The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) can be attributed to a string of right decisions made right from the beginning, from directors (Jon Favreau), actors (Robert Downey Jr), and of course, chief architect Kevin Feige who spearheaded the entire Marvel Studios process from day one. So when it was announced that WandaVision, a Disney+ spin-off based on popular Avengers Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), would pay homage to the comedic television genre from American TV sitcoms across the decades, all eyes were on a casting call that would set minds at ease.
While Olsen does come from a family of talents known for their association to comedy (her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spent their early years in iconic 80s sitcom Full House), the casting of well-known comedic actress Kathryn Hahn in a supporting role proved to be another coup for the MCU. From roles in Step Brothers, The Holiday, to The Visit, all of which expands onto a really broad spectrum of genres, she is best known for her comedic outings in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and more recently as Carla in both Bad Moms movies, as well as her role in the hit HBO series Mrs Fletcher playing a divorced woman with a sexual awakening.
Loud, carefree and flat out hilarious, Hahn is everything you envision her to be: disarmingly sweet and ferociously funny. In an exclusive interview with Geek Culture, the actress doesn’t take herself too seriously and is bursting with energy, showing why she’s your favourite Starbucks order that you have on the way to work on a groggy morning or your cup of boba waiting for you at the end of a hard, hot day.
Crossing the line and jumping into the superhero genre wasn’t entirely in Hahn’s plans, but the 47-year old actress is excited to take the leap and be a part of something as big as Marvel.
“I really have not [been a fan of superheroes], but I appreciate them and I love the spectacle and I love the gas. I love the idea that there are superheroes that are walking all among us all the time and when I was pitched WandaVision, I went in to meet with them and I loved it,” shared Hahn.
In fact, Hahn was the only actress considered for the role of Agnes and Feige personally thought of her for the role, even so far as to admit that he was a fan of the comedian when referencing the same meeting Hahn spoke about.
“It all happened really quickly, it was a rare general meeting – which we don’t usually have a lot of time to do – but Kathryn came in and sat down and she was a fan of what we were up to and we’re fans of hers, and at exactly that same time, we were sitting in the writers’ room thinking of who to play Agnes and it probably took five seconds for somebody to say ‘Wait, what about Kathryn?’,” said Feige at a WandaVision press conference on 11 January that Geek Culture attended.
“It’s usually never as perfect as this.”
Though Feige and the team had instantaneously placecarded Hahn for the role, Hahn didn’t hear about the news until a couple days later. It all happened really quickly for both the actress and the Marvel team but what’s the point of waiting if the stars have aligned?
Looking back, it was a crazy time for Hahn. Whilst she might have scored the role easily, the difficult challenge was to keep it a secret.The actress received the call from Marvel whilst in the back seat of an Uber (back when Uber was still a thing) on a night out and had to refrain from telling anyone the exciting news. (On a side note, if you want to celebrate the show, why not try out these drinks?)
“I got a call or a text while I was on my way to do karaoke and couldn’t tell anybody that I was with, so I had to like, literally swallow it and then just sing. I mean, I just tried to sing it out because I couldn’t tell anybody! My pal was there, it was a very difficult night but really, oh my god, so exciting!,” reminisced Hahn.
Of course, Hahn’s casting also brought with it a big baggage that fans picked up on – who else can she play in the series, if not a key character from Wanda and Vision’s comic book history? And wouldn’t you know it – Agnes so happens to be a portmanteau of Agatha Harkness.
Agatha who? A witch and mother of supervillain Nicholas Scratch, fans have noticed certain easter eggs tied to Harkness in the first four episodes (Read our review here), such as Agnes’ pet bunny being called Señor Scratchy in the second episode, having Agnes wear a witch costume in the trailer, seeing Agnes wear jewellery that looks similar to a collar brooch Agatha regularly sports in the comics, to having her mention that her wedding anniversary is on 2 June, that hints that Agnes isn’t as harmless as she seems.
Oh, 2 June 1692 is the historical start date of the Salem Witch trials.
First introduced as a nosey neighbour of Wanda and Vision, Agnes’ overly friendly efforts to guide Wanda through the suburban wife’s life comes off as normal, even the actress herself downplayed the significance of Wanda and Agnes’ relationship in the series: “That is just circumstantial to who happens to be home, and its during the day back in the 50s where she’s at home and husband’s at work.”
Naturally, Hahn isn’t spilling on her on-screen character, though she recognises that her inclusion into the massive MCU is the start of something incredible.
Without revealing too much of Agnes’ role in the grander scheme of things, Hahn proves that she has what it takes to play the villain and takes pride in being given the opportunity to be part of a Marvel project this big.
As one of the newest members to join the MCU, one can easily feel like a child entering a candy store for the first time, but according to Hahn, the world of MCU isn’t as scary or intimidating as it seems.
“I love Lizzie Olsen so much, I love all the superheroes. I think Marvel has incredible artists that have a humanness to them. We’re used to them and they’re like real, I love that.” said Hahn.
With her newly found deeper appreciation for the superhero genre, and making herself at home amongst the long list of MCU superstars, Hahn is warm to the idea of starring alongside other heroes that isn’t Wanda Maximoff, though her loyalties will always stay with the Scarlet Witch.
Her hero of choice? Bruce Banner, Hulk.
Aside from her obvious fangirling towards Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo, the actress is attracted to characters with inner demons that need defeat.
“I love anybody in turmoil – clearly, I love Wanda – so anybody that’s fighting with something in their nature, I love these characters,” shared Hahn. “So I would say Hulk – not only because I love Ruffalo but because of that dual nature, and because of that inner conflict is really really interesting to me.”
What’s also interesting is that fate has also bumped up the importance of WandaVision in Marvel’s plan to expand the MCU onto Disney’s streaming platform. Originally scheduled to air after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, COVID-19 caused that show to be delayed, which in turn bumped WandaVision to be the debut TV series on Disney+. And like most highly anticipated TV shows, Disney isn’t dropping a full season, but an episode a week which means that when the service is launched in Singapore on 23 February, local fans can catch later episodes with fans in the US.
Not that there’s any pressure to perform, (even as series lead Bettany hints at an amazing ending) Hahn knows there is something special about the show.
“Holding hands and taking that curtain call after we taped the first episode… the first episode was my favourite because we had taken such a leap together off this cliff into like, who knows what this is gonna be like. We’ve rehearsed and it was just such an awesome risk and a huge swing,” recalled Hahn.
“Just to take that curtain call together was… I will hold on to it so dearly. I’m so excited for people to see it.”
Catch a new episode of WandaVision every Friday on Disney+ when the service launches in Singapore on 23 February 2021.