Samuel L Jackson saw it coming. The actor, who’s played Nick Fury in more than 10 Marvel projects, says he’s hardly surprised at the thunderous success the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. Elsewhere, Olivia Coleman is disappointed she didn’t get bitten by something radioactive. When she first got the call to step into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be a part of Secret Invasion – the latest MCU series, now streaming on Disney+Hotstar – it wasn’t to play a superhero but M16 agent Sonya Falsworth.
Secret Invasion follows the Skrulls – a race of shape-shifting aliens (first seen in 2009’s Captain Marvel). While taking refuge on Earth and living in hiding over the years, they’ve evolved into extremists now looking to secretly infiltrate the governments of the world. It’s left to Nick Fury to deal with the threat. The series also stars Emilia Clarke, Ben Mendelsohn and Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Over Zoom, Samuel L Jackson and Olivia Coleman spoke to me about the new series, wishing their characters could fly and the beast of Marvel.
Sam, you’ve now played Nick Fury, this beloved character, in countless Marvel projects. If Samuel L Jackson from back in 2008 – who’d just made a cameo in Iron Man and was maybe gearing up to do the first Avengers movie – could see you today, now having played this character for so many years, what do you think he’d say?
Sam: I think he’d say “I knew it was going to happen”. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been in franchise films like Jurassic Park and Star Wars, so I’ve been travelling through these huge films for a while. These movies have huge fanbases, and I’m one of those people. I’m a fan. And those are the movies I wanted to be in. I’ve been very fortunate to create this fantastic body of work and to have portrayed characters that people relate to and like. But I’m still trying to get back into that Star Wars franchise! (laughs)
Olivia, when you first got that call about stepping into the beast of the MCU, were there any fellow actors you reached out to for advice on what to expect from stepping into this massive fandom world?
Olivia: No, I said yes instantly. Maybe I should’ve asked for advice (laughs). But no I didn’t need to do any research or ask anyone, I just said yes.
When you got the call, were you disappointed you weren’t being asked to play a superhero?
Olivia: Oh god yes. I think I asked a couple of people if I can be bitten by something or fall into a vat of. I sort of imagined that if I ever did a Marvel movie, that I’d be able to fly, and zap people. But actually this has turned out to be an awful lot of fun. I think Sonia has lots of fun without the need to fly.
Sam: You may be flying before it’s over, you never know. They might hook you up (laughs).
The Marvel universe has evolved a great deal over the years. Today we’ve got multiple shows and movies releasing every year. As an audience, what do you look for in a Marvel project today?
Sam: It’s hard to say these days because they’re so many iterations of characters and so many different kinds of stories to tell. From a huge cosmic universe to the things that are happening to regular people down here on Earth, with people that are just living their lives . Regular people or almost regular people, like the Spider-Man and Ant-Man of it all to Carol Danvers being able to leap through different galaxies. So, your expectation is it’s going to be something special and something that gives you an opportunity to get away from your daily routine and hopefully be entertained.