Kathryn Hahn on Agatha Harkness, Marvel, and the WandaVision Finale
The Hahnaissance is here.
The Marvel cinematic universe is filled with compelling characters. But few have captured our collective imagination (and dominated social media) like Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha Harkness. From her nosy neighbor performance as Agnes throughout WandaVision‘s television timelines to her final form as the ageless witch with her very own iTunes-charting theme song, Hahn’s performance has stood out as one of the MCU’s stronger villains.
With the Emmys just weeks away, the A.V. Club talked to Hahn about the massive success of WandaVision, which garnered 23 nominations (including a supporting actress nod for Hahn).
In the interview, Hahn discusses her preparation for the role, which included a massive binder from producer Mary Livanos, which charts the history of the character in the comics. But despite the relentless research into the character’s history, Hahn still had to mold her own take on the character. She said,
“I had to create my own bird out of what I was given in these scripts. So, all of that is in there. This is Agatha: she’s still a centuries old witch, she just presents differently. She’s still a nanny, she’s still a mother. She still was in New Salem. She still probably is all those things, but how she manifests in this world, at this time with Wanda, is that she probably felt this unbelievable magic that she couldn’t put her finger on. It was something that she had been looking for probably for centuries and had to get to the bottom of, and found herself in Westview, pretending with Wanda just to try to find out the source of this magic beyond even her understanding of magic.”
Hahn also discussed the rivalry between Wanda’s innate magical talent and Agatha’s centuries of learning and siphoning power from others. She also delved into the jealousy and envy at the core of the relationship, comparing it to the 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus.
“I mean, we talked about the Amadeus/Salieri relationship. [Agatha] was this older witch looking at this young, beautiful, innately, profoundly, perfectly natural God-given talented witch. Magic just came to her; she just had it. And it was something that I [as Agatha] had been studying for centuries to achieve—this chaos magic that she just had and I could never achieve. That was something that we really leaned on. It was really important to us to try to investigate. This wasn’t a typical antagonist-protagonist relationship. They could be friends, they could be mentors, they could be mother-daughter. It could be so many different things all at once; I didn’t just have to be a villain the whole time. There was many, many different layers to this relationship all at once.”
The series ended with Agatha in a mental prison of Wanda’s own making, forced to live life as Westview’s nosy neighbor. In shelving the character, Wanda and the MCU allude to Agatha’s reappearance in future projects. And while Hahn remains mum on her future involvement with the MCU, she does lament Agatha’s tragic ending, saying “I actually do think it’s kind of the worst. I mean, to clip her wings and put her somewhere like that with boring people and not have anything to do. It’s the worst, it’s a nightmare. Yeah. I mean, [Wanda] basically lobotomized her.”
Hahn also recalled how playing Agatha got her in touch with her younger self, saying “To me, there’s something in that, in her physicality that reminds me of me when I was a scrappy kid in Ohio. I can’t describe it. I never like really thought of this before, but there is something of me in her, for sure—playing outside, dirt under the nails, matted hair, dirty hair. There’s something elemental about Agatha in her full witch mode that feels very close to me as a kid.”
Fingers crossed that we’ll see more of Agatha in the MCU’s future.
(via The A.V. Club, image: Marvel/Disney)
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