In the final season of the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. find themselves stranded throughout time, and they must work together to discover and fully understand their mission. If they fail that mission, at any point, not only could it affect their present, but it could also mean disaster for the past and future of the world.
While the actors are saying goodbye to their characters, Collider got on the phone to chat 1-on-1 with actor Iain De Caestecker (who plays Leo Fitz, also known as one half of FitzSimmons) about the progression of the characters over the season, how S.H.I.E.L.D. is more than just a superhero show, whether FitzSimmons will get their happy ending, building friendships that will last beyond the TV series, and the mementos he got to take home from the set.
Collider: This started out as a seemingly straightforward show about the work of human S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in a world where superheroes exist, but it’s since evolved into so much more, with time travel and robots and space. What has most surprised you about where things ended up, from where they began?
IAIN DE CAESTECKER: I suppose the progression of the characters, really, and how the show became something more than a superhero show. That was always something really cool about it. When you look at someone like Elizabeth [Henstridge], who has a real special way of conveying emotions, in a very honest and truthful way, which brings up an element of reality to even the most fantastical situations. That’s something that I always really thought was cool about it, seeing characters develop, in a real way, and seeing real relationships be explored in the world of a sci-fi show. It is fantasy. Seeing it portrayed in an honest way is always something which I find quite exciting and appealing. I’d never really had the chance to portray some of the scenes and situations and circumstances that I have, with this show, going into space, being in spaceships, and meeting aliens, and all of that stuff. If I was to speak to my nine-year-old self and tell him that I was going to do all of these things on a TV show, I’d think it was the coolest thing in the world.
This is not exactly the first go-around that FitzSimmons have had when it comes to being separated by space and time. Is there anything that you can say to give hope to the fans that just want them to have a happy ending?
DE CAESTECKER: No. I can’t give anything away. With this being the last season, I think the writers did a great job of finishing it. For me, as a fan of the show, they tied things up in a very satisfying way. That’s all I can really say. You must get so bored because we can never really tell you anything.
How challenging has it been to develop that FitzSimmons dynamic, have viewers fall in love with them, and have them finally realize their feelings for each other, only to keep having them be torn apart?
DE CAESTECKER: The last time we see Fitz and Simmons together, at the end of Season 6, Enoch basically says, “We have to do something, but you’re not gonna like it.” And you see them say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” They’re used to it. It wouldn’t be FitzSimmons without some surprise and upset. But every time, you see them come out the other side.
The cast has obviously become very tight but what was it like for you to go through all of this specifically with Elizabeth Henstridge and develop that dynamic that’s really become one of the most loved aspects of the series?
DE CAESTECKER: That’s nice of you to say. When you’re in it, you’re in a little bit of a bubble. You can sometimes even forget that people are watching it. I stay away from social media, not all the time, but I just do. I’ll meet people that watch the show, and that’s really nice. I find that everybody that I’ve ever talked to that watches the show are all very, very nice. A common theme with fans of the show is that they’re all nice people, and that’s really nice. It’s a nice thing to be a part of, in that context, and it’s something that I’ll take with me, for a long time. It’s also a testament to (co-showrunners) Mo [Tancharoen] and Jed [Whedon], and all of the writers that came up with those characters and took them on a journey that most shows, in that genre, maybe wouldn’t have.
What’s it been like to be a part of the final season of a show that you’ve been on for six seasons, prior to that, but you also couldn’t really be a full part of that season and the team isn’t allowed to know where you are? Was it hard to not be there for every episode of the last season?
DE CAESTECKER: Well, I can’t say what happens with being in the episodes of the last season. But regardless of anything else, as much as it’s sad that the show is ending, we’re all still are very good friends and we have a strong relationship that will go on past the show, which is a nice thing. In that sense, for us, the show won’t end when the show ends, which is a nice thought.
How did your first day on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. compare to your last day on the show, and how different did you feel, from who you were when you started on the show, to who you were when you wrapped on the show?
DE CAESTECKER: When I first started, I was a bit younger, mentally. By the end of it, I felt lucky to be on something like that and have the people at the very top cultivate such a lovely atmosphere. It’s very cliché to say, and I’m sure everyone says it, but they really made it into a family environment. Part of that is because, when you’re on set, you see more of who you’re working with than your family, and you spend all of your time with them. Really quickly, they become like family to you. I left with a whole new group of people in my life, that I’m extremely close to and that I can count on and that I’ll be friends with forever. They’re people that I know and trust. You certainly couldn’t ask for much more than that, could you?
Did you get to take any props or mementos home from the set that represented your character, or are you trying to get anything from the set?
DE CAESTECKER: They were giving out costumes, I just kept on putting it off. I was like, “I’ll go get my costume on another day. I’ll take it on Monday.” I think I have one of Framework Fitz’s suits and ties. I’ve got a bunch of other things from different seasons, as well. I have mostly prop stuff, rather than costume stuff. I’ve got a watch that Fitz wore, and I’ve got my S.H.I.E.L.D. badge. I’ve got a few different things. I didn’t take more stuff, but I could have. For a Marvel thing, the security wasn’t that tight. And I was in with the security guys. I could have taken the chairs and the pool table. I regret that I didn’t take more stuff. I should really have six or seven iPads at home, by now.
I know you can’t give spoilers, but will we have answers, by the end of this season? Will we feel like we have closure with a lot of the things that we’re waiting for closure on?
DE CAESTECKER: I can’t really say. All I can say is that, like the writers have always done with this show, they’re gonna take you on a nail-biting journey and take you in directions that you don’t see coming. And there’s usually a satisfying ending because that’s what they’re good at. That would be my short and probably quite annoying statement.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Wednesday nights on ABC.