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Published On: Tue, May 16th, 2017

Ming-Na Wen talks ‘Agents of SHIELD’ season 4, May going dark, relationship with Clark Gregg’s Phil

After four seasons of playing the stoic-yet-heroic Melinda May on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ming-Na Wen finally got to visit the dark side — and she loved it!

“It’s so fun being evil,” the actress gushed to ET’s Leanne Aguilera during a recent Facebook Live. “I’m just realizing that everybody likes the bad guys. It’s so weird, they love us being evil!”

Wen’s character is one of the agents who took a dark turn in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third and final “pod” of episodes this season, thanks to the Framework — an alternate, virtual reality constructed by Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) and perfected by his android assistant, AIDA (Mallory Jansen), who quickly overtook her human master to seize the reins of the fabricated world.

“AIDA has taken one regret out of each of our characters, and you would think that would help to make these characters have a fulfilling, happy life,” Wen recalled. “For some reason it actually created a whole other dimension of wrong. It’s fascinating, just philosophically, to think about.”

For May — who’s been inside the virtual reality the longest of all the agents after being kidnapped by Radcliffe and AIDA earlier in the season and replaced by a Life Model Decoy — it’s her reversed regret that arguably led to the Framework’s biggest wrinkle: a world in which HYDRA overtook S.H.I.E.L.D. and AIDA herself serves as the villainous Madame Hydra.

“When I first put on the costume with the HYDRA logo, I hated it! I really did,” Wen said, admitting that she was initially worried about fan backlash over her character’s dark turn. “I’m like, ugh, this doesn’t feel right, you know?”

And it wasn’t just the exterior armor that the actress had to alter to play her virtual reality self. She also had to change her character’s entire “mentality.”

“I always played May where, she was guarded in her feelings, but she was always extremely compassionate and always wanted to protect her family, that’s why she was The Cavalry,” Wen explained. “Ultimately, it’s about doing good and protecting the innocent. With HYDRA May, it’s all about vengeance and callousness and coldness… The Inhumans have to go, and she’s going to do everything she can to get rid of them.”

However, it’s clear that Framework May still has some of her real-world counterpart buried within her.

In last week’s episode, the HYDRA agent seemingly turned coat after realizing that the ruthless organization was kidnapping and indoctrinating children. She disobeyed orders to kill the Patriot (Jason O’Mara), helped the underground S.H.I.E.L.D. resistance team escape, and later, gave Daisy (Chloe Bennet) the terrigen crystal needed to complete her Inhuman transformation within the Framework.

Wen was, of course, tight-lipped on what’s to come as the agents fight their way back to the real world, but was as effusive as her co-stars Bennet and Brett Dalton before her that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s final episodes of the season are going to blow fans’ minds.

“I’m just so happy that the fans are loving this last pod… That was a really nice surprise for all of us, that people just ate it up,” she added. “And I think it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens after — or if — we even get out of the Framework.”

Even if the agents manage to find their way out, there will be problems to deal with on the other side.

“That was the thing that we questioned our writers on, which was, is it like a dream, where sometimes you wake up and you feel like it was a traumatic dream, but you can’t remember what happened and then you just go on with your life? Or is it like, something that lingers and stays with them, that they do remember?” Wen recalled, though she couldn’t spoil the answers to those questions. “We’ll leave it ambiguous… whether it does have lingering effects.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

About the Author

- Stephen is a contributor and writer on The Dispatch. Stephen is the founder and editor for the Steven Spielberg Fan Club website and contributes to pop culture stories on The Dispatch, especially upcoming movie news. Beginning in 2016, Stephen took the role of Managing Editor for the Tampa Dispatch.

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