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Had the Marvel Cinematic Universe taken the Maria Hill less traveled, the character might have been played by Deadpool alum Morena Baccarin. Appearing on the Happy Sad Confused podcast hosted by Josh Horowitz, the actress (who currently stars in NBC's The Endgame), opened up about her failed audition to appear in the first Avengers movie, which ultimately featured Cobie Smulders as Nick Fury's right-hand woman at S.H.I.E.L.D.
“I didn’t get it at all," Baccarin admitted. "I loved that [writer-director Joss Whedon] brought me in for it. He kept telling me she was like Sigourney Weaver in Alien, that she had this kind of hard edge to her. I was like, ‘I don’t understand.’ I couldn’t see it on the page, I couldn’t do it. I tested, I was there with Cobie. We tested against each other and I was like, ‘She’s gonna get this part. I can see it.’ He wanted me to be emotional, but hold it all in and be hard and I was like, ‘I don’t know what you’re asking me to do. I can’t do this.’"
Of course, Baccarin still got a chance to enter the Marvel Universe as Wade Wilson's girlfriend, Vanessa Carlysle, in 20th Century Fox's two Deadpool films released in 2016 and 2018 respectively. The character was killed off at the start of the sequel, allowing the Merc with a Mouth (played to perfection by Ryan Reynolds) to be a founding member of X-Force alongside Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz). A third Deadpool film is now in development at Disney, though it's unclear if Vanessa will be brought back as a major character.
Smulders will return as Maria Hill in the upcoming Secret Invasion series on Disney+ (no premiere date has been announced yet). The small screen project, which hails from head writer and executive producer Kyle Bradstreet, is currently in production.
"She's very intelligent and highly-trained and very capable. I kind of like the idea that she's like this woman in a man's world," Smulders remarked in 2012 while discussing Hill around the theatrical debut of The Avengers. "I think that she's extremely by-the-book and I think that that's hurting her because she's working with a man who works outside the rules. I feel like that dynamic is in this movie a lot."