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Interview: Ming-Na Wen Talks 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' and Fighting in Lingerie

This week's episode if very heavy on the Melinda May action.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been going through some changes since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. At New York Comic Con, tonight's episode, "I Will Face My Enemy," was shown to a packed hall. The episode features Ming-Na Wen's character, Melinda May, having to go undercover with Director Phil Coulson. The reaction was extremely positive (we'll post our recap and thoughts after everyone's had a chance to watch for themselves). We had the opportunity to talk to Ming-Na about the episode and show. We had a great conversation and you could immediately feel the excitement she feels for her job. Be sure check it out tonight (or later if you watch via your DVR).

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COMIC VINE: The show has evolved quite a bit since the first season. Did you have any idea there’d be so many twists happening?

MING-NA WEN: No. Definitely not. Our producers, they don’t tell us very much. Our writers are top secret Marvel…they’re better than S.H.I.E.L.D. agents when it comes to not divulging anything. I think it’s just fantastic. The reviews have been wonderful and this is definitely the Marvel World. It’s more serialized and it’s more complicated and a little more darker. But it’s all very human-based. I’m loving Season 2.

COMIC VINE: It’s been mentioned how the cast wasn’t aware that Brett Dalton’s character would turn on S.H.I.E.L.D. What was your reaction when you found out?

MING-NA WEN: Ward? Do we have to talk about him?


COMIC VINE: We could move on.

MING-NA WEN: It’s kind of ironic because Brett and I, jokingly, whenever we see each other on set, we’re like, “Uhm, do I know you?” because we really haven’t had any scenes together. It’s a bit weird, especially from what happened to our characters in Season 1 where we hook up and we’re having this clandestine sexual fling on the side. It’s definitely a different situation for us. I think as far as May’s concerned, he’s dead. As far as May’s concerned, if she doesn’t ever have to deal with him, she’s happier for it. She does hold a grudge, as Coulson says. She relishes it. I don’t think she was done with him. I think she would’ve killed him if she could’ve. Because Coulson needs him alive and that was her orders, she had to follow with the order. I don’t think she’s very happy with him now.

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COMIC VINE: How far in advanced do you get scripts for the episodes?

MING-NA WEN: Let’s see. Episode 4 is airing tonight and we just finished shooting Episode 7. So, not that far ahead. It’s kind of scary how quick the turnaround is for our episodes considering all the special effects, the music, editing that has to go into each and every episode. We have just the most talented, amazing, hard-working crew and post-people. We’re just about to shoot Episode 8.


MING-NA WEN: I know.

COMIC VINE: Tonight’s episode, “I Will Face My Enemy,” has quite a lot of Melinda May action. Did you have to do any training before this?

MING-NA WEN: I did. I definitely had to get back in better shape. I feel like I’m always in good shape with yoga and stuff, but to have to learn stunt-fight, it’s a whole other skill to learn. I could be the best martial artist in the world and I still think it’d be a new skill I would’ve had to learn—stunt fighting. Basically you’re trying to look like you’re hurting another person, or the person is hurting you, but we’re really not. Although I do get hurt occasionally. I have bruises…lots of bruises and cuts to show for it. Ultimately, the task is learning how not to hurt each other while we’re pretending to hurt each other. It’s all magic.

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COMIC VINE: What about the dancing in tonight’s episode?

MING-NA WEN: The dancing was a whole other ballgame. [laughs] No pun intended.

It’s crazy. You know Coulson and May are skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as far as being dancer and everything that they do. So Clark [Gregg] and I, who’ve never done ballroom dancing and had to learn it in two days, it was a lot of pressure. Trust me. We had a lot of insecurities and personal concerns because when you’re doing ballroom dancing, there is an element of sexiness about it. We had to overcome a lot of insecurities and just really have great confidence. We had amazing dancers to teach us, every step of the way. I’m really happy with the scene. I think it turned out great. I think we pulled it off, what do you think?

COMIC VINE: You definitely did. Absolutely.

MING-NA WEN: Yay! It was a lot of fun, though.

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COMIC VINE: As far as your big fight scene in the episode, there’s kind of a twist to it. What was like seeing that when it was complete?

MING-NA WEN: Yeah, I’m so excited for everyone to see this May fight scene. I think it’s one of the most intense ones I’ve ever had to do with this character. The other thing is, there’s a picture out already, of May in her lingerie. I was terrified when I first read the script that I had to be in lingerie and had to fight in lingerie. [laughs] That was definitely a big…gulp moment for me. But then after a while, I became so comfortable in it. It didn’t matter. “This is just a dress,” I kept trying to say. “This is just a dress.” But that was fun for me. Fighting in lingerie…bucket list—done. [laughs]

COMIC VINE: My daughter and her friends really love the show. With you and Chloe [Bennet] and Elizabeth [Henstridge], is everyone involved with the show aware that you’re becoming strong role models for young girls?

MING-NA WEN: I think we are aware because we’re reminded of that in our Tweets. I love our fans for it. It just makes us want to work harder and provide that. For me, I’m always about Girl Power. If you’ve seen any of the past roles I’ve played, whether it’s Mulan or any of these female strong role models, it’s not something I consciously pick out or desire. Somehow these roles are offered to me and I can’t tell you how much of an impact it has on me. I believe that when young girls, you know I have a daughter who’s fourteen, when they see these strong female characters, it gives them the ability to also project that for themselves. In society, that’s often something that’s not often encouraged in some ways. In the Marvel World, they’ve always had strong female role models. I’m glad to be able to share in that experience.

COMIC VINE: It’s great and you’re doing a great job. What’s your favorite thing about working on the show?

MING-NA WEN: …Everything. I mean, everyday I go to work, whether it’s 4:30 in the morning or being on set for seventeen hours, I love laughing with the crew and the cast members. I love just everything about it. It’s my dream job, being the geek girl that I am. I don’t know…yeah, everything. Somebody asked me, “What’s the best thing about being cast as Melinda May?” I said, “Well, just being part of the cast.” The whole job is just a yummy bowl of ice cream.

Be sure to watch this week's episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC at 9 pm ET/PT.