In a franchise of characters going from comic book pages to the big screen, Clark Gregg's deadpan Agent Coulson has been going the other way, popping up on screen in "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2" and "Thor" before being turned into a Marvel comic book character. Now, the hardworking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's efforts to bring the heroes together pay off with "The Avengers."
It's pretty ambitious, five movies leading up to this one. How has it been from your perspective?
I wasn't quite sure how I was getting to be a part of this, it seemed so surprising. I was lucky. Something about the character was clicking. They knew where they wanted to go, but they weren't quite sure exactly how, and they picked a character who wasn't even in the comics to start to be the thing to tie it together. I was doing scenes in "Iron Man 2" talking about going to New Mexico, and finally I pulled somebody aside and said, "What's in New Mexico? I'm sorry, I feel like I read the script and I don't know this." And they were like, "Nobody talked to you? You're going to be in 'Thor.'"
At what point are you usually allowed to know things about the franchise?
Me? Last. Always last. They do tell me a little, and I've gotten pretty good at hanging around on set and talking to [producers] Jeremy Latcham and Kevin Feige and just listening very closely. Every once in a while I figure out something about what's coming next.
Everyone was very hush-hush about "The Avengers" to avoid spoilers. Can you give those
who haven't seen it some fake spoilers?
I guess the one thing that I can reveal as a fake spoiler is that what really, at the end of the day, brings the Avengers together is a "Beat It"-style dance-off with the alien invaders.
It makes sense, really, considering the success of the "Step Up" franchise.
That's exactly right. "Avengers Step Up," yes. And it's good to get all the male Avengers in the catsuits too. It's only fair.
Do you have a favorite Avenger?
You know, it may sound like a copout, but Agent Coulson is not the father, certainly, of this dysfunctional family, but he is kind of like the weird uncle who babysits a lot. And I think there's a choice you make of just, "I'm never going to have a favorite." There's certainly some that are often favorites. I think there's a special kind of snarky rapport with Tony Stark that Agent Coulson actually really enjoys.