Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast members Max Osinski, Dichen Lachman, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adrian Pasdar, and Natalia Cordova-Buckley sat down with moderator Rob Levy and an intimate group of fans on Saturday morning at 11:30AM in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom to talk about season five of the hit series. Levy began by asking Lachman if husband Osinski leaves notes on set for her. Lachman said that, though they have been on three shows together, they have not had the opportunity to work together.
Levy went on to ask the entire panel how much advanced warning the actors get for things that happen in the story arc. Cordova-Buckley answered that they don’t get much if any advanced warning so they basically never know. She learned the day before that she would be losing her arms. Going on, Cordova-Buckley said she knew that was a storyline from the comics and she was happy they included it in the show.
The next question from Levy addressed character development. He asked when writers and actors are developing the characters how much of the actor’s personality makes it into the character. Henstridge started off by saying more of the actor shows up in the character as they and the writers get to know each other. Moving on to Pasdar, Henstridge joked that they met him and said, “You’re the villain.” She also lamented that he came without his suit.
The floor was then opened to audience questions. The first attendee wanted to know if the actors had ever received a script and wondered, because of the situations they were in, just how the writers could keep them going in the show. Essentially, did you ask, “How did I live?” Everyone looked to Osinski due to the demise of his character in season four. He clarified that the question was asking if he thought his character would come back and said he didn’t (think he would). He went on to say that when he received the phone call about his character being killed off they told him it’s Marvel, so you never know (if you might come back). Pasdar agreed saying, “There are times you get the script and you think there’s no way this can go on, and then it does, and then it does… and then it does.” Henstridge agreed, saying, “Yeah, every episode.”
The next question was for Henstridge regarding Fitz’s death, asking how soon she knew about it and how she reacted. She admitted she knew earlier than she should have. She also confessed she is too emotionally involved in the characters and she started welling up. She then went on to say her character Gemma Simmons was positive in the end but she, herself, was destroyed.
The difficulty of keeping up with the time travel storyline was the next question from the audience. The entire cast said that it was very confusing, but that the writers were on set and were more than happy to help explain what was going on.
An audience member dressed as another character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe asked the panel if there was a possibility of a crossover from The Avengers: Infinity War or any of the other shows on Netflix. The cast all agreed that everyone was so busy that it would be too difficult. Lachman referenced a previous panel where they had mentioned they want an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. HR department. The question was then directed to Pasdar who said he was under strict order not to say anything. This led to the question of where his character, General Talbot, is. The only thing he would say was he learned from Marvel lore that the center of the sun is made of gravitonium. He then locked his lips and threw away the key.
Staying with the subject of Talbot and the gravitonium, the next question to Pasdar asked if he thought his character was becoming a superhero or a villain when he was taking on the gravitonium. Jokingly, Pasdar said he was speaking with his mother and told her he wasn’t a bad guy, he was just misunderstood. Speaking more seriously, he admitted an actor can’t approach the role of a bad guy by thinking he is a bad guy. The actor needs to think of it as the character is doing the right thing.
Inspired by the unique modes of travel and uncommon vehicles in the show, the next question for the panel was, if you could design a vehicle, what would it be? Henstridge chose a float, like in a parade, with everyone in their outfits. Osinski said a hot air balloon. Pasdar pointed out that neither of those was very stealth when Henstridge countered that S.H.I.E.L.D. puts their logo on everything from pencils to bottles of water, saying, “For a spy organization, we really love our logo.”
Another audience member asked how the storyline in the next season would be handled since it was going to be condensed to six episodes. The panel said there would actually be 13 episodes. Henstridge compared it to condensed milk, revising to cheese, saying all they would keep the good bits but none of the water. Pasdar asked how they got to cheese and Henstridge retorted, “Everything comes back to cheese.”
Speaking to inclusion on the show, the next audience member recognized the strength of the characters played by Lachman, Henstridge, and Cordova-Buckley and asked how many women are working behind the scenes. Henstridge said there are quite a few female writers, directors, and crew but even the men on the show are strong feminists. Cordova-Buckley added that it isn’t just about strong women but that women, in general, are strong and have to be to survive the world we live in. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she said, is more of a show that portrays women as naturally strong.
For preparing to portray their characters, the panel was asked if they read the comics to learn more about them. Pasdar answered that when he got the call that he would be playing Talbot, he went to Midtown Comics in New York City and asked what they knew about the character. He was then escorted to the vault and spent an hour and a half reading the Marvel Character “bible.”
The panel wrapped up with the final audience question to Pasdar. The questioner asked who would win in a battle between Talbot and his character on Heroes, Nathan Petrelli. He answered that his son had once mentioned that it was really cool that Petrelli could fly, but that’s all, what would he do when he got there? So he would have to choose Talbot.
Watch for the final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2019.