WARNING: SPOILERS for season one of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead!
Last time we saw Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), he turned to the dark side. Honestly, what was he thinking trying to kill perhaps the most lovable duo on television, FitzSimmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, respectively)? So where can his character go, especially now that Garrett (Bill Paxton), the man and father figure whose every command he obeyed, was killed by Coulson (Clark Gregg)? What will become of Agent Ward now?
HuffPost TV spoke with Dalton over the phone while he was in Toronto and got a little bit of classified information out of the actor, who talked about the darker turn S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking in Season 2, drones and the beard of evil, and if Ward and Skye (Chloe Bennet) are the end game.
HuffPost TV Canada: I wish I could’ve chatted with you in person but I’m about an hour away and I get major road rage. I would’ve been a bit homicidal by the time I got to you, I’m afraid, like May.
Brett Dalton: We could’ve had a fight sequence! But that’s OK. I don’t mind talking into this strange-looking device.
Why? What does it look like?
Weird, like a drone.
A drone? You’ve been on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." too long.
OK, so on to the matters at hand. Coulson shot and killed Garrett, or at least he disintegrated him into itty bitty pieces. What was it like, working with Bill?
I would say, one of the best professional experiences of my life. He really took me under his wing, both professionally but also personally as well. He became kind of like a father figure to me. I could listen to him tell stories forever and he had a million of ‘em. It’s just great to hear him talk and also great to see him act. Strangely, I wasn’t nervous. I was just in beginner mind, I really just wanted to learn from him and see how it’s done. And he had so much fun with it, there wasn’t ever a day where he phoned it in. He just had so much fun with it. If I’m not having fun with this show then I’m doing something wrong because it’s a fantastic show to be a part of and there’s so much great stuff happening in it.
Ward’s loyalties weren’t so much with Hydra but with Garrett. Did he really think of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the enemy or was he just content with doing Garrett’s bidding?
I think he’s definitely good with commands, for sure. He’s good with fulfilling tasks that are required of him. But the question this season is who is Grant Ward without Agent Garrett. Now that he doesn’t have somebody commanding him to do stuff, who exactly is this person without somebody telling him what to do. It’s an interesting question. What we got in the last episode was like a plea for Garrett to just give him something to do, so he had purpose. But Garrett kept insisting, 'It’s already done, Buddy, there’s nothing for you to do.' I don’t think Grant Ward knew what to do with that exactly so he kind of had a Hamlet moment at that point and I think where we see him in Season 2, you’re going to see that question is going to have to be answered.
Yeah, that was kind of sad watching Ward, he just seemed so lost. We’re used to seeing him as this tough guy so it was kind of tough to watch.
I agree. I have a lot of sympathy, obviously I’m playing the guy but I have a lot of sympathy for his journey. He’s had a really terrible childhood, which we got to see glimpses of in Season 1, and he’s made some choices along the way but they’ve been to survive, they haven’t been to be a super-cool super-spy. He saw a father figure in Garrett and he hitched his wagon to that horse and decided that that’s the person he was going to follow, for better or worse. It just so happens that S.H.I.E.L.D. is completely opposed to Hydra but I think anybody who’s been undercover for that long, doing that many missions with that many people and sharing that many meals with them and doing all that stuff together, I think it’s impossible not to have a soft spot for them.
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Does Ward have an axe to grind with Coulson for killing Garrett or can Grant see the bigger picture and acknowledge that the only father he ever knew, really, was going a little bonkers and Coulson was just doing what he had to do?
That’s a great question, actually. We saw that Garrett was experiencing some technical difficulties with all of his equipment and at any point, all I would have to do is not plug him in and save him. But I couldn’t do it. But I think it was evident in the writing and hopefully in the acting as well that there was the question of do I revive him or not certainly crossed his mind, at least once. So now that Coulson’s done that, now he has in some ways the freedom to do whatever he wants to do from here on out. That boy’s gonna have to make some choices. [laughs]
As Season 1 wound down, we saw glimmers from Ward that showed he felt like what he was doing was a little sh*tty — like with Fitz and Simmons. Right before he dropped them into the ocean, Fitz shouted, 'I know that you care about us, Ward!' And Ward replied, “You’re right. I do.” And then I thought there was going to be something more to that — and then there wasn’t. So what’s Ward’s frame of mind when we pick up Season 2? Has he become a bit more in tune with that fact that he’s been a bit of a sh*t? Has he recognized that he might have to make some amends at some point?
