Erin Kellyman Talks About Keeping Marvel Secrets, What It Was Like Working With Emilia Clarke, And Much More
"I think it's so important for women and young girls to see women in these bigger and more complicated roles."
In only a few short years, Erin Kellyman has been involved in some of the biggest cinematic franchises. She became an actor to watch out for after Solo: A Star Wars Story and now she's becoming a household name thanks to her starring role as Karli Morganthau on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
To celebrate The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally streaming on Disney+, Erin sat down with us to chat about everything — like what the audition process was like for Marvel, how she was starstruck working with Emilia Clarke on Solo, the importance of playing a female antagonist, and much more. Here's everything we learned:
1. First, what's the last TV show you binge-watched?
BuzzFeed: Oh my god, did you love it?
It's freaking incredible. It's so cool. I loved it. I was so into it. Like, three episodes into it, I was like, "I love this, but I don't understand anything." Then, as it continued, I was like, "No, this is so cool. This is so cool." They did such a good job on it.
2. Is there a movie or TV show that made you want to become an actor?
I don't think there's a specific show or movie. I think I played pretend for way too long when I was a kid. All my friends were getting into boys and makeup, and I was just like, "I just want to play pretend with my younger sister." So, I think that's really it. I liked messing about and playing pretend. I find people very interesting. It's a lot of fun to work people out and live all of these different lives whilst also living mine alongside it.
"It doesn't even feel real."
3. Were you a fan of the Marvel comics and movies before getting cast in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
I hadn't really read the Marvel comics, but I was a big fan of the Marvel movies. I think the first Marvel movie I watched was Iron Man. I think I was like 11. So, I've been a fan since then, so to now be in it is just the weirdest experience. It doesn't even feel real. It's crazy. Do you know what the weirdest thing was watching the show? It was seeing the opening titles, like the Marvel logo. Seeing that and thinking, I'm in this? What the hell? How on earth did this happen? I don't know. It's such a weird experience. I can't believe somebody let me go this far.
4. Since you grew up loving the MCU, is there a Marvel character you always thought would be cool to share a scene with?
I think it would be cool to work with Black Widow, Captain Marvel, or Wanda. That would be really cool. Spider-Man, also very cool. It's hard to pick just one.
5. What was your The Falcon and the Winter Soldier audition like?
When I auditioned, I had no idea what I was auditioning for. I knew it was Marvel, but I didn't know the character or anything like that. I'd got the script and I was thinking, "This doesn't sound anything like Marvel," and that was on purpose, that's why. Then, I had a callback after that first audition. And after that, I had a FaceTime with Kari [Skogland, the director] and Zoie [Nagelhout, a producer] and got the part. It was a pretty surreal experience.
6. How was it having to keep the secret that you were cast in a Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show?
It was so hard! I have a lot of family and friends who are fans of Marvel, so being away and just saying to them, "Mind your business, I'll be back in a bit and you'll see it later." That was hard to do, but it made it so much more exciting once the trailer got released. Just for people to be like, "Oh my god, that's what you were filming?! That's so cool." It's hard [to keep the secret], but it's a good reward at the end when people are getting excited to see it.
BuzzFeed: Wait, so were you just like, "I'm going to film a job in the States, bye"?
Literally, that's exactly what happened. This happened with Star Wars as well and [my friends] were so angry, but people would guess though. My friends and family were so on it, people would guess and I'd be like, "Don't worry about it. I'll be back in a minute, it'll be fine."
7. Did you know Karli's name at all when you were auditioning? Or did you find out after you officially got the role?
Not when I was auditioning, but when I had that first FaceTime, then Kari had told me quite a bit and she was like, "Oh, I should probably stop telling you things now." Then after I actually got the role is when we FaceTimed again and spoke a little bit more about it.
8. Karli Morgenthau is the gender-swap of Karl Morgenthau from the comics. How has it been bringing a new version of this character to life?
It's been really cool. I think it's so brave and incredible of Disney and Marvel to be able to change this character into a female and to make it more inclusive so more people can relate to her. It's been so fun to play as well. I did a little bit of research on Karl just so I could get a gist of what they based this character off. But, most of my research was from the scripts and speaking to Zoie about it and getting a better understanding that way.
"I think it's so important for women and young girls to see women in these bigger and more complicated roles."
9. It's awesome to see a complicated female antagonist on this show because female villains are still quite rare in TV and movies. How has it been bringing that side of Karli to the show?
I think it's so important for women and young girls to see women in these bigger and more complicated roles. She's relevant and she's important, and what she's fighting for is good. The way she's going about it might be a bit questionable, but her route is from a good place and she's pure. It was a lot of fun to play.
10. Did you get all of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier scripts at once or did you get them weekly like a normal TV show?
We get the scripts through an app, but they would change all the time. I got Episodes 1 to Episode 3, and then there'd be a little break, there'd be a few changes, and then I got Episode 3 through 6. So yeah, they'd come and go all of the time.
11. You do some massive stunt sequences in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. How was it preparing to do those stunts?
It was so intense! Listen, Marvel goes hard. They go in. The training process was really cool. It was a lot of fun. They had me training in England before I even got to the States. Then, I got to America and the first few weeks was just stunt training every single day. It's always so fun doing your own stunts. I did my own stunts, but there was also Hannah Scott, my stunt double. Anytime where I'm looking really cool, like extra cool, it's not me, it's her. Just to put that out there, she's incredible.
BuzzFeed: Had you done a lot of stunts before? Or was this really your first time?
I did a little bit for Solo, but this was the first time it had been so intense. It was a lot of fun, but it was quite difficult. But yeah, this was the first time I'd properly focused on stunts.
12. What was one of the wildest things from working on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?
Honestly, when I was stunt training and I'd been doing a few sequences here and there, and then they brought in [Captain America's] shield, and I was like, "What is happening?!" That was a pretty cool moment.
13. You've been in a Star Wars movie and now a Marvel TV show, which to me, are two of the biggest things you can do. How were those experiences the same and how were they different?
They're actually quite the same. There's a lot of secrecy with both. With The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it filmed a lot like a movie too. It didn't feel like we were doing a TV series or it didn't feel smaller in comparison to doing a movie. So, there was actually more similarities than differences in that sense. I'm so lucky to be a part of both; it's friggin' crazy.
14. Have you ever caught somebody else watching one of your movies or TV shows on a flight?
I've seen someone watching Solo. I don't even know where I was going, but it made me just want to...like, it freaked me out. It's like, I'm gonna pop up in a minute and I'm sitting right next to you. So I just kind of tried to stay away because I'm going to be so embarrassed [if you recognize me].
"It's honestly one of the only industries that you work in where you're working with people that you look up to."
15. Who have you been the most starstruck by?
Emilia Clarke was a big one. I was just in awe every second. I was like, "You are an amazing woman."
BuzzFeed: Were you a Game of Thrones fan before you worked with her on Solo?
I had watched a bit actually, yeah, beforehand. So to then start working with her was wild. That's what I'm saying, when you see these people in real life, it's such a weird experience. It's honestly one of the only industries that you work in where you're working with people that you look up to. To then go and share a screen with them, it just...it's weird. It's so cool.
BuzzFeed: I just have this visual of you showing up to set and just freaking out endlessly.
I just feel like it's only me [freaking out] as well. Like, I'm having this wild time in my head and they've just let me loose on this set, and they have no idea how much I'm exploding inside.
16. Do you have a favorite memory from filming Solo: A Star Wars Story?
A really good memory was hanging with Joonas [Suotamo] when he was dressed a Chewie. Joonas, in general, is a really cool guy, but when he's dressed as Chewie and he's got the little teeth and his little eyes, it's so cute. I'd have piggyback rides on him and he gives the best hugs.
17. Do you ever go back and watch your previous work?
No. When it first comes out, I'll get shown it before it airs, so I'll watch it then. If I have interviews or anything [for Falcon and the Winter Soldier] I'll watch the last one [that aired] so I don't spoil anything. So, I'll do that, but other than that, no. It's so awkward. I don't know how I've got this far and hate watching myself and just exploding on every set that I'm on. I don't know how people have been hiring me, it's crazy.
BuzzFeed: Plus, you said you're a fan yourself, so it must be weird to suddenly see yourself in these projects.
I feel like I'm pretending still. It's just this one massive thing of pretend and at some point they're going to be like, "Oh, we were just joking. You're not in this. Just a prank."
18. What's a role people would be surprised to find out you auditioned for, but you didn't get?
Ginny & Georgia. I always do [the audition] and then just get rid of it. I just forget it so I don't get my hopes up. First of all, when I saw the first episode of Ginny & Georgia, the title looked really familiar, and then [Ginny] does a little monologue when she's in class, and I was like, "I know what she's going to say next. I swear I auditioned for that."
BuzzFeed: So you usually just audition and then move on pretty quickly and try not to think about it too much?
Yeah. If I hold onto it and then if I don't get it, it will be too sad. So I audition and just forget about it.
19. Which emoji do you use the most?
The crying one, where it's just a stream of tears (😭). Or, the like, I don't even know how to explain it, the like [makes sad puppy dog eyes] that one (🥺).
20. What's your favorite thing to cook?
Fajitas. Bit of chicken. Bit of peppers. Bit of onion. You can't go wrong.
21. What's the last book you read?
Conversations with Friends [by Sally Rooney]. It's a great book.
22. What's your favorite movie of all time?
Don't ask me that. Of all time?! Okay, wait, I'll do my favorite childhood movie because that's a no-brainer: Cheaper by the Dozen. I was obsessed. I wanted that many brothers and sisters. I thought it was incredible. I used to watch it religiously. I could recite the whole thing.
23. What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
"Try your best and forgive yourself for the rest." That was the other day actually, I heard that and I was like, "God, you are so right, thank you!"
24. Who was your favorite movie or TV character growing up?
I was obsessed with Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart. I thought she was so cool with those two different lives she was living.
25. Who's one of your favorite musicians?
110% Miley Cyrus. That was the first concert I went to actually when I was a kid. I remember, she came through the crowd on a motorbike and I was like, "This is incredible."
26. What does your perfect day look like?
Being out in the sun, anytime it's just a nice day. It's just starting to get sunny in England, so I'm enjoying that right now. Hanging out with family and my little dog. Just chilling out.
27. And finally, what does your favorite day on set look like?
11 a.m. pickup time, not 5 a.m. We'll start at 11 and we'll just kind of have a slow get ready day. No one's rushing around, everyone's just chilling out. Lots of good food, lots of good castmates.