Agent Carter: Hayley Atwell on Peggy’s mantra and Jarvis’ wife

Kelsey McNeal/ABC
Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Fan Expo in Toronto ended on a high note over the weekend, with Agent Carter‘s Hayley Atwell taking the stage in front of hundreds of devoted fans. Popular topics among the fans included discussions of the much-loved relationship between Peggy and Angie (Lyndsy Fonesca), or as fans call it, Cartinelli, Chris Evans’ kissability (she confirmed he is a divine kisser), and the popular Dubsmash Wars raging between Team Carter and Team SHIELD.

Atwell also teased some news about Agent Carter Season 2, including the confirmation that Black Widow Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) would be returning. We also learned that we’ll get a small peek into Peggy’s past and the series’ first love triangle, now that Peggy is able to move on from Steve.

The TV Junkies got the chance to chat with Atwell after the panel, where she discussed some workplace tension between Peggy and the newly promoted Chief Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), and how Season 2 will be an “emotional run” for Jarvis (James D’Arcy).

The TV Junkies: First of all, I have to say this panel has been a testament to the passion of your fans.

Hayley Atwell: Yeah, Peggy’s loved, it’s lovely. It’s very humbling. You never know how people are going to react to characters that you play and I’ve had a variety in my career, some of them from Bess Foster in The Duchess, who was this home wrecker, to then playing someone like Peggy who’s just been this personification of courage and bravery for a lot of women. It’s been lovely.

TTVJ: That line from the finale, “I know my value,” I know it meant a lot to me, personally, and to the people who watched it. What was your reaction when you first saw that on the script?

HA: I loved it. I struggled with how to deliver it because I thought if she gets hard or aggressive or defensive with that line then it actually loses all its power. I knew it was a meaningful line and I wanted to give it the weight it deserved, but in fact the best way to deliver it was just very, very simply because the words spoke for itself. It also shows that she’s really defenceless, which means that she’s really not fighting to prove herself, that she has to walk her talk, which is what I felt that she was doing in the season anyway.

It never occurred to me that would be a tagline until people came up to me and showed me their tattoos of it, or showed me their illustrations of it. It’s been such a lovely thing to give her because it really sums up what she stands for, it’s like her mantra.

TTVJ: Going into Season 2, things are going to be a little different. For instance, Daniel Sousa’s going to the chief, so how does that affect Peggy’s standing in the SSR?

HA: Well, we’re just beginning. I’ve filmed for a week and what I love about it is that as the story unfolds I’m learning it in my head fresh as well. It’s not that I know everything that’s going to happen, I’m literally learning from episode to episode and that keeps it exciting for me because it means I’m having to play real moments that are very present, rather than going, “Oh, I know how to say it this way because later she says it that way.” It’s really nice and keeps it fresh for me as an actor to have kind of natural discovery and that spontaneity.

There’s something to be said for the relationship she had with Sousa towards the end of the season, which was him to get a romantic interest, and that becomes more complicated and more interesting. Certainly we haven’t put that element to rest yet. I think that will also affect the work and the way they relate to each other at work, and that could cause some tensions which are quite interesting.

There will be new people that she gets to work with that she has to prove herself to, just to be able to do her job in the first place. But then she also has the support of people like Jarvis, so she’s in a much more confident place; she’s a lot more calmer, a lot happier, a lot more relaxed.

ABC/Disney
ABC/Disney

TTVJ: And how is the relationship between Peggy and Jarvis going into Season 2?

HA: Jarvis is going to have a really interesting run this season, it’s going to be quite emotional for him, from what I do know about where the episodes go. We meet his wife and the relationship that Peggy has with Jarvis is strengthened by the wife’s presence, and also she has a new friend in her. So that’s really lovely to see. What’s really great is that the wife isn’t threatened by what Peggy and Jarvis have. She understands that it’s a professional working relationship and they mutually respect each other, and she’s not threatened by it, which is really nice to see that.

Jarvis provides a lot of the comedy elements to the actual screen and to the script and it helps the two of us be able to banter off of each other and have a bit of fun with the delivery of the lines.

TTVJ: Well, you both have a lot of great chemistry on the show.

HA: Oh yeah, we do have fun.

TTVJ: Earlier in the panel, you confirmed Dottie would be coming back in Season 2. Is she connected to the new nemesis?

HA: I’m not sure. I don’t actually know, I really don’t. I’d love to say more than that. I don’t know how Dottie’s coming back, I don’t know where she’s coming, where she fits in. That’s actually quite exciting as well for me. It’ll be as new to me as it is to the fans.

TTVJ: Obviously I can’t let you go before talking about the Dubsmash Wars. Can you talk about how the wars came about?

HA: As I said in the panel, I was doing them in conventions backstage just for a laugh, and I thought they were hilarious. It kind of got a bit out of hand at San Diego Comic Con when Clark [Gregg] and Chloe [Bennet] were like, “Oh, we want to be apart of this as well.” Then once we got Chris [Evans] involved and we obviously thrashed them at that round, it was actually Clark’s suggestion that we keep doing it for charity. Number one because it was so popular that we might as well use it for a good cause, and number two because we were just having so much fun with each other back and forth doing it.

It’s gotten very competitive [laughs]. We’re like, “We will doing anything to win! To the death!” But it also means that we have to keep creative ideas coming up when we’re working on set, things that relate to each other’s show that we can use in a Dubsmash, songs that will be relevant to their characters that we can use. It just creates more of a sense of being part of the Marvel family.

TTVJ: I was following along during San Diego Comic Con as well, and I couldn’t believe the Agents of SHIELD Dubsmash where Clark Gregg comes out in that dress. Where did he find it?

HA: It was from one of the cosplayers, from one of the fans. He was signing and he looked and he went, “That looks about my size.” He came up with the idea very cleverly and to my utter shock and dismay. He smashed it.

TTVJ: Last question: We know a bit about where Peggy ends up because of the Captain America movies. Do you feel that that might limit the writers in what they can do with Agent Carter?

HA: I think the opposite. I think it provides an opportunity for her to have a very rich life. We know she lives ’til her mid-90s, she gets married at some point, so we go, okay, how will it be to explore what Peggy’s like in the 1950s, during the Civil Rights Movement? What about the summer of love in the 60s? What about the crazy world of the 70s and the power-capitalist business mentality of the 80s, or the grunge of the 90s? She can live through all these different decades and I think that could be a backdrop for some really interesting drama.

It also means that, we know she’s got this fight’s spirit, it’s not so much that, we always know she’s going to survive, but how she gets there, and that’s more interesting, because I think that makes her so much more admirable and inspiring for young girls to go, “look what she did to get where she was.” And we also know it’s going to be a happy ending for her, so it just means that we’ll want to follow her story for a little bit because we’re not scared that she’s going to drop dead on us.

Are you looking forward to the big changes happening in Agent Carter Season 2? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Agent Carter returns to CTV and ABC in 2016.