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Hail Hydra! A Conversation with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Ward and Aida at Dragon Con

The following is a Q&A with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast members Brett Dalton (Ward) and Mallory Jansen (Aida) from Dragon Con. A big thank you to the Media Relations staff of Dragon Con and fellow SpoilerTV writer DJRiter for showing me the ropes at my very first con.

Brett Dalton, aka Grant Ward, is absolutely nothing like Grant Ward, a fact that he will readily admit to. During the SHIELD cast panel earlier in the weekend, Dalton often provided comic relief, switching between telling stories from the set and jokingly begging for Marvel to give him a call with news that he's undead yet again. I have to admit that I was surprised! After seeing Ward be so serious - whether a good guy or bad guy, the man rarely cracked a smile - it was fun to see Dalton be such a jokester.

Jansen's history with Marvel is relatively recent, having only just appeared in SHIELD during it's most recent season, but she got a great taste of the devoted Marvel fandom this weekend as she saw many Madame Hydra cosplayers. Although they never shared a scene on screen, Dalton and Jansen have an easy chemistry, playfully teasing one another about their character's fate.

I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A session with these two actors, and discover some behind the scenes secrets from two of the best baddies Marvel has ever produced.

Q: [What are your] impressions of Dragon Con? What do you think about the convention as it compares to others?

MJ: It’s actually my first Dragon Con – one of my first conventions, actually – so, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end. It’s huge! And, you know what, I love it because it’s just so electric. Everyone is in a great mood, there’s so many like great costumes out there, and I just, I love it.. I’ve had a really great time being here.

BD: What she said... This is my second year in a row doing Dragon Con. And it has... all the spirit and energy of San Diego without quite the madness of it. Well, there's madness of it too, but… I love it, it’s one of my favorite ones, I’m very happy that they invited me back. It’s all fan-run… Everyone here is a legit fan who really wants to see you, and then the party never stops… It’s like a non-stop party for four days… It’s incredible to be caught up in the energy of it.

Q: With Ward being, in my opinion, one of the better-written villians -

BD: You can say best!

Q: What would you like to see if Ward came back? Would you like to see him on the right side, or his side?

BD: Any side. The alive side? Anything! I was very thankful for the redemption arc in Framework, because I think it gave, first of all, me another chance to explore Ward, [because] I was kinda sad when Coulson did that bad thing on Maveth and killed me with his robot hand. So it was good. I wasn’t really ready to give up the character and it felt like the audience wasn’t as well. And it was really nice, it felt like they were reading fan fiction and listening to the audience.

So there was a chance for SkyeWard to come back together, there was a chance for the Ward that we know and love to still be the Ward that we know and love, but as you said, he was kind of on the right side. He was using all of his tools for good rather than evil. That was good to explore, that was good to portray, and it felt like something that landed with the audience as well. So in answer to your question, should they call, I’ll pick up the phone.

Q: You’ve come back multiple times, each time you die or such, do they say that’s it and then they call you a couple months later and then you call back? How’s that work?

BD: Um, I think they gave me the same treatment that they gave young Mallory here.

MJ: We both got the same treatment.

BD: You’re just “Marvel dead.”

MJ: We all know what that means, right?

BD: They actually did follow through with me, some people not so much. (Joking with Mallory) I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding!

MJ: We don’t know yet, okay!

BD: They said that actually for many of the characters that have been on our show. Hey, there’s always a chance, you never know. And it’s true, our whole show is based on a guy who was killed in the films! So we know that it can happen, and they actually did follow through. I mean, they waited till the last minute to follow through with me, I’m just sayin. They had a whole season four go on, and I was like, this is never gonna happen. It’s just never gonna happen. How could they possibly. And then they found a way! They’re incredible writers, they know exactly what they’re doing, and I hope they find a way to bring us both back.

I mean, with the tag for season five, it kind of seems like they’re going intergalactic possibly, I don’t know, they don’t send us scripts anymore, but you know it seems like that’s where they’re going, and possibly for a bigger set up. And with Inhumans, obviously that doesn’t take place on Earth, so, there’s a lot of stuff happening, and I think that if they can possibly find a way to bring us back, I imagine they would.

MJ: Yeah.

BD: Or certainly, you know, that’s why I keep sending them gift baskets. I hope that’s not wasted money. Just dropping in the writer's room! (waving) Hey guys!

