If you’ve ever seen a Marvel movie, you know Nick Fury. He is the spy of all spies, the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the mastermind behind the Avengers, and over the course of several films, he has always managed to maintain a certain air of mystery. He is played by the inimitable Samuel L. Jackson in a black leather trench coat and signature eye patch, first seen in Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man.
Now Jackson takes center stage in Disney+’s six-episode miniseries Secret invasion. This time, Fury forgoes the eye patch and shows off his scarred eye, and according to Jackson, he’s not as unflinching as he once was.
“(He’s) older, a little tired, not as confident as he used to be,” the actor shared The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s premiere on Tuesday night. ‘Find out where he lives! Does he live in an apartment? Is that a house?”
Set a few years after the Blip, Secret invasion finds Nick Fury finally returned to Earth, after working for the US government on a space station operation called SABER With the looming threat of shape-shifting Skrulls threatening to infiltrate Earth’s highest powers, Fury returns to finish where he started long ago.
“I think we’re used to Nick Fury being able to handle anything and always six steps ahead,” said executive producer Jonathan Schwartz. “He always knows what you think before you think it, and that’s not quite the Nick we’re about to meet on top of Secret invasion.”
Director Ali Selim agrees. “Unlike any other Marvel show we’ve ever seen, (Secret invasion) is really about a human being whose feet are on the ground, and when episode one starts, he’s older, he’s lost a little bit of his mojo,” he said. “And I think when I came out of the pandemic and being an older man understood that and I think it really attracted me to what this story had to say about discovery and trust and belief in moral codes.”
After playing the part for more than 15 years, Jackson says he’ll keep coming back “until they stop calling me,” adding, “As long as my phone rings, they can call me.”
His longtime costar Cobie Smulders, who plays Fury’s right-hand man Agent Maria Hill, echoed the sentiment.
“67 years old,” the actress joked about how long she’s been in the MCU. “Make sense!”
In all seriousness, Smulders said that after her first audition she didn’t even think she got the part. “For me, every time the phone rings, I’m excited about it. And this was a particularly exciting role because it’s so much about Nick Fury’s story,” she continued. “I feel like our characters have been so intertwined for so long, so it’s great to be asked to come along and explore that story even more deeply.”
In addition to Jackson and Smulders, the Marvel veterans are joined by returners such as Martin Freeman, Ben Mendelsohn and Don Cheadle, as well as newcomers such as Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke and Kingsley Ben-Adir.
Secret invasion marks Clarke’s first major return to TV, since her acclaimed reign as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Whether the actress had any hesitation before stepping on another major franchise series – after appearing in it as well Solo — assured the actress that she was up to the challenge. “Any hesitation vanished when I reminded myself that ‘Hey, it’s Marvel,'” Clarke said. And Olivia Coleman. Samuel L Jackson. Ben Mendelsohn. I mean, it was a good reason.”
Clarke plays G’iah, the daughter of Skrull leader Talos (Mendelsohn), who, like her, Thrones character, is not one to be trifled with.
“I think it’s because I’m not that badass in real life, it feels pretty awesome,” she said of taking on strong, action-packed roles. ‘Let’s do it, maybe we will, and then they’ll call cut. I’m definitely not a badass.”
Ben-Adir plays the show’s antagonist, Gravik, the leader of a group of rebel Skrulls who want to inhabit Earth. But like other Marvel villains before him, Gravik isn’t just a bad guy for the sake of being a bad guy. He is passionate about his people’s cause, willing to go to great lengths to make it happen.
“How are Graviks made? What happened? How much trauma has he gone through to get to the point where he’s ready to turn around and see this being done to other people? Ben-Adir mused about his character. “It was about me really digging into that. The points of concentration were like, “Wow, what would happen if you really didn’t trust anyone?” Skrulls, humans, dogs, cats, men, women, children, nobody. I think he loved before, he had a life anywhere, and now he’s like, ‘Fuck that. I was an idiot. Now I know.’ It was kind of sick, so I enjoyed doing it.
As for what it was like going up against Jackson, Ben-Adir calls the experience “nerve-wracking” at first, noting that the veteran actor’s involvement was a “huge draw” to the project for him. “But we’ve found our groove,” the said One night in Miami actor remembered. “Sam is a lot of fun to work with.”
And while Fury tries to stop Gravik’s rebels on the show, Jackson insists that the Skrulls aren’t the enemy.
“They’re not trying to kill us,” the actor said. “They just want to live like everyone else. It’s kind of like the problem we’re having right now. People just come to try and find a better place or a better life for themselves. And like those people, the Skrulls are here, but they don’t want to be secret invaders. They want to feel comfortable.”
Secret invasion will premiere on Disney+ on June 21.