Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Iain De Caestecker and Nick Blood talk spin-offs, gadgets and pecks

Agents of Shield Nick Blood and Iain de Caestecker MCM London) 0754

When the MCM London Comic Con was in full flow we were able to fight our way through the crowds to a super-secret facility deep within the catacombs of the ExCeL centre. While there, we were able to have a chat with agents Lance Hunter and Leo Fitz, aka Nick Blood and Iain De Caestecker from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D during a roundtable interview.

 

Season two sees your character (Fitz) suffering from brain damage. Did you have to do any research into this, that you bring to the character?

Iain: Yeah, we did. It’s a very real thing that affects people in a very real way and we just wanted to make sure that we were respectful with it. A lot of the work was done for me by the writers.

What was it like joining this cast that have already been together for a season? Was it tough?

Nick: No, not at all really. I was eased into it.

Iain: He was ostracised for a while.

Nick: Yeah, they had me doing allsorts. Iain has kind of taken me under his wing; I’m still working on the rest of them.

Iain: (laughing) It sounds like no one likes you.

Nick: No I was eased into it. I did a little filming with Chloe [Bennet] first, then Clark [Gregg] and gradually everyone.

Everyone was at Comic Con on my first weekend, but it was a nuts first day. I was shooting here in London on the Thursday, wrapped, went to bed, got up, got on a plane, flew to LA, got picked up, taken to set and straight into costume and make-up.

I said to them, “Can I get a shower? I just got off the flight. Can I just grab a shower and freshen up?” They were like, “Ummm, they kind of need you.” So I was straight onto set. I was very fortunate that everyone is so chilled, fun and friendly.

With the Marvel movie machine being so successful, do you guys feel an added pressure to knock it out of the park with the TV show?

Nick: I think you find yourself in a bit of a bubble when we’re shooting it. You kind of end up forgetting. Well I do, because things happen so quickly. It’s such a fast pace, things are changing every week and there is so much to shoot. We shoot an episode in eight days, so there is no real worry about the rest of it. It’s only when you do stuff like this that you realise people watch it.

If you could see your character appear in any other Marvel movie, what would it be?

Nick: Hunter the Movie.

Iain: I actually want to be in Hunter the Movie too.

It’s funny you say that, as I believe there were plans for you to have a spin-off, which as yet hasn’t happened. Do you know what’s going on with that?

Nick: I think it’s one of those Marvel things, where rumours get out there. I don’t think anything was bolted on for it. I don’t know if the idea has completely gone away, but who knows.

So, Hunter the Movie next year then?

Nick: Yeah, basically the series got ditched because we have the movie franchise coming out.

In terms of the second season, it’s been more action packed and in your face, whereas season one was more of a slow build. How do you guys find adjusting to that and the pressure of getting into intense stories that lead into the big movies, such as Age Of Ultron?

Iain: At the start of the first season everything was happening and it was all a bit crazy, but now in season two it’s found its voice a lot more. At the same time we find out week-to-week what’s happening as well. So it’s like we tune in each week to get a script, and we’re excited to see what happens, so we don’t tend to think too far ahead, which I think is a good thing.

Agents of Shield (Iain de Caestecker MCM London) 0763There is clearly a great chemistry between the whole, but particularly between you Iain and Elizabeth [Henstridge], FitzSimmons is such a beautiful pairing. Could you tell us a little bit about that relationship?

Iain: She’s great, she’s the best, everyone is Elizabeth’s best friend. She is one of the nicest people to work with. At lot of that is also a credit to the writing. It’s been an early thing where there’s always that relationship between the two. It’s nice because in this season they have taken it in quite a few different directions, which is cool, so it’s actually changed a lot and they have both grown up a lot separately.

Nick: It’s very nice for the fans as there are a lot of those love interests.

Iain: (To Nick) They look at you as this very unobtainable thing (laughter). I mean, look at him. Whereas this (points to himself) is far more obtainable and people can relate.

Nick: A lot of the superhero world, it’s very heroic characters with super powers that really dominate those love stories, and it’s nice to see these science guys who do the jobs that people can relate to have this really nice relationship.

Iain: Also in that world, Elizabeth’s character, Simmons definitely wears the trousers in the relationship. Fitz is far more of a coward than she is.

How much input do you get to put into your characters?

Nick: I think they write for the actors, I have definitely felt that after a few episodes. You can start to see how they are taking things that they have seen you do on set and have used it and expanded it.

This is going to be my second season coming up and there are conversations that you have with the show runners and such and I haven’t really gone through that as yet.

The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier had huge knock on effects to your show. Do you guys hear rumblings in advance of what might happen, and wonder if it will affect your characters?

Iain: We don’t really hear too much. Often Clark will come up and say something like, “I’m really sorry about what’s happening with your character,” and we’ll be like, “What, what’s happening?” and it’s just him winding you up. You do kinda hear rumblings and stuff, like with Captain America, they showed us an unfinished version of the film, so that we knew the story as we were starting to film. If it’s something big like that, they usually tell you a little bit in advance.

Nick: They keep it very tight and only let you know, what you need to know.

Moving into season three, what would you like to see happening to your characters?

Nick: I’d like Hunter to get a disability which means he is in a wheelchair, so I can sit and film.

So many British actors seem to be going over to the Marvel franchise. What do you think it is about the UK actors?

Nick: Just better looking aren’t we? (laughter) I dunno really, I think they like the international feel, and the advantage that we share the same language. I think maybe they think we are a bit more refined and cultured, and more than happy for them to believe that.

The Marvel universe continues to grow and grow, did you ever think back when Iron Man first came out that one day you might be a part of this franchise?

Iain: Nick said a really cool thing to me recently, which was… well you say it.

Nick: When you’re doing any job, you just get lost in it and you kind of forget the excitement you had when you first got it. We were just talking about that and if your 10-year-old self could see you in this big Marvel series, and imagine the excitement he would have. If you just remind yourself of that and it makes you feel very fortunate.

Your characters get to play with and invent some pretty fun tech. What are the best toys you’ve gotten to play with?

Nick: I liked it when they gave me a football, I was pretty happy with that.

Iain: The drones were always cool, I haven’t used them in a while. The strange thing is, when you’re doing it, you’ll have one there but then they’ll CG it out. When you have the hologram tables you just get to wave your hands about for ten minutes (laughter). They often bring in things that light up, just little boxes with lights.

What do you think are the major differences between the Marvel movies and the TV shows, story and structure wise?

Nick: I think, with a film, you tend to go to a cinema, and with a TV show you just use your remote. (laughter) That’s the main difference.

Iain: The scale is a big one. Daredevil was a really good example of how a TV show can be more important than a movie, because they can stretch out the backstories. The actual story could have lasted the length of a two hour movie, but they have stretched it out, and made it more like a book or something.

Nick: As an audience member you just get to know the characters a lot better and I think people connect with them, because you’re there every week spending an hour or so with them.

In the comic book world there is a pretty fierce rivalry between DC and Marvel, and particularly on the big screen Marvel have been crushing it. Are you guys aware of that rivalry and how do you feel about it?

Iain: Yeah, I hate them (laughter). No.

Nick: No, I think maybe the business guys have more of a rivalry.

In the last couple of years we have seen an explosion in the popularity of the superhero and comic book world. Do think that it is now cooler to been involved with a comic book/ superhero franchise that it was, say ten years ago?

Iain: I think the stories can be told in a very different way than they could years ago, with the advancement in technology and stuff.

Nick: Yeah, when you look at the original Batman series, and see them running around in tights and scrawny underpants, with the Pow! and Bam!

I love that, I think the style was so cool, but as an actor you’d probably feel pretty silly in a spray on thing, without all the padding and the amazing costumes, pretending stuff is there that isn’t, and fighting cardboard monsters and stuff. Now it just looks incredible. Some of the stuff in the Avengers film was just insane and we are amazed every week with what they manage to do on the show. When I first realised it was an episode every eight days and I thought, you’re shooting what is a 40-odd minute episode, or half a movie in eight days. If I was a movie exec I’d be like, “Er… why are we taking nine months to shoot this?”

I think that’s a major part of it, they are able to make them look cool, and the popularity, so many people are watching them. So as an actor that becomes very much a part of the decision making process.

You spoke a little about Elizabeth before, but can you tell us a little bit about the rest of the cast, because it’s a really great ensemble.

Iain: Yeah we are really lucky. In someways people’s characters mirror themselves. You know, Clark is definitely the leader of our group. I think the only person who is very different from her character is Ming [-Na Wen]. She is absolutely insane.

Nick: She’s like a child who has had too many Smarties.

Iain: Or like six cans of Diet Coke, or Red Bull. She’s nuts, but in the best way.

Can you give us an example?

Iain: She dances, she doesn’t stop, she dances more, than she doesn’t. And she loves her innuendos.

Nick: Loves her innuendos.

Iain: And she laughs more than she doesn’t laugh, it’s hard to get through a scene with her.

Agents of Shield (Nick Blood MCM London) 0745What has been your favourite moment on the show?

Iain: The moment I met Nick.

Nick: Mine wasn’t the moment I met Iain. No it was the moment I met Iain. I really enjoyed when I did my stuff with Adrian [Pasdar], when I got kidnapped and yanked out of the back of a car and dumped into a field. Then the helicopter, we shot the scene where we were talking in the helicopter, on the ground with everything you see out of the windows being CGI. But they had to get a shot of the helicopter taking off and flying through the mountains, and there was no intention or need for us to be in there for it, but I was like, “I’m getting in the helicopter, and it was amazing.”

It’s really fun working with Adrian, he’s just so on it and really funny, a really nice guy. Also the guy who does the helicopter stuff is the guy who does the Michael Bay stuff, so he’s the top guy, and we were just going through the mountains, bombing through them was just incredible.

But they hadn’t announced that I was in the show by that point, so I couldn’t tell anyone, I had this video on my phone that I was itching to show people. That was really fun.

Could you tell us a little bit about the relationship between Fitz and Mack , he was the first to speak to Fitz without treating him as if he had a problem, yet by the end, it all goes to hell.

Iain: Henry [Simmons] is great; he’s such a nice man, a big gentle giant. He was great coming in. It’s exactly like you said, everyone else knew Fitz before his injury and so treated him differently, which was the last thing he wanted, whereas Mack took him at face value, he didn’t know any different. That was the person he knew, and Fitz appreciated that.

Nick: I think it’s a good example of the way the writers are able to do what they do. They’ve obviously seen in Henry himself that he has that complete open mindedness and acceptance of anyone, and I think that was probably an influence on that relationship.

Iain: That’s true, and his biceps are bigger than my head.

Nick: His pecks look like fake boobs, they are so big. If they weren’t so rock hard, he’d need a bra for them because they are massive.

Iain: And he can move them to a song

Nick: We went out for dinner just before we came back to the UK, and I did think that it must look really weird with this 6ft 6” dude who is absolutely massive, out for dinner with us two, as if we are his kids or something.

Iain: We always laugh because if you say something that surprises him, he’ll just look around and say “Holy mackerel!”

Nick: He actually said the other day, “Holy cow!” I didn’t realise people actually said that in real life, I thought it was just in comics.

 

Ian De Caestecker and Nick Blood will return in the third season of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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