I don’t know how much I can tell you, actually, on this. I will say that Ward is a wild card. I don’t think he’s 100 per cent Team Hydra or Team S.H.I.E.L.D.. I think that he possibly has his own agenda. But I’m not really sure what that is at the moment.
OK, here comes the portion of the interview where I ask you questions you probably can’t answer. How far after the finale do we pick up?
Um, I can’t tell you that either. Time has passed. [laughs] That’s all I can say. Time has passed. Enough time for me to grow a beard.
Yes, I was going to mention that. Do you miss being clean-shaven or are you embracing the beard?
I’m not personally a huge fan of the beard, just because it takes more maintenance. I wish I grew a better one. [laughs] But that being said, I think it’s totally appropriate for the darker tone of Season 2. As we left Ward in Season 1, he was in custody and they probably wouldn’t give a man like Ward a razor, hence the beard. So time has passed. That’s all I can say. But everybody is moving their lives forward, obviously, but they’re not quite the same people, the same eager, young rag-tag group of people that we started with. They’ve been through a lot, they really have, and the whole world has changed and S.H.I.E.L.D. has changed as well. They’re trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild and you’re not sure who to trust.
Like you said, the show explored Ward’s past so we got some insight there. Do we delve deeper or is it more about what’s to come for Ward?
Season 1 was about his past and you got some glimpses into his childhood with the episode, “The Well,” and you also got to see how he dealt with Garrett’s command to shoot the dog and you also heard Trip (B.J. Britt) talking about his parents as they were like, 'Oh, the Kennedy family' or something. You get glimpses of his past but I think this season is more about looking forward and what the future has in store for everyone. What will S.H.I.E.L.D. become? What will Grant Ward become? What will any one of these characters become now that everything has completely changed?
How far in advance did you know that your character was the bad guy?
I knew the episode before. They pulled me aside I, of course, thought I was going to get fired. Then found out that, in fact, I had a really cool character turn. I was speechless for the first 15 minutes as they were telling me about this whole thing. And then I completely embraced the change and saw it as an opportunity to really move the character in a much more interesting, complex place. And it became just really fun and dangerous. He’s really fun to play.
Did Joss or the writers give you more of an idea of what you can expect from your character this season, or is it on the fly again?
I think they tend to keep it on a need-to-know basis, which actually kind of helps because it, in a way, forces you to be in the moment. If they would have told me that I was going to be a spy early on, I don’t think I would’ve done as good of a job keeping the secret. I think I probably would’ve tipped my hand a bit here and there. But this is definitely a good way of me keeping a secret because I didn’t know. [laughs] Marvel’s really good at keeping secrets. Marvel’s not too far away from the agency S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. So they’re really good at keeping secrets and will probably continue to operate like that and just tell us enough so that we can play the scene.
So, I’m going to assume the team hasn’t welcomed you back with open arms.
If you’re not back with the team, who are your scenes with, at least in the beginning?
Who are my scenes with? Not sure if I can answer that. Nope, I can’t. I don’t want to get in trouble.
Anyone we know?
Can I answer that? [Confers with someone.] I don’t think I can answer that. [laughs] That’s Level 7. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. I have a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra agents here over my shoulder and they have drones here. I’m talking into one right now. It might explode at any moment.
It’s aimed for my house, in case you spill. OK, finally, in the end of Season 1, Ward said that Skye woke up a weakness inside him and he admitted that, for the time, he wanted something for himself. Is that still the case and can he and Skye ever overcome this? Are they the end game here?
I guess you’d have to ask Skye if she can forgive him. Because I can forgive myself for all of these things. But it would be lovely, I think fans would like it, I would also like it if they got together. As with any complex relationships, it would be perfect if only. You know? They would be perfect for each other if only I wasn’t a spy and betrayed the whole team and tried to kill FitzSimmons. It would be perfect if only she would’ve never found out and Agent Koenig was still alive. You can tell that these people clearly would be good for each other but if they got together in the first episode, there’d be no reason to do any more of the show so it definitely makes for more of an interesting arc to see people who are kind of star-crossed lovers.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV and ABC.
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