Many fans were upset when ‘Agent Carter’ was canceled in May 2016, however, star Hayley Atwell was okay with the decision. Atwell admits she was ready to say goodbye to Peggy Carter and Marvel Studios in a recent interview, saying:
“That was just a job to me. I put as much into her as I have into ‘Black Mirror’ or any kind of my stage work. It just happens to become special because, when you’re in a franchise like that, it has more commercial interest.”
The British-American actor acknowledges that she is recognized the most for playing Peggy, the love interest to Captain America. Much more than for her recent, critically acclaimed performance on the BBC One-Starz collaboration ‘Howards End.’
Speaking about her Marvel experience with Huffington Post, Atwell said:
“It was press attention and public attention I never had before.”
When asked whether she would consider a return to the MCU, especially in light of the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ ending, Atwell admitted she hasn’t even seen the film. About whether she would come back, she said:
“To get a call now would be like, ‘Oh, God!’ I’m sure anything could happen, but it’s this genre world that’s so multifaceted it’s like, will it ever die?”
She continued, saying:
“I really like them, and I love the way … they made me feel safe and also empowered. That’s the best thing to come out of it. It’s not this kind of ― from my experience ― scary, patriarchal, dominant, body-shaming Hollywood sphere machine. It was just really nerdy guys who love what they’re doing.”
Moving forward, Atwell would love for her fans to talk about her historical miniseries, ‘Howards End.’ The series follows 20th century Englishwoman Margaret Schlegel and her two siblings Helen (Philippa Coulthard) and Tibby (Alex Lawther), characters originally developed by novelist E.M. Forster, as they navigate the social conventions of their time.
‘Howards End’ focuses on Margaret’s love affair with widower Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen), a powerful businessman whose morals don’t quite align with those of Margaret’s family. In Atwell’s opinion, their situation is relatable, especially considering “the constant roaring between opposing sides” happening today. Atwell explained:
“It’s easy with the world that we live in to be righteous in your opinion or headlines or soundbites or memes of the extreme left or the extreme right. In ‘Howards End,’ you have opposing sides not using their differences against one another but using them to create interesting conversation, to exchange ideas and hone one’s own or be willing to be challenged and change or be changed. That is, I think, more human, more evolved and much more living in the gray area. These are not characters who, within the limitations of being women at a time that they live in, are aggressively fighting anything. They’re seeking to understand and change the system from within.”
With ‘Howards End,’ having wrapped in April, Atwell has once again packed up one character and is on to the next. She will appear in a gender-swapped version of Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ in London’s West End this fall, which features her and ‘Dunkirk’ star Jack Lowden alternate the male and female roles of the Puritan Lord Angelo and Isabella in the tale set in a corrupt Vienna. She also plays Christopher Robin’s wife, Evelyn, alongside Ewan McGregor in the ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ live-action movie which opens in August.
For Atwell, each project is done with the same goal in mind:
“What I’ve discovered is I’m searching for a connection, for a relationship between telling a story and experiencing that story and having the response of someone witnessing it in whatever capacity that is. I know what Marvel is and where it sits for people, and I equally know where some plays sit for people …. There’s space for everything to coexist and have its place.”