EXCLUSIVE: Brett Dalton on Agent Ward’s New Role in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

SPOILER WARNING: We here at Marvel.com strongly suggest you watch the latest episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” before reading further. If you haven’t yet, don’t read further. But if you have, read on to learn more about the episode’s shocking events and betrayals!

After the events of tonight’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” fans learned that Coulson’s team has harbored a traitor all along with Agent Grant Ward.

Secretly a member of Hydra working for the Clairvoyant, uncovered as Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton), Ward revealed himself in the final moments of the latest episode by gunning down Agent Victoria Hand.

While you’re still reeling from Ward’s turn to the dark side, we spoke with actor Brett Dalton for the EXCLUSIVE first interview on his character’s shocking new role in the series. Read on to find out how the writers first let Dalton in on the upcoming twist, his relationship with Garrett and much more, and don’t miss an all-new episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” at a special time, 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC, to see how the story continues!

Marvel.com: When did you learn that your character was going to go to the dark side?

Brett Dalton: When we were shooting “Yes Men.” It was a Friday night and [we were filming a] kind of brutal fight between May, and I thought, “Wow, there’s quite a few people on set for a Friday night, watching a fight scene.” Usually they don’t do that.

And then afterwards [Executive Producer] Maurissa [Tancharoen], who is clearly the designated mother of the entire set, was like, “Hey, you’re doing such a great job, the writers just wanted to talk to you after when you were done.” And I didn’t really think anything of it, and she was like, “It’s all good, don’t worry about it, but we just wanted a few [minutes] when you wrap.” [Then] I’m thinking the entire time, holy crap, they’re gonna kill me off. I better enjoy this scene then because my days are numbered at this point. And you know I’m on a Joss Whedon show, so from the very beginning I’m not unaware of the fact that my position on the team was not a guarantee.

So there I was, I have not felt that way since middle school probably, being called into the principal’s office. It took me a really long time to get dressed because [of] the whole thing. I remember stalling as much as I could, and I walked in and sat down on the couch and there were all the writers there and I thought, “oh my god.” I was kind of in shock, kind of like, “give it to me doc, tell me the results what do we got here.” Then they proceeded to let me in on what their plan for my character had been all along. I don’t think anyone knew who the Clairvoyant was, so they told me first, “Well, Garrett is the clairvoyant and Garrett is your supervising officer and you trained under him so that makes you also part of Hydra.”  And I think I just sat there with my jaw open for the next 20 minutes, and they just did all of the talking because I couldn’t say anything. It was a huge turn. I didn’t see any of that coming, so I was just shock for about the next day. Then it sank in and I started to think wow, what a cool opportunity. Because the Ward I thought I was going to be playing for the next few seasons, the whole thing just changed. Now I think what I was given was just a huge opportunity to play somebody who is more complex, more interesting, more dangerous, scarier in a way that Ward wasn’t. I get to play two different characters in a way.

Sixteen and a half episodes of a guy who is very trustworthy and rolled up his sleeves and did all the heavy lifting and didn’t really question authority. You know, a by-the-book risk assessor, and yet here I am. The last five episodes and I get to play somebody who I really think just has a troubled past. It’s so juicy [and] it’s so much more complex than the character I was before that.

I mean, I think it fulfilled a promise of his past. We got from the very beginning, [when] he’s talking to Coulson about how he has a troubled past and the whole revelation that he doesn’t play well with others. The Berserker episode, we get bits and pieces of this troubled past. This delivers on it in an interesting way that nobody sees coming.

Marvel.com: When you found out that this was all happening, were you ultimately glad that you didn’t know this was coming when you were doing the first 15 episodes? Do you think you would have been inclined to tip your hand if you had known?

Brett Dalton: Yes, yes I was very glad I did not know it. I don’t think there was any way I could of gotten that same amount of earnestness in that character. I think the temptation would have been to absolutely tip your hand prior to [this episode]. And TV is about the slow burn. [In] TV we have 22 episodes to tell the story, and I would of absolutely tried to give away too much too quickly. So I’m very happy that it developed as it did.

I’m not used to doing mystery either, because usually I’m doing plays, I’m doing things that are more or less a set story that you have two hours to tell, [where] there’s a beginning, middle and an end and you have a really big rehearsal process. So this whole TV thing is kind of a big opportunity for me to learn a whole [new] way to tell a story.

Marvel.com: Yeah, and what makes it so perfect like you say is that you played Ward so earnestly in those first 15 episodes that his turn came as an even greater shock. But which has been more fun for you? To play the good guy, or the bad guy?

Brett Dalton: Oh man, so much more fun to play the bad guy. So much more fun. Plus my scenes [are with] Bill Paxton, who I think just has more fun in general on set than I typically do. Sometimes I kind of just act [with my] nose to the ground and [just] do it. And this whole thing has just opened up a kind of levity to it, a kind of, I won’t even say freedom–I’d say fun is the right word. There’s a real joy to it, and it’s great.

Marvel.com: Now Ward, despite his allegiance to Garrett, and therefore Hydra, has developed some personal attachments inside the team. How will those relationships impact him now that he’s back with Garrett?

Brett Dalton: Yeah, try as he might to keep those things in check, I think his feelings–or certain feelings–might have crept up and surprised him. When you’re living, eating, and on missions with people, you become part of that family unit. I think that it probably gets harder and harder to turn that off. I mean I couldn’t imagine doing that myself. Being an embedded spy has to be one of the most difficult jobs I could imagine. Because you have to wear one mask, and not forget about your job, your duty, at the same time. You have to let your guard down in a way, because they need to trust you. But it’s a false sense of letting your guard down. But my loyalty to Garrett wins out. So I have to follow his orders and I have to make some difficult decisions.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Ward’s relationship with Garrett, and how does Ward view Garrett?

Brett Dalton: I think Garrett offered him a [purpose]. He’s someone that’s always felt [like he was overlooked], and he’s somebody who doesn’t always know what to say but is eager to speak, [yet] doesn’t feel like anybody’s listening or anybody cares.