Exclusive Interview: Brett Dalton on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

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As “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” continues we’ve still yet to learn a lot about Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), one of the primary recruits picked by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

When we interviewed him, Dalton wouldn’t reveal a whole lot because he’s sworn to Marvel secrecy too. However, at the ABC party for the Television Critics Association, landing a one-on-one with the star of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was still a big coup. We got to know more about Dalton, and a little bit about shooting the early episodes of the series. 

 



CraveOnline: How did you approach originating a new 'Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' character?

Brett Dalton: In some ways, originating gives you a kind of freedom because there’s not volumes of comic books behind you that you need to live up to. I’m excited to be a part of the Marvel universe because I grew up with it. It’s a trip every day to be on set because when I was a kid, they didn’t really have Marvel movies. I was just a kid with comic books. 

You’re probably young enough to have had The Punisher with Dolph Lundgren.

You kidding me? Absolutely, absolutely. That’s true. 

That was my intro to Marvel. 

Really? 

I started reading The Punisher based on that.

Frank Castle.

What were you reading as a kid?

I still remember a lot of the comics I had. There was a Spider-Man issue that had silver. It was him in webs and it was all in silver. Then there was a Wolverine that had the cover that had the three slashes on it. There was the meeting of the gray Hulk and green Hulk. There were old covers that would connect. I think they were X-Men covers that connected, maybe it was X-Force. 

Has the name Grant Ward appeared in any of the Marvel comics before?

Not that I know of. They’re much smarter than I am. They write the words and I say them. 

I think if they had a Ward they would have given you those comics to read.

Possibly. As far as I know, no. 

Speaking of saying the words they write, how comfortable does it feel to speak Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen dialogue?

They’re really good at what they do. It feels like how real human beings talk. Also real human beings who have a sense of humor and a sense of humanity and heart. I had a feel for it as soon as I read it. I felt like okay, this is a full character. Because of Marvel’s super secrecy, we only had like three pages to read. We didn’t have a full script, but I felt like there was a full character there on the page. From the very beginning I thought I get this, I get this world and I’d really like to be a part of it. 

When you saw the line about “They really wanted something that spells SHIELD,” were you like, “Oh, man, I get to say that?”

Yes. Exclamation point. Absolutely. There’s a whole bunch of great lines in there. I get to say that? Yeah.

What scene did they have you audition with? Did they give you fake scenes?

They do, they give you fake scenes. I think it was a portion of the interrogation scene, but they’re sort of dummy sides when you audition.

There is a certain rhythm to the comedy of that truth serum scene from the pilot episode. Did Joss direct you on how that needed to be, or was it evident from reading it?

It was there. He’s a brilliant director, but he’s also a good writer. It was all there on the page. 

In that scene, you’re on a different rhythm than the other characters because of your disadvantage, but it was natural to find  that?

It’s great to see somebody too who’s so serious and takes themselves so seriously, to see the other side of that. Everybody is the way they are because of certain events that have happened in their life. Oftentimes you’ll meet somebody who seems a certain way and then you realize oh, that guy’s actually the sweetest man I know. But I wouldn’t have known that from the outset because that’s hidden. We all have our secrets. We all have our vulnerabilities. 

Did you go to Paris for the pilot? 

I did.

How long did you shoot there?

Two days. It was awesome. We have this big international airplane, we might as well use it, so I’m glad that we got to do that. It was a very quick trip, but we got a lot done and I think it lends a kind of authenticity to the show and production value. When we were doing all the scouting and all that stuff, the day before, it was almost too perfect. Then the next day it was rainy and foggy and whatever. In some ways that was a gift because it’s more authentic in a way. We’d have days like that in Paris, a lot of days like that, and we happened to shoot on one. We didn’t even have to be picaresque about it. We were just in Paris. I thought it was great and I hope we continue to do it.

Did you get to ride the motorcycle?

In Paris, yes. They’re shooting for authenticity. I feel capable enough and they have a lot of faith in my abilities so the stunt coordinator was like, “Put Brett in there. He can do it, he can do it.” So I just didn’t want to say no. I did everything. 

Had you ever had any fight training before this role?

A little bit. Some in grad school but we’re talking about training with swords and things that you would need in theater. Fighting for film is different. It’s different and so I had to learn how to do that. 

Don’t all actors need to know that now?

I don’t know. There’s a lot of actors who just do theater or there’s a lot of actors who may not ever be called to do that in their careers, but I am. This is the role so I’m taking full advantage of it. 

Once you were cast in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” did you notice awareness of you going to the next level?

No. I’ve been warned, I’ve been told, but it hasn’t been a huge shift to be honest. There may be in the future, but as for now, I go to work every day. There aren’t a ton of posters out there. The posters that are out there are like black logos of S.H.I.E.L.D. so my face isn’t out there. We go to set every day and shoot. So far it’s just go to work and come back.

Have they left open any possibility for you to appear in some of the Marvel movies?

We’re in the Marvel universe. No, in answer to your question. Neither yes nor no. We’re in the Marvel universe and there’s continuity between all those films. S.H.I.E.L.D. exists in all of these other movies the same way superheroes exist in our TV show. They all speak to each other, they’re all part of this universe, so it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. But nobody has sent me a script yet. 

How different was it having new directors after Joss in the pilot?

There’s no replacement for Joss. Also, Joss has handpicked the directors that we’re working with so I feel equally in good hands. We have amazing directors that we’re working with. Obviously there’s no comparison to Joss but he’s a master, but also these guys are equally as good.