How fierce is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ming-Na Wen? Well in case you didn’t know, she blew out her left ACL and meniscus while filming a stunt scene toward the end of Season 4 — and yet, while still recuperating from off-season surgery, still manages to deliver cosmic beatdowns as Melinda May.
To get through it all in Season 5, the actress credits “really great PT, a wonderful brace, and an incredible stunt team that works their choreography to cater to my injury. And also the writers wrote it in!,” by having May apparate inside The Lighthouse with a steel pipe impaling her leg.
And yet… having a new ACL and a handful of screws implanted inside her may seem like a day at the beach for Wen’s alter ego, who when last we tuned into the ABC series (airing Fridays at 9/8c) had been sent topside, in a life-saving move by Fitz, where she nonetheless will face the bloodthirsty ETs dubbed “roaches” and known to roam the decimated Earth’s barren surface.
“In the next episode she’d better do something,” Wen says, “because those roaches are coming for her when she goes to the surface!”
To depict May’s struggle “outside,” Wen herself was subject to — no, not “roaches” — but a smaller discomfort. “I will tell you that it was very windy. When there is very little atmosphere, it’s very windy apparently, which is always fun to shoot, when they’re trying to blow s–t into your face!” she shares with a hearty laugh.
Despite having to limp her way through dirty windstorms, Wen is a big fan of Season 5’s setting, in a dystopian future where cosmic trawlers, not Quinjets, are at the ready. “Being such a sci-fi girl, just the idea that I pretended to be able to fly a spaceship? That was pretty cool,” she smiles.
“I think it’s incredible how imaginative our writers can be in not keeping the show stagnant,” she continues. “This could so easily be one of those shows that repeats itself as far as the formula of, ‘We’re on a mission… and now we’re on another mission.’ Instead it’s really grasping hold of these characters and finding ways to tell their relationships, but through these fantastical storylines with aliens and Kree and roaches and time travel…. I love it.”
Alas, the steady serving of derring-do and galactic fisticuffs can mean less time for type of quieter moments where characters can take a beat and bond… or, bow chicka bow wow, more. “I don’t think my character gets as many emotional moments as I would love to play, because she’s too busy beating up on everyone,” Wen notes. Reflecting on Season 4’s spattering of “Philinda” scenes, she says, “I love moments like that because it’s a chance to explore her more vulnerable and true nature that shes always masking.”