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[This story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home.]
Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s mid- and end-credit scenes sent shock waves across the Internet, as theory after theory began to circulate. The final moments of the film revealed that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) had actually been Skrulls throughout the duration of the film (if not longer). While one popular theory suggests that Hill has actually been a Skrull since her first appearance in 2012’s The Avengers, Smulders has now set the record straight.
Smulders did not play Maria Hill as a Skrull in Far From Home, as she wasn’t even aware of the post-credits scene during production.
“Literally a week before the movie came out, I found out from Kevin [Feige] that they shot the extra scene [with Maria and Nick],” Smulders tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It was added [during postproduction]. That driving footage is from the first scene that got cut out of the movie.”
When asked if she thinks Maria Hill has been a Skrull since Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Smulders states, “They could change it to be that way, but in my mind — no. I don’t know where she is, but my hope is that she’s on vacation somewhere. In this world, she’s probably just on some other mission.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Smulders also discusses some of Far From Home‘s deleted scenes, her audition for Lost, the idea of her playing Wonder Woman for Whedon, and her new ABC show, Stumptown, premiering this fall.
The internet and I first want to commend you for something that happened at the Endgame premiere a few months ago. A red carpet reporter mistakenly addressed you as Evangeline Lilly, but instead of giving this reporter a hard time like some would, you saved her by saying it happens all the time. You even brought up the fact that you and Evangeline once competed for the role of Kate on Lost.
We’re all people, right? This poor woman … it was a long day. That’s the most difficult job. You’re standing on this makeshift stage, and you’re nervous, trying to get facts in. I have complete sympathy for reporters in that position. By the way, I don’t mind it if people think that I’m Evangeline Lilly because I think she’s beautiful and extremely talented. I didn’t think anything of it; I didn’t even give it a second thought.
Everybody won since you landed the role of Robin on How I Met Your Mother not long after the Lost audition, but to your knowledge, were you the runner-up to play Kate Austen on Lost?
Yeah, both Evangeline and I tested for it, and it was just us two going in for Kate. If she wasn’t there, I don’t know if they would’ve gone another round or if there were other people being discussed in terms of offers or whatever. Whenever you do a testing for a role like that and you’re meeting with the heads of the studio on it, you think it’s just you two, and I bombed it. I did not do a great audition, and I’m assuming she did. So, it was much more deserved on her part.
Have you prepared yourself for the possibility that you could be playing Maria Hill for the rest of your life?
(Laughs.) I would love to! I love being a part of the world of Marvel. It’s a magical, wonderful place filled with only nice, caring, considerate, creative people. Every time I get a call to work with them, I’m always excited. I have no idea what is in store for the Marvel universe and Maria’s role in it, but I’m ready.
Shifting to Far From Home spoilers, was the Skrull reveal scripted, or was it something that was added at the 11th hour?
It was added. I don’t know if it was necessarily at the 11th hour; I don’t know when they thought of it. It was a surprise to me. I bumped into Kevin Feige at a party and he said, “I gotta tell you something about what’s happening.” I was excited, but I was also confused. I asked, “Well, where is she? What’s she up to?” You can use your own imagination to figure that out. It’s cool because it is the constant shifting of this world. I don’t know where they’re going to go with it, or if that’s a tease for what’s to come. I just love that it was another layer of the film that was going on, potentially the whole time.
And that definitely wasn’t your voice or you in Skrull prosthetics, right? I believe Sharon Blynn was uncredited as Soren.
Yeah, that was not me; that was Sharon. I gave her credit and told her, “You did a great job! You were so convincing as Maria Hill.” There were moments where Mysterio made everything up, and we wondered if we should be doing something differently. But, I just played it how I would normally, which I’m glad I did because it would’ve maybe tipped the audience.
Well, I noticed that Maria didn’t have her usual brand of sass in Far From Home. She was all business in this movie, which makes sense in hindsight since Soren was posing as Maria Hill. I was going to ask if this was a conscious choice of yours in order to distinguish faux Maria from the real Maria, but that can’t be the case since the Skrull reveal was added late in the game.
Right. When shooting this movie, I liked playing around with the idea that she was just over it. She’s so exhausted, and she just came back from this blip to a mountain of paperwork on her desk. She has so much catching up to do, and she has to figure out who this Mysterio guy is and try to convince this kid to come along. There were some other scenes that got cut out as it used to open with Sam and I driving on a desert road, going to where you saw the first earth monster come up. So, there were maybe some scenes that I shot that didn’t make it into the cut that spoke more to that [sass]. I was actually excited because once you go through the blip, what else is there? What are you worried about? You kinda died already. So, it was a fun energy to play somebody who just doesn’t care as much. “All right, I guess we’ll go after these elementals.” I actually found it to be the most personality I’ve been able to show of hers.
In order to sell the Skrull reveal, it sounds like Jon Watts and the editors cut out not just Maria’s sass, but any interactions that were more in line with the real Maria and Nick.
Yeah, maybe. Again, literally a week before the movie came out, I found out from Kevin that they shot the extra scene. Kevin said that he didn’t want me to watch the movie and be like, “Oh!”
For the coda, do you think they repurposed some of the unused driving footage involving Maria and Nick?
Yeah, that driving footage is from the first scene that got cut out of the movie.
