Listen, she’s exactly as delightful as you’d expect her to be. Kathryn Hahn, stripped of her purple witch robes and grounded at home, with her kids midway through Zoom school in the other room, is magic. She calls me “honey,” and I struggle to fend off a blush. Taking a victory press lap after the wild success of WandaVision—and her headline-generating turn as antagonist Agatha Harkness—Hahn is basking in the ironic spotlight of the so-called “Hahnissance,” the rebirth of a stupendous comedic actress who never needed a rebirth in the first place. She’s been making poignant, hysterical work for decades, well before I first met her in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.
But it’s true her appearance in WandaVision has introduced (or re-introduced) her to an entirely new audience of casual and super-fans, of all ages and demographics, and she’s tickled pink by the whole thing, really, honey. When I ask her if it’s at all frustrating to see your name mashed into the word “renaissance,” as if you haven’t been enlightening viewers for years, she bats away the praise to land in her co-star’s court instead.
“Oh, no,” she says. “I mean, I’m tickled by it. Honestly, I really am. To be able to have worked with [Elizabeth Olsen]… She’s incredible. To have gotten to know her, that’s honestly the best thing that’s happened. The rest of this is super flattering; it’s just icing.”
I want to beg her for spoilers, knowing I won’t get any. But mostly, as someone who spent the past two months twisting my brain into knots analyzing WandaVision fan theories, I want to know what she thinks about this show, and how it seems to fit into her eclectic repertoire with such cozy precision. Below, we talk everything Agatha, fan theories, and some truly memorable stories from set.
What was your introduction to Agatha Harkness? Had you read the comics before?
I had not heard of Agatha Harkness before this, which is hard to admit now. And so, when I realized that she was this powerful, centuries-old witch that had connections to not only Fantastic Four but also [Brian Michael Bendis’s comic arc] House of M—she was a nanny, a mentor, a mother. She also was part of New Salem in Colorado. She’s been everywhere over the last hundreds and hundreds of years. And so, I just went crazy for her. I love her so, so, so madly. I love a witch—love, love, love a witch, so I just couldn’t have imagined a cooler part to play.
I’m a lifelong comics reader, and I still get the many comics arcs mixed up on a regular basis. Did you have to take notes?
Our amazing producer gave me a binder, a white binder with basically every appearance of Agatha throughout the comics. It became my Bible. And I watched all the Avengers movies, all the movies that they’ve put out, one after the other, so that they could be fresh again in my mind. Then I kind of had to just let that settle in somewhere else and look at this material fresh. Because, the way it’s put together, if you try to track it, you would go bonkers.
Speaking of which, how much of your depiction of Agatha came directly from the scripts, and how much of it was improvisation on your part?
Oh, I think it was a teeny, teeny bit of improvisation. It was sort of improvisation. Yeah. But, mostly, it was from those gorgeous scripts. I’d say 99 percent was that amazing script.
Prior to your big reveal as Agatha, you seemed to have an absolute ball playing the different sitcom versions of Agnes. Which iteration was your favorite—Dick Van Dyke Show Agnes, Malcolm in the Middle Agnes?
I think my most favorite was the Dick Van Dyke one, just because it’s the farthest from my experience. It meant a ton to me, because on a personal level, that was kind of the birth of this show for us as an ensemble. It came on the heels of this very luxurious rehearsal period where we all just read the scripts together. I was able to get to know Kat [Dennings] and Randall [Park] and Teyonah [Parris], people that I didn’t really interact with during the series. And then it culminated in the taping in front of an audience, and we ran it like a play; there were no cuts. It was that experience that meant the most to me, for sure.
You’ve described the experience of making this show as “surprisingly deep” for you. Will you elaborate on what you mean by that, and why the depth surprised you?
Very naively of me, I didn’t think it was going to be as deep of a dive. I felt like it was going to be so much about effects and so little about performance. That was my own not knowing anything, but it was a profound experience.
I think it was because of this group of humans, all of whom I adore, and because of the space and breath that Kevin Feige gave this process, that I was really moved by it. The fact that it’s a superhero origin story about grief. With a lot of women, so many women around it. And there’s something about that hex, metaphorically, closing in—I got so terrified when we had the read-through, I mean on so many levels. That hex closing in is losing your parents, it’s time, it’s your kids growing up, it’s the end of the experience of shooting this show.
When the finale happened on Friday, we were watching it together as family, and I was like, “God, this chapter was so fun, going through it with these people, as hard as it was.” I didn’t expect to treasure this experience so deeply.
There are so many theories already about what happens next for Wanda and Agatha. But you’ve said before you’d like them to just fly off together and live happily.
That was my dream. In this iteration of Agatha Harkness, I think she’s just been very lonely. We likened it to an Amadeus-Salieri relationship, where someone is looking at this perfectly formed thing, that it comes so naturally to them, they don’t even realize the power that they have! And all that feeling of envy and worship and wanting to be her mother, her best friend, but also wanting to steal it from her, drain her up. We hoped to make it complicated like that.
I know you can’t speak on any spoilers, but based on your own perception, do you think there’s any possibility we would see a sort of mentor-mentee relationship between Wanda and Agatha?
I certainly have no idea, zero idea. I haven’t heard anything. I know I would love to. Anything is possible, who the hell knows, but it, of course, would be incredible. I think there’s so much more story.
Prior to this role, had you been gunning to join a big-budget superhero production?
I’ve kind of just put one foot in front of the other, career-wise, but I certainly—if someone were to ask me, “What genres would you love to do?” I mean, this was definitely in there, because it seemed so fun. And I also think Marvel attracts such incredible talent. My jaw would be on the ground watching these artists do their jobs, putting this together.
Has it been surreal, being stuck in quarantine in the middle of so much commotion around this show?
Yeah, it’s been very surreal. I think, in another time, we probably would have been traveling all over the world and, Paul [Bettany] and Lizzie were saying, we would have heard the noise and the fans and had all that coming at us. So being at home, kids in Zoom school, going on walks with friends—I’m not on social media, but I get sent stuff, so I’m obviously not the dark, I know it’s happening—but it has been totally a disconnect, in I think a really healthy way.
The superhero genre is notorious for these ludicrous stories from set. What was arguably the most ridiculous thing you had to do as Agatha?
I was constantly apologizing and embarrassed because, to go to the bathroom, it took about 45 minutes while I was in my costume. Beth, who is my incredible, patient, miraculous assistant was just literally… Because, I had these long nails on, too! She would be holding my skirt in the California desert. And she would hold this gallon of water to cool me off. The bathroom stories were the best, just waiting outside. It’s as if I was a toddler! I just couldn’t do anything.
Have you had a chance to go back and read any of the truly bonkers fan theories about your character?
I have definitely seen some of their theories, and it was really fun and also like, “Oh, God.” As the show was going on, it was thrilling, because so many people got a lot of the theories right. A lot of people called it. Oh my God, it was so fun. There are so few good surprises left these days.
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