Fourteen years alone, the uniqueness of the Marvel world and what those cots pushed together might really mean are just a few of the things we touched on with Dillon about his recent guest role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fans, meet Dillon Casey, the man behind the ruggedly handsome, cast away astronaut Will, who befriended and saved Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “4,722 Hours” earlier this season. Dillon, known for his recent role in Canadian Medical Drama “Remedy” as Griffin Connor and the role of Navy SEAL Sean Pierce on the Canadian hit “Nikita” has moved to the other side guest appearing as Will Daniels in ABC’s superhero drama series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fans have speculated wildly over what connection Death might have played in Will’s unplanned exile, but Casey keeps tight lipped on whether we’ll see Will or the mysterious entity that plagued him again. He does speculate with us on the possibility of a return and Will’s state of mind, sharing that “Will will have a really tough time after fourteen years.”
TV After Dark recently got a chance to sit down and talk to Dillon about fan reaction to Will’s relationship with Jemma during her time trapped on the other side of the universe, the uniqueness of working within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what Will might go through if he’s ever rescued. Will’s arc in “4,722 Hours” is best watched through Dillon’s eyes as the character transitions from feral to human again. Jemma seems to renew hope in Will and it’s no wonder sparks flew between these two lost souls. Fan reaction was certainly intense, but that’s where Dillon’s charm and dimples pull us right in! Check out Dillon’s thoughts and hints of more secrets to be revealed in our full interview below.
TVAD | Given that Marvel likes to play things close to the vest, are you glad you can finally talk about this episode? What’s it been like holding back all this time up until now?
Dillon Casey | Yes! It’s nice to finally be able to talk about it and tell people this secret project I’ve be working on. It’s strange you start to get a job this big show is cool, fun awesome role but I can’t tell you what it is. So it’s been great because I can finally… I don’t have to talk about it, people saw it and I could actually say check it out tonight. I’m on this episode tonight but up until then it was kind of strange I wasn’t allowed to say anything at all I wasn’t even allowed to tell people I was in the show. Now that we can talk about it it’s cool it seems to be getting a great response. It’s positive and it seems to gotten the fans in a good way. I’m happy.
TVAD | How was it working within the Marvel world and how did you land this opportunity? Were you a fan of the show before being presented with the chance to play Will?
DC | Well I’m an old school Marvel fan. I use to collect all the cards I had every single Marvel cards back in the 90’s. Every single one. I remember I had a full collection and I was one of the only people that had that with the hologram and everything. I never got in the show but I heard it was a great show and working on it was amazing just because it was such a… and I certainly didn’t realize how big iti was until I saw there was a hundred people for the read through. Granted it was not really a hundred but they were all very protective of this episode because they were taking a big risk with it. Everyone wanted to make sure it would work. I had to do four auditions for this part. It’s sort of as many auditions you have to do as a lead in a television show or a movie, so they really want to get the right guy, so it was down to the wire with me and a couple of people. So constantly you have to jump through a lot of hoops to join with Marvel.
TVAD | I’m curious what your genuine reaction was when you got that callback.
DC | Honestly, by that point you want them to make a decision. Whether it’s you or them or somebody else. You just want to know because you’re own the hook and yes I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t me but at that point you just want some kind of decision to be made after four auditions you want them…
TVAD | What’s the time span for that audition process?
DC | I did one on tape and then the same day I had to put another on tape. and then I had to do one with a casting director. which was about a 45 minutes session and then I did one which was more like a screen test for the producers when we’re down to the last people and then there was a weekend and they told me on Monday I got it. I think overall the process was quick it took about a week but it feels like a month.
TVAD: Fans have had a really strong reaction to this episode. FitzSimmons shippers are rather divided on Will. Some are outraged, some are heartbroken and many completely understand how this could happen between two people that had given up hope of having a life outside of each other on this rock. What was it like knowing this fan reaction was coming and what would you say to fans that have a strong opinion one way or the other?
DC | First of all I’m glad that people have an opinion, I mean that’s good they either like Will or hate Will. I like people that have a an opinion. What I have to say about it that’s drama. That’s what it’s all about. I think its understandable that she hooked up with Will. Just Kidding! How long has she been on that planet?
