CS Interview: Clark Gregg on the Start of Coulson’s Friendship with Nick Fury
ComingSoon.net was invited to find out what Clark Gregg had to say about revisiting a younger Phil Coulson in Captain Marvel! The son of Coul, chats with us about the de-aging process, getting back into the mindset Phil would have in the 90’s meeting Captain Marvel, and memories of Stan Lee. We also get some closure on the fate of his character on Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D as Gregg reflects on Coulson’s legacy. Check out the full interview below!
On March 8th, Marvel Studios‘ Captain Marvel takes us on a new adventure where a galactic war between two alien races collides on Earth and at the center of the fight a woman rises to become the universe’s most powerful hero. Brie Larson stars as Vers, a member of the Kree-race of space warriors who’s determined to find out her connection to Earth when she crashes on it with flashes of past memories. With the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Vers tracks down the only person who might be the key to figuring out who she truly is–Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Together they become something more and unite to fight battles they never thought they could.
Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is produced by Kevin Feige and directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Patricia Whitcher and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The story is by Nicole Perlman & Meg LeFauve and Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and the screenplay is by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet.
CS: Coulson lives! Er–at least we get to see him alive in the past. I just wanted to know what did it mean to you to be a part of this film and to have had the experiences as Coulson, go back and be able to maybe setup some things about him, as we’ve grown to know him?
Gregg: You know, it’s been a really beautiful, thrilling, fun journey for me for almost 11 years. I’ve died, I’ve said goodbye to people, I’ve lost people, I’ve worked some broken bones, I’ve torn ligaments and tendons doing fights. It’s just been a really beautiful, but really, it’s like draining journey. And culminating in really like a farewell to my family on “S.H.I.E.L.D.” at the end of season five. And so, to kinda get back, it’s almost like having an early moment of your life flash through your eyes. To get to go back before all of that. And I have to worry about how young my face looked because they were going to do that later. To get to go back and be that guy who’s just so excited to be at the party and really wants to figure out what drove him to come here. I don’t think he really knows. He knows that his hero, Captain America, had a connection with S.H.E.I.L.D., and I think that’s what’s always been driving him here. But I think at first, he’s really not sure why he’s here. And then, this happens, his first rodeo. And I think by the end of this, there’s a difference in him, that this is where I’m supposed to be and this is what I’m supposed to do.
CS: Would you say that it’s maybe because he recognizes something with Carol that reminds him of Cap?
Gregg: I certainly see that parallel. I think it’s a combination. I think there’s stuff about Nick Fury and who he is here and the way he carries this responsibility that he just, even before the movie starts, is just, I’m not sure who I’m going to be, but I want it to be like that guy. And I think then, this woman shows up and not only is she, I mean, it’s hard for him to say this, but her costume is cooler than Cap’s.
CS: It’s true.
Gregg: And I think later in “The Avengers”, when he says he had some design input, in his mind, he was trying to bring Cap a little closer to what he saw with Carol. Please don’t tell Cap that.
CS: Nice. Going back to saying that you didn’t have to worry about the de-aging process, it was a trip to see you and Sam back in that era. Was there anything you did to put yourself back into the mindset of the 90’s, like sort of reminisce about how you were maybe at that age?
Gregg: Yeah, I mean, in a way, you’re having to just forget, un-know things, go back. But there’s also, to me, it would’ve been harder in some other characters, but I feel like there’s a child-like twinkle, like an innocence that is never too far away for Phil Coulson. He’s always able to connect to that inner kid. You know, when Joss was talking to me about doing the TV show, he said, “You know, I feel like there’s a scene we may never see where they find some incredible alien technology and he tells everyone to get out because it’s too dangerous, and then he takes a picture of himself with it. Like, that’s always been who I think he is. So I figure it was really just about connecting to that, a little bit stumbling, finding his way guy.
CS: Awesome. So you’ve gone into share scenes with Stan Lee in the end of “Thor” and in that really awesome scene on the train on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. I wanted to ask you, when you look back on the moments you got to share with him, what’s the most stand-out that comes to mind? Maybe any wisdom that you might carry with you that he imparted?
Gregg: I mean, just even from the first time met him, it was really moving to me just because my family moved a lot–and it was at least one time, maybe more, for some reason, we’d take these long road trips to the new city we were moving to, and I would always have comics in the back of the car. And we’d move, I’d have a new comic, it felt like. I don’t know why. But I had a couple in a shelf, and they all had Stan Lee’s name on it, most of them did. And so, when I got to meet him, that was just a name that resonated for me, from my childhood. I knew that “Spider-Man” and “Iron-Man” were him. And then, to be around Stan just was a really, really kind, good spirited person. We would work together at Cons sometimes and take pictures with people, and I’ve done that with a lot of people, and some of them want to get it over with. And there was a way that Stan treated everybody. He knew what he meant to people. And there was a way that he was generous with people, even though he was, God knows, 94, pretty tired. They’re really tiring. And it just blew me away. I was really sad. As I said, I haven’t seen this movie yet. I hear there’s a great tribute. The tribute to him in “Spider-Verse” had me in tears. Something about just the way they captured him.
CS: Like the it always fits, eventually moment.
Gregg: Oh my God, you said the line, I’m—
CS: Tears. Ah!
CS: All of these movies, it’s now been a little over the 10 year mark. I wanted to know, what do you think is different about making these films, like working with Kevin Feige now, versus when you all started?
Gregg: I mean, I saw Kevin today. He’s just as excited, just as enthusiastic, just as kind of welcoming as he was day one. He seemed so thrilled to be making “Iron-Man”. You know, it wasn’t a famous character then. If you read comics, you knew about Iron-Man. A lot of people didn’t. They knew Spider-Man, Batman, Superman. You know? Wonder Woman. Only because the 70’s TV shows, you know? And yet, I feel really fortunate, too, because I don’t think anyone has ever done anything like this. They’ve never told a story this big over this many movies that’s one story, and seamlessly integrated all these different worlds and all of these different characters, here they go again. And people go, “Well, how many more superhero movies are we going to have?” Well, as soon as you hate one, I’m sure they’ll stop. But they’re not making bad ones, you know what I mean? To have 10 years into it and one of the greatest ones be “Black Panther”, it’s not letting up. They don’t stick to the formula. They push the envelope constantly. And I think a lot of it really comes from Kevin.
CS: I was wondering. One of my favorite things about, for example, how these characters have different lives, like even in the animated tv films, I love that in “Marvel Rising” Quake/Daisy: she kind of operates in recruiting Kamala (Ms.Marvel) and America Chavez and that new generation. Is that something you hope many of these characters get to do as the baton gets passed to the next generation?
Gregg: Yeah, it’s always been a thing they’ve done really kind of magnificently on this show, which is Coulson’s always been really looking for the next generation, very much grooming Daisy, if possible. And also you know the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now the world’s most handsome black man in Henry Simmons, who’s incredibly capable. And in many ways, I think Phil Coulson passed on feeling like S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn’t be in better hands.
Captain Marvel opens this Friday!