Emily VanCamp Obviously Can’t Say Anything
Before getting on the phone with Emily VanCamp, there’s the mutually understood acknowledgement that she simply won’t be able to answer certain questions. That’s life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where secrets are closely guarded, and actors are contractually obliged to plead the fifth. VanCamp, who has returned to the role of Sharon Carter (first seen in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier) in the wildly popular Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, finds her character at the center of plenty of online speculation as to her true identity ahead of tomorrow’s hotly-anticipated finale. So when we spoke to the actor earlier this week about returning to the role for the first time in five years, mum was generally the word.
BEN BARNA: Did the possibility of playing Sharon Carter eight years after she made her first appearing outside the realm of your imagination? Did you even consider it as a possibility?
EMILY VANCAMP: I don’t think you ever really do. That’s a long period of time to play a character. Especially with the time in between. I definitely thought we had put Sharon to bed in many ways, so it was really exciting to get the call that they wanted to bring her back. And not only bring her back, but in this totally different light and really address what had happened, and tackle that head on, rather than sidestep it.
BARNA: When you were watching all the events of the MCU unfold, did you ever think to yourself, “I wonder how Sharon’s doing?”
VANCAMP: Of course. I’ve always been championing everyone and watching the films, but in the back of my mind there’s the actress who plays this character, who loves this character, and who always wondered what happened to her. I honestly didn’t know that we’d ever really address it, and that’s fine, because as you know, this is a massive universe with so many characters to service and so many stories to tell. So it was never a bitter or bad feeling at all. And it’s more like, “We’ve told her story, and now they’re telling other stories.”
BARNA: When you did get the call that they wanted to bring Sharon back, are you already aware of the project, or do you find out about the project along with the call?
VANCAMP: I think they had an idea of what The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was going to be, but it was still very much in development when we had our initial conversations about reprising the role. There was an idea, but it wasn’t set in stone.
BARNA: The show was supposed to be Marvel’s first Disney+ show but because of the pandemic, WandaVision was released first. How did that switch affect how you felt about the show’s release? Was there suddenly pressure to live up to WandaVision’s extraordinary success?
VANCAMP: I think it’s always fair to put our trust in Kevin Feige and the amazing people at Marvel. It’s just impossible for them to do any wrong, in my opinion. They make all the right choices, and they do things on the right timeline. And so I would be a fool to not put my trust in them. I think everyone was questioning what these programs would look like, because this is streaming television, rather than these big movies, and you don’t want the quality to be compromised. You just wonder in the back of your head, “How are they going to pull this off?” I think the quality was not compromised in any way. It just allows you to have more time with these characters, which is so much fun, and for me, there wasn’t a ton of pressure on my shoulders. I’m not leading the show. I just had the job to go and have a great time, hang with old friends, and work with some amazing people.
BARNA: Did shooting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier feel like making a six-hour movie, or did it feel like making TV? The lines are very blurred these days.
VANCAMP: They really are. I was shooting a network television show at the same time, which is totally different. If you compare the two, it definitely felt like shooting a very long movie. We didn’t shoot everything in sequence. It was more about location. I think everyone was still figuring out, “What does shooting this look like?” Because everyone involved is used to shooting movies, so it’s a lot more content that they’re shooting, more time. It was a bit of a learning curve for everyone, but it worked out.
BARNA: One thing I was not expecting to happen with these MCU shows is the amount of fan theorizing that is taking place online and building momentum and conversation around the series as episodes air week to week. There’s even been a lot of speculation surrounding your character and the nature of her true identity. Are you tracking any of the chatter as the show progresses? Are you aware of it?
VANCAMP: A little bit. You see things and you hear things. I have a ton of friends who are big, big fans of the MCU, so it’s not lost on me. I mean, that’s the whole point. You want to start a conversation and you want to have these theories out there. It’s just a lot of fun to watch it all unfold. I obviously can’t say anything. It’s interesting, because it is like a big movie, but it’s also appointment television. Because they drop them every week, which is kind of old-school in its own way.
BARNA: So are you the Power Broker?
VANCAMP: My official answer is that I can’t give you an answer, but I love that you asked that. That’s the first time someone’s straight up asked it. But I can’t answer that. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see what happens.
BARNA: What’s it like to play a human character amidst all these enhanced beings?
VANCAMP: It’s a lot more work, a lot more training. Just the sequence in episode three, you have to be prepared because there’s no powers to hide behind. They obviously equip you with the most incredible stunt teams, but when it’s just you, you’ve got to put the work in. There’s no way around it.
BARNA: Episode five seemed to confirm that Sharon made a heel turn, but then again, maybe not. Can you comment on that?
VANCAMP: There’s so many options. So many options. I don’t know. I forget. It was a long time ago.
BARNA: You’re a pro at deflection by now. How has being a part of the MCU changed your life?
VANCAMP: To be honest, it’s one of the greatest companies I’ve worked for in so many ways. I’ve had so much fun on the films, and now this show, that it feels like a gift that keeps on giving. It’s just really fun to jump back in whenever they need me.