Henstridge's Marvel-ous move


Elizabeth Henstridge has hit Hollywood and she's loving it.

A former British soap star (she played Emily Alexander on Hollyoaks), the 26-year-old has landed a role on the big-budget Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Sheffield-born actress is now better known as Agent Jemma Simmons, a specialist in life sciences (both human and alien). Henstridge describes her character as a "strong, intelligent woman who doesn't apologise for being clever and has got a wit and grit about her".

"She uses her brain rather than anything else, primarily, which for a young woman in Hollywood like myself is a huge bonus."

While Los Angeles has developed a bad reputation for being shallow, Henstridge says she's found it to be very open."People are willing to take chances on new talent. If you work hard then you can make it - it kind of represents the American Dream in a way. And the weather is ridiculous - it's January and it's more than 25 degrees."

A fan of all the Marvel movies (like Iron Man and Thor), Henstridge says she's been purchasing the comic-book company's memorabilia since landing the role. "They also give us loads of comics for free - "as research". It's really fun homework.

"I think the thing about our show is apart from Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), all the characters are new to the Marvel Universe. It means we have that backup but also the ability to create these characters, which is wonderful."

She says while she hasn't noticed much difference between working the US and the UK ("except some of the terms are different"), this is by far the biggest production she's worked on. "Having my makeup done in a trailer rather than in the back of someone's car is a real treat."

Henstridge admits she has put her foot in it with the locals on some occasions, but has put those blunders don't to her accent. "I also got some notes early on to slow my speaking down a little bit. I don't have a strong accent but when I came back after Christmas everybody could tell I'd been home."

Back on set until around April in order to complete what she hopes is the first of many seasons, Henstridge says she's just noticed her character has started to get more and more action scenes. The former gymnast and equestrienne confesses it certainly wasn't here nudging the writers to do it. "No way, fight scenes take a long time to shoot. We've all had lessons and basic training and we all try and get workout sessions in each week just in case there's something in the script. Simmons isn't trained in that capacity to a huge extent so I'm quite lucky that I don't have to look that good doing it."

Finally, the most important question for a girl from Sheffield - United or Wednesday?

"Oh my God, Wednesday all the way. I used to have a Sheffield Wednesday shellsuit before they were ironic. It's a bit odd because my granddad is a big United fan and so is my Mum. We take it seriously though - I still hold my breath whenever we drive past the United football ground."

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D  8.30pm, Sunday, TV2