Brett Dalton knows he’s the gent Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans love to hate. “I get boos,” he says.
As Agent Grant Ward he spent most of the show’s first season as a gruff, but good guy. Then in a late season development, it was revealed that he was actually a spy working for HYDRA, a criminal organization dedicated to global domination.
“I get some, ‘I trusted you! I feel betrayed. My mother still believes in you!’ I get the whole gamut. It’s kind of all over the place for me. For the other actors it’s more like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love you on the show.’ For me it’s more like, ‘I love-hate you.’ I get a little of both.
“I think Ward is a character they love to hate. It’s not boo against Brett Dalton, it’s boo against the character.”
The actor, who holds a masters degree from the Yale School of Drama, had no idea there were big changes in store for Agent Ward.
“I’m glad they didn’t tell me,” he says, “because I really would have tipped my hand. They told me the episode before and there were a couple of shoot days left and even in those shoot days it kind of did me in mentally because I was thinking, ‘Am I listening like a spy? Am I giving too much away?’ All I was doing was listening in the scene. Standing and listening. But the way in which I was listening, I wasn’t so sure about.”
The fan reaction to his character’s double cross was swift.
“In the beginning some of the tweets were like, ‘I want to punch @iambrettdalton in the face.’ They didn’t say Grant Ward, they tagged me and said they wanted to punch me in the face. I thought they could have just typed in Grant Ward.”
As the show goes into its second season Dalton tips his hat to the fans. Without them the show wouldn’t exist, literally.
When Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, was killed by Loki in The Avengers movie it triggered a worldwide ‘Coulson Lives’ crusade that inspired Marvel to create the show.
“The whole ‘Coulson Lives’ campaign was started by the fans,” he says, “and became this really fun, underground stencil that was seen around the world. Then Marvel got wind of it and decided to make a whole TV show around Colson putting together a ragtag group of people trying to save the world each week. The show exists because of the fans. And that’s the reason we have season two as well, because we have such amazing fans who tune in each week and follow everything and are so eager about the whole thing, They’re why we do what we do.”