Secret agent Phil Coulson, as played by Clark Gregg, has appeared in three Marvel Studios films so far, and his biggest role yet is in the upcoming “The Avengers,” directed by Joss Whedon.
“There’s no other movie where I have this much to do,” Gregg said in a telephone interview promoting Friday’s release of the “Thor” DVD.
SHIELD is Marvel’s high-tech superspy agency led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). When Thor’s hammer lands in New Mexico and is giving off strange readings, SHIELD sets up shop to analyze the artifact.
Coulson comes into conflict with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), an Asgardian god cast to Earth by his father, Odin, when Thor tries to retrieve his hammer. Coulson has to become a little more aggressive in “Thor,” as he leads a team of agents protecting the hammer.
Gregg was impressed with Hemsworth’s abilities as the lead character.
“That seems really hard. He’s got to be this ultimate warrior, and at the same time, he’s got to be this Shakespearean prince,” Gregg said.
Tying films together
Coulson helps tie together the Marvel films in a new short, “The Consultant,” which will appear on the “Thor” Blu-ray.
“It was hugely cool,” Gregg said. “I just love that they wanted to go further with SHIELD and Coulson. They’ve been evolving who SHIELD is and who Coulson is.”
Meanwhile, Coulson’s role as something of a point-of-view character in this world of superheroes and thunder gods has made him a fan favorite.
“It’s really fun for me,” Gregg said. “You can feel that the audience will be discovering this or that. (And) he’s not afraid to say something sarcastic,” Gregg said.
The fans have taken to Coulson’s deftness and quick wit, and they share their love of the character with Gregg.
“I’m so kind of flattered and blown away by that,” he said. “People send T-shirts and make really amazing art.”
Coulson was created for the films but has appeared in comic books based on the film’s continuity since, including “Iron Man 2: Agents of SHIELD,” set between “Iron Man” 1 and 2, and “Security Measures,” collected in the “I Am Iron Man” trade paperback.
Whedon recently told MTV that he found places during the filming of “The Avengers” to increase Agent Coulson’s screen time. “There were things that during the writing, I was like, ‘I need something more here … Oh, Coulson!’ and he just, he comes up every time,” Whedon said at MTV’s Splash Page. “Clark is such a wonderful guy but also such a precise actor.”
Gregg laughed off such compliments — “I had to pay a lot for him to say that,” he said — but shared praise on working with Whedon and the all-star “Avengers” cast, which includes Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America.
Gregg also is dipping into Marvel’s animated world, voicing Coulson in the upcoming “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon series.
Gregg said it’s exciting to put Coulson into “the whole Peter Parker, Aunt May world,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen in any other milieu.”
Gregg, who also writes and directs, will be a triple-threat in the upcoming “Trust Me,” a noirish comedy which he wrote and will star in and direct.
“I definitely wrote this character pretty much for myself,” he said. “I didn’t feel like handing it off to someone else.”
- By Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman