Fall TV Preview

Hayley Atwell Shares Her Agent Carter Dreams, Talks Going Bad for Conviction

Agent Carter Hayley Atwell

When Hayley Atwell landed the lead in ABC’s Conviction pilot, fans of Marvel’s Agent Carter had questions. As did the SSR superstar’s portrayer herself.

Luckily, for at least a brief spell, she found some reassurance. “ABC said, ‘This is not us cancelling Agent Carter,'” Atwell recalls. “‘This is us having a great new project and we really want you in the center of it.'”

Besides, the talk at the time was that even if both Conviction and Agent Carter landed on ABC’s 2016-17 slate, the actress would find a way to do both. Asked what those logistics might have looked like, she told TVLine at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, “I think they would have figured something out, in terms of making a [Marvel’s Agent Carter] special, or waiting until we finished this season [of Conviction] and then doing something.”

As such, Atwell held out hope, seeing as the short-season, midseason Marvel series occupied “one of those much-loved but little places … in the world of ABC.”

Agent Carter would, alas, get the hook three months later — the same day that ABC ordered Conviction to series. Yet Atwell seems resolved to playing Peggy Carter again some day. “It’s still a much-loved show for the people involved in the making of it, and we know it has a special place in the fans’ hearts,” she knows. “And that’s something that I would be very happy to go back to, if the opportunity came” — in the form of a TV-movie or what have you. (Netflix has dismissed the idea of picking up the Marvel series.)

“The great thing about Peggy is we know she lives a long life,” Atwell reminds. “I’m banking on when I’m in my 50s, saying, ‘Let’s see what Peggy’s up in this decade!'”

In the meantime, Atwell is zagging where do-right Peggy zigged, playing Conviction‘s Hayes Morrison, a former First Daughter and current-day wild child who dodges a coke bust by agreeing to shepherd New York City’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which investigates potentially erroneous incarcerations.

Surveying the about-face, Atwell says that as an actress, “My job is to be a flexible as I can with discovering new characters and storylines. And it’s an easy transition when you have material that is strong enough. It’s just a matter of inhabiting the world built for you.”

In addition to any bad habits and extracurricular affairs, Hayes is described by EP Liz Friedlander as “a risk taker,” though with that comes “the good … and the bad. She operates without rules, for better or for worse.”

As Atwell herself puts it, “There are elements of Hayes where she’s ‘stayed at the party too long’, she doesn’t know when to leave!”

ABC’s Conviction premieres Monday, Oct. 3 at 10/9c.