'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Star Enver Gjokaj Previews Sousa's Future

Emily Aslanian
Q&A

(ABC/Mitch Haaseth) ENVER GJOKAJ

It looks like the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team might be growing for their mission throughout time in the ABC drama's final season.

Our favorite group of disjointed agents first encountered Agent Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj)—who fans should remember from the short-lived Marvel series Agent Carter—in the 1950s, when he tried to have them kicked out of Area 51's S.H.I.E.L.D. base. They later saved his life in last week's (June 17) episode "Out of the Past," preventing him from suffering the fated death outlined in their history books. But this special character arc doesn't end there.

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In this week's hour, "A Trout in the Milk," Sousa is aboard the time-traveling Zephyr for the next stop in the mission's wild timeline, the groovy 1970s. The war vet will have trouble processing the many abrupt changes in his life.

"Sousa is definitely a man out of time," Gjokaj admits. Meanwhile, the gang continues to deconstruct the evil plan of the Chronicoms, who remain one step ahead.

Below, Gjokaj previews what's in store for Sousa, and teases how long he might be sticking around.

Last week’s black and white, noir-inspired episode was so much fun. What’s on tap for Sousa when he arrives in this new time period?

Enver Gjokaj: I can tell you that he’s uncomfortable with the way that people dress. [Laughs] He is, from Sousa’s perspective, trying to get a grip on what’s happening. He’s very lost. If you imagine what he’s going through as a character, he [starts] in one place one day, and [finds himself] in the 1970s the next day, with all of this Chronicom stuff going on. So, he is playing catch-up. That’s what you’ll find him doing a lot in the next episode, and he’s struggling with it.

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How is he handling the technological and societal changes around him in this new era? What’s he having the most trouble coping with?

It’s a status thing. Sousa is now at the top of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. He goes from [being] somebody with all the answers to somebody with no idea what’s happening. That applies to his relationship to technology, and just about everything. He doesn’t even know why doors open automatically.

As a character, I think he’s deeply uncomfortable with everything that’s happening, and with being ripped out of his life with no possibility to say goodbye to his loved ones. As an actor, it was an absolute blast in this next episode to play [Sousa].

(ABC/Mitch Haaseth)
MING-NA WEN, CLARK GREGG

Does he bond with anyone on the team in particular? It's a far-fetched guess, but Deke (Jeff Ward) also went through a similar adjustment period when he left his home in the future. Do the two of them find anything in common?

Those are two people you’re not going to see getting along super well. I think Coulson is the really obvious person for him to understand. I think there was a choice on my part to think of him as the Coulson of his time, so these two guys, in a weird way, are looking at each other in a mirror. And that’s interesting, but also complicated, because there’s a new dynamic of who’s in charge now because [Sousa] technically outranks a lot of people on that ship. But, he’s gone from being the top of the food chain to the very bottom. I think with Coulson though, he sees a kindred spirit.

When you were asked to reprise this role, did you know that they had this whole storyline in mind, or did you think it’d be a quick cameo?

You know, they just pitched it as what it is. I mean, it is a cameo. It’s a fun, little thing to do and come back. I think you’re going to see that he’s having trouble in this episode, being a part of the team, so it might not be as long as you think, in terms of the cameo.

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What was the hardest part for you in terms of getting back into this character? Was it strange to go back to Sousa?

No, not at all. Luckily, they decided that his limp was healing, or still on the mend. The hardest thing with Agent Carter was the limp—it really hurt my back over the course of two seasons. So, it helped that they decided to give me a cane, so that it wouldn’t be quite so pronounced. But just going into the character was an absolute pleasure. It’s so rare that you ever get to go back and revisit an old character. It kind of just came right back, as you’d expect after doing a character for two years.

Are there any other Agent Carter Easter eggs that we’re going to see while you’re still on the show?

Well, I can go ahead and tell you that you won’t be seeing Hayley [Atwell]. She [was], you know, off doing those pesky Mission Impossible movies. But they don’t lose any opportunities to play up the fun with the S.S.R. [Strategic Scientific Reserve] and the S.H.I.E.L.D. type of stuff, and making reference to [Sousa's] history, or what I would call the Agent Carter storyline. They blended it in very well.

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If there was ever a chance to reprise Agent Carter in a more permanent fashion, would you be interested?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I hope so. Whether I’m involved with it or not—I’d love to be a part of it—but I’d love more to just find some way to continue that character. The marriage of Hayley Atwell and Peggy Carter, it touched a real timely nerve. I really hope they find some way to keep that going. It seems like it was slightly ahead of its time, just a little bit, by a couple of years, but I have the belief personally that it’s as timely as it’s ever been. And I’m sure that Marvel knows that they’ve really got something there, that combination of Hayley playing this character.

The last thing I’ll say is, it’s kind of rare to see that marriage of person and part, of actor and role, and sometimes it’s just magic. And with Hayley, that’s what it was for Peggy Carter. Whether I’m involved with it or not, I think it’d be a shame not to get something at some point in the future.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC