The new season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is upon us. The Red Bulletin talked to Ming-Na Wen aka Agent Melinda May at the TV Festival in Monte Carlo about season 3, her favourite Avenger, the secret book-project she is working on and how she reacts, when she finds her head being transplanted on somebody else’s naked body on the web. Beware, the Macauan-American actress holds a great many dark secrets, even for an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. …
THE RED BULLETIN: Your character Melinda May seems a bit bossy …
MING-NA WEN: I don’t think she is bossy, but she definitely has her opinions about right and wrong. What’s so great about her, is that she can make her choices based on her own belief of what she feels is right and wrong, without having to be bossy. She just goes and does it. On the outside she is very expressionless but you can feel where her heart is, without showing it at all.
So let’s celebrate the new generation of female power characters.
Yes, it is a wonderful change in how females are being seen as characters who can support and carry a show. Our show is wonderful. I feel like it is one of the few shows where there is very little sexism. It is all about skills and about what each person can contribute.
Would you like to be part of an Avengers movie?
It would be fantastic to be in one of the Marvel movies, although I feel we are doing a mini-movie every single week. I think we forget how little time we have. A movie has a year or more to accomplish things, we have eight days and our visual effects team has two weeks! It is amazing that we accomplish so much. But if I was in an Avengers movie I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Thor a little bit! (Laughs.)
Do you feel the pressure that comes with a huge franchise like Marvel’s Avengers?
I was actually really nervous just auditioning for Joss Whedon because I was such a fan of his. Once I got the job, it became the pressure of living up to the expectations of the fans. I think in season 2 we have worked out all our growing pains. And there is an element since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where you see the demise of S.H.I.E.L.D., you know it has created a whole different dynamic, a really darker more serious tone to season 2.
How does one prepare for the life of an agent? I imagine it to be a bit exhausting.
Oh no, I sit around and sunbath! No, seriously, it is the hardest job. I have been in this business for almost three decades and it is one of the hardest roles that I have ever worked on. It is not just about the lines or the long hours, it is the physical side of learning how to do stunt fighting. You have to remember the choreography in a very short amount of time and make it look good! We have an incredible stunt team and I have wonderful doubles that help me, but I do about 80 percent of my stunts. I get a lot of bruises and take a lot of painkillers. Painkillers are my friends!
So you love doing your own stunts?
Yeah, I love it. I think it is sexy.
Sounds like your children have a tough mum at home, right?
You know what’s funny: My son was only six at the time of our pilot episode. He came running backstage, because he was so excited after seeing the pilot episode, because he learned that mummy knew how to fly a plane! (Laughs.) He couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to break his little world, so I said: “Of course I can fly a plane!”
Can you imagine retiring one day and doing something completely different?
Yes! I love interior decorating. And I am writing a book right now, a lifestyle book, because a lot of people want to know how I stay so young-looking.
Interesting, what’s the secret?
(Laughs.) Well, you have to read my book! I’m in the process of writing it because I have so many fans who keep asking me. I guess I have something to offer a lot of people.
What do you think about social media changing our TV experience? I take it, Marvel wants you to send tweets and facebook comments, right?
Yes, it is more work. I first heard about Twitter while doing Stargate Universe and one of my younger co-stars introduced me to it. What I find wonderful about it is, that it is almost like theatre. You get an instant response from the audience where before we lived in such a bubble, where we didn’t really know until you get the ratings, but you don’t really have an understanding what the fans are excited about or loved. This was sort of a way of having an audience in front of you when the show airs. So it is really fun that way and as a theatre girl, it is nice to have that connection with the fans.
Is it scary sometimes, when somebody is tweeting about you or your character?
Or when they put my head on somebody else’s naked body? (Laughs.) That’s always scary! There is nothing you can do about it, you can laugh about it or block them.