Enver Gjokaj star as Agent Daniel Sousa in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Matt Kennedy

Enver Gjokaj star as Agent Daniel Sousa in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Matt Kennedy

On ABC’s MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER, in a limited eight-episode run Tuesdays at 9 PM, the title character played by Hayley Atwell has few allies. As a woman working at the covert government agency SSR, or Strategic Scientific Resources in post-war 1946 New York, agent Peggy Carter is underestimated by most of her male colleagues, who have no idea that she spends her out-of-office hours saving the world.

Carter has one co-worker solidly in her corner, wounded WWII veteran Daniel Sousa, played by Enver Gjokaj. Gjokaj (first name pronounced En-vair, second name rhymes with “no pie”) previously worked with two of his AGENT CARTER executive producers/show runners, Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, when they were all working on DOLLHOUSE, where Gjokaj played Victor, a “doll” who had a wide variety of personalities imprinted on him.

DOLLHOUSE was created by Joss Whedon, who is also one of the creators (with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen) of MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD, which has a close narrative connection to AGENT CARTER, as the SSR will become SHIELD. (Indeed, Atwell made guest appearances in flashbacks on SHIELD.)

An obvious question is whether the Whedon connection opened any doors for Gjokaj in the CARTER casting process, or whether it’s a coincidence.

“Let me put it this way – I’m not sure,” Gjokaj says. “I’m hoping that had something to do with it, and obviously, Joss works with Marvel, but I’m not really sure. From what I know, [CARTER director/executive producer] Louis [D’Esposito] saw the audition and wanted me for the role. That’s what I’ve been told. And it certainly helped that [Butters and Fazekas had] worked with me before and it helped that I had a relationship with the people I’d worked with – I hope it helps,” he laughs. “I’d like to think it did.”

Other recent roles for Gjokaj have included recurring characters on MADE IN JERSEY, RIZZOLI & ISLES, WITCHES OF EAST END, a guest shot on THE WALKING DEAD (his character was murdered by the Governor), a lead role in the horror film WOULD YOU RATHER, a small role in THE AVENGERS (another Marvel project written and directed by Whedon) and a supporting role in the independent feature LUST FOR LOVE.

Back when they were both university students at Berkeley, Gjokaj reveals that he and SHIELD regular Brett Dalton appeared in a two-character play, NEVER SWIM ALONE. “I’m still looking for those pictures,” Gjokaj says. “I’m going to find it.”

Dalton, who’s in earshot at a party thrown by ABC for their talent and the Television Critics Association at Pasadena’s Langham Hotel, chimes in, “If this goes out, any fan who has pictures [of NEVER SWIM ALONE], the first one to get a picture of this gets a one of a kind autographed print.”

Gjokaj adds, “And you know what they’ll get from me? I will follow them on Twitter. And I have eleven thousand followers.”

Gjokaj then gamely submits to a bit of interrogation about his secret AGENT role.

AX: Obviously, you’re not say specifically what they told you, but did the producers tell you at the start, “Your character’s going to go here, here and here,” or do you find out when you get the scripts?

ENVER GJOKAJ: I find out when I’m paging through the script, sometimes when I’m reading it out loud [laughs].

AX: Are we going to discover that Sousa perhaps has a gift for mimicry? That was an outstanding facet of your work on DOLLHOUSE.

GJOKAJ: What’s wonderful and refreshing is that, for a long time, when I got back from DOLLHOUSE, people were like, “Well, he’s a character guy, we don’t really know what to do with him.” And [the AGENT CARTER team] really just wanted me because I embodied the role of Daniel Sousa. I don’t think they were thinking about anything else. So it’s fun to just play a guy and work on making this guy real. It’s fun to play something that’s really wild and that’s very out there and very showy, but it’s also very fun to play – when they say the words “supporting role,” that is supporting, that’s a person that’s there to do something within the world of AGENT CARTER. So hopefully, if I’m doing my job correctly, I’m just making this guy seem like he really was a soldier in the 1940s and that he really is working for the SSR.

AX: SSR is fictional, but there were real counter-espionage groups following World War Two. Did you do any research on those?

GJOKAJ: I felt it was more important for me to investigate where Daniel’s mental state was, so I mostly read about soldiers, what they were dealing with coming back from World War Two, and that kind of stuff. I didn’t want to second-guess where the writers were going to go with the show. So I figured I’d find out as they wrote it.

AX: Did you work at all on the limp? Do we know whether Daniel has a prosthetic under his pants leg, or is he just badly injured and uses a crutch?

