Elizabeth Henstridge in Marvel's AGENTS OF SHIELD | ©2013 ABC/Bob D. Amico

Elizabeth Henstridge in Marvel's AGENTS OF SHIELD | ©2013 ABC/Bob D. Amico

Within the newly-assembled team of characters within MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD – created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen from the Marvel comics series – there is the two-person sub-team of Iain De Caestecker’s Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge’s Agent Jemma Simmons. The two science experts work together so closely that they are jointly known to their coworkers as FitzSimmons. The pair tend to speak over each other simultaneously, so that they understand one another, but anyone listening is likely to only comprehend their final deduction.

Scottish actor De Caestecker previously played James Herriot in the British series YOUNG JAMES HERRIOT, was a regular in the BBC horror series THE FADES and, as a teenager, was in the feature film THE LITTLE VAMPIRE. Henstridge, who hails from Sheffield, England, has credits that include a costarring role in the vampire feature film THE THOMPSONS.

At a party thrown by ABC for the Television Critics Association press tour, De Caestecker and Henstridge are hanging out together. They don’t talk over each other, but they seem pretty much in agreement on their SHIELD work.

ASSIGNMENT X: When you went in to audition for this, were you told, “This is what we’re looking for” in either of your characters? Did they give you any hints of what they were looking for in the characters?

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE: Not really.

IAIN DE CAESTECKER: Joss’ writing style is so on the page that that was a big part of it, where they didn’t really need to explain too much, because it was all there. Then also, when [Henstridge and I] met for the first time, there was just some sort of chemistry there which really worked, I think.

HENSTRIDGE: I think you get a vibe, definitely, when you’re in the room, and the dialogue is so rich that you can draw so many clues from it that if you go in and you feel like you’ve got a well-rounded character – I think the thing is, if you feel like it’s fun when you’re in the room, you’ve usually done a good job.

AX: When you guys have the dialogue where you’re talking over each other, is that the usual dynamic between Fitz and Simmons?

DE CAESTECKER: I think they spend so much time together that they can in some respects finish each other’s sentences, they think for each other and they know how each other works.

HENSTRIDGE: Yeah, they really operate as one entity in a lot of ways, so that kind of dialogue is natural for them.

Iain De Caestecker in Marvel's AGENTS OF SHIELD - Season 1 - "0-8-4" | ©2013 ABC/Richard Foreman

Iain De Caestecker in Marvel's AGENTS OF SHIELD - Season 1 - "0-8-4" | ©2013 ABC/Richard Foreman

AX: Is that dialogue choreographed in a certain way, or are you just told, “You start, then you start” and it’s like singing rounds?

DE CAESTECKER: When you do it, there’s a script with a template there and you stick to that. We just stick to that pretty much religiously, but at the same time, we’ve kind of found I suppose our own dynamic and rhythm in the way we work and it just kind of works now, doesn’t it?

HENSTRIDGE: Yeah.

DE CAESTECKER: And sometimes there will maybe be lines that aren’t overlapping and we will overlap them and vice-versa, we won’t overlap them. It’s just sort of part of the process you kind of find out about, I suppose.

AX: And when you’re talking that fast and furious, do you know what you’re saying or do you have to learn that dialogue phonetically?

DE CAESTECKER: Yeah, of course. But one of the good things about the way Joss, Jed and Maurissa, [and executive producer] Jeff [Bell] and [executive producer/Marvel TV executive] Jeph [Loeb] work is that they are very open to everyone’s ideas, so it’s not a closed book when you’re on set. You can come in with your own ideas and we can mix them in and stuff.

HENSTRIDGE: Yeah.

AX: What have some of your ideas been?

DE CAESTECKER: As of now, it’s kind of …

HENSTRIDGE: Classified [laughs].

DE CAESTECKER: But it’s like with anything, I suppose, it’s a collaboration. People bring something, people bring something else, you work together.

HENSTRIDGE: We’ve got such a great base to work from, just the Marvel universe that it’s set in, everybody, all the writers that work on it. We come in to such an amazing foundation that then it gives us the freedom to play within it.

AX: Are your characters aware that they’re that connected with each other, or is that just below their consciousness?

HENSTRIDGE: I think they’re aware, but I don’t think they do it in a [performing for others] way, I think it’s just how they operate. They’ve always operated as a duo, they’ve come up together, they’ve always been placed on assignments together, so I think they take great confidence that they are always together and in a team, but I don’t think it’s for anyone else’s benefit apart from their own.

DE CAESTECKER: Yeah.

AX: Do they have more of a sibling relationship, are they going to get a romantic relationship …?

HENSTRIDGE: I think it’s sibling. We’ve kind of said that it’s either brother/sister or an old married couple. It’s that kind of familial relationship.

AX: Are either of you or both of you Marvel comics fans?

HENSTRIDGE: Yeah, definitely. They’ve brought a load of Marvel geeks together.

DE CAESTECKER: Yeah, and it’s probably only intensified since we started working on the show. We read comics all the time. It’s become part of our job, which is a really nice thing.

AX: In all likelihood, there will be Fitz and Simmons action figures. Have you thought about what that’s going to be like?

HENSTRIDGE: [laughs] I feel like that’s going to be very surreal. That’s what my family have said.

DE CAESTECKER: That would be cool.

HENSTRIDGE: It’d be odd, but cool.

AX: Have you had to learn how to do anything for this show, like hit people or give injections or mix chemicals?

DE CAESTECKER: Yeah. There’s research that goes into all this stuff. For us specifically, it’s more of a scientific aspect, so we have advisors. Everything that we talk about the show scientifically-wise is well-researched and thought about, and then we do our own [research]. And so the more we get into that world, the more we’re finding out about it.

AX: Do you understand the scientific discussions?

DE CAESTECKER: Yeah. There’s the odd time maybe that you really need to go and research something and make sure that you understand it before you go on, but yeah, we do. Also, a big part of our characters is the fact that our scientific knowledge is so much more vast than everyone else’s that usually we have to break it down for them anyway at some point.

AX: And do either of you have any projects coming up that we should know about?

DE CAESTECKER: I have a film coming out in November called IN FEAR and a film next year called HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER [Ryan Gosling’s feature directorial debut].

HENSTRIDGE: No [laughs].

AX: And is there anything either of you would like to say about MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD?

HENSTRIDGE: We’re having a great time and I think that’s it.

Related: TV Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD – SEASON 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere

Related:Exclusive interview with Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD actor Brett Dalton

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Article:Exclusive interview with AGENTS OF SHIELD actors Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge

 

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