Clark Gregg Discusses The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and the Genesis of Agent Coulson
09.06.11 by Ryan
Though the character of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson did not originally appear in Marvel's comic books prior to making his debut in 2008's Iron Man, the character has been making stronger footholds in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Played by actor Clark Gregg, Agent Coulson got his biggest role yet in the May release of Thor, and was even included in the "assembled" line-up of the upcoming adaptation of The Avengers that debuted at the 2010 Comic-Con.
In a recent interview with Crave Online, Gregg revealed that the character's increasing presence will continue in The Avengers, with writer-director Joss Whedon giving Coulson "definitely new stuff" to handle in his latest mission.
Much different, new stuff for Agent Coulson to do in this one. You know, it’s kind of "all hands on deck" in terms of combating the threat that has shown up. And Joss… Joss is a master at taking what we know about each one of these characters, the superheroes and Agent Coulson, and building on what’s already there.
That's not too bad considering that, when Gregg accepted the role of Coulson in Iron Man, the actors says there wasn't any plan in place to have the character return whatsoever.
He literally [was], you know, a guy who kind of comes in and brings the paperwork and kind of vanishes. That’s really all he did. He showed up and he gave somebody a briefcase or something like that. It was really nothing. But, you know, [it was] an amazing cast and I love [Iron Man director Jon] Favreau, and they were like, "Would you do this?" And I was like, "Oh, they’re just going to cut me out, but what the hell? I’ve got to show up and at least do this scene with Robert Downey [Jr.] because I love him so much." And it’s kind of representative of how smart Marvel’s been, in that there was something that happened, and worked. There was a kind of banter between Coulson and Stark that writers kind of came up with, and Robert and I kind of came up with, and they responded to it quickly. And suddenly it was a part of the script, and they were like, "Oh, are you free for the next two months? We started adding more stuff to this. It serves a real purpose, beyond just being some of the comic relief in the movie. It serving a real purpose in terms of setting up S.H.I.E.L.D., which we have big plans for." And I went, "Yeah! I’ll get free! Whatever I’m doing can be cancelled, okay?"
And then they called and said, "Listen, Coulson’s back in Iron Man 2," and I was like, "Shut… the front door! I’m doing another one of these?!" And then when I was doing those scenes [in Iron Man 2], and I kept saying I was going to New Mexico in the draft they gave me when I got there, I said, "What’s in New Mexico?" And they said, "Oh, you are! You’re going to be in Thor!” And I was like, "Oh my God! Really?! When? When?!" And then when we were doing the panel for Thor at Comic Con, [and] right before we went on stage, Whedon comes over and introduces himself, and says, "I wrote you a really big part in The Avengers, um… Can I introduce you as part of the cast of The Avengers, with Robert Downey, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo? Everyone’s here." And I was like, "Yeah, I think that would be okay." (Laughs) So it’s just been a kind of like a weird, Make-A-Wish Foundation thing, where it seems so ludicrous every time it happens. I keep waiting for someone to show up and tell me that I have two weeks to live.
Of course, a character getting killed off is something Whedon is known for, and something that fans have speculated could be the fate for Coulson, much to Gregg's consternation. WARNING: SPOILER When asked whether Coulson meets his fate in The Avengers, Gregg's response was not spoiler-free.
Yeah, I’ve read this! I’ve read this. I’m flattered that people care, but I wish they would stop saying this because they’re going to put it in somebody’s mind! I’m talking to them about doing Iron Man 3 right now, and somebody’s going "Maybe Agent Coulson should die," and I’m like, "Hey, hey, hey! This is the best job I’ve ever had! Stop talking about killing Agent Coulson off."
No, no, no. I talked to Joss Whedon early on. I said "Hey, why is everyone saying this?" And he said, "Yeah, I’ve done that before. Don’t worry. You’re safe."
SPOILER ENDS For those who want to see more of Gregg as Agent Coulson, the character will also appear in the short Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant (watch a clip here), which appears on the Thor DVD and bridges the gap between Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk. Otherwise you can wait until The Avengers is released in 2012, which also co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans.