In joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Olli Haaskivi opened himself up to a massive new world. The actor is no stranger to guest roles in already existing shows but in appearing as Dr. Nagel in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Haaskivi joined an entire cinematic universe. As it turns out, Haaskivi did not know too much about the characters his Nagel was in a scene with, not only because Marvel Studios was living up to its reputation of keeping secrets, but also because Haaskivi had not watched Marvel films prior to joining the franchise. Now, the actor is quite up to speed and enthusiastically looking back at his brief time in the MCU.
“My entry point in was Dr. Nagel, for sure,” Haaskivi told ComicBook.com. “I auditioned with a very generalized audition scene that didn’t have any specifics in it, no names in it. The role for the audition was just called, ‘Doctor.’ So, there wasn’t even anything to really research for the audition. I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants.” At the time, Haaskivi was not given any information about what movie or show he was auditioning for.
Haaskivi’s resumé prior to The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was already quite impressive. He had played roles on Manifest, The Deuce, The Sinner, Elementary, Mr. Robot, and many more shows and films. Still, he chalks The Falcon and The Winter Soldier up as one of his best experiences. “As a guest, you really never know what you’re getting yourself into,” he explained. “This one, from the drop, was really, really warm, and really inclusive. All of those people, the actors and the crew, went out of their way to really make me feel like I was part of the gang. I was really, really moved by it actually.”
Although Haaskivi does admit he would love to bring Dr. Nagel to life again (quite literally, seeing as the character was killed off nearly as quickly as he was introduced), the actor is looking back on his time with Marvel Studios very fondly and fulfilled. He remembers the moment when his work on the series wrapped — and he’s already hoping to reunite with director Kari Skogland. “I remember Kari gave me a big hug, and I walked back to my trailer with Sebastian, who I really love,” Haaskivi says. “I would be really flattered and really excited if they felt like this character had other scenarios to explore. But also, I’m so thankful for the experience that I did have. And I never would have imagined that I would get to be a part of something like this, and a significant part of something like this, that if that’s my only time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is lucky and wonderful.”
Meeting the MCU
ComicBook.com: I was looking at your Instagram and I saw that you were quite unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe before this role. What was your first bit of introduction to this story with Dr. Nagel for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier?
Olli Haaskivi: Yeah, I think that my entry point in was Dr. Nagel, for sure. I auditioned with a very generalized audition scene that didn’t have any specifics in it, no names in it. The role for the audition was just called, “Doctor.” So, there wasn’t even anything to really research for the audition. I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants. And then when I got the job, I got scripts pages finally, just a couple of days before I started shooting. And that’s when I saw the character’s name, I saw the other character’s names.
I did have to write the person back who emailed me the script pages to just say, “Can you tell me what TV show this is? Or if it’s a movie?” Because when I auditioned too, it wasn’t an audition for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it was an audition for “Untitled Marvel project number four,” I think.
So, it was a sort of mad dash to find out as much as I could before I started shooting so that I wouldn’t embarrass myself.
CB: Has the experience given you any interest or desire to look back at and watch the rest of the MCU titles?
OH: I have. Yeah. I mean this pandemic quarantine time has given plenty of time to watch a lot of things. I was really blown away by WandaVision. I watched all of it every week as it came out, and I thought what they did on there was so exciting.
Joining the Family
CB: When you first met everybody who was involved with your experience, how were you welcomed into the Marvel family?
OH: I was welcomed in and made to feel like I had been family forever. There was no… I’ve guest starred on a lot of shows, I’ve recurred on a lot of shows, and every set has its own atmosphere and its own environment. And as a guest, you really never know what you’re getting yourself into. I’ve mostly had wonderful experiences, but there are places you show up that are tense or uncomfortable. And there are places that are sort of in the middle. And this one, from the drop, was really, really warm, and really inclusive. All of those people, the actors and the crew, went out of their way to really make me feel like I was part of the gang. I was really, really moved by it actually.
CB: The Georgia team for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was filming on the lot right beside WandaVision and The Suicide Squad. Did you run into anyone or see anything just with that entire environment that caught you off guard?
OH: I didn’t. I wish I had. Maybe I was just hyper-focused on my work or something, or maybe our hours on those days were different, for some reason. That would have been so exciting, but also by the same token, who knows, because I am so new to this Marvel Cinematic Universe, who knows if I would have even recognized anybody, beyond knowing, I mean, I know who some of those actors are, obviously, but I wish I had some crossover photos, or something like that, but no such luck.
Researching the Comics
CB: You went back and looked at Dr. Nagel from the comics. There are certainly parallels with your MCU version and the Marvel comics version of the character. What did you learn in diving into that?
