When Bill Paxton appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Coulson’s old friend and Ward’s original S.O., I immediately mentioned that I hoped he would find a way to recur regularly. Thankfully, the showrunners seemed to share my sentiment, allowing Paxton to fold into the cast for the last third of the season not only as the “Big Bad” but also as someone with prominent ties to the show’s most significant plot lines.
In advance of tonight’s season finale, we spoke with Paxton about what we could expect from Garrett now that he’s finally achieved his goal of securing miracle drug GH-325 — and how those newfound abilities might change his motivation all together.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we last left Garrett, Raina had saved him by injecting him with GH-325. Can you talk about where we find him tonight?
BILL PAXTON: Well, you saw where we left him: kind of having this huge epiphany and seeing some glimpse of the big bang, the big picture. And also he’s been re-energized, this serum brings him back to life — fully back to life, like it did Coulson. It’s given him a kind of a broader insight and then it kind of broadened his MO, but it hasn’t changed his first priority, and that is to bring down S.H.I.E.L.D. once and for all.
Aside from bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D., we know Garrett’s main motive was getting his hands on that drug. Now that he has it, how has that changed him?
He’s seeing a broader plan, without revealing too much. He’s seeing more of a master plan [laughs] and that’s always dangerous. There’s one thing to have a plan to bring down S.H.I.E.L.D., but then when you have the master plan, then you start running for cover.
How does that affect Garrett’s relationship with Deathlok? Because it seems like Garrett is determined to keep him on his side no matter what, even though Deathlok doesn’t really want to be evil.
He’s manipulated. He’s a puppet, really. Because I’ve had his son, poor guy, so he’s kind of been blackmailed into being the bad guy.
You came into the show mid-season but you’ve really become a staple, and not just because you’re the “Big Bad.” I’m so impressed by how well you’ve gelled with the cast.
I’ve had so much fun. I have to say, you come in to a show like that and everyone knows everybody. And I was really just kind of involved in the last half of this first season, but they welcomed me with open arms. I love the business of acting, I love actors, and I really thought these guys were not only really good actors but they were intelligent and really supportive of one another. They really embody the spirit of the characters they’re playing in terms of the team, working for S.H.I.E.L.D.
Speaking of working as a team, can you talk a little bit about being able to create that relationship with Brett [Dalton] over the course of the season?
It’s been terrific. I’ve kind of taken Brett under my wing, and I think he’s a tremendous young talent. And I’ve really enjoyed seeing his character come into his own in last the last third of this first season, to reveal this kind of tortured guy who’s really been kind of manipulated emotionally. And that episode ["Ragtag"] was my favorite to act in. It was a little more character-driven, and I loved the reveal of going back and having the actor who played Brett as an adolescent. Seeing that kind of warped father and son relationship that Garrett and Ward had…that was, for me, some of my favorite stuff to do on the show.
And I love how that particular episode showed just how much Garrett had really manipulated him.
And it’s kind of what parents do to children even though they don’t mean to. At some point, no matter how close your son is to you as father, he’s got to rebel to become his own man. And so we’re kind of seeing that dynamic being played out. In this regard, Grant has been completely manipulated, but it’s to help understand how he could commit such atrocious acts of murder in the earlier episodes. It’s a chance of redemption, I think.
So you think Ward deserves redemption after all this?
As John Garrett, absolutely! [laughs] And I think Garrett deserves redemption.
Without teasing too much, what can you share with readers about tonight’s finale?
My character comes back with a new perspective. A lot of secrets are going to be revealed, and it’s the finale, so a lot of things are going to come to their fruition.
The season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Check back for our recap, as well as a postmortem with head honchos Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb on what we can expect for next season.