S.H.I.E.L.D.'s J. August Richards teases his 'difficult' take on Deathlok

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Feb 10, 2014, 3:22 PM EST

After some fits and false starts over the past few months, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally telling a legit superhero story. So, what should we expect from the small-screen Deathlok?

Co-star J. August Richards (Mike Peterson) opened up to Hero Complex about his take on the Marvel antihero, whose origin story is playing out this season on the Marvel series. According to Richards, he didn’t even know he was playing Deathlok until well into the season, and was given some Michael Collins-era Deathlok comics to read for background.

Richards noted that his adaptation is partially modeled on the comic story of Michael Collins, a pacifist who eventually goes on to work with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., and he said the most fun has been in finding the human underneath all the “super” stuff:

“Definitely, in my reading, I was drawn more to the Michael Collins version because this character is such a good man, such a good moral, decent person. For [Peterson] to do the things he’s asked to do as Deathlok are very difficult for him. When I showed up to play the character for the first couple of days, I was still trying to find it. Obviously these are circumstances that I can’t relate to, but I had to really use my imagination to get at what it would be like for Mike Peterson to be turned into Deathlok.

Once I figured it out, it was like night and day, just a huge epiphany on what was going on internally for this character. I feel blessed that I’ve been asked to play this character because I always want to play the person behind the superhero. Even when I’m playing a lawyer or a doctor, I want to play a person. A human being. It’s challenging physically, mentally, emotionally and even in the circumstances of the production. The makeup and the costumes. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s something that I love so much.”

We’re cautiously optimistic that this will turn out well. Richards is a great genre actor, and his take on Mike Peterson has been one of the highlights of the first season. His arc is arguably one of the most interesting storylines currently dangling, and we hope they’ll milk it for maximum efficiency.

What do you think? Can Deathlok save S.H.I.E.L.D.?

(Via Hero Complex)