Hayley Atwell Brought All The Girl Power In The Universe To Fan Expo
Hayley Atwell doesn’t just play a tough, brilliant, ass-kicking woman on TV—she actually is one in real life. In between detailing her latest exploits in the Dubsmash war #TeamCARTER is engaged in against #TeamSHIELD, Atwell told a massive Toronto Fan Expo audience about why she loves playing Agent Peggy Carter and why it’s so important that characters like Peggy get screen time in films and television.
“It’s such an empowering show, for women mostly, but for men as well,” Atwell said, talking about how proud she is to be a part of Agent Carter—especially when she attends events like Fan Expo and is confronted with dozens of fans in Peggy costumes. “It’s lovely it’s very humbling,” the actor remarked.
And then there’s all those ‘I know my value’ tattoos out there. It’s one of Atwell’s favourite lines from the show and she says that sums up her character perfectly. “She knows who she is and that’s such a strong and such an inspiring place to be rather than the desperate need to be validated by other people,” she explains. “It doesn’t really matter what people think of you—in fact it’s actually none of your business. The most important thing is what you think of yourself. That’s something that Peggy has in spades, which is why she can walk into a room and not be intimidated by the men. She’s not focussing on her insecurities and it means there’s more headspace to focus her witty retorts, her clever comebacks, devising intelligent plans… she’s got more headspace so she’s focussing on the right things.”
What Peggy doesn’t have is female role models. As a trailblazer working in a male-dominated field (in a male-dominated era), Peggy had to find her own way. “She’s self-made,” says Atwell. “Because it’s so unusual for a woman of that time, in that situation to have the qualities that Peggy has, I think she was more influenced by the men in her life. I think she was taught that she was just as good as the men and just as capable. When I was growing up my dad was more inclined to tell me that I was smart rather than pretty. I think that served me well because it meant that I didn’t use my feminine looks as my main currency. I looked to develop other aspects of my personality, which is essential as an actor to do that. I think Peggy is similar.”
For her post-Marvel career (is there such a thing in this age of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs?) Atwell is gunning to blaze some trails of her own. In case you slept through that time she volunteered to be the next Doctor, the actor reminded us that she’d not only like to take over for Peter Capaldi when the time comes, but Daniel Craig as well. “You know, I kind of like to play with the gender issue of casting in various films and TV. Someone said to me ‘Would you love to play a Bond girl one day?’ And I was like, ‘I’d want to play Bond.’”
Someone get this woman a martini already.