In an early episode of of the first season of Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) donned a blonde wig and sparkling dress in order to go undercover at a glitzy party. For the rest of the season, however, costume designer Giovanna Ottobre-Melton stuck with more everyday clothing for the show’s stars. With the action in season two packing up and moving from New York City to Los Angeles, Old Hollywood glamour finds its way back into the show.
A lot of research goes into the costuming of the show, with many of the costumes either being vintage pieces from the era or recreations from vintage materials. Wynn Everett, who joins the cast this season as glamorous actress-scientist Whitney Frost (inspired by Hedy Lamarr) revealed, “The way they have done this show, from the costumes to the hair to the makeup, they are so determined to stick to detail. Underneath everything we’re wearing [vintage] undergarments. One day I was like, ‘I’m just gonna wear my own undergarments,’ and I walked on set and the costume department was like, ‘Wynn, go back and put on the right bra and the right hose!’ They just are so incredibly detail oriented.”
Joining the cast this season is Reggie Austin as scientist Jason Wilkes, who is a big fan of his wardrobe, saying it’s “just out of control. Everybody gets to wear awesome things. The ’40s were a great time to wear clothes. Everyone gets to wear some really cool, chic get ups. So yeah it’s nice.”
Lesley Boone, who plays Rose, chimed in, “I mean, it’s so much fun. I feel like an actor. Everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s in the ’40s, there are all these cars. You really feel like you’re doing something, not just sitting around on set and waiting.” Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) added, “When I started off acting, this is what I thought acting was going to be. And it wasn’t. But this show, it’s hanging out, ’40s car walks by, tons of extras in costume, and you look up and down the street and you’re in the ’40s. It’s wonderful.”
One inspiration for the men this season, including Agent Sousa, was Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity. For this season, Gjokaj says, “Daniel has a bit of a West Coast vibe going on. And he’s running the West Coast SSR, so he’s kind of, he’s the boss now. I think he gets to set whether or not there’s casual Fridays.”
Moving the action of season two from New York City to Los Angeles allowed the show to shoot in some of Los Angeles’ most iconic locations, including the Griffith Observatory, most famously used in Rebel Without A Cause. Star Hayley Atwell said that in prepping for this season, she watched the film, “knowing that we were going to shoot there, and I just wanted to see it on film again. It felt iconic, and a lot of these places Peggy probably will know about as well, so there’s this excitement of when, you know, like for me, 10 years ago when I first came out here and saw the Hollywood sign for the first time. You just think it’s so exciting, that first hit of it. And I think Peggy, who’s doesn’t really have much interest in the Hollywood world, per se, but I think it’s very much in her psyche because it’s part of the culture of her day, to have that kind of Golden Age of Hollywood.”
In this world of Old Hollywood, appearances are everything, but as Atwell points out during this era in Los Angeles’s history, “of course there’s an undercurrent of darkness, and that’s a lot to do with the gangsters and the serial killers that were kind of rife back then. It seemed to be these famous cases, and we’ve touched upon those a little bit. And I think it kind of add more of a film noir feel to it, and does make the whole thing a little bit more filmic.”
New to the cast, Kurtwood Smith, who plays War Department veteran Verson Masters, added, “I think it has a very noir feeling this year.”
Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters confirmed they watched Noir Summer on Turner Classic Movies while working on the season and found particular inspiration from Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat. They also confided that modern noir like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential were also a big influence, with Fazekas elaborating, “L.A. Confidential was a big touchstone for us even last season.”
Butters added, “When you’re talking about telling stories in the ’40s, a lot of the film noir of the ’40s takes place in L.A. And obviously, we shoot in L.A. So it had been something that we had talked about a lot. And we started to build the story around that because what’s great about that is, you have the glamour and glitz of Hollywood and you have crime and corruption right next to each other. We just started to say ‘Well, how would we get Peggy to L.A.?'”
The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.