EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Clark Gregg About THE AVENGERS And Future MARVEL Endeavors

Clark Gregg on his place in the Marvel movie universe, the S.H.I.E.L.D. chain of command, whether we'll see Agent Coulson on the Marvel tv shows,and his work on the new Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

I shared a snippet from this interview with you guys last week because Clark's response to my spoiler-ish inquires were just too funny for me to keep to myself. As I previously stated, Clark is currently starring in Ethan Coen's (No Country For Old Men) Off-Broadway play, Happy Hour but was gracious enough to make time for a chat with me. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that just like Kristain Nairn (Game of Thrones) he's a fan of CBM and often visits the site. Here's the full interview where we discuss his importance to Marvel's continuity, what Agent Coulson gets up to in The Avengers, where he stands between Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and a certain rumor about Jeffrey Wright secretly visiting the Cleveland shoot. In addition to that, Gregg also says that he's currently in talks with Marvel to determine what film he'll be in after The Avengers.

Interview Conducted By: Mark Julian

And here's the accompanying transcript.

MARK JULIAN: Your importance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU increases exponentially with each film that you appear in, starting with Iron Man and then most recently in Thor. Would you say that you're now the most important figure in terms of Marvel's continuity?

CLARK GREGG: Wow, I’m trying to figure out a way that Coulson can be considered the most important person in the Marvel [Cinematic] Universe. (laughs) I guess if you’re thinking in terms of most appearances in Marvel movies, I think I do win on that score.

MJ: Absolutely. I think it all unravels without you [continuously] popping in.

CG: (laughs) Well that’s nice. When I think that, I tend to go get some help because I feel like I’m getting a little grandiose. But it’s really, really fun to be the glue, so–to-speak. To, move from one of these worlds, and directors and scripts and hero characters to another and then to the Avengers; to see them all in one room was pretty incredible.

MJ: You've stated previously that when Joss Whedon approached you for The Avengers, he told you that you had a really big part to play. Is it safe to say that you're doing more than trading quips with Robert Downey Jr. in this one?

CG: Yeah, definitely. They’ve always found a more important role, for the most part, in each one of these things for Coulson and I think [this time] it feels more integral to the story than any of the other movies.

MJ: With all due respect to Agent Coulson's ass-kicking skills, if The Avengers are needed to fight Loki and his army how do the non-powered members of S.H.I.E.L.D. contribute to the battle?

CG: Well, it’s one of the fun things about being Coulson. His duties range from what we’ve seen so far which is managing a paramilitary force in Thor to handling a dysfunctional, bratty billionaire in Tony Stark. I think when the Avengers all get together [he will be] trying to get the Avengers to work together as a team. And then Loki and his cohorts wreak a level of havoc that causes everyone to have to take up arms, whether they’re superheroes or not.

MJ: Cobie Smulder's stated that her character, Maria Hill is not a fan of the heroes and readers familiar with her character from the comics know that's an understatement. Where does Agent Coulson stand between Director Fury and Deputy Director Hill?

CG: You know, I think he’s a little bit like a great film director in that he’s dealt with all the tantrums; he’s had to sober up his star to get her on stage to do the things she needs to do, he’s seen all the ugly and [yet] he still totally buys the magic and he still really, believes in the dream.

MJ: After Fury and Hill, are you next in the chain of command?

CG: That’s the impression I get and in fact, there was some back and forth between Coulson and Maria Hill, actually I guess between me and Cobie. We tended to agree that we were in different divisions more than that she was my superior. (laughs) That was Coulson’s point of view; he was not having Agent Hill as his boss.

MJ: There was a rumor that actor Jeffrey Wright was on The Avengers set in Cleveland. Is he in the film?

CG: I have read those rumors because I am also a fan of the comic book movie website but I didn’t see him when I was in Cleveland. So I couldn’t verify that. That would be cool if he was, he’s a terrific actor.

MJ: So that’s not a no…..

CG: It’s not a no, it’s a no that I didn’t see him. I have no information saying that but I’d be psyched if he was.

MJ: Will the comic book fans recognize the members of Loki's army?

CG: (pauses) Umm… (pauses again) Boy, you tricky bastard, look at you (laughs). That’s very clever. Will they recognize them? I guess that will depend on the fan and what they've read and what they've seen.

MJ: Touché (laughs).

