‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: Elizabeth Henstridge & Iain De Caestecker on Season 3 and FitzSimmons

     March 22, 2016


With everything the team has to deal with now, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is forcing the agents to decide what’s most important to them. No longer able to keep powered people out of the public eye, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Mack (Henry Simmons) are working to track down Inhumans for a team of Secret Warriors whose mission it is to train and protect powered people, all while the existence of Inhumans is polarizing public opinion. At the same time, Hive (Brett Dalton) is pushing forward with his plan, the motivations and goals of which are still unclear.

Collider (along with a handful of other outlets) was recently invited to the top secret set to try to pry details out of the cast and executive producers about where things are headed. Even though that’s a difficult and risky proposition, we got a few tidbits from actors Elizabeth Henstridge (“Jemma Simmons”) and Iain De Caestecker (“Leo Fitz”), who talked about Ward being the face of Hive, the continued threat of Lash, the evolving relationship between FitzSimmons, a potential vaccine, whether there’s always a chance for redemption, and what sides their characters might fall on, in the division between Team Iron Man and Team Cap. Be aware that there are some spoilers from Agents of Shield.

Question: Elizabeth, how will Simmons feel, if and when she discovers that a version of Ward is still out there and that the thing that terrorized her is still in play?


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ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE: I think she’s going to feel so guilty because it was her that aided that all to happen. If she hadn’t gotten sucked into the monolith and been on that planet, and if Fitz hadn’t risked everything to save her, he would never be back here. She didn’t think Ward could get any worse, but he did, and it’s her fault, in a way. She definitely feels guilt for that.

Hive is every person that he’s absorbed, which means he’s partially Will. Would you like to see some closure for Simmons with that character?

HENSTRIDGE: It would just be so weird. Yes and no. I think that she’s worked so hard to get to this point where she’s able to function and has compartmentalized that crazy, traumatic period of her life, and that would just bring more trauma than comfort. But, I guess it’s a possibility.

Iain, how will Fitz react to Hive having Ward’s face?

IAIN DE CAESTECKER: If the show was at 11pm at night, he’d probably go, “Fucking hell!” But since he won’t, he’ll probably go, “Oh, sh—,” and not actually swear. It would be very confusing, since he saw him die. There are all those different conflicting emotions that surround that character and his face, so it would all boil up to the surface, I think. 

How is Simmons feeling about Lash still being out there, knowing that she’s the one who let him out?


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HENSTRIDGE: She does just feel incredibly guilty. It’s a recurring theme for her that she needs a man to save her. On the planet, she only got back because Will sacrificed himself for her. Now, she let Lash out because she wanted to save herself, and she didn’t know how she was going to do it. She knows she doesn’t have the combat skills to be able to take on all those Hydra soldiers. Selfishly, in hindsight, she sacrificed all of those Inhuman lives to save her own. She’s just done with not being able to look after herself, in that way. She didn’t know that that was going to happen. She didn’t know he was going to kill the Inhumans. She trusted him, in that moment. She was speaking to Andrew, rather than to Lash. But, she definitely feels very guilty. I also think she’s beating up on herself that she allowed herself to make an emotional decision with someone she felt like she trusted, who then betrayed her. She’s still new at making emotional decisions. She doesn’t trust that instinct in her, as much as she trusts the scientific side, and it came around to bite her in the bum a little bit.

How does Simmons feel about having combat training?

HENSTRIDGE: She’s going to try to better arm herself against those situations happening. It’s also a case of Agent May has said that failing at something is never easy. Killing someone, even if they’re bad, never feels good. We’re seeing that now with Coulson. So, she’s going to try to arm herself, but it’s also a period of growth for her to realize that you make mistakes and you make decisions, in an instant. It’s another thing that she’s got to carry on her back. It’s another motivating factor to keep being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and keep trying.

With Simmons having killed Bakshi, will she be quicker to pull the trigger the next time she’s in the field, if it was called for?       

HENSTRIDGE: It just depends on who it is. She harbors hate for certain people. Bakshi was one of them. Then, Ward is the other person. There are very specific people that she’d have no problem with pulling the trigger. With Bakshi, she didn’t even think about it. I hated reading that scene because we all loved Simon so much. I see him all the time, and I still feel guilty about it. A part of herself is very pragmatic, and very black and white. I think that aspect of her makes her a pretty good killer, really. But then, there are certain ones, like Lash, where she can really be swayed. So, I think it just depends on who it is.

You guys get to make out more now. What’s it like navigating that, as actors?

