Hayley Atwell talks 'Howards End' and reveals she may be done playing Peggy Carter on 'Marvel's Agents of Shield'

Atwell recently spoke to IndieWire about her dream characters and why she will not be returning to play Peggy Carter.


                            Hayley Atwell talks 'Howards End' and reveals she may be done playing Peggy Carter on 'Marvel's Agents of Shield'
Hayley Atwell (Source:Getty Images)

British American actress Hayley Atwell is known for her work in stage productions such as 'A View from the Bridge' and the 2008 drama 'The Duchess,' but is best remembered for portraying the fierce Peggy Carter, formerly in ABC's 'Agent Carter,' and most recently in 'Marvel's Agents of Shield.' But Atwell recently spoke to IndieWire's TURN IT ON podcast on how playing Margaret Schlegel in the miniseries adaptation of E.M Forster's 'Howards End' was one of her most challenging roles to date.

The novel, which is considered to be a masterpiece and was ranked 38th in Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, addresses social conventions, codes of conduct, and relationships in turn-of-century England.


Atwell talked to IndieWire about how Margaret was one of the roles she had always hoped to play one day, along with other iconic characters such as Lady Macbeth, Hedda Gabber, Cleopatra or 'these great heroines, if it's a Jane Austen novel or any kind of novel.'

She said: "I had a chance to play a fully formed, interesting woman so different to me that I had to [do it]. I would love to be more like her but it felt like a fulfilling creative challenge to bring her to life. I really want to give it my all because I know she’s a loved character and the book writes her so brilliantly."

Her commitment to the role is commendable. In her quest to ensure that she did justice to the character, she sought out Emma Thompson, who had played the same role in the 1992 film adaptation of the novel, and even went on holiday together to Greece on a bonding trip.


The current iteration of the novel also features the legendary Tracey Ullman as the nosey Aunt Juley Mund. The story has been written by Kenneth Lonergan of 'Manchester by the Sea' and 'Gangs of New York' fame, and directed by BAFTA winner Hettie Macdonald.

Atwell had nothing but praise for Lonergan, telling IndieWire: "Kenny Lonergan writes in a way where the language magically tells the actor how to do it and it’s because he writes human emotion and human psychology and the rhythm is very clear."

"The commas are there for a reason. You know that he’s going to have an 11-page scene with five different actors speaking at the same time, so he will plan that out almost like a music score. When you learn all those technically, it teaches you how to say it."


She also spoke about how Macdonald did not want them to 'try too hard to fit into the time period.' She said that because the director wanted modern audiences to relate to the characters, the actors were advised to 'turn it down a notch' if the scenes began sounding 'too posh.'

Atwell also said that she might be done playing Peggy Carter because she felt she had 'exhausted the character.' She said she had loved playing the character but that she did not want to go back to 'old territory,' but is instead looking forward to taking new challenges.