CG: I mean if they're fans of Land of the Lost, they won't be surprised to see Loki show up with a bunch of sleestaks. Whoops! Oh no, what have I done? (mock horror) I think everyone is going to be surprised to see Loki get out of a Romulan ship is all I'm going to say.

MJ: Now originally no one knew how important your character would become after the first Iron Man. Are you signed for 7 pictures like Chris Evans and Samuel Jackson or do you renegotiate with each subsequent film?

CG: I was signed up for a bunch of pictures, I think it was six.

MJ: Marvel's also working on superhero TV shows with ABC. Any chance we'll see Agent Coulson turn up in one of those shows?

CG: They are? They’re working on live-action television shows with ABC?

MJ: Yeah, there’s a Hulk Tv show in development and one for Jessica Jones, a failed superheroine who’s now a private detective. It’s going to have Luke Cage and maybe, Iron Fist in it. And there’s talk that it may be connected to the movie universe so I’m wondering if there’s a chance that you might turn up?

CG: I’ve had a few talks because I’ve been doing Ultimate Spider-Man, the marvel animated series, Coulson plays a role in that and there’s been some talk about the live action stuff but you know, you go to New York and you do a play and suddenly there’s new stuff that I don’t know about. But anything Iron Fist is in, I want to be in, so I’ll definitely be begging.

MJ: There’s a new director joining the Marvel camp in Patty Jenkins. Have you had a chance to speak with her?

CG: No. But I’m going to be speaking with her very soon. And I’m looking forward to it because I’m a big fan of hers and I thought the movie she made [Monster] was great.

MJ: Marvel's got Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, Namor, and [the Inhumans]; all in various stages of development. Has anyone approached you about being in any of those movies?

CG: The one’s you’ve named, no, not the ones you’ve named. I’m talking with them about doing a couple of other movies but it’s not the one’s you’ve named.

MJ: Aha! So what has come up in those talks?

CG: You’re trying to get me murdered. You’re trying to get me killed by my own S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and that would be bad.

MJ: Marvel has a lot more superheroes besides The Avengers that deserve a big screen adaption. Who would you like to see that we haven’t already?

CG: You named one of my favorites as a kid, which was Iron Fist. I also was a big Luke Cage fan. I’d like to see a little more diversity out there. I like Captain Marvel and [Adam] Warlock, those guys were friends of mine [growing up]. It’s a little sci-fi but I would like to see some of that stuff going on.

MJ: Last but not least, what can you say about your work on The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon?

CG: It was really fun, it was really good. The animation that I’ve seen now is incredible. It’s different than anything I’ve ever seen and they came up with a really funny idea which was there are these younger superheroes working undercover in this New York City public high school and they kind of manage and protect them by putting Agent Coulson there as Principal Coulson at the high school. And they send him on a date with Aunt May (laughs), it just couldn’t have been more fun.

MJ: They also have the Avengers cartoon as well. Are those two going to cross over or are they completely separate?

CG: That’s a good question. I don’t know that they know yet. But I have a feeling that they will.

[Click on images to enlarge.]

Robert Clark Gregg (born June 29 1962) is an American actor, screenwriter and director. He co-starred as Christine Campbell's ex-husband Richard in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, which debuted in March 2006 and concluded in May 2010. He is also known for playing Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers).

Agent Phil Coulson is a fictional character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which crosses over several Marvel Studios superhero films. Coulson first appeared as a member of the fictional agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Jon Favreau's 2008 film Iron Man, where he was portrayed by American actor Clark Gregg. Gregg then signed a multi-film deal with Marvel Studios and reprised the role in Favreau's 2010 film Iron Man 2 and Kenneth Branagh's 2011 film Thor. Gregg is also reported to star as Coulson in Joss Whedon's 2012 film The Avengers and be the subject of a series of short films and "digicomics". Gregg will voice the character in the upcoming cartoon series Ultimate Spider-Man, where he is undercover as Peter Parker's school principal.

In the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Coulson is generally used to represent S.H.I.E.L.D.'s presence in the plots of the films, to the point that Clark Gregg has described Coulson as "the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent". However, in the "Marvel One-Shots", Coulson is given "a chance to stand in his own spotlight for once", when the character is put in a position where there is an imminent threat and no superheroes around. The decision to give more focus to Coulson was "a natural" one said "Marvel One-Shot" co-producer Brad Winderbaum.

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