At an undisclosed location, accompanied by a big man in a suit with dark sunglasses on, and forbidden from taking any photos, our group of bloggers visited the set of Marvel’s Agent Carter television series. (Wasn’t the premiere awesome?!) When it comes to anything Marvel, privacy and security take priority to prevent any top secret information from being prematurely leaked. Even so, we were given special treatment and made privy to a good of amount of behind-the-scenes news for Agent Carter. (Yes, that is Agent Carter’s desk I’m sitting at 🙂 )
Behind-the-Scenes of Agent Carter – Looking the Part
Costume designer, Gigi Melton, explained the period wardrobe used for Agent Carter to us. “Lots of research goes into these costumes” so an authentic feel is given to all the clothes. Vintage fabrics are sourced, some actual vintage pieces and outfits are used, and fashion during that time is always considered. For example, during the 1940s, there was a fabric ration so mens’ ties did not contain a lining. Pants are were not considered feminine then so most of Agent Carter’s skirts are an A-Line so she can do the kicks. When she does wear pants, they’re the highly fashionable high-wasted ones.
Usually, at least three multiples of each costume – one for the main actor, one for the double, and one to get ruined if needed (bullet holes, fake blood stains, etc.). Some costumes will have to be altered to hide rigs the actor/double might have to wear. At times, it’s possible to just change out simple parts like a sleeve or pocket. Also, costumes for Hayley Atwell are perfectly tailored to achieve just the right look.
Behind-the-Scenes of Agent Carter – On Set
Later, it was time to take a tour of the Agent Carter set with Executive Producers and Showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. The set is designed based on photos of real offices from the time. The cover for the SSR is that it is a phone company. Actual switchboards were rented and brought in to shoot that scene in the first episode.
All of the desks in the SSR office are vintage. That’s why, though they look similar, each one is a little different. Old staplers, erasers, calendars, and more are found everywhere. This main room connects to offices on one side and the conference room on the other. An interrogation room is present as well but I can’t remember where. Can you find me in our “Attention, Bloggers!” photo?
Michelle Butters: What we try to do in the show is show her life post-war, her kind of work at the SSR, and her struggle of being a woman in a man’s world.
We were also able to visit the café, another main area used in the series. We walked through just before (or after, I can’t remember) a live shoot so some actors were there and in costume. Total 40’s colors!
Behind-the-Scenes of Agent Carter – Hayley Atwell Interview
During the interview with Jeph Loeb and Louis D’Esposito about the concept of Marvel’s Agent Carter, I just couldn’t grasp how an entire series could be inspired by one actress. However, it all made sense after meeting Hayley Atwell in person. She has such a presence about her. Hayley is amazingly beautiful, poised, and confident yet exudes a down-to-earth warmness at the same time. Is this what they call “star power?”
Hayley’s training for the theater already included that of unarmed combat. However, she shadows her stunt double to get the moves just right.
Hayley: We would then have to shoot it in full bit until we’ve nailed each and every shot and we’ve sold every kick and punch to the camera. It’s just been that interval training, keeping fit, and keeping my stamina up. Nothing too grueling.
She did mention that she’s also made a lot of mistakes including kicking one of stunt guys in the balls, punching an actor in the face, and threw another actor off a chair as she mistook him for a stunt man.
Hayley: I’ve made a lot of mistakes getting it to look as sharp as it does.
Obviously, we all know how amazing Hayley looks in her 1940s style but how does that translate over to her personal tastes?
Hayley: It’s helped me appreciate the detail of the clothes how it’s tailored for you compared to what clothes on a high street or in malls will do. If you go into the mall and sometimes you pick a nice dress and it’s not quite right, it can leave you feeling deflated and a lack of confidence. When you have well-fitting clothes that flatter you, it gives you such a lift.
At the time when women’s bodies were celebrates, their curves were celebrated, it’s such an elegant time. It’s made my tastes a little more expensive because better quality clothes are more flattering than the shapeless, lifeless stuff you see everywhere. The main thing is learning how to wear clothes instead of clothes wearing you. Pick a style that works for you that’s not on-trend or not fashion.
She went on to admit that she’s loving the one-piece shirts she has on the show. They are perfectly tailored to her and, since it’s fastened around below, it’s always pulled down instead of bunching up. She hopes to order some for her own closet.
Hayley: One of the things I’m definitely doing is I’m going to commission the wardrobe to make me some because they’re such a nice staple and I’d rather have quality staple clothes than a fancy on trend type thing. Having a capsule wardrobe with well-fitting clothes, although expensive initially, in the long run lasts much longer and it’s much cheaper than buying impulse buys and getting things that aren’t quite right.
So how did this project begin?
Hayley: A year or two after Captain America, Louis contacted me and said he’d be interested in doing a One-shot with me like they had done with others and it would just be on Blu-ray/DVD, behind that. The script was written by Eric Pearson and I thought it was a lovely epilogue for her journey. It was also generated since there were fans of Peggy from the first film and they’ve spoken out with it and they knew there’d be an audience for it. So we filmed that and it took about nine days, then I went back to London, did a play and didn’t think about it.
How did things progress from there?
Hayley: It was very much an isolated project. But when we showed it in Comic Con, the response was so wonderful and excitable that Louis was certain that a show could be made out of it. We talked at length if the show could be made what would we be exploring, why would people be relating to this woman in the 40s, why was she important now. The main thing is having a woman in Hollywood at the central core that’s not the b***, she’s not the ingénue, she’s not the sex symbol girlfriend, she’s complicated, she’s capable, she’s intelligent, she’s vulnerable, and she’s living this double life and having to juggle which is which.
That’s something we can all relate to if you work and have a family or you have more than one child or things are going on in your life that you have to juggle it. We kind of felt that reflected the theme of what’s she’s going through, although she’s a spy. Within herself she’s having to juggle things and she’s having to remain strong all the time. We wanted to explore what the psychological and emotional costs of that were. We’ll see her at times where she does crumble and she does find it difficult. We’ll see her really try to confide in people but also being scared of confiding because she puts them in danger as well and she puts herself in danger.
What a fabulous person to interview! I can’t wait to see more of her in tonight’s Agent Carter at 9pm on ABC.
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney and ABC in honor of the Big Hero 6 movie and mentioned sitcom series. All opinions are my own.