We caught up with Ming-Na Wen and Brett Dalton during a roundtable session at WonderCon, where the pair filled us in about the continued evolution of both of their characters, and what’s next on Agents of SHIELD.
Dalton is now playing a new character, sort of the third he’s had on the show, after portraying new SHIELD recruit Grant Ward, who was then revealed to be a double agent, and now currently has a Hive in his body. Thankfully, Ming-Na Wen is still May, but perhaps she’s starting to let her guard down a bit more.
Den of Geek: Brett, are you just happy to still be on the show, because several points could have easily been the end?
Dalton: Great way to start the interview! Yes, I’m probably one of the luckiest actors on TV to get to play three different characters in as many seasons. It’s pretty awesome.
Ming-Na: And we have a very talented actor who can pull that off, I have to say.
Dalton: Whenever he gets here, you guys can interview him. Yeah, yeah, it’s great. Of course I’m very excited that I’m still on the show. Any one of these points, they could have just said, “And that’s the end of Grant Ward, thanks so much, it’s been fun.”
Ming-Na: No, not with that face.
Dalton: Hours of makeup. So of course I’m very excited to still be around, to still be doing fun, cool, new stuff.
Was it ever sad to say goodbye to Ward?
Dalton: Well, it was that last table read, yeah. I wanted to really do the character justice. I remember calling the guys after, like, “Are we sure we got that? Because it’s his last moment. He’s there with Coulson and it’s strangely intimate.” I just wanted it to be right. I became a little protective towards the end.
Ming-Na: Yeah, he’s gone through the most emotional trauma with that because it is. You fall in love with your characters. You invest so much time into creating them along with the writers.
Dalton: I’ve had to just be quick on my feet because I feel like you really become invested in one way, oh, this is what this character is. Then it’s like hey, just kidding, actually you were a spy the whole time. Oh, okay, now we’re going over here. And then actually, now you’re dead. So there’s this creature, right? And it’s going to walk around in your body. Okay. And you don’t get a lot of time to adjust.
Ming-Na: Because they don’t tell us anything until the next script really. You really do have to create very quickly.
Dalton: So it’s been fun.
If it comes down to killing Lash, do you think May would hesitate?
Ming-Na: Well, she did shoot her man several times point blank.
Dalton: But in a loving way.
Ming-Na: In a way to save him from himself.
Dalton: This hurts you more than it hurts me. Wait, the opposite.
Ming-Na: I think ultimately, that’s why she doesn’t judge Coulson for what he’s done in crossing that line between what’s ethical and what’s not when he kills Ward in the planet. That’s why she says that line, “Welcome to the cavalry.”
If anything, she understands that sometimes you have to make choices and make decisions that’s for the greater good. Ultimately, you’ve made those decisions, you’ve done those actions, you have to move on. That’s part of her that’s very clear and even though she might have some post traumatic syndrome because of it, it’s something that keeps her together at the same time.
What are you still learning about Hive, Brett?
Ming-Na: Yeah, what are you still learning about Hive? I love Hive by the way.
Dalton: He’s different, he’s different. Sometimes I feel like oh man, I really got him and other times I’m like I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s a big thing. I shouldn’t say that I don’t know what I’m doing.
I just feel like it’s a big stretch. It’s a big difference from Ward. Sometimes I feel like I’m out on a limb. I know that everybody’s not going to let me fall. It’s not going to be like, “Oh yeah, shouldn’t have done that.” But it’s a risky move. It’s big difference. It’s not one step in the other direction. It’s like four or five.
So what am I still learning about the guy? Well, apparently Inhuman stuff doesn’t really seem to work on him too well. The guy with the paralyzing eyes doesn’t seem to have any effect. And also that Giyera looks like he is totally under the control of this guy as well. We are going to see what that means. It seems like there is certainly a connection between him and other Inhumans.
As our boy Luke keeps talking about, Lincoln, all of these Inhumans have a purpose, a part. They have their own function within a larger plan I guess. So I think we’re starting to learn what that is. Whatever it is, it seems to involve many people.
Ming-Na: I love how you’re trying to answer that question without answering it. Good play, good play, good play. I just love the fact that there’s a character now on our show that shows less emotion than May. It’s awesome!
Dalton: Oh yeah, it makes May seem like she’s in a soap opera or something. That’s funny.
What can you say about May training other members of the team?
Ming-Na: Well, they gave some of it away in the trailer that they just showed. It’s her training Simmons to use a gun. I think the wonderful thing about May is that she really believes that even someone like Simmons has that inner strength and inner tenacity to be able to fend for herself and protect herself. So she’s always there to guide and give her stoic advice.
Dalton: Which is in as few words as possible.
Ming-Na: Which is good for me.
Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 9PM on ABC.