Charlayne Woodard Talks ‘Secret Invasion’, Working With Samuel L. Jackson & More – Interview
The finale of Secret Invasion is here. While it marks the end of the series, the repercussions stemming from the events throughout will undoubtedly shape the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Prior to the conclusion, we had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Charlayne Woodard, who brilliantly portrays Nick Fury’s wife, Priscilla, also known as Varra.
Before we dive into Charlayne Woodard’s time in the MCU, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give her flowers for her previous work. Woodard is a celebrated playwright and actress with two Obie Awards and a Tony Award nomination. Her acclaimed solo plays, such as Pretty Fire, Neat, and In Real Life, have earned her prestigious awards and recognition at renowned theaters. On Broadway, she wowed audiences in Ain’t Misbehavin‘, receiving Tony and Drama Desk nominations.
Woodard’s talent also extends to the big and small screens, with notable film credits in films such as Glass and Unbreakable and TV appearances in Pose, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and more.
Check out the interview with Charlayne Woodard below:
What was it like for you to join the MCU family and reunite with Samuel L. Jackson?
Charlayne Woodard: It was bliss, just bliss to be included in this series in such a way, with a character with such an arc, and a beginning, a middle, an end – past a present. It doesn’t happen like that. For me, in television, this is all a big first working with the MCU, and it has been glorious. I have worked with Sam before in Unbreakable and in Glass. I remember when we finished with Glass, I said, ‘One of these days, Sam, I’m going to work with you with my real self.’ And he just said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And to find out that, wow, I put it out there and there you are! And he is a joy to work with; just a joy.
While your character is new to MCU viewers, there’s a secret history between your character and Fury’s that we are all just learning about. So, what was it like to create that chemistry and to share some of the moments that Varra and Fury have together?
Woodard: I loved the writing, and the scenes for Sam and me were major. The fact that I introduced him to a poem decades ago, and then at a very poignant moment, a moment when we’re about to kill each other, he pulls that poem up. That’s the poem we sort of locked into each other years ago. And when he does that, I see that he’s made my job much more difficult. Because how can you kill someone that makes me make the decision: ‘Well, I have to die today. Because my love for him won’t allow me to really kill him.’
As you have a strong theater background, what did you find were the biggest differences in working on Secret Invasion as a limited series, and did you find any challenges working in this medium instead?
Woodard: In the theater, I work with lots of young playwrights who are very risky, and I played really great roles that they have you reaching far. They’re usually like, ‘I don’t know if anyone’s gonna like this or not.’ And I love that aspect of this particular Marvel project. We have turned the beat around; it’s a different tone. You know, there’s a love story threaded through a spy thriller, and we’ve done it with minimal intimacy. Not the overt: ‘OH MY!’ you know? I just thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience because it unfolded for me. Just like in a play, when you have a complicated character, and you have a while to work on it. We had a while to work on it. It wasn’t like, in three weeks, we’re shooting this thing. That was a very different experience for me for television. Very different.
As the series focuses on deception due to the Skrulls being able to shapeshift into various people and characters, was there ever anything that’s happened to you that you were able to draw from that enabled you to play such a deceptive character?
Woodard: No, that’s why I’m an actor (laughs) because I get to go into the dark place where I have never been. I get to pull back the curtains and say, ‘Now here we are, and what if you’re me.’ That’s what I love about it; we don’t have a whole lot in common. I’m not the warrior.
As an actress with numerous accolades and experience, is there something specific that you’ve learned throughout your career that’s resonated with you and that you would impart to new actors?
Woodard: I just know this, everyone should keep showing up. I came to Los Angeles at the top of the ’90s to snatch a series. It never happened for three decades. But I kept showing up and showing up and showing up. I got Pose, and then right after that, this. So, I stayed in shape with my craft. I stayed in class; I never gave up like, ‘Oh, it’s too late now. I should just return.’ No, I stayed in it, and I stayed vigilant. And it has paid off because this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on television. And I wouldn’t mind doing it again.
Lastly, since the Skrulls have the ability to change who they are if you didn’t find your calling in acting, what career path do you think you would have chosen?
Woodard: You know what, I would be a teacher. I love teaching, and teachers have been instrumental in my life. I would be that teacher who is constantly trying to help raise up a group of people in any way I can. And when I have taught, it has been such a gratifying, very gratifying thing!