To hear Clark Gregg tell it, Phil Coulson doesn’t have any hard feelings about getting demoted on Agents of SHIELD.
When season four of ABC’s Marvel property picks up, the former Director of SHIELD will find himself back in the field as an agent, with Jason O’Mara playing the mysterious new, as-yet-unnamed Director.
“I found out the day he showed up [on set],” Gregg tells The Hollywood Reporter of learning who the new Director would be. “The epilogue at the end of last season, there was a line in the flash forward six months in the future. I had a line, ‘I better tell the director.’ I texted the [SHIELD showrunners], ‘Wait a minute. Am I losing my job?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, you’re losing your job.’ But they didn’t tell me anything else.”
After reading a few scripts and getting a feel for where the writers plan to take Coulson in season four, Gregg trusts where they’re taking Coulson’s journey.
“What they’ve come up with is cool and it makes sense given that SHIELD is coming out of the shadows,” he says. “There are people that will want their person in charge. At least, that’s what I think is going on.”
Surprisingly enough, Gregg believes Coulson is actually happy with his demotion back to field agent.
“I always felt like Coulson was happiest in the field,” Gregg says. “Neither I nor Coulson loved playing and listening while his agents went into dangerous situations. And there are more dramatic possibilities when you have a boss that you have to deal with.”
As for Coulson’s dynamic with his new boss, all Gregg could reveal is this: “I think Coulson is going to be a little wary, and try to protect everyone in SHIELD.”
While there was speculation all summer long about which existing SHIELD character would take on the new job, the showrunners decided to bring in someone entirely new to the Marvel Cinematic and TV Universe to play the new Director. Not much is known about who O’Mara is playing, except that he is “a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s.”
“It suggests things about where I imagine the story is going to be going or where they are, in terms of stuff that happened in the movie [Captain America:] Civil War and the Sokovia Accords,” Gregg says. “The world is realizing that they can no longer ignore the reality of enhanced people and there has to be some kind of accepted organizations that deal with them.”
Another aspect of the new season that Gregg can’t wait for fans to see is the addition of Ghost Rider (played by True Detective alum Gabriel Luna).
“I haven’t had any scenes with him yet but I’m excited about it,” Gregg says. “I think it’s cool that they picked the Robbie Reyes version. He’s got a cool car in East LA, he’s a Latino guy — it’s a cool version from the comics.”
Gregg believes bringing the Ghost Rider mythology into the SHIELD universe is going to take the ABC series in a new direction.
“We’re all anxious to see how the world of magic plays into the reality of our show and the science that it’s always been based in,” Gregg says. “Everything I’ve seen so far is promising though.”
Agents of SHIELD returns for season four on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at its new time, 10 p.m., on ABC.