Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Star Reminisces About His Role As Fitz - Exclusive

Over the course of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s seven-season run, scientist Leo Fitz has been through the wringer. He's suffered brain damage. He's gotten lost in space. He's died, and, in the show's most memorable plotline, became the evil dictator of a digital alternate dimension.

None that was all that fun for the character, but it did give actor Iain De Caestecker a meaty role to play. De Caestecker's scenes have been one of the show's ongoing highlights. Still, the star says he and Fitz aren't all that much alike.

"He definitely is braver and is more courageous than I am," De Caestecker tells Looper in an exclusive interview. "He's got quite a strong moral compass, usually, and that's definitely something to be admired."

In fact, Fitz's commitment to doing the right thing even when he's severely overpowered is one of the elements of the character that De Caestecker admires the most. "You know, there are superheroes that have courage, and there's also somebody like Fitz, who doesn't have the stereotypical superhero powers," he says. "I think, really, he's in a unique place, getting caught up in those situations. I couldn't say I would do what he did."

Oh, and don't ask De Caestecker to explain any of the technobabble that comes out of Fitz's mouth. He's just as lost as you are. "I mean, that's another thing, I should be better at science by now, shouldn't I?" he asks, wryly. "But nothing. In one ear, out the other."

Ian De Caestecker on his favorite Fitz-Simmons moments

"You can't really talk about Fitz without talking about Simmons," De Caestecker admits — referring to Jemma Simmons, the character played by Elizabeth Henstridge, who functions as both Fitz's lab and life partner. "She had that similar thing, that courageous nature and that ability to always do what's right, to stand up for what she believes in."

Since the beginning of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz and Simmons' seemingly doomed romance has been the very heart of the show, and Fitz-Simmons has become a wildly popular ship among S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most dedicated fans.

When asked if he has a favorite Fitz-Simmons memory, De Caestecker hesitates for a few minutes, then quips, "I like the bad stuff," before taking a more thoughtful tone.

"I'm being sentimental now. I never really thought about it," he says, "but looking back, I really like the season one stuff. I like the lightheartedness and everything. They look a little bit more cartoony in season one, which is just fun, you know?"

Not that De Caestecker regrets where the show has ended up, of course. "The show has, rightly so, gone at it in a little bit of a more serious direction tonally," the actor says. If anyone knows, it would be him. After all, remember the Doctor?

How Ian De Caestecker prepped for Fitz's big heel turn

If you're not caught up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., during the show's fourth season, the gang found themselves strapped into a virtual reality simulation called the Framework. In that alternate world, Fitz wasn't the lovable, heroic character his teammates had come to know and love. Instead, he was an evil scientist who went by the name "the Doctor," and who ruled the Framework side-by-side with Aida, an artificial intelligence that Fitz created.

It was a big change of pace for Fitz and for S.H.I.E.L.D., and is largely considered one of the show's all-time best storylines. It was also an amazing showcase for De Caestecker's talents, and really let him show his range.

"That was a real learning curve. I can talk about that in terms of a real learning curve, just because I've never done something like that," De Caestecker says, while noting that there are some things about the performance he'd love to go back and change in hindsight. "But I did like how that character is not, like, twiddling his mustache. He [was] still rooted in reality, or [was] meant to be. He lets other people do the dirty work for him. He's not someone that's suddenly muscled up and learns karate."

Because the show films on such a tight schedule, De Caestecker didn't get too much time to prepare to play the new character, although he did what he could: "Watching documentaries is something that I'm quite big on for research [...] But yeah, research usually for me is quite sporadic."

"The other thing is, a lot of the work's done for you by the writers as well," he continues, "and the costume, the make-up, and the hair." In fact, the Doctor's hairstyle offered De Caestecker a key insight into the character. As he tells Looper, "One day, I was at home, and I got out of the shower, and I just parted my hair onto the side, and it was shaved a certain way and it was dyed, but I was kind of like, 'Oh, this is a bit Hitler Youth.'" De Caestecker took a photo of his improvised 'do and sent it to S.H.I.E.L.D's showrunners, who told him to run with the idea. 

While Fitz is back to his regular self on season 7, De Caestecker hasn't quite had his fill of villainy. When asked which big-screen Marvel character he'd most like to meet, he names Thanos.

"Just go in, and just have a chat. As long as you know you're not going to just die straight away. Just go in and be like, 'What happened? What's making you do this? Why are you so unhappy?' De Caestecker says. "Talk to me. Let it out. Maybe let's see if there's a better way to resolve this situation. And if there's not, I'll let you go. I'll let you win. And I'll make sure of devastation. But I think first, let's just sit down and talk about this for a couple of hours."

The seventh and final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently airing on Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC.