Constance Zimmer on her Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fate and the Marvel Universe

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After more than two season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we thought that fan-favorite Phil Coulson had finally found love with Rosalind Price—only to have her taken from him by treacherous archrival Grant Ward. Up until that point, Constance Zimmer had masterfully created a character that could match wits with everyone’s favorite super-spy. Paste caught up with the actor to talk about her time on the show, her take on Rosalind’s true nature, and whether this is truly the end for her awesome character.

Paste Magazine: Seeing you shot in the head in the opening scene of last week’s episode was a genuine shock, to say the least. How and when did you find out about Rosalind’s fate?
Constance Zimmer: I found out a couple episodes before, and it was out of my sheer horror that I thought I was going to be bad. I’d just read the Malick episode, and then all of a sudden I got so scared that I was bad, and I got the visit from the producers. They all came into my trailer, and I thought, “Oh no, this is where I find out that I’m bad and I’m going to try to kill everybody,” right?

They were like, “Well, good news and bad news. The good news is you’re not bad—you actually didn’t know that Malick worked for Hydra.” And I was like, “Oh my God, I’m so excited!” I really loved the mystery of Rosalind, and how we kept everyone on their toes and wondering, was she or wasn’t she. Ultimately, I’m super glad that she wasn’t, but then the bad news was was like, “But, in two episodes you die.” And I said, “No. No, no, no, no, no. What?”

Paste: Okay, so I have to ask. Since this is Marvel and we’ve seen lots of crazy things happen to those we thought were done for, how truly dead is Rosalind?
Zimmer: Well, you know, this is what I like to say so I don’t get in trouble. I think anything’s possible. I also think that sometimes there are characters that are coming for a purpose and a reason, and others where if they came back, it might not be good.

Right now it’s definitely sad, because I do feel for Coulson. He got to fall in love and then it gets taken away from him right when he realizes it. But then I think, it now gives him such a great reason to do what he does to Ward, which I don’t think he would’ve been able to do if it wasn’t for the love that he had felt for Rosalind. I think anything’s possible. The power of Coulson is pretty strong and it’s just a matter of how he uses it.

Paste: Viewers have just fallen in love with the chemistry between Rosalind and Coulson, but a lot of people first got to know you on Entourage, and also remember your chemistry with Jeremy Piven, or Ari Gold. Did you feel like there were any sort of similarities between your dynamic with those two actors and characters?
Zimmer: First, thank you. I really love when you have strong female characters with strong male characters, and instead of it being a competition, it actually becomes kind of like a love story. They’re similar in the sense that they’re both snarky, which is always fun to play, but they’re also so different because Coulson is in this other world where he will constantly sort of be kept at bay and always question his emotions. The Ari character is the opposite. He’s overly emotional, which is why it comes out in his screaming and his anger, because he gets so involved. So it’s fun to have both of those, and yet kind of get the same results.

Paste: Walking into this established show to create a brand-new character—did that give you a sense of freedom, since you weren’t beholden to an established comic book history?
Zimmer: Yeah, I think so. It would definitely feel like a lot of pressure if you are creating something that people already have their own expectations for when it goes from comic book to reel. Having not known until they gave me a name—but even that name, we all didn’t know, if that was her real name or if she was hiding who she is. I was constantly looking up characters that looked anything like me, and I was like, “Could I be that person? I don’t know.” It definitely makes you feel like, “Oh, I can create this. I’m not limited to be x, y and z.”

I think that’s also why, for me, it was such a fun challenge to create this character. It’s just so much fun to be in that Marvel universe, because it feels otherworldly—your characters don’t necessarily feel like somebody you would meet on the street. They feel like a step above a heightened reality and that was super fun to play. It’s also why we went with this very extreme haircut, because I thought it just gave her a little bit of that, “Is she a comic book character, or is she not?” And that’s why, in later episodes, we let her relax a little bit more when she was with Coulson. You saw that it was definitely this thing that she kind of puts on when she goes to work.

Paste: You mentioned the mystery around Rosalind and her true intentions and moral fiber. The big mystery centered around her involvement with the ACTU and collection of Inhumans, but there were a lot of questionable details that we never really got to look into—like whether her apartment was really broken into, whether she genuinely enjoyed the same hamburgers Coulson loved. Being a high-level spy, was she at least a bit of a BS-er?
Zimmer: I’m going to say, “no.” The way that I went with Rosalind was with all honesty, and I think what’s funny about that is sometimes people take that as being not truthful. Because there’s not a lot of people out there who are completely unfiltered and honest, and say things as they are without people second-guessing them. That’s kind of what made Rosalind so fascinating. I’m glad that that’s what you got from it, and that kind of was the idea, but at the same time, she wasn’t bullshitting. Everything she was saying was true. Dead husband’s true, the baseball stuff is true, everything in her intentions was always clear. Anything that was unanswered was not being hidden, we just didn’t have time. That’s why you need a spin off. You need a Rosalind Price spin off.

Paste: That sounds good!
Zimmer: That’s how we’d get all the information (laughs).