It was a question that demanded an answer. Who’s faster: Ghost Rider’s Hell Charger or Coulson’s Lola? We’ve got your Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exclusive first look at the winner in the video above. And we have a chat with the man beneath the flaming skull, Gabriel Luna, who tells us what it’s like to have a demon inside you, as well as what the “Phil Coulson switch” is.
“I call her Lucy, my hell charger. Short for Lucifer,” says Luna. He’s even created a buzz on Twitter for the muscle-car showdown. “We’ve got a hashtag, #LolaVsLucy.” The cars duck and weave through the city streets, but once they make it to the iconic L.A. River — which you might recognize from Grease, Drive, Transformers, Repo Man, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, or dozens of other films — there’s no contest. Lucy loses Lola in the straightaway. Of course, Coulson usually has at least one more trick up his sleeve…
There are still a lot of mysteries to be uncovered here: How are Robbie and his family tied up with the mysterious Pasadena lab? How is that tied in with the push to eliminate the Inhumans? What is the Darkhold and why is it making ghosts? Luna is savoring the slow pace of the reveals and likes that his character doesn’t entirely know what’s going on, not even with himself.
“I love the fact that however powerful Robbie is and however many attempts he’s made at trying to get rid of the ghost, he’s still heavily under its control.” Robbie expected to be done with the vengeful spirit once he killed the people who paralyzed his brother, so now he finds himself struggling to solve even more mysteries in an attempt to free himself.
In some ways, Robbie’s experience mirrors Luna’s own. S.H.I.E.L.D. is notorious for being secretive about its plots, even to the actors themselves, and not even he knows quite how it will end. “I look forward to the upcoming episodes. I think we, along with Robbie, are going to learn it all together.”
Even though he knows that every person he’s killed deserves punishment, Luna says Robbie isn’t a monster. “The way I’m trying to portray him is as if he has this bear, this lion, this wolf just clawing at the inside of his face at every waking moment of his life. And it takes everything within his power — it takes love for his brother and his own humanity — to keep that bottled up.” In that way, the struggle is a very human one. “Within the Rider is Robbie Reyes, and within Robbie Reyes is a good man.”
With Daisy away from S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s created a great opportunity to tell the story on a micro as well as a macro level. “I love how we got to be this little bubble within this larger story arc,” says Luna. Ghost Rider has sent tremendous ripples out into the world, but to Robbie, his world is almost exclusively himself and his brother. “He’s found someone he trusts in Daisy, which is an extreme rarity,” and it creates a “small, almost family-type interaction” among the three.
Not that that feeling will last forever. As we saw in the clip, Ghost Rider will eventually be forced to deal with the larger world of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans. Luna recalls his excitement about meeting Clark Gregg for the first time. “I’ve seen all the Avengers movies,” he says. “I’ve watched him in every postcredit sequence.” When the time finally did come, he says, it was worth it. “I do recall coming into work one day and finally seeing him throw the Phil Coulson switch and being like, ‘Holy Moses, he’s Phil Coulson!’”
Even more, he’s excited to see Robbie meeting the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew onscreen. “I don’t believe we’ll have to wait long to see how those interactions play out,” he said.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.