TVAD | From the looks of it, this episode was filmed in some rather harsh conditions. We’ve heard about the scorching heat and endless sand. Talk to us about the challenges of the unique conditions and how long did it take you guys to complete all the principle photography on location?
DC | I think it was nine days which was huge for one episode of television. I think normally they take about seven days or something like that. But most of it was shot in the desert. Most of that in the Simi Valley. All the stuff you see like Will’s hatch, well the inside of the hatch is a stage, but all the stuff where you see where the door opens and where we were running away from “it” .. most of that takes place in the Simi Valley which is this weird valley the found.
DC | It’s a quarry that they found and the sandstorm stuff is just literally them throwing sand into a fan and blowing it into our faces. That was pretty intense. I mean, we’re running around doing these action sequences in like 105, 110 or even hotter degree weather. And then the one point where I had to put that space suit on–one of the coolest things in my life was getting to put on a real Apollo space suit–that was a real suit.
The weather, I mean the heat, once I put that thing on and closed the visor, I had it on for about an hour and a half with cooling strips on my body and all this sorts of stuff because it was like a sauna in there. It was insane how hot it was. So I was ready to get out of that as fast as possible.
But it’s one of those things where you’re doing such a cool show that–yeah at points you’re like, yeah this kinda sucks, this is really hot, I don’t want to be here, but you know, what else would you be doing? This is what I signed up for and I’m ready to do it and it was hot but worth it.
TVAD | Are there any back story elements that you were given about Will that you can share with us? Or any that you came up with on your own that helped to frame this character, and his extreme isolation, in your head?
DC | You know, again, the writers were very protective of the episode and very protective of the character. After the read through, I sat down just surrounded by writers and producers all telling me how Will should be. This is what we want Will to be like. He’s gotta be like this, he’s gotta be like that and everybody is jumping in with their points on what they want Will to be like and I’m just sitting there like alright, alright, cool guys, I got it.
Because there’s always going to be a million notes and it’s totally understandable. Because they want it to go a certain, very specific way, but when you’re acting it only really comes down to the moment between you and the other actress and how you interact with them.
So when it comes to back stories and all that, that doesn’t really help me. I might help other people, but it doesn’t help me. I don’t bother with that. I take what’s written in the script. And it was written very well in this case. And just interact with Elizabeth and take the direction. If you get too much of a back story you get locked into one thing about how you want it to be and then the director will come in and tell you to do it a different way and you won’t be able to do it because you’ll be so locked in.
TVAD | If Will has been alone for 14 years, what do you think he’s been doing every day? What was his routine? How has he passed the time and survived?
DC | That’s a good question. I guess what he had to do was survive and that was his focus. His focus was just staying alive. And the time just went by. I mean, I would never pretend to know what it would be like to be alone for that long a time.
What has be been doing? He’s been playing. There’s a game that he had that he was playing that got cut out of the show. I don’t want to give it away that it was a game because fans have started to see these little markings around the show. The reason they see them in one scene and not in another because it was cut out. And now it’s starting to look like–those hints of what that scene was–fans are starting to read into it like it’s some kind of weird mark that got changed on purpose.
So he had some things that he was doing and some games that he was playing but it didn’t make the show. I don’t know, I think honestly he has been surviving and living in his head. I don’t know if he was hopeful. I think at this point it’s become almost an ego thing. He has to survive “it” and he will not let this thing get him.
TVAD | After he eats, sleeps and showers, what do you think will be the NEXT thing Will does if he makes it home after fourteen years?
DC | I just got into Homeland recently and I almost wish I had watched it before the show because it would have given me some cool pointers on how to play the character because the character Brody on that show is alone—well, not alone, but he’s been tortured for years and he comes back and the first thing he wants to do is be in a cell again. So, I think Will will have a really tough time after fourteen years. I mean, he wasn’t being tortured, but he’s going to have some kind of PTSD. And he’s going to be tortured by some kind of nightmares. It’s not like he’s just going to jump into the world be like “Look out world, I’m gonna get a job and get a family and be a normal person.” It’s like, he’s going to need some time to adjust.
