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Clark Gregg Opens Up About Playing Coulson Again For What If...?

Clark Gregg is one of the original slate of performers to shape the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having first appeared in the MCU-defining "Iron Man." Technically, "The Incredible Hulk" predates "Iron Man" in the MCU, but plot threads introduced in that film, like Bruce Banner's love interest Betty Ross and the villainous Samuel Sterns, were dropped entirely moving forward, rendering the entire film arguably non-canonical. Clark Gregg's S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, meanwhile, became a staple of the MCU, appearing frequently in early franchise films, and playing a central role on the MCU TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Save for "Captain Marvel," however, Coulson has been virtually absent from the most recent run of Marvel movies. As a result, Coulson has become something of a relic of the MCU of years past, rather than an active contributor.

But Coulson isn't gone for good. Gregg will reprise his MCU role on "What If...?" the recent Disney+ animated series in which each episode features a speculative storyline predicated on various alterations to major components of MCU lore. Gregg will appear in a new episode of "What If...?" set to premiere on August 25, in which Loki arrives on Earth before the events of "The Avengers." 

In the lead up to the episode's release, Gregg discussed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly how he felt portraying Coulson once again in animated form.

New look, same Coulson

EW asked Clark Gregg a series of questions specifically about the experience of reprising his longtime MCU role, and how the animated form of "What If...?" affected his performance. Gregg described the process as "different," and compared voice acting to "when I do post-production audio," a process he described as "a lot of fun" despite having nothing to look at, while recording in a cloistered booth.

Gregg then spoke to what it was like to watch his episode upon its completion, and see Coulson in animated form for the first time. "I was really blown away by the animation and how great it all looks," Gregg said. "I liked comic books a lot when I was a kid, so every time I see a version of me in anything like comic book form, never mind a full-on cartoon ... the 10-year-old me just freaks out."

After that, Bucksbaum asked what Gregg was able to do as Coulson that he was unable to in past, non-animated appearances. "I think that it's a little bit more just a really frightening mission with a lot going wrong in an alternate universe," Gregg said. "And then there's the not being dead part, that was pretty cool."

Clark Gregg will reprise his role as Agent Coulson on Episode 3 of "What If...?" which premieres on August 25.