Hayley Atwell Speaks In-Depth On 'Peggy Carter' In Captain America And More!
Speaking on preparation, co-star Chris Evans, the '40s era & essentially aspects of her 'Peggy Carter' Captain America: The First Avenger role, check out what Hayley Atwell says!
In the latest issue of SFX Magazine, actress Hayley Atwell speaks in great detail on her 'Peggy Carter' role in Marvel & Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger, and what she adores most about the character in the '40s era. Also discussing preparation, and praisal of leading co-star Chris Evans, and possibly what Cap will do during USO sequences, check out the interview below.
So what kind of preparation did this role demand?
It's all come from the physical training. I trained with a guy called Simon Waterstone, who's trained Bond and Jake Gyllenhaal for Prince Of Persia, and he really put me through it. More than anything, Peggy is a woman succeeding in a male dominated world, and she's slightly resentful of that. In a way she feels she has a lot to prove. All of that came from training; just getting into that mental preparation of trying to push myself harder, and making sure I was in the best physical condition that I've ever been in. And then researching the comics genre, watching all of Marvel's films, reading a few of the comic books, and just getting a sense that it's tongue-in-cheek... And yet Joe cast me because he said he wanted someone who would bring a truth to her, that I wouldn't be sending her up all the time, that I would try to explore her a woman struggleing to make her mark.
How gruelling was the training?
It almost killed me. It really was hard work. Simon Waterstone was fantastic - he has a fantastic reputation with other leading actors, specifically men. And he wanted to really support that fact that Peggy needs to look like she is capable in this situation. She an't be too svelt or too trim or too little, because you'd blow her over, she wouldn't be able to do it.
Do you keep your stunt double busy?
No. I do all my own stunts [laughs]! In fact when she comes on I'm like, "I'm really sorry, but you can go away?" Because otherwise it feels like a waste of all this training. All this training just to look good in a uniform seems to be a kind of pointless, really! I've thoroughly enjoyed it, esspecially the guns, the machine guns, and running up stairs and jumping out of cars and being thrown on the ground...it's been great fun.
How was it handling the guns?
My machine gun is my main prop in this film. It started off as a pistol and Joe started filming my training, just watching my developoment. And he said, "You're kind of enjoying this...You find this really easy, dont you? Lets upgrade it to a machine gun." And I was like, "Yes!" So that's my main thing.
Yes, I had a bullet-shell fired off near my head, when I stepped too close to Richard Armitage's gun...which was a bit dumb. And I had a mark there. And I had whiplash and a bruised rib from some other things. So yes, I've been in the wars a bit!
How does Peggy cope in the man's world of the '40s?
I'm pretty much the only woman that has a story and a journey in this film, which is great, because on set I'm pretty much the only woman, and I seek refuge in the make-up truck with all the ladies! But when it comes to the set, to walk into a room and your boss is Tommy Lee Jones, and having to speak up, and to say your truth, and be clear and confident but not aggresive is something that Peggy's going to have to tackle, especially in the army, where she's having to be physically and mentally fit. And shes able to lead troops....She kicks butt....also without being too aggresive. I think she just has a quiet power. That's what I like about her. She doesn't suffer fools and she's not a victim.
What's her relationship with Cap?
There's a frisson between them where she won't five in to his charms, and you realize she likes him because of how bad he is with women, and she finds that enderring as opposed to people who are trying to charm her in other ways. She's so sick and tired of it, of that kind of attention,, that he's a breath of fresh air.
How's it been working with Chris Evans?
Amazing. I don't think that Chris's audience or fans know just what a talent he is. He's a brilliant singer, he tapdances to prepare for his scenes - as well as doing press-ups, of course, and other manly things! - and he's an incredible mimic. And we share a love of some classic '90s films. He's always coming up with one-liners from them. He's a very, very generous guy, and I think what's wonderful is that he's bringing a vulnerability to Captain America. it's not just about being macho and two-dimensional, and I think that audiences will see a whole different side of him.
How do you interpret a woman of the 1940's in a contemporary film?
I think there was more of an acceptance then of women's roles. It obviously wasn't until the feminist movement came in the 1960s and '70s that women were starting to really challenge what they were capable of doing. Peggy has this immaculate look about her. You think, "She's carring a machine gun - why's she got red lips and red nails and heels?" However, she's still a '40s woman, and I think she should be presented in that way, because it's a reflection of the time. My grandmother, I remember, would sleep in rollers and lacquer her hair and be immaculate for breakfast. We just don't do that now, and I think that's something we should respect the women of that time for.
Apart from the clear admiration of her role, what do you think of Atwell stating Chris Evans, "a brilliant singer, [and] he tapdances to prepare for his scenes?" Do you think this involves the USO sequences?
Captain America: The First Avenger focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull. Starring Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving, the film releases July 22, 2011.
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