In the end-credit scene, we’re shown that the real Nick Fury is on a spaceship with the rest of the Skrulls, but we weren’t shown where the real Maria Hill is. Thus, the internet is running wild with the idea that Maria has been a Skrull since 2012’s The Avengers. Do you reject the internet’s hypothesis?
Anything is possible. They could change it to be that way, but in my mind — no. I don’t know where she is, but my hope is that she’s on vacation somewhere. In this world, she’s probably just on some other mission. This world has suffered an utter chaos, and it’s about picking up the pieces. The Skrull thing is a possibility; they could go in that direction, but I understand what you said earlier about her being too human or sassy to this point. If someone was pretending to be her, she’d maybe be a little more robotic. So, it could go in any direction.
When you auditioned for Maria Hill, it’s my understanding that you were already friends with Joss Whedon. It’s also been said that you were his early preference for the role of Maria. Did you know that you were his preference going into the audition?
I don’t know if I was a preference of his. I never knew that or thought that. I had done an audition with the casting director and the next level was auditioning with Joss and maybe some producers. Then, the next step was to do a screen test with Sam. So, I was in New York when the mid-level audition happened with Joss and the producers, and I was unable to make it because I couldn’t fly back in time. I think in a sense that he was able to vouch for me and be like, “Let’s just bring her straight to the screen test.” I don’t know if I was his frontrunner at that time; I had no idea. As a friend and with anyone who vouches for you, I did not want to let him down and mess up that opportunity. When the screen test happened, I thought, “I did fine. I didn’t embarrass myself,” but I didn’t think I got it. I didn’t feel entirely confident about what I did, and then Joss called me like an hour later and said, “You got it!” It was very unexpected, and I was obviously very pleased.
Is it true that Joss wanted you for his scrapped Wonder Woman movie?
It is what he wrote in a letter online. Again, we were friends at that time, but I don’t know what would’ve happened if it went into production. I’ve got brown hair and blue eyes, so I guess he saw me in that way a little bit. Honestly, we haven’t discussed it very much, but I think he did some sort of online shout-out to me regarding it, so it made everybody believe that. On the inside, we’re just friends, and I think I just looked the part. But, I can’t speak for his feelings on it.
What’s the biggest misconception about Sam Jackson?
Personally, he always plays these really tough, badass characters, and he’s the kindest man who just wants to golf all day. Sam in real life is very different from some of the roles he chooses to play onscreen, but it’s a testament to his acting since he’s so convincing.
Can you tell me a bit about Stumptown and your character of Dex?
Stumptown is a brand-new show on ABC, and we actually start production Monday [Editor’s note: this interview took place July 19]. So, bear with me because we’re still figuring things out. I read this graphic novel written by Greg Rucka and instantly fell in love with this character and was relishing the opportunity to play her. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to play a character who is so multilayered. She’s very wry, she’s super funny, she’s ex-military. There’s a lot of action and a lot of fighting, but she’s not great at it. She can fight because she’s a scrapper and gets in a lot of bar fights. She’s certainly not Marvel skilled. She’s also a sex addict and a gambling addict, who gets drunk a lot. She’s battling a lot of demons but is inherently good. Throughout the first season, just after the pilot, the idea of becoming a private investigator is sent to her, and she realizes that this might be something that she’s good at. We’re going to see her try, fail and achieve things that nobody expected from this woman. She’s constantly falling forward and is consistently six steps ahead of everybody, but has no idea that she is. It’s based in Portland, and in the crime genre, it’s usually a made-up city like Gotham or it’s New York, L.A. or Chicago. This is Portland. It’s called Stumptown because it started as a logging community. So, the day players we’re gonna be able to cast and the crimes that we’re going to get into are not your average crimes. It’s a really great opportunity to do something different on television.
The trailer has a major action set piece where Dex beats up two guys in a moving car. Will there be ambitious action sequences like this fairly often?
I think so. I don’t think that this is a person who’s seeking them out, but trouble always seems to find her. I think there will be sequences, but I don’t know if it’s going to be every single episode. Again, we start production Monday, and that’s on reshoots from the pilot. So, I don’t know specifically what’s to come, but I already know there’s a big fight sequence in our third episode, which I’m training for right now. They’ll be sprinkled throughout, for sure.
Were you hesitant to commit to another broadcast series since one episode has the potential to be hundreds as you’ve experienced firsthand?
Yeah, I am! (Laughs.) I’m terrified. I just couldn’t get this character out of my head, and because I’ve done some long-running and short-running series, I thought to myself, “Can I play this character for years?” — and the answer was yes. There are so many different directions you can go with this series, and I don’t feel boxed in at all. So, that alleviated some fear. I’m also so grateful to be employed. As an actor, you never quite know. I’ve had five or six years off of How I Met Your Mother where I’m traveling, hustling and going around the world. I’m a mom, I have two children and my family life is my priority. To be able to have the opportunity where I can work on a really cool project and live in the same city as my family, I feel eternally grateful.
You and Jake Johnson are quite adept at improv. Do you know if you guys will get to play a little bit once the scripted scene is handled first?
Yeah, we’re planning for that right now. We’re still at the beginning stages of understanding the dynamic between these two characters, but Jake is an amazing comedian who excels at improv. So, I’m actually a little intimidated by that. I think one of the best things about our days will be trying to make each other laugh.
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