Clark Gregg as Coulson in AGENTS OF SHIELD | © 2015 ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Clark Gregg as Coulson in AGENTS OF SHIELD | © 2015 ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Clark Gregg is having a busy fourth season on MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD, Tuesday nights on ABC. As S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, formerly the director of the organization, he’s back to running things behind the scenes, even though Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara) is still technically in charge of the agency that monitors – and sometimes rescues – super-inhumans. However, this year, Coulson is out in the field a lot more, tangling with alien-powered ghosts and currently dealing with Life Model Decoys (LMDs), also known as very lifelike androids.

ASSIGNMENT X: As Coulson, are you enjoying getting to be out in the field again and partnered up?

CLARK GREGG: Oh, hell yes. Absolutely. Who wants to be the commander ordering everyone to do the dangerous stuff? Plus the fighting stuff is fun. My partner is [Mack, played by] Henry Simmons, and that makes me really happy. And I think Coulson was happy to have the [SHIELD director] job, it was an honor, but in his heart, he’s a field agent.

AX: Have you gotten to do stuff like that in the past?

GREGG: Yeah. I’ve done a couple of war movies, and certainly in the other seasons, there have been several big fights with Coulson, but less so last year.

AX: Did you go to the producers and say, “Can I get out on the ground a little more,” or did they just do it on their own?

GREGG: The weird thing is, we’re so in a kind of mind-meld at this point that I’d been thinking, “You know, I think Coulson would be happier in the field,” and right then, I read the scene that said, “There’s a new Director [of SHIELD],” and I went, “Ah!”

AX: Would you like for the Avengers to find out that Coulson is back, at some point?

GREGG: That’s a decision that has to happen at the World Council of Marvel.

AX: How often does the World Council of Marvel reveal itself to you? I mean, does it go to Jeph Loeb and then come through your show runners, and then you find out what’s happening in the screen Marvel-verse, or how does that information come through?

GREGG: I don’t know. It happens in the writers’ room. And I’m usually down on set, fighting with somebody or arguing with somebody.

AX: Did you read some of the comics?

GREGG: I read a lot of them as a kid, and then I had to catch up a little bit once I was in IRON MAN, and now I read them based on what we’re going to do next.

AX: Is Coulson ever going to travel to New York and interact with the Netflix Marvel-verse?

GREGG: I don’t know. Again, that’s the Royal Council of Marvel.

AX: Are you ever shocked by what’s happening in the film universe?

GREGG: I was pretty surprised to see Ghost Rider come our way. That’s a legendary Marvel property, and a cool idea, especially the Robbie Reyes iteration of that.

AX: Did you know who Robbie Reyes was, as far as Ghost Rider, before this?

GREGG: Yeah. I’d seen two different images of Ghost Rider, and I was aware of that run, because a friend of mine is a big fan of it, but I didn’t know much about it, and I didn’t know that he had a car instead of a motorcycle.

AX: Did you ever say, “I have a suggestion” for a character you like, that you want them to bring on?

GREGG: I’ve been very vocal about the characters that I was geeking out over as a kid. I mean, I was an IRON MAN fan, but also IRON FIST, and now that’s showing up on Netflix. I feel like I should get the credit for that. And I was a big WARLOCK fan, and that – who knows? In my dreams, maybe Adam Warlock will show up in GUARDIANS [OF THE GALAXY] 2. I don’t know.

Clark Gregg and Jason O'Mara in MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4 - "The Good Samaritan" | ©2016 ABC/Eric McCandless

Clark Gregg and Jason O’Mara in MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 4 – “The Good Samaritan” | ©2016 ABC/Eric McCandless

AX: Coulson has a lot of scenes with General Talbot, played by Adrian Pasdar. The characters’ relationship is frenemy-ish, but are you enjoying working with him?

GREGG: I love Adrian. He’s a great addition to our show, and every time he shows up, I smile.

AX: Is Brett Dalton, who played Grant Ward/Hive, gone for good?

GREGG: He was kind of a supernova in the atmosphere, with a nuclear explosion, so it’s hard to say. If ever a character could come back, it would be one that could break into tiny particles. But he did an amazing run on our show, and was a hero, and a villain, and then a super-villain. I don’t know what else there is to do.

AX: AGENTS OF SHIELD has a lot of big sequences and big episodes. Do any feel bigger than others?

GREGG: Sometimes we get the script for the season opener or the season finale, the midseason finale, and sometimes another one, and you just go, “How the hell are they going to do all that in eight days?” And they somehow pull it off. [Co-executive producer/second unit director] Garry A. Brown, our amazing production team, they somehow do it.

AX: Was the normalization of Coulson’s prosthetic hand something that came out of plot, or did you go to the producers and ask, “Please get me out of this glove”?

GREGG: You know, I think people were aware that if the other hand didn’t go away at some point, my hand was going to shrivel up and go away [laughs] and then they’d really have to build me a hand, so I think that might have been why.

AX: So they did it as an act of mercy?

GREGG: I think it’s a testament to Leo Fitz [played by Iain De Caestecker] and his technical acuity. It’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t upgrade me pretty quickly.

AX: Something that’s happened along with AGENTS OF SHIELD is that you have become a frequent emcee for the show’s acting company, and even other shows, at fan events. Had you foreseen taking on that role in public?

GREGG: It’s the role that I have, and I’m honored by it. Coulson’s kind of the regular human avatar who’s a little nerdy himself, and that fits me very well.

AX: Have you directed any more movies since TRUST ME in 2013?

GREGG: Well, I haven’t for the last couple hiatuses. I’ve been a little busy. But this hiatus, I spent a lot of it writing something that I’m hoping will come together for next hiatus.

AX: Has what you’ve enjoyed about doing AGENTS OF SHIELD changed over the course of working on the show?

GREGG: It evolves as the show does. Every year, the show is different, with a different focus and a different cast, and the way I enjoy it evolves that way. Season 3, I really loved having Constance Zimmer [as Coulson’s love interest Rosalind Price] around. That was a great run for Coulson.

AX: While you’re on AGENTS OF SHIELD, would you also like to go back to the Marvel big-screen universe?

GREGG: I’m always happy to tell this story, wherever my services are required. I love that it’s still one big broad canvas, and really, I like focusing on what our show is doing when our show is doing it.

This interview was conducted during ABC and Marvel sessions for the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

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Article: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD: Clark Gregg talks Season 4 – interview

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