Clark Gregg talks joining – and not surviving – ‘The Avengers’
(Photo: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures)
By reprising the role of Coulson in "Iron Man 2" and "Thor," Gregg became an integral part of the cinematic Marvel Universe. And when the different comic-book heroes needed to come together in "The Avengers," [SPOILER ALERT] it was Coulson's shocking death that made the team put aside their difference to fight as a unit.
With "Marvel's The Avengers" out now on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray, I spoke to Clark Gregg about the thrill of joining the film's all-star cast, and the pain of knowing it was Coulson's last hurrah. Gregg also discussed the possibility of returning to Marvel behind the camera and -- as the real-life husband of actress Jennifer Grey -- how Marvel fanatics compare to "Dirty Dancing" devotees.
Matt McDaniel: How did you learn you're going to be in "Avengers" and how did you learn you weren't going to make it out of "The Avengers"?
Clark Gregg: [Laughs] Well, when I was at Comic-Con about to go onstage for a panel for "Thor," this guy ran up to me who I recognized because I'm such a fan as ["Avengers" writer/director] Joss Whedon, and said, "Oh man, I'm sorry, we're supposed to call you. I'm writing a very big role for Agent Coulson in 'The Avengers.' Can I introduce you as part of the cast?" And I looked over with Robert [Downey Jr.] and Scarlett [Johansson] and Sam [Jackson] and Mark Ruffalo -- the coolest cast I've ever seen -- and I almost just turned into sand and collapsed to the floor right there.
And then couple of months before we started shooting, I got a call from the guys at Marvel saying, "Listen, it's really special what you're going to do in 'Avengers.'" and I said, "That's exciting!" They said, "Yes, it's really pivotal." I was like, "That's great!" And they said, "What happens to you is what brings the Avengers together." And there was a long pause, and I said, "Oh, is this my last Marvel movie?" And they said, "Well, it looks that way, but you'll go out with a bang." And I really did go out with a bang, and I have no regrets about it. I will admit that I did spend a lot of time in those last few days kind of waiting for a rewrite like a guy on death row. Like, "You can't kill me. I'm the glue. I'm the glue of the Marvel Universe!"
MM: As a Joss Whedon fan, you knew somebody had to get it though, right?
CG: I was hoping they would avenge some kind of faceless mortals who've been wiped out by some bomb blast or something. Not beloved Phil Coulson! [Laughs] I had ambivalent feelings, but what Joss came up with for Coulson was so fantastic that I really loved doing it.
MM: He really is beloved, that character, and that was cemented even more after "Avengers." So what is it about Coulson, you think, that connects with people?
CG: Different things for different people. His lack of superhero powers, it makes him more relatable in some ways to people who can't turn into a giant green rage monster. Joss seized on everything that's kind of evolved along the way. The fact that he has Captain America cards and clearly grew up idolizing Captain America and is a geek.