TVAD | If the storyline continues what do you see as a possible role for Will in a 2015 world different from the one he left?
DC | He’s gonna be, like what is happening. I mean, technology has definitely gone crazy in fourteen years, but I feel like he’d adjust to that pretty quickly. You know? It happened really fast for us. I’m trying to think—what would I see for Will? I mean, if I was Will I would probably try to get back to work. He’d probably try to take a vacation. But he’s been alone for fourteen years. He doesn’t want to be alone anymore. Unless it’s just too weird for him to be around other people. But I’d probably just try to get back to work as fast as possible. Give my mind something to focus on. Not a big long answer, but..
TVAD | No. We’ll take it.
DC | And then he’ll hook up with Jemma of course.
TVAD | Okay, that’s what we were more expecting. Thank you for that. [Laughing]
When you read this script did you realize right away this is going to be a really cool, different episode and character to play? What were your thoughts when you realized this was going to be such a different episode focused on the Simmons back story? It’s one that fans have been dying to know about so there was a lot of hyper-awareness for this episode coming in. Did that change your approach for something that was completely outside the box?
DC | No. Because you want to have an approach that works for you, that works for you no matter what. So, I don’t want to change things based on—oh the fans are going to think this way about what you do or that the producers want it this way or the writers want it that way or what. Or that it’s such a big episode that I should change my approach. I want something that works for me all the time. So I try not to let any of the sheer size of the episode and the story they are telling change my approach as an actor. Of course there’s always the worry that I hope it works. I hope this comes across okay. But you don’t want to be changing too much. You want to have sort of the tools and technique that works for you. And keep doing that. I’m always open to direction and changing my way of working, but no, I didn’t approach this differently.
TVAD | You basically went back to what you know and what your roots are. That’s what you stick to and what you rely on. We think you did a good job. This is a good episode. You guys hit it out of the park. And you’re right, the perception for this episode has been very positive. Yeah, fans have been polarized, but again, that’s a good thing because they have opinions and they really feel strongly about them.
DC | Use your answer. Just put my name on it [Laughter].
TVAD | Sticking to what you know is what you do. It’s gotten you this far. You’ve done a really good job there’s no reason to shake up the apple cart. The episode was a big one for the fans, but as an actor you have to approach that this is what I do and come at it from the same way you always would. That’s what got you the role so stick with it.
Since this episode was a bit isolated from the rest of the cast did you get a chance to meet some of them and if so how were you welcomed? Which actor stood out the most to you?
DC | Well, other than the obvious in Elizabeth, I met Iain who plays Fitz. He’s a really nice guy. I recently met Ming-Na and Clark who plays Coulson and everybody was really nice. We didn’t really get much time to talk. But it doesn’t seem like a show with a lot of ego. I think they are against that on this set. Which is good. Elizabeth stood out for me, of course, but it was very cool to meet Clark because I love what he’s done in his movies. The Avengers especially.
TVAD | So you do know how he came back then right?
DC | Yeah. It was from the pilot episode and the whole TAHITI thing.
TVAD | Yeah. You’re up on your Marvel world. We’re going to ask a series of fire round questions. Don’t think about it too much. We’ll just try to run this. So YES, MAYBE or NO answers.
TVAD | You still have the beard. Were you asked to keep it?
DC | Maybe.
TVAD | Do you think Will confided in Jemma that he had to kill the third Astronaut? We saw it in the flashback, but did he tell her?
DC | Yes. Absolutely.
TVAD | We didn’t see it, but we assume those cots weren’t put next to each other “just” for warmth. Are we correct in assuming that Will and Jemma made use of those cots in more ways than just sleeping?
DC | Maybe.
TVAD | You guys should see Dillon’s dimples. They’re popping. They’re popping girls! We know Will arrived with three others and he spent nearly six months with Jemma. Did he ever encounter anyone ELSE during his 14 year stay on the planet?
DC | Maybe.
TVAD | If Will is rescued, do you think he’ll spend his first night sleeping in the same bed as Simmons, after that shower of course?
DC | No.
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