When he finished filming “The Avengers,” Clark Gregg figured he was done playing SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson for good.
That, of course, turned out not to be the case. Gregg is front and center in ABC’s new, “Avengers”-adjacent series “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” in the fall, and the pilot episode explains, at least to some extent, how Coulson survived the events of the movie.
Sunday (Aug. 4) at the TCA summer press tour, Gregg related how he learned of Coulson’s rebirth. Here’s his full answer:
“My next-to-last day on ‘The Avengers’ involved this certain Asgardian fellow impaling me, quite convincingly. I was surprised how emotional it was to me to give up the character and the long-term job. I made jokes like, ‘Is there going to be a rewrite coming from the governor at any point?’ ‘Do you want to shoot one where he just grazes me a little bit?’ There were a few kind of pathetic, sad — no. It was really clear that I was dead, you know?
“I had a great run, and I thought what [‘Avengers’ writer-director] Joss [Whedon] did with the character was such a magnificent kind of resolve of it, and I loved what happened in ‘The Avengers.’ Somebody sent me a tweet that they heard Coulson’s funeral was going to be in ‘Thor 2,’ and that [hurt]. I thought I was cool, but I was messed up, and I sent an e-mail to [Marvel Studios head] Kevin Feige saying, ‘I have to do business with this, don’t I?’ Because they had made a couple of jokes like, ‘It’s a comic-book universe, how dead can you be?’ But then I heard that, and I’m pretty sure the Asgardians do that thing where they burn guys on top of the thing — I didn’t think I was going to be coming back from that.
“Kevin didn’t respond, and then a couple of weeks later — this is probably four or five months after ‘The Avengers’ — I got a call from Joss, and we talked about how much we wanted to have whatever reason Coulson had for still being alive and walking around not be anything that undermines the reality of ‘The Avengers.’ When he explained to me a little bit more than what you saw in the pilot, the stuff that Coulson doesn’t know, I hung up the phone very deeply on board.”
“Agents of SHIELD” is scheduled to premiere Sept. 24 on ABC.