Interview: Jaimie Alexander brings Lady Sif to ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

So far, ABC's “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has been fairly restrained when it comes to tapping into the goodwill from Marvel's hit theatrical franchises.

Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill topped up in the pilot and hasn't been seen since. Samuel L. Jackson appeared in the tag of one episode as Nick Fury, but he hasn't been seen since. A November episode featured a tie-in to “Thor: The Dark World” and I honestly don't remember if the threads introduced in that episode have rippled forward.

The latest movie-to-TV crossover occurs on Tuesday's (March 11) episode, as Jaimie Alexander brings Lady Sif to ABC for an episode that also features Lorelei, a seductive Asgardian with a complicated relationship with both Thor and Loki.

Lorelei, played by “Magic City” veteran Elena Satine, was introduced at the end of last week's “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” using her amorous wiles to charm a ride from the desert towards civilization, presumably with nefarious intent. 

Will it be up to Lady Sif to stop Lorelei? Let's just say that Jaimie Alexander wasn't offering many hints when we talked last week. In lieu of spoilers, though, she discussed the difference in pace and scale of playing Lady Sif for TV and talked about the excitement of working on a set with so many strong actresses and strong female characters.

Click through for the full Q&A, with its few teases…

HitFix: When last we saw Lady Sif and the Asgardians, they were causing a ton of damage and destruction on Earth in the process of saving the day. Is this the kind of thing that gets commented on when she pops up on SHIELD?

Jaimie Alexander: You know, just between us actors, I had worked with Clark [Gregg] once before on the first “Thor,” but I hadn't worked with any of the other castmates, so they were asking questions about how certain stunts were gonna take place and how great it was to have this much action on Earth. I don't want to give away too much, but let's just say it is pretty action-packed, as was “Thor 1.”

HitFix: Now obviously in the “Thor” movies, there's only so much time to service the characters whose names aren't in the title, so does this episode feel like a chance to get to learn some new things about Lady Sif?

Jaimie Alexander: Absolutely. I'm very happy to do the crossover into “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” just because Lady Sif is one of my favorite characters I play. What we end up shooting on the day in the films doesn't necessarily make the final cut, so a lot of times we'll shoot quite a bit of footage and then, just because of time-sake or story-sake, they can't actually air it in the movie, so this was a lot of fun to explore Sif a little bit deeper and show people what she's about. She's compassionate, she's tough, she's loyal and pretty much everything she does is to protect those around her and you'll definitely see that in this episode.

HitFix: Were you learning new things about the character? Or was it just a confirmation of, like you say, things that might have gotten cut out of the movies? 

Jaimie Alexander: Definitely a confirmation of things that have been cut from the films. And of course you see, still, how much she cares about Thor. So there are a lot of constant things that we definitely made sure we kept in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but you do get to know Sif on a deeper level, so it's great that this awesome character, everybody gets to explore her a little bit more, including myself.

HitFix: I guess the obvious question is what feels different in terms of scale between doing this on TV and doing it in the movies?

Jaimie Alexander: You know, I think the biggest difference is budget. There's a lot of things, stunt-wise, that were definitely not CGI or green-screen and that was a lot of fun, I have to be honest. And there's just a closeness that television has that films sometimes don't have because of the budget and you want to really go that extra mile to make sure that things look the way they should and go off without a hitch, so it was so much fun. It was so collaborative. It's not that the movies aren't, but I'm just saying that when there's less budget, there's more for us to do and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

HitFix: So what did you get to do, stunt-wise, that maybe you hadn't gotten to do on the movies?

Jaimie Alexander: It's really an amplified version of the movie when it comes to stunts for Sif. I'll do weeks and weeks of a fight scene on the film that's probably about a minute-and-a-half on the screen and a lot of it gets cut out for time purposes, but then in the show, we get that minute-and-a-half fight scene done in half-a-day, so it's really, really strenuous work, but in the best way possible. It's lots of martial arts, of course, lots of sword-play and it was such a blast.

HitFix: You come from a TV background. Does that give you a certain comfort with the pace of TV work?

Jaimie Alexander: The first day's always the hardest, because it moves so much faster than a film does and once you get into that rhythm, though, you feel like you've accomplished so much in such a short period of time, so there a bit of comfort in that. You just have to find your rhythm. It was a lot of fun. I just had such a good time. It's been a while since I've done stuff with TV and everybody on that cast and crew works so hard. They're like a giant family. It was so much fun. I'd love to see all of them again.

HitFix: You got to be part of the “Thor” family from the beginning. What's it like coming into this kind of family from the outside after they've been working together for six months or so?

Jaimie Alexander: I've become really good friends with Clark, so he definitely made sure that I felt right at home,  but so did the rest of the cast. Everybody was just so excited to have me there and it really made me feel really good and everybody was just very welcoming. “If you need this, let me know… If we can do this…” And the cool thing is that a long time ago, I had done a guest spot, I think it was back in 2009, on “CSI: Miami” and a lot of their crew is actually the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” crew, hair and makeup and everything. So it was a nice little mini-reunion for me.

HitFix: Is there any sort of literal carry-over from the movie? Is it the exact same costume?

Jaimie Alexander: It is the exact same costume and the exact same weapons. I think that was a smart choice on Marvel's behalf. We definitely wanted to make sure that there were as many similarities as possible so that it's a smooth crossover. It's really bringing that Asgardian world in the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” world and I think they did it really, really well.

HitFix: Obviously the world of “Thor” is very masculine world and what makes Lady Sif interesting in that world is sorta that she's the woman who can kick ass. Now “S.H.I.E.L.D.” has a number of strong female characters and you have a female adversary here. How does that change the dynamic for you and for Sif?

Jaimie Alexander: You know, it was a lot of fun, to be honest. I love Ming. I had a little bit of work with her and it was fantastic and she does so many of her own stunts. It's just amazing to watch her work. And she's so up-beat and so fun and it's really great meeting a lot of the women on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” because they, themselves, are quite strong people, inside and out. So these characters they play, they really do them justice. So to be in that world and to be amongst that kind of company was really gratifying for me. 

HitFix: Does the different gender balance change the atmosphere on set?

Jaimie Alexander: I don't know so much if it changes the atmosphere as it just makes it fun. The women hold their own against the men and vice versa and everybody's got a great sense of humor and everybody's a team and everybody's an equal. And that, I think, it is just beneficial to having a successful show and a successful character dynamic between each other.

HitFix: In the comic world, Lorelei has a very long and rich history with the Asgardians. How much of that actually gets to come into play in a 44-minute TV episode?

Jaimie Alexander: You can definitely see that there's quite a bit of history there between Lorelei, Thor and Sif. I don't want to say too much, but we most certainly explore the history there. 

HitFix: Does that mean that you have good, intense scenes with Elena?

Jaimie Alexander: Absolutely. [She stops herself from saying more and laughs.]

HitFix: Do you want to tease anything about that?

Jaimie Alexander: I can't. I can just say that we're both very skilled at combat.

HitFix: Your characters or you as actors?

Jaimie Alexander: Oh, our characters. I would say I am, probably. I'm not gonna lie. But definitely the characters. And Elena was such a sweet girl to work with. She's a lovely, lovely girl and just really captured Lorelei's presence so well.

HitFix: I'm sure you're not going to say that you wouldn't want to return to “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but if you were to get to return, what would you like to do with this character, what would you like to explore?

Jaimie Alexander: I think I would like to come back, if Sif does come back, and actually help the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. do something, because in this episode, I come down and I enlist their help, so it would be nice to return the favor.

Jaimie Alexander and Lady Sif drop by “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Tuesday, March 11 at 8 p.m. on ABC.