Kathryn Hahn Reveals Why 'WandaVision' Proved 'Irresistible' to Her (Exclusive)
By John Boone
If Kathryn Hahn has a superpower, perhaps it's that she's proven unpigeonholeable in her two decades in the business. There are the comedies -- your Anchormans and Bad Moms -- that gave way to revelatory work in the Sundance space (with indie films like Afternoon Delight) that led to lauded turns in TV shows including Mrs. Fletcher and Transparent (for which she was Emmy-nominated). And still, not even she could have foreseen herself joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"I'm still, 'Wait, what?!' I never would have seen this coming," a clearly tickled Hahn tells ET on a recent Zoom call. "It always looked like it would be so much fun to be a part of one of those."
She'd lent her voice to a superhero film before -- playing a gender flipped Doc Ock in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -- but still isn't sure if that counts. "Because I was animated!" Yet, she jumped at the chance to take a general meeting with the people at Marvel Studios when they rang. "I was like, 'Yes. I love it. It's the dreamiest. I want to meet all of them. Of course.'"
At the time, Hahn thought the meeting might impress her kids, with whom she'd watched the MCU movies, but had no expectations or pie-in-the-sky hopes of what might come from it. She didn't expect to hear back anytime soon, if at all, so she was surprised when Marvel called her two days later and asked her to sit down with writer Jac Schaeffer, director Matt Shakman and producer Mary Livanos.
"They ran down the whole thing. All of it" -- the full arc of the studio's first streaming series, WandaVision -- "I had to hear it a couple of times, and I asked a ton of questions. I was like, 'Excuse me. Um...' They were very patient with me, but they unspooled it all."
The series centers on Elizabeth Olsen's telekinetic Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany's robo-human Vision, supporting played that Hahn says she always found herself gravitating towards in the Avengers movies. WandaVision itself is told through a prism of classic American sitcoms through the decades, thus not only offering the chance to join an uber-franchise but promising creative risk, as well. That, it turns out, is the center of the Venn diagram where she and Marvel meet.
"There was so many things about it that I was so thrilled by, confused by, excited about," Hahn says. "It was just irresistible." (As for what her kids think of her joining the MCU? "I'm Mom, so nothing I can do is going to be cool. I think they were like, 'What..?")
In WandaVision, the titular couple relocate to the suburbs, with Hahn playing the requisite nosy neighbor, Agnes. She leaned on her children's deep wealth of knowledge about the MCU as she developed Agnes, while also turning to the comic books for her own research on Scarlet Witch. "And boy, is that backstory intense. Wow. It's deep. Real deep. Being able to dig into the source material a little bit was really fun and also just, like, 'Oof, Wanda's really been through it.'"
What darkness lurks beneath the series' shiny surface is to be seen -- many fans theorize Agnes is actually an alias for the comic character Agatha Harkness, a witchy and occasionally malevolent mentor to Wanda -- but Agnes' introduction in the pilot episode is all shenanigans and flying shellfish. The episode is a black-and-white throwback to The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy that was filmed in front of a live studio audience.
"Looking out and seeing a sea of audience members dressed in 1950s clothing and seeing the camera and the lights from the '50s, the buildup to it as this little teeny group of actors with this amazing director, I will just hold that to my heart," Hahn says. "We rehearsed it like a play. We were all racing around backstage for quick changes and to grab props and waiting for cues. We really put on a show together. The team was incredible. The ambition was incredible. And the wigs!"
Subsequent episodes see the gang through the '60s and '70s -- via riffs on Bewitched and The Brady Bunch -- and into modern sitcoms such as Modern Family and The Office. That's territory that's more familiar to Hahn, who was a reoccurring presence on Parks and Rec. "There's so much meta-ness on this show, like all over the place," she exclaims. (It's a sentiment Olsen has also echoed.) "We kept being like, 'Oh my God!'"
Inevitably, the sitcom nature will give way to a Marvel epic as the mystery of Wanda and Vision -- and Agnes, no doubt -- will be revealed. I tell Hahn I hope she got the full Marvel experience, that at some point they had her up on some wires dressed in spandex. "Spandex!" she shrieks, snorting and keeling over in laughter. Whatever comes to be, Hahn is happy to have found her way into this universe, however unexpectedly. "My mouth was on the floor when I was watching those first couple of episodes," she says, then lets out a laugh. "I'm speaking literally like a fan. I'm just so excited about it!"
New episodes of WandaVision stream Fridays on Disney+.