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This Actor Didn't Know They Were In Endgame Until They Saw It In Theaters

Just when you thought Marvel couldn't get any more secretive, a story like this comes out. 

Everyone knows that the House of Heroes kept plot details under tight wraps, its actors in the dark, and the media essentially clueless in the time leading up to the release of Avengers: Endgame. But, as it turns out, the secret-keeping didn't stop there. One Avengers: Endgame star had no idea they were even in the movie until they saw it in theaters. 

The gobsmacked actor in question? Community alum Yvette Nicole Brown, who made a cameo appearance as a government agent at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) visit in the 1970s. In Endgame, the trio share an elevator together during a scene in which Brown's character becomes highly suspicious of the two time-traveling Avengers. This eventually leads S.H.I.E.L.D. higher-ups to attempt to thwart their mission to retrieve the Tesseract and snag a few extra Pym Particles from Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) office. 

As Brown explained in an interview with CNN, she knew she was shooting her scenes for a Marvel movie, but she didn't know whether she would be in Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame. When she saw Infinity War up on the big screen and realized that she wasn't in it, Brown assumed directors Joe and Anthony Russo scrapped her cameo and she wouldn't appear in the follow-up flick. 

It all started in October of 2017, two months after principal photography began, when Joe Russo reached out to Brown and asked if she was available to film some scenes for the Avengers duology he and his brother Anthony were shooting back-to-back. Brown jumped on the opportunity — her fellow Community cast members Danny Pudi and Jim Rash had already snagged cameos in Marvel movies, she was waiting for her chance to join the MCU, and she was keen to reunite with the Russos, who executive produced Community before becoming legit Marvel filmmakers. 

"I was on the set of The Mayor for ABC and I got a text from Joe Russo. He said, 'Hey, what are you doing two weeks from now?' And I called him — I didn't even text back. I called him! 'Is it? Is this it?' He said, 'This is it. It's your turn. This is the call,'" recalled Brown. "I was like, 'I need next week off, because I've got to do this thing!' And luckily, because Marvel is also under the Disney-ABC umbrella, they worked everything out and I was able to go to Atlanta for a couple of days and knock it out. I don't dream that big. [But] after the Russos took over, I thought, 'There's a good chance.' There's a lot of people on Community, and there's not enough movies for everybody to have a moment, so I was so excited that I got my chance."

Brown's time on set was pretty magical, as was her experience filming with Downey Jr. and Evans, whom she called "lovely human beings." The cast and crew welcomed her "as if [she] was playing Queen Bee, the new crime fighter," but she walked away not knowing whether she would appear in the third or the fourth Avengers movie. Assuming that she'd probably pop up in Infinity War, Brown was a bit let down when she didn't see herself up on the silver screen, but still felt grateful to have been a part of the production.

"I just said, 'Well, it was nice. It's the thought that counts.' And I forgot about it," said Brown. 

She got the shock of her life in April 2019, a year and a half after she stepped onto set, when she sat down for a showing of Avengers: Endgame. When the action shifted to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Brown knew that her time to shine had finally come. 

"I'm sitting there with a group of [friends] in my seat like, 'This is going to be it. Oh my God, it's an elevator! It's me!'" Brown gushed. "I'm just sitting there, biting the inside of my jaw. I was so freaking excited, I can't even tell you. So frigging excited! My friends were, too."

She later admitted the one regret she has about the whole experience: not going to the premiere of Avengers: Endgame. Brown said with a laugh, "I didn't know I was in it! I could've come!"

While it's unusual for an actor to not know they're in a film until they see it in theaters, this doesn't feel too shocking coming out of Marvel. The studio is secretive (often to a fault) and has garnered a reputation for keeping things close to the chest, especially in regards to Infinity War and Endgame. In the past, the Russos purposefully misdirected fans by editing trailers in just the right way, gave actors fake scripts filled with phony twists, intentionally lied to stars about the context of scenes they were shooting, and even filmed multiple endings. This was in efforts to prevent spoilers from spilling, which thankfully didn't happen that often (Tom Holland's loose lips notwithstanding). 

It may have been standard procedure to keep Brown oblivious to the specifics of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but the Russos really didn't have anything to worry about with the actress. She confirmed to CNN that she zipped her lips immediately after filming her scenes — and kept them that way for nearly two years. 

"That NDA was iron-clad," said Brown. "I never told anybody."