“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”
is gearing up for its Season 1 finale on Tuesday (May 13), and Coulson’s SHIELD team will have to face down a newly superpowered Agent John Garrett. Bill Paxton’s character was dosed with the GH325 serum Raina had been working on in episode 21, “Ragtag,”
and now not only is he not on death’s door, but he’s also got strange abilities and extraordinary strength.
spoke with Paxton about the transformation of his character while promoting the Season 1 finale, “Beginning of the End.” Paxton also opened up about working with Samuel L. Jackson for the first time and whether he’d be interested in returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some capacity.
Zap2it: You joked before that your acting improved on “Agents of SHIELD” when your HYDRA allegiance was revealed. Has your acting improved similarly now that Garrett has these superpowers?
Bill Paxton: It’s tons of fun, absolutely. I got to really contort and do all kinds of crazy things. I kind of felt like Alastair Sim in the classic black-and-white “Christmas Carol” after he’s had the visitations from the three ghosts. He’s just so ebullient on Christmas morning because he’s had this redemption and he sees the way it should be. He’s almost giddy as a schoolboy. That’s what I was trying to channel in the final episode, to a certain degree. That kind of zaniness, that kind of giddiness is a little scary for people to be around because — kind of like it is for the characters in “Christmas Carol” — it seems like: Has this guy flipped his lid? That’s a lot of fun to play. “I haven’t lost my senses, I’ve come to them!”
We saw that there’s another fight sequence between Garrett and Coulson in this episode. How was it fighting against Clark Gregg again?
Well, you know, there’s nothing worse than betrayal in between friends or loved ones. The backstory of Coulson and Garrett, these guys came up together. They were pals. They were proteges of Nick Fury. He brought me back in at a really crucial time when not only was he depending on my trust, he needed my trust, and found that was not to be. To say Coulson’s a bit angry would be maybe an understatement. [laughs] It’s payback time in some ways too.
Speaking of Nick Fury — if I’m not mistaken, this episode is the first time you’ve worked with Samuel L. Jackson. Is that correct?
That was the first time. Our paths have crossed over the years, and I know Sam a little bit, but no we’d never actually appeared together in a film. And that is significant.
What was that experience like finally working with him?
I just remember when he came to Culver Studios, I went down to his trailer and he was sitting on the steps of his trailer, and you know, we embraced and we caught up. We hadn’t seen each other in a while.
The first time I met Sam Jackson was down in Atlanta when I was shooting a movie called “Trespass” with Ice Cube and Ice-T and all these guys. Sam, I think he’d been offered a part and had been unable to do it for whatever reason. But he came down to set to visit [director] Walter Hill, and I think he might have even been doing a play at a time, and he came down. He was really just kind of a young actor starting out then. This was a while back [in 1992]. It was before I guess he was “Sam Jackson” — he was always Sam Jackson, but it was before it was the world knew him as Sam Jackson.
Beyond just having Nick Fury come back after “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” it’s going to be a real treat to see you two together.
It’s been great the way they’ve created the show to interact with the movies. I think that’s really cool. It does give the fans an extra added bonus in terms of watching the show.
One fan wanted to know if you can tease any more evolutions or conflicts with the relationship between Ward and Garrett in the finale?
What was great about the last episode was you really understood how far back and how emotionally manipulated Ward has been from adolescence. This dynamic guy comes into his life to teach him how to be a man and all this stuff. That’s absolutely coming to a head because Ward really has saved my life. I’m practically dead before they give me the serum in the previous episode. But his allegiances are obviously torn. They’ve been torn for a while, and “Will he be strong enough to stand up for himself?” is kind of the question.
Those scenes between Garrett and young Ward are so hard to watch, especially when Buddy the dog gets brought into the mix.
[laughs] Oh, you know, it’s so perverse, and I just loved shooting that scene.
One thing we’ve learned is no one is really dead in Marvel. Whether Garrett lives or dies in the finale, if the writers found a way for Garrett to come back in Season 2, would you be interested?
Absolutely. I’m not going to say either way, but I had a great experience with everybody on the show, the creators as well as the cast. We all became good friends and they were super supportive of me. I got to play a real flamboyant character. I’d be available for the movies or for the series.
The “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” Season 1 finale airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.