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

Actor Henry Simmons Dishes On Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Mack - Exclusive Interview

When you take a step back, it really is amazing that agent Alfonso Mackenzie — or Mack, as his friends call him — has become such an important part of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Think about it: When we first met Mack, he was working for the bad guys. As a member of a competing branch of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mack was sent undercover to infiltrate Coulson's organization, working against the heroes that we'd all come to know and love during the show's much-hyped first season.

And yet, along the way, something changed. Now, Mack's not only a key member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, he's the director of the entire organization. For that, you can thank actor Henry Simmons' subtle but remarkably effective performance. Not only is Simmons an absolute beast during action scenes (of which Mack has had many), but he also exudes warmth and a quiet authority that's made Mack an indispensable part of the show.

With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s series finale coming up, Looper talked with Simmons about his time in the MCU's premiere spy agency, and got his thoughts on what it was like to become the director, his dream Marvel team-up, and how he really feels about Mack's signature weapon, the shotgun-axe. Just be ready: some of the answers might very well surprise you.

Henry Simmons' reaction to Mack's comic book origins

At this point you've been living with Mack for six seasons. What has he taught you as a person?

Well, I'll tell you what, the first thing that comes to mind is, when Mack became director, he would weigh his decisions so heavily. The cause and effect, what the consequences were going to be, the right thing, the wrong thing.

But then, eventually, you learn that you just have to make the decision. You have to make the decision and live with it. And I think that has taught me something as well. Just make the decision. Do what you think is best. You can't always sit there and try to figure out whether it's right or wrong, if it is good or bad. You know what? You just have to live life and make the decision and move on.

When did they let you know that you were going to be taking over as the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

When I read the final episode of season five. That's when I found out, and I was just amazed.

They said initially that Daisy was going to be the director, and I was like, "Yeah," y'know? But then they did that change at the end. "I'm sorry, what?" I mean, I was really shocked. No one talked to me about it. No one said anything to me about it.

I was so flattered because I know there's a difference between being the director and being an agent. The director gives the orders. There's an authority that you have to have, a leadership quality, but also from an actor's point of view, as the director you're driving the scene. You're no longer just turning up. The director has to drive the scene. So it was so flattering to me because the writers and the producers saw qualities in me as an actor and as a human being that could fill those shoes. And that meant a lot to me. I'm not going to lie. It meant a lot to me.

Mack's actually a character that came from the comics. Did you look at the source material at all when you were preparing to play the role?

Yeah. I mean, look, when I first came on, I took a gamble. I was like, "I can look him up." And I turn to my wife and I said, "I looked him up," and I was like, "Huh, well what the hell they doing?"

In the comic book, Mack is a white guy with white hair. I was like, what are they doing? What is going on? So, I was completely confused. I didn't know what elements of that character were going to be in my character. I mean, he looked different. I was confused. I just had to trust whatever they were writing.

Henry Simmons' favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fight scene, and his thoughts on Mack's shotgun-axe

You haven't appeared in the movies, but if you could team Mack up with a character from the films, who would you choose?

Just for my own personal joy as an actor, I would say Black Panther. I'm just going to go there. You mean romantically, or fighting alongside?

Oh, like fighting alongside.

Yeah, yeah. Black Panther. I would love to go to Wakanda. Being in that world as an actor and have my character there and fight with all the Wakandans, that would be wonderful. Mack will go back to his roots and just be out, man. He'd embrace his African roots. I would love that. I would love that.

Your role in the show is pretty physical. Were there any stunt scenes or action set pieces that you thought were particularly challenging or interesting or fun?

All of them were fun to me, all of them. I mean, I loved it.

Here's the thing, though. I'll be honest with you: I didn't like fighting with the shotgun. I liked shooting it, but I didn't like fighting with it because it was so awkward. But I love his hand-to-hand combat. I love MMA. I love boxing. And to use my hands, that's what I love the most. I don't even like kicking, just hand-to-hand combat. Just two guys fighting.

The one fight that stands out to me — and I forget the guy's name, he was part of Sarge's group — it was in an office, and I had a fight with one of Sarge's guys. That might have been my favorite fight, because it was rough. It was rough. It was sloppy. There were other guys who just grab each other, throwing each other, they don't trade kicks, but just punching. It was quick. It was just rough and sloppy. And that's what a real fight is. It's not pretty and timed with punches and ducking at the right moment. Just two guys, just beating the hell out of each other.