DE CAESTECKER: I’ve not been enjoying it very much. No. Me and Elizabeth are really good friends, so that side of it is weird. It’s like kissing my sister, not that I would. But having seen the evolution of their relationship, it does seem quite fitting that eventually they would. It always seemed like it was going in a romantic direction. 

The first half of the season had a lot of FitzSimmons drama, but now they’ve made a decision to dial it back and be friends again. What is that like to play, and will that last?

HENSTRIDGE: In a way, it feels to me like we’ve earned this moment of calm a little bit. You can’t have too much volatility in a relationship and ask too much of the audience, and then be like, “Okay, now you need to care about this massive argument, too.” You need to earn that. They’ve been through so much and have nearly lost each other so many times that for them, where they are at the moment, we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know what our relationship is going to turn into, or if we’re going to be friends or more, but it doesn’t really matter because at least we’re both alive and on the same planet.

Now that there is a potential vaccine for the Inhumans, will FitzSimmons be on the same page, as far as its potential application?


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DE CAESTECKER: They usually agree on most things, but they have clashed in the past, certainly when it comes to Inhumans. But, they seem to be able to get over most obstacles. Throughout their relationship, they can always have a big fight and shout at each other, and then 10 minutes later, be all right. It’s that kind of relationship. 

HENSTRIDGE: That makes sense. But, I do think that would be something that they would disagree on.

Can you understand why people connect so much with a possible FitzSimmons romance?

HENSTRIDGE: I’ve always felt like they should get together. I just think you’ve seen them go through so much. The further down the road we get, the more they are too suited for each other and way unsuited to anybody else they’re ever going to meet, having been through so much together. They owe it to themselves to at least explore that. But this is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so who knows how long a good, functional relationship will last, but I think they have to at least try. When they finally had their first kiss, some of that was just to get it out of the way so they could see what was on the other side of that. It could be that they just stay friends, but they’ve tried every other option, at this point, so I understand why they’re at least exploring the more romantic options.

How early did you know they were going to go down a romantic road?

HENSTRIDGE: Like the day before we shot it. I didn’t know that Fitz was going to say that he loved Simmons.

DE CAESTECKER: Even now, I’m still sure that it’s like bro love. 

What does starting over mean for their relationship, going forward?

HENSTRIDGE: I don’t think they know. I think it’s just a day by day thing. Their dynamic is that they bicker and they don’t really address the elephant in the room. And then, at some point, it becomes too much and they say it. Simmons said, “I miss you. There it is. I don’t know what comes after that, but I just miss you, so what do we do about it?” I think they’re just going to be constantly taking the next step and seeing what they can handle and what they can’t.

DE CAESTECKER: Also, the main thing, as well is being good friends and working well as a team, is that they work better with each other than without. 

Iain, will there be more discussion between Fitz and Coulson both being killers on that planet?

DE CAESTECKER: They have a secret, in a weird way. I’m sure that will be explored somehow. He saw a side of Coulson that he probably had never seen before. 

Where is Fitz, in terms of his cognitive damage?


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DE CAESTECKER: If you were to look at that character before and since that accident happened to him, they’re two different people. After that kind of injury, you’d never be able to go back to exactly the way you are, but you find new ways around things. The uplifting part, I suppose, is that he’s come out with almost a new side of himself, that’s a better side of himself, in lots of ways.

Fitz has always been a little bit more emotional and open. Is he learning to internalize more?

DE CAESTECKER: I think he’s still someone who is probably quite open about stuff, but he’s also grown up, over the last couple of seasons, in this very intense environment, so he’s probably become hardened. He’s probably more sensible, and knows maybe to wait to the right moment to reveal things, or not to judge something until he’s seen things play out.

Is there a certain line that characters can’t come back from once they cross it?

HENSTRIDGE: I think there’s always a chance.

DE CAESTECKER: Also, there are so many unknowns with someone like Lash. Ward probably got to a point where he was probably pretty unredeemable. 

HENSTRIDGE: I kept thinking it would happen at any second, but it just kept getting worse and worse.

DE CAESTECKER: I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where that point was, but probably after he killed a bunch of people in cold blood. 

With Civil War coming up, would Fitz and Simmons be Team Cap or Team Iron Man and why?

DE CAESTECKER: Hypothetically, you’d expect Fitz to be on the side of technology. 

HENSTRIDGE: Simmons would be Iron Man, right? I think Fitz would be Cap.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Tuesday nights on ABC.


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