Q: Both you guys, ostensibly, were helping SHIELD at first, and then were HYDRA at various times. Has that been fun to play both sides and see both sides of your character?

MJ: Yeah, it’s always fun. It’s always fun to... find different sides of any character. For me, I started off playing Aida and I thought it was brilliant playing A.I. it was such a cool experience, finding little things, little movements, and everything like that, but then going from her to Madame Hydra and to Agnes and finding different facets in every character, but still, it’s Aida. And then, being part of Hydra’s pretty cool.

There’s a lot of Hydra fans, I’ve found. You just walk past them and they’re like, Hail Hydra! And you’re like, yeah!

BD: There’s no call and response though, what do you say after that?! I never really know.

MJ: I don’t know, I just go yay!

BD: Yes! It’s pretty cool.

MJ: We get to wear awesome costumes.

BD: I was just going to say, they have the best costumes, don't they.

MJ: Yes, they do I agree with that.

Q: Have you seen anyone cosplay as guys you yet?

MJ: Yes, yeah.

BD: (To Mallory) You certainly have

MJ: Lot of Madame Hydras. Yes, there’s been a few… It’s a good one, you get to play with the green hair and like a cape and... I love seeing people dress up as your character, it really makes you feel like they resonated with someone and they went to the effort of putting this together, so it's very cool.

BD: Yeah, of all the characters they could've [picked].

MJ: I know, right? Have you had any cosplayers today?

BD: Ah, no! (laughing) I wish I had something funny to say, but no! No, not today. I have had them, but not today.

MJ: I’m sure.

BD: You don’t have to patronize me, 'Oh, I’m sure they’re around, maybe some time this year.'

MJ: Maybe one day...

Q: I was at the panel yesterday and [Mallory] said that when you were hired, you didn’t know everything was going to happen with your character. So my question for [Brett] is when you were hired, did you know Ward was going to be evil?

BD: Abso-effing-no. Not at all.

Q: Follow up to that, since you’ve been both good and bad on the show, I just saw [The Resurrection of] Gavin Stone, and it was really, really funny, do you have any more comedy in the future?

BD: You’re like one of fifteen people who saw it. I’m kidding, I’m kidding, I loved the film, I wish more people saw it… I think it’s a good film that not a lot of people saw. I would like to – this was a stretch for me, to be cast in [SHIELD]. I think that most of the people that I’ve trained with and worked with, when they found out, they were like, 'You got cast as a superhero? Okay, how's that gonna work?' [Because] I think you know, in grad school you’re wearing sweatpants and you're not in the best shape and you’re rollin around you know, doin stuff. And yeah, they needed me in shape, and they needed me to be this ultra serious guy. And, I’m not typically used to being cast that way.

This I feel like was a stretch, actually the movie that you saw, Gavin Stone, was pretty close to who I was in real life, so I felt like for that I didn’t have to do a lot of acting, and I mean that in the best way, I felt like... it was pretty big departure because the character that those people are used to seeing me as is so serious and I think people, at least in the beginning, were like 'I don’t know how to take you… Because I've been seeing you killing people and doing all this other stuff that you probably shouldn’t be doing, and now I see you and you seem like a nice guy but I don’t know if I trust you.' So yeah, yeah, I hope that there's a future in comedy. Somebody said that I could be the next Jon Hamm.

MJ: Really?!

BD: It was myself and it was five minutes ago. I appreciated the compliment, so we’ll see.

Q: How did they describe for both of you the characters when they auditioned you for your roles?

MJ: Well, with me, I didn’t really know too much at all when I auditioned. They gave me dummy sides which were basically just put together, nothing to do with the actual storyline. And they just said, 'You're an artiifical intelligence, you're a robot, so just be as robotic as possible.' And I did my best and they said, 'Okay, one more time."

BD: 'Okay, you can turn it off now.'

MJ: Oh my God! (laughing)

BD: Sorry!

MJ: But yeah it was really, I didn’t know anything to be honest, I just did what I thought was right and thank God it worked out.

BD: They described Grant Ward as a specialist without any people skills. I’m sort of paraphrasing but that was it, he was a specialist, he could do anything with combat and weapons and all of that stuff, but he didn’t work well with others. And so there wasn’t much to go with outside of that. The rest is history.

Agents of SHIELD returns for season five this winter, Fridays on ABC.

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