Clark Gregg took the director’s chair for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06, and teased what to expect in tonight’s game-changing episode.
Gregg, who stars as Phil Coulson on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06, has had experience directing before. (He wrote, starred in, and directed an indie film, Trust Me, in 2013.) But transitioning from the role of fictional Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the actual director of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06 was a task that he did not take lightly.
“It was daunting!” Gregg says of “Fun & Games.” “I was surprised how nervous I was, I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ Because I have a role there. It’s pretty demanding, and really fun, and it’s a really well-oiled machine with a lot of people who work really hard and get along with each other. And just to jar it like that — I don’t know, something about it just seemed daunting to me.”
Clark Gregg admits that he “resisted a little bit, but made suggestions a couple of times.” In the end, it was showrunners and producers Jeff Bell and Jed Whedon who convinced him to take on the challenge for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06.
“They said, ‘You know, come on! We think it’s time. You should do it,'” Gregg recalls. And they made it easy, because it was [after] an episode that was very light, episode 5, for me, and even 6 wasn’t super heavy for me. So I got to do the prep, and it ended up being a lot more fun than I had even imagined.”
Still, the process wasn’t easy, and Gregg says that the weight of the project hit him “a bunch.”
“There were a lot of times where you just kind of go, ‘Okay. There are 13 people around this table, eating dinner, and I have to make sure that we see everyone’s face when they’re talking,'” he says. “We have to see the little moments where Fitz and Simmons are interacting, and we have to see the Zendarian creature. And I thought, there’s nothing in my experience shooting little indie films that prepares me for this!”
“Luckily Alan Westbrook, my DP, and our incredible camera crew, went through the moments and the shots that I needed, and they know how to do that. They know how, in a way that’s really singular, how to get everything you need in a really amazing way, in a really short amount of time. That’s the only way we’re able to pull off our show.”
“Fun & Games” is not exactly a light episode in terms of content — in fact, there are several pivotal scenes that will significantly impact the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gregg wasn’t aware of the significance when he signed up, but took on the challenge whole-heartedly.
“I said, look, I’ve been nervous about this, but the only way to do it is to jump right in,” he recalls. “So serve me up something big, and I’ll just go for it.”
“And they weren’t messing around, they took me very seriously! I signed up to direct this episode and then I received the script, and I was really thrilled by what [writer] Brent Fletcher did. It was definitely a big enough plate for me to mess with, and I really had a good time.”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06 involves more than one critical emotional moment, as well as two major fight scenes — another challenge entirely. Luckily, Clark Gregg has been around the fight scene block before.
“It’s one of the longer fight scenes we’ve had, I think,” he muses. “But to do that kind of fight, luckily I’ve been doing them for 100 episodes and watching the various directors, Kevin Tancharoen and Gary Brown, who does a lot of our action stuff. I’ve been watching them and really trying to soak up the things that they did, and they help! They help bring it, [as do] our stunt team.”
“I got to sit there and spend some time with them during the prep, designing [the fight]. I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I love it, and they let me bring in a pal, one of my coaches, and we got to throw in a little Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and really go wild with it.
Gregg also teases moments that made him “scream” while reading the script for “Fun & Games,” as well as a conclusion that will leave fans desperate for the next step in this journey. Come back after the episode for more of Clark Gregg’s thoughts on Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06 — and the dramatic buildup to the series’ 100th episode.
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×06, “Fun & Games,” airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.