For minor Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, WandaVision is an Avengers-level event. The main characters, Wanda Maximoff and Vision, have never gotten top billing before, and they share the screen a grown-up Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, Darcy Lewis from the Thor franchise, with at least one very spoilery guest star, and Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Polygon sat down with the actor behind Jimmy, Randall Park (Fresh off the Boat, Always Be My Maybe), to talk about returning to his lovable FBI agent for a second go round — and for being the second character in WandaVision with some grasp of the mystical arts, so to speak. Agent Woo stepped into episode 3 of WandaVision with an effortless bit of sleight of hand. Reference hounds in the Marvel fandom were quick to remember the character’s unsuccessful attempts to replicate Scott Lang’s talent for close up magic in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and it was the first thing we wanted to talk to him about.
There are a lot of fans who are very proud of Agent Woo for learning how to do his card trick. Was that movie magic, or did you learn the trick yourself?
Randall Park: Oh, no, that was not movie magic. That was me. I learned it. It took a couple of days, I believe. But I learned how to do it, and I think I mastered it at the time. I don’t think I botched too many takes. Maybe a couple, maybe a couple here and there, but for the most part, I think I nailed it.
Getting into the the sitcom sphere, I have a Latino dad and a white mom, and as a kid I Love Lucy was right there for me. But that not the average POC experience with classic sitcoms. You come from Fresh Off the Boat, a show that is very much inserting more diversity into the sitcom genre. What do you feel your relationship with the sitcom genre is like?
I was obsessed with sitcoms. I love them, I watched many of them, I was practically raised by them. I just remember sitting in front of a TV for a good part of my childhood, which kind of sounds sad, but it’s true [laughs]. As a kid, I never really thought about the diversity thing, or the fact that I didn’t see reflections of myself. I would just think, Oh my God, Lucy is hilarious. Desi is so funny. And I would just be in it, on the set with them.
It wasn’t until I got older that I that I started to think like, Gosh, you know, I’d love the Dick Van Dyke Show, but I don’t think there was a single Asian person the entire time. And then becoming an actor and seeing how rare it was to see like an Asian lead on anything, it felt like, Oh, gosh, hopefully I could get my career to a place and that this industry will be at a place where a show like Fresh Off the Boat would exist. And then it happened.
I feel like since then a lot of things have been changing in a good way. There’s a lot still to do, but I do feel like now, more than ever, Hollywood and this industry in general is just open to to more voices that are traditionally underrepresented.
WandaVision is occupying a strange interconnected place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Do you have trouble keeping up with what’s going on in the universe that your character is in?
Well, luckily, I’m only in two projects. So I don’t have to juggle too much, in terms of what’s going on. And it’s amazing what these writers do in terms of making sure that things connect, to Ant-Man and The Wasp. But just as far as the Marvel Universe in general, you know, I haven’t seen all the movies. I’ve seen a lot of them, so I’m pretty aware of what’s going on, but there’s always new things that pop up where I’m like, Oh, wait, what does that mean? And I have to look it up online, like so many of us do. But my hope is that, yeah, Jimmy will be will be out there a lot and you’ll see him a lot to the point where I’ll be like, Wait a minute, wait a minute. What happened when? That would be a dream come true.
Speaking of Jimmy, he’s in the FBI, but now he’s rubbing shoulders with SWORD, and we had SHIELD. Do you want him to get a level up to one of these like special acronym organizations?
Yes! That would be cool. But you know, what if he stays FBI, that would be cool, too. If we keep hearing more from him in any form or fashion, I’ll be happy.
I’m sure when they called you up for WandaVision, you were up for it. But it is an odd show with strange things going on. Did you have big questions going in?
When I first learned about the show, when [creator] Jac Schaeffer first started breaking down the show to me, my question was What is this? What’s going on? [laughs] But then she broke down the the entire series to me, and as she was breaking it down I had the same questions that the audience has right now. [I could] see how well thought the entire series is, and by the time she got to the end, those questions were answered.
I still have a few questions here and there, but ultimately, it felt like such an unusual show, in that it’s really asking a lot of the audience. It’s asking that the audience, especially if you’re not a fan of these classic sitcoms, that you stick with it, and hold on to these little strange things happening, and hold on to your questions.
In these days and times people want answers to their questions right away. But you gotta wait! You gotta wait at least a week for some of these questions to be answered! And I think that’s so cool, and so bold and kind of badass, for a show to do that nowadays. The weirdness of the show is actually something that I really, really love about it.
WandaVision collects a lot of characters that haven’t been able to step to the front of a Marvel story. It wasn’t even originally going to be the first Marvel Disney Plus show to air, it just wound up there after filming schedules adjusted to COVID. Wanda and Vision haven’t been at the front of a Marvel movie, and there’s Jimmy Woo, and there’s Darcy, and we’re introducing Monica Rambeau. And I’m curious if you as actors also maybe feel a little bit of camaraderie of being the characters that usually have to support others.
You know, I never thought about that. I think all of us are just happy to be there. I don’t know if we felt like this was kind of the Bad News Bears of the Marvel Universe. It really just felt — well, also, because this project, again, was just so unusual, so unique, and just just to be a part of something that we knew was taking a really big swing, I think that was just so exciting.
And as far as characters coming to the forefront that weren’t in the under the spotlight before, I think that is a cool thing about it that I that I hadn’t really thought about, but it’s true. I think the the great thing about these Disney Plus shows is that we get to learn about these characters that don’t have their own movie, but now they have, essentially their own movie. That’s what these shows are. They’re these episodic movies, so I think it’s really cool.