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Kat Dennings on ‘WandaVision,’ Next ‘Thor’ Movie and Her ‘Most Cherished Audition’ (With Nicolas Cage)

Kat Dennings
Brian To/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

 

Kat Dennings is back as Darcy Lewis. She first played the role as Jane Foster’s assistant in “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

But now she’s Dr. Darcy Lewis, an astrophysicist, in Disney Plus’ “WandaVision.” She made her debut in episode 4 as part of the S.W.O.R.D. team trying to figure out what is going in Westview.

I caught up with the 34-year-old actor over Zoom for this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast.

Did you know that they were thinking about bringing back Darcy?

Once you’re in the Marvel Universe, you’re kind of there even if they kill you. You’re still there. A lot of time had gone by between the first two “Thor” movies and I didn’t know whether or not they’d ever bring Darcy back. And I never assumed that they would so when I got this call, especially for this, because Darcy has [had] nothing to do with Wanda or Vision, or the Avengers other than Thor, it was kind of like, “What is she doing here?” And that was my question. But of course, the initial phone call comes in and it’s a secret phone call. You sign an NDA before you get the phone call. They’re like, “How do you feel about this?” Like I’m gonna say no, at all ever to Marvel for anything. You say yes a then you’re in for a wild ride. You don’t even know what’s happening. I still don’t really know what’s happening.

Do they show you scripts or just tell you bits and pieces of what you need to know?

My first meeting with [writer] Jac Schaeffer and [director] Matt Shakman was at the new Marvel offices. I had been to the old offices, but never the new ones. It’s really intense and incredible. If you’re a fan of Marvel, your brain would explode, but you sign an NDA when you get to the lobby. So intense, so intense. And then once you do that, you sit and they bring you a little badge, and then you go into the room. And I understood why I had to sign the NDA before this meeting. The walls were just covered with the comic book pages with references. For a person who thinks comic books are like the end-all be-all, it was just like, unreal. They took this very serious. They always do, but this, specifically, they wanted to get this just right, because it’s so different from anything Marvel’s ever done. Everything has been meticulously planned. They laid out the sketch of it and what I would be doing, but to be honest I still don’t really know what happens.

How much fun is it to be on the set? It seems so immersive.

The thing for anybody in the industry or not, you know that usually your budget isn’t this kind of a thing. So they’re able to create everything and that’s so rare as an actor, because usually you’re imagining all of it, which is fun, it’s also really fun to do. But in this case, you kind of don’t have to, it’s there. So it’s just an unbelievable experience. I remember the first Thor movie, I had come from the world of like $10 indie movies so I couldn’t believe what was going on. They had this town built in the desert in Santa Fe, a whole town, everything was there. And we would start that’d be like a long shot in the back and we would round the corner and come towards the camera down the street. And the AD, which is the assistant director who says action and cut and whatever through a microphone, if you’re that far away. Usually you hear him screaming from 100 feet away, “Action!” But this time, his voice came through a speaker inside a newspaper box next to us on the street. It was like magic. I was like, “Oh my god, where is he?”

How spoiled do you get then?

You cannot get used to it. Don’t ever get used to it. You’ll never see that size of a trailer ever again. I didn’t know they made such a nice trailer. They do such a nice job for us. They take good care of us and they want us to be happy. And they want everyone to be happy and do their best. And that’s how it’s possible. Everyone feels good and taken care of and ready to go. So I love working for Marvel. [Laughs]

Are you going to be in the next “Thor” movie, “Thor: Love and Thunder?”

Still don’t know. I don’t think so. I’m gonna assume no, I feel like I would know by now. They’re shooting it so I don’t think so. I don’t know. I promise. Scout’s honor. I mean, I feel like someone would have alluded to it. I don’t know. But anything Marvel ever wants from me, I am always available for them. Not matter what.

I love how they kept Darcy very down to earth. I noticed that you’re eating Cup of Noodles and baked potato chips in your first episode.

They wanted to keep Darcy’s essence. At heart she’s still that college girl who eats trash ramen from 7-Eleven like me. And I really love that they put that in there. And they even asked — again Marvel spoiling their actors — what flavor Cup of Noodles do you like best? [Laughs]. Then they asked what kind of potato chips do you think Darcy would eat. I was like, “Well, she’s an adult now so maybe the baked ones.” [Laughs]. I love those little things. I’m so happy you noticed that.

Now, a fun question, what was the worst audition you ever went on?

It’s not the worst, but it’s the craziest and most memorable. I’m trying to figure out the aftermath of me telling the story and whether it’s worth it. I just won’t say names. So there was a film, very dramatic film that did come out and was nominated for a bajillion Oscars and was amazing. That’s all I’ll say about who, but the scene I was reading, this was like the final audition where I was reading with the actor. And in the scene I was being physically restrained by that actor. So the dialogue all had to do with me trying to get free from the guy. I’m pretty young at that point. I’m not nervous, but I know this is a big deal. I’m super excited to be reading with this famous actor and this hugely famous director that I really respect and he’s there and I’m like, “Oh, my God, this is a big deal.” I have everything memorized. I’m ready to get into like the physicality of the scene, but I realized pretty quick that that actor is not going to touch me. He’s also not going to be near me. He was at the other end of the room, which seemed to be his choice, which I was like I’m going to be miming this. So a scene where I am asking to be let go of and physically wriggling out of this man’s grip became a mining session. But I understand and I respect that the actor made that decision. But at the time, it was not great because I was like, “I look like an absolute moron.” I’m not getting this. But I enjoyed it. It was just not what I anticipated.

You say you understand and respect why the actor made that decision so you could tell me who it is.

I feel like I can’t because he’s one of my favorite actors of all time. But he didn’t do a bad thing. All right, it was Nicolas Cage. But the movie I won’t say. I don’t want this to seem like it was life ruining. It was great. In fact, you asked for the worst, but it’s one of the best memories because it was such a huge curveball and such a massive learning experience. And we ended up having such a nice conversation afterwards. It’s like one of my most cherished audition stories and I’m actually really grateful for that experience just because I wanted to be in a room with Nicolas Cage. It probably will never happen again. But what’s nice is that he was so respectful and I think that might have been where it was coming from like, I’m a young girl so he didn’t want to physically touch me and make me uncomfortable. I appreciate it. I really do.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. You can listen to the full interview with Dennings above. You can also find “Just for Variety” on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.