GJOKAJ: Here’s what I can say. I know, for me personally as an actor, what I’m doing. But at the same time, I never want to say anything, because it might change. So it’s specific for me, but we haven’t said it. So I think that’s the policy with me – make a choice, make a decision, make it real for you, knowing that it might change. So I don’t want to say, because I don’t want it to seem like that’s what the writers said. I just know what I’ve been thinking.

AX: As far as the movement with the crutch, did you study people who have use or one leg and not the other, or did you just go, “Well, this is how I work with a crutch”?

Enver Gjokaj star as Agent Daniel Sousa in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Matt Kennedy

Enver Gjokaj star as Agent Daniel Sousa in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Matt Kennedy

GJOKAJ: It turns out there’s no right way to work with it. Yes, I did study, and there’s no real one way to use a crutch. This is so specific, nobody cares about this [laughs], but I use mine on my left hand for his right leg, so it takes the weight off of his right leg, but there are also people who use a cane to take the weight off on the right. So it’s just a matter of choice, I think.

AX: Are you looking forward to hitting anybody with the crutch?

GJOKAJ: Keep watching.

AX: Do you think that part of his bond with Agent Carter is that she’s discriminated against because she’s a woman, and he’s treated little differently because he has a disability?

GJOKAJ: Very much so. And I think the writers are really smart. They’re not shying away from the sexism, but they also don’t want to say that every single guy in this era was like that. And so I think that’s where Daniel comes in. There are men who are raised well and have strong women in their lives and know how to recognize it in others. So it’s good. I think he makes this world seem not two-dimensional and not feel like cardboard cutouts of gangsters or terrible sexists.

AX: Is there any possibility that your AVENGERS character is the son or grandson of Sousa?

GJOKAJ: You know, honestly, I haven’t really thought about it at all. No, I haven’t really discussed it with them. Mostly, as an actor, I was just thinking about getting the job and concentrating on making this character good.

AX: Given that most of the world’s population has seen THE AVENGERS by now, do people come up and go, “Hey, you were a cop in THE AVENGERS”?

GJOKAJ: I think you’d be surprised. Not a lot of people recognize me from that. THE WALKING DEAD – there’s a shocking amount of people stopping me on the street for what’s not really that large of a role. It has really dedicated fans.

AX: You also had a supporting role in the independent romantic comedy film LUST FOR LOVE, which came out last year. That was kind of a DOLLHOUSE reunion – it was produced by and co-starred Dichen Lachman, who played your DOLLHOUSE love interest. It also starred/co-starred your DOLLHOUSE colleagues Fran Kranz, Miracle Laurie, Felicia Day and Maurissa Tancharoen. Did Dichen Lachman bring you the script back when you were all doing DOLLHOUSE?

GJOKAJ: [LUST FOR LOVE writer/director] Anton King had this script, and we all did a table-read of it, and we were all laughing, and I think everybody just said, “Let’s do this.” Well, not everybody – it was Dichen and Anton who did the Herculean lifts, but everybody got in line behind them and said, “Let’s just try to make something. Let’s make this happen.” But we’ve been friends, and I see Dichen almost every single day, so it wasn’t really like we had a conversation about it, it’s just as it evolved, I think myself and all of our friends decided we were going to try to make this happen in any way we could.

This movie didn’t have major funding. This thing was made from guts and people pushing it together, pushing a boulder uphill. And it’s made from love. Really, this is a bunch of friends getting together and saying, “What’s it possible for us to do?” and just making it happen. And Dichen Lachman is a phenomenon. She would be setting up lunch for people, sweeping up, cleaning up, and then they would say, “Action,” and she would jump in front of the camera and act.

AX: How was it playing a character who was kind of …?

GJOKAJ: [laughs] An as****e, for lack of a better word? It was great. Not a lot of people let me do comedy, and I did quite a lot of it, because I came from theatre. In New York, I did quite a lot of comedy. And it had been years. And it was so fun. And Anton really encouraged me. I would do something silly, and I would say, “Is that too much?” And he would say, “No, more, more, I love it.” So Anton was just egging me on and I just kept doing wilder stuff. It was really fun to get back to it.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about AGENT CARTER?

GJOKAJ: I would like them to know that this is a show about Hayley Atwell’s character, who’s full of integrity. There’s a positive message to this show, there’s a positive message for women and it’s fun as all get-out. I’d really like them to know that, and I truly, truly believe that people who tune into the show, they’ll stay for the show. The question is whether they’ll come. So I really hope they give us a chance.

 Related: TV Review: MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER – Season 1 – “The Iron Ceiling”

RelatedTV Review: MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER – Season 1 – “Time & Tide”

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ArticleAGENT CARTER star Enver Gjokaj talks Season 1 – exclusive interview

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