented. I only watch film. I can only watch films up until 1947, the last year-and-a-half, so no spoilers about anything that happened at the Oscars this year. We’re really deep in character, here. So that, the Marvel Universe, we don’t know anything about that.
Hayley: It’s like the biggest load of B.S.
James: Okay, Hayley’s gonna tell you about how we fit into the Marvel Universe. Go. [he laughed, as if he had no clue]
Hayley: I do feel that because it’s 1940s and because we do exist in our own world, really, it feels unrelated. It feels like this show has it’s own tones, very different from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, and because of that, there’s a freedom. I like kind of signed up for Peggy; I didn’t know she’d end up here.
And I don’t think anyone did. There was no expectation. You see the reaction of the fans, and we were interested in that. And me feeling that, that I could find different things to explore in her, but it felt like kind of against my stubborn single mindedness, that it had to be more on my own terms as an actor of what I feel like I could do, what I could bring to it, that was outside of the fandom, because I wasn’t familiar with Marvel and I wasn’t familiar with the comic book world.
So I thought, “Well, if I’m not in the center of my own little microcosm of that, then it’s got to feel relatable to people who are outside the fandom.” And so I approached the characters as I would any other job, which is: commit to finding some kind of depth or some kind of psychological story behind what drives her, and then commit to it in the best way that I possibly could so that from the biggest, avid fan of comic books to my granny could be, there’d be something in it. It turns out, it was the costume.
James: But I think one of the things that’s so great about this show, I mean, look, I don’t see all of the films. I’m…
Hayley: No, you’re a Parks and Rec fan, aren’t you?
James: I wish I hadn’t spoken that one. But I haven’t seen all of the movies, and honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed by how big that, the Universe is now.
Hayley: Once it starts, it’s…
James: And if you miss one of the films, you feel like, “Now I’ve screwed it up. Now I have to watch, I need to see everything in order to understand.” What’s great about this is you really don’t need to know anything else. We do pre-date all the other stuff that comes along, with the exception of the first Captain America film, so you can watch it kind of on it’s own.
James: …in a double-bill with Parks and Rec.
On being a female role model. In the 1940s, there weren’t that many women doing that kind of job
Hayley: I love it. I love it so much. It’s a very humbling experience. I’ve been doing lots of conventions, and the great thing about that is I get to meet the fans of the show face-to-face. I get to see the faces of the audiences, and that comes up all the time, young, young people and parents of young people going, “It’s so nice to see a woman represented.” And it’s always a shock to me, ’cause I’m like, “Well, women are strong. They’ve just been underrepresented.” My grandmother was a telephone operator back in England.
And my mum went to a school where everyone became housewives or hairdressers or secretaries, but she was like, “No, there’s got to be something, there’s something, there’s always something else.” And she at age 17 moved to London and she became a nanny, and then she kind of worked away in different things, but she’s very adventurous. And I found that she has a natural leadership quality about her, although she didn’t become a politician or a high-powered businesswoman, in her own way, she was a leader.
And this is someone who came from a working class background, and I see my mom, as I see many people, in her kind of situation given the resources that she had, of forging her own way and her own path as an everyday hero, with natural qualities of what a hero was. And I also found that the one thing that I think is great that people can relate to is that Peggy doesn’t have these superheroes, and she’s at fault, and she makes mistakes, and she’s terrible in love, and she’s trying to sort things out.
But she has this drive and she has a determination and she has this kind of, as I said, tenacious desire and purpose to get things done and to endure, and despite the situations that she finds herself in, to get up every morning and put her curlers in and put her red lipstick on and get out there and be a part of the world and to engage in the world. And I think that’s something that’s a very appealing quality for young girls, especially, to see that despite whatever circumstance or situation or position that you’re in your life, whatever your background, whatever your socio-economic, um, position in society, that heroic quality of just getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done. It is very appealing and is very appealing to me, and also completely underrepresented in this industry.
And I love the fact that here we have this, this kind of superhero franchise that loves to put women in cat suits and look really sexy, great, fabulous, I have no problem with that but can be slightly over-objectified and over-sexualized. And I was like, “Why?” Just as an actor, I have no interest in that. I remember from a young age as going, “No.” I had no authority to say yes or no. I didn’t have the power of choice. I still don’t to a large extent, but I know what I won’t do.
And that’s something that I feel that undermines how far women have come, how committed I am to the work that I do, and what drives me, which is why something a role like Peggy, I can revisit again and again and again, because I feel like ultimately she’s a force for good in the world.
James: Like Leslie Knope in Parks and Rec.
On stunt work
Hayley: I’m really good at jogging to the craft table and having myself a donut.
James: She does all her stunts.
Hayley: I do, I love it. I played rugby at school and I was quite, as a tomboy, so I had that in me.
James: Talk about your award…
Hayley: So, James and I actually, we were discussing today, James and I have won…
James: Don’t tell them about that one.
Hayley: … Some, James was, you were actually intolerable on set today because you got a text to say that you were…
James: These are journalists, you know. This is going online. This is all, this is all intolerable. By intolerable, I think you mean that’s English for “lovely.”
Hayley: James found out that we won some award from something we’d never heard of, that we have won an award for like best actress and sidekick in a 10-episode series sandwiched between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series 2015…
James: Called Agent Carter.
Hayley: … called Agent Carter that also was like…
James: It was pretty slim, we were in a Field of one. Well, I’ve never won an award before, well, so for disclosure…
Hayley: …We were talking about what we’d won awards for in the past.
James: The only other thing I’ve won, and you know, you can’t count certificates because you don’t really win it, you have to do it, otherwise you’ll drown. I did, and you can quote this. This is fine. I don’t mind you writing this down. You clearly want to put it as the headline. I took bronze or third place in the West London Under 8s Chess Championship. It was hotly contested until—full disclosure—2 o’clock in the afternoon when someone set off a stink bomb in the loo.
I just remembered this, and three-quarters of the kids went home. There was only three of us left! And I lost. [laughing hysterically] I just remember that day. Anyway, it’s been a wait, it’s been a wait, let’s put it like that, you know, a little bit of a wait until today, people, when I knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. “Best Comedy Sidekick,” who is Jarvis, and the show is at 1946. Brilliant.
Hayley: And I have only one, a Most Improved Rugby Player, 2000, and I only joined a rugby team because I thought it meant like you could go on tour with the boy’s rugby team. It was true. I got a boyfriend out of it and everything. So I was also a winner that year. We were feeling very, very, good.
James: Yeah, so I tried out on set today what it would be like, you know, to say that people win awards and they become quite difficult once they’ve changed. I changed instantly, absolutely instantly.
Hayley: You lost…
James: Everything was too much.
Hayley: You lost your mind over the fact that you couldn’t find the toaster. That, yeah, you did.
James:No, that was just the beginning of my diva-ness.
Hayley: And then he insisted on trying to give everyone in a master class in how to…
James: In how to walk in a banana.
Hayley: … walking in it, in that kind of shape for the sake of the camera.
James: Whilst still maintaining your look over there, yeah. That wasted a bit of time on the set today.
Hayley: … some kind of dignity.
James: We take it terribly seriously.
On what being on set is like
James: It’s a nightmare. Work work work! They’re slave drivers!
Hayley: We won’t show them. We’ll just tell them about the t-shirt. Alright, so at any given time, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. You know, my trailer is, because I can’t really take it down since your too knackered, but it’s covered in pictures of James. He went on to Google and got the art department to print every possible online picture and they plastered it all over my trailer. I was like, “Oh for God’s sake.”
James: I was going to say, not every single picture. There’s only one copy of it in existence. I also got her hat, her red, iconic hat and struck the Burt Reynolds 1970s pose complete with mustache, with the hat. You’ll never see that picture, but you are, I permit you to know that it exists. It was my Halloween gift to her.
Hayley: It greets me every morning. I even found a picture of you in the toilet.
James: Yes, if you open up the loo, there’s a little picture of me staring up at her. Happy Halloween.
Hayley: So we also love to tease Dominic [Cooper, who plays Howard Stark] ’cause he’s great fun.
James: He’s so teasable.
Hayley: So teaseable. And the three of us are kind of very naughty. You even said it in the cab on the way here. You were like, “You know the directors all chat about us before they come in.” So you’re saying like, so they know they obviously gone like “Hayley’s a bit like this, Jim’s a bit like this. Be careful when Dominic get involved because the three of them make life a complete nightmare because no work gets done. It’s just a mess.”
James: We do very good work.
Hayley: We do very good work, but it’s always a fear of creating a loss of joy in something that’s upbeat, which really helps with the speed of, in which the language is delivered, ’cause the thing of the, the, a lot of the scenes especially between the three of us, there’s a rhythm to it, which carries it own wit and you have to kind of hit the mark. And in order to deliver it in such a way that feels like it’s hitting it, we have to create an absolute perfect atmosphere of fun, of joy, of tongue and cheek.
James: And also to be afraid to fail, to NOT be afraid to fail. We really do…
James: Fail. Sometimes. Sometimes.
Hayley: So anyway, so there was so, so Reggie [Austin], who plays Doctor Wilkes, took this picture of Dominic and I on the floor. Ah, we’d fallen the floor or something, and he took a picture of us, and Dominic…
James: If you can imaging Dominic’s head was here, and his body was lying that way, so he’s sort of upside down in this picture.
Hayley: And, um, it was extraordinary, because if you turn it round…
James: If you zoom in on Dom…
Hayley: Zoom it ’round.
James: And flip it round so it now looks like he’s standing up against the, he was on the gravel, but it actually looks like he’s standing up against the pebble dash wall, but because he’s upside down, his face and neck were all squished up a bit…
Hayley: contorted, but he looks like Hamburglar. Or his overweight brother…
James: Distant cousin.
Hayley: … distant cousin, and he was absolutely devastated when he saw this picture of himself, ’cause it obviously blew his image. So what he doesn’t know is that we’ve printed it on lots of t-shirts. And when he comes to work on Wednesday, in this very room, the entire crew will be wearing that t-shirt. And that’s the kind of, that’s what we get up to.
James: … a little filming, occasionally…
On how long it takes to film an episode
James: We shoot two episodes at once, so we get 15 days for 2 episodes, so 3 weeks, but actually it’s not 15. We get his sort of sneaky half-day as well.
Hayley: 15 days, 14, 15 day, 2 episodes.
James: 14, 15, 16, whatever it takes, really.
Hayley: Whatever it takes, depending on the level of naughtiness.
James: I’d like to revisit the stunts. I do all my own stunts. You can put that in your article. Ask me how many stunts I have. None.
Hayley: Don’t you have like the turtle of death move?
James: Oh, ah, no, it’s not called the turtle of death, what’s it called? It’s something else. The Tortoise of Fury.
James: In between Season 1 and Season 2, Jarvis has been practicing a bit and he’s invented a few moves. The Tortoise of Fury.
Hayley: You also made a very bold choice in flying out the front door.
James: They may not use that take. I did have to chase a flamingo around for a bit because Howard has obviously decided to open a zoo. So they brought some flamingos onto the set and they brought four flamingos in various grades of rage. This one was very nice. The nice one was called Simon, and there’s two in the middle and then there’s on at the end called Cannibal.
And Cannibal was the one they used. And I thought it was very funny when I read it. He takes the flamingo, and the flamingo chases him, blah, blah, blah. And then when we got to shoot it, for some reason the flamingo handler, wrangler, insisted on calling me Cowboy. Don’t know why. Don’t know why. And I said, “Tell me, is this flamingo, is it dangerous?” And he goes [Western American accent]: “Oh, yeah, Cowboy, that think will pluck your eyes out.”
And then he got his wife, the other wrangler, to put her arm out, at which point Cannibal went bananas like jabbing away at her arm, and she was like “Oh, ah, uh!” I’m ready for, um, and that’s obviously now tremendous. And we went with Simon, the nice one. Even Simon is not going to give you a cuddle, but it turned out that Cannibal really liked me. I think I’m sort of a human flamingo, and I think Cannibal recognized the kindred spirit in me and didn’t want to peck me at all. Just wanted to sort of stand there and maybe do something with its neck. A little neck cuddle. Oh, God, what have we said?
Hayley: I’ll remind you later. We have a break now.
I’ve been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.
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