OH: As soon as I learned the character’s name, the first thing I did was Google to find what I could possibly learn. There’s not a ton in the comic books with him. And I think that actually really sort of freed me up to feel like I was finding my version and my interpretation, especially once I saw the rendering in the comic book looks nothing like me whatsoever. I knew enough about the MCU to know that the comic books are jumping off point. They’re not literally translated into the films. And so, yeah, I think as soon as I saw, I think I had an instinct right away that these comic books, they’re helpful, and I got what I could out of him in the comics, but there’s not really…
I did learn. I learned a couple of the things he’s worked on. He’s mentioned a couple of times, but he’s not very actively in the story of a lot of the comics. So, I felt like I realized pretty quickly that this was going to be its own sort of incarnation.
CB: It seems like the biggest difference in the history of the character is the timing of when they were doing their work on super soldiers. When you sat down with director Kari Skogland or head writer Malcolm Spellman, did they give you a deep outline of his past, or his more recent past, like the run-in with Karli Morganthau?
OH: I really think it’s all in the scene. I think he says a lot in the scene about where he’s been, and what’s happened to him, and who he’s encountered. And I sort of felt like that gave me everything that I could need to know. And what’s so nice about it is that there are so many clues in those speeches that can send you down a lot of different rabbit holes thinking about how does he feel about that person, or how did it feel when this happened to him? And so I felt like I could do that work on my own and just trust that if I was off base somehow, between Kari and everybody else on the set, someone would let me know.
And the great thing about Kari, one of the many great things about Kari, I really, really love working with her so much, but one of the things I love the most is that she shoots a lot. There’s not a ton of discussion. We all just sort of go for it and see what happens. And then we discuss if we need to, and we tweak as we need to, and we experiment, but all of the experimentation tends to be sort of done with the camera’s running.
It’s possible sometimes that you can discuss these things to death a little bit, You talk too much and nothing interesting is happening because we’ve talked it all out and nothing is surprising anymore. And so I really love how Kari, I felt like her attitude, at least on the days that I was there, felt like, “Great. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s go for one and we’ll go from there.”
Finding The Scene
CB: I’ve heard Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan tend to do a little improv. In this lab scene, how many different versions did you all shoot together?
OH: Nothing was different in terms of the text or the plot, obviously, but there were a lot of differences, especially because Dr. Nagel, I think, has a lot of mystery around him. And a lot of the specifics of his past, in terms of the events he’s been through, that’s pretty clear in the script, but there’s not much said about his exact demeanor, or his style, or anything like that. So I feel like, because we had the luxury of time, we shot that sequence for a couple of days.
We were able to really experiment with, why don’t we see what happens if he’s really kind of numb, and checked out? Okay, we have that. Why don’t we see if he’s really frightened that these people are in his lab waving guns in his face? Great. We did a couple of takes of that. Why don’t we see what happens if he has a little bit of a sense of humor about it? Cool.
And I mean, that’s really what I love, is feeling like the work in front of the camera is a sort of constant experiment. You’re not trying to arrive at some sort of finished product. You’re just keeping it alive and seeing how it can grow. So I was as surprised as anybody else watching the final cut, because I do feel like there were a lot of different potential versions of that character.
RIP Dr. Nagel
CB: When it comes time to shoot a sequence where Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo character kills off your Dr. Nagel character, what’s different on that day? Is there any sort of wrap event for guest actors in the Marvel world?
OH: Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t say there was an event. I mean, typically, and this is true on a lot of sets… Typically, what happens is someone just announces, that’s a wrap on this actor, and everyone sort of claps, and maybe the director gives you a hug if it’s not a global pandemic. It was very sweet, but it wasn’t… I always feel when I’m the actor in the moment that people are clapping for, it can feel a little silly because you’re well aware that they’re doing this, and then they have to get on with their day right afterwards. And so I’m always feeling a little like, “It’s okay, thank you guys. No need to make this much of a moment,” but it was sweet.
I remember Kari gave me a big hug, and I walked back to my trailer with Sebastian, who I really love. And the whole experience really was very, very warm and very, very sweet, but there was certainly no Dr. Nagel wrap party or anything.
CB: Would you ever be interested or have you had any talks about reprising this, doing this ever again for another story in the MCU?
OH: I would be so honored. I would be really flattered and really excited if they felt like this character had other scenarios to explore. But also, I’m so thankful for the experience that I did have. And I never would have imagined that I would get to be a part of something like this, and a significant part of something like this, that if that’s my only time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is lucky and wonderful. But I’m certainly crossing my fingers that Dr. Nagel and can get himself into some other kind of trouble at some point.
And knowing, too, that he’s following in Stanley Tucci’s footsteps in terms of the story. I mean, Stanley Tucci has been a hero of mine for so long. If there’s any scenario in which we got to shoot something together, or… There’s so many amazing actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but.
CB: It hasn’t even been a week since you’ve been allowed to say that you were a part of this franchise, but what has been the most interesting part of this whole response? What do you hope comes out of this, outside of the Marvel world, for you?
OH: Wow, that’s such a good question. I feel like this experience with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier does sort of set a new kind of bar in terms of, I had such a wonderful experience on that set. I’ve really had a really nice time since it has aired. From top to bottom it’s been really creative, and really warm, and really exciting. And so I hope that the next project, whatever it is, I hope that it feels like it’s a natural progression from that. Do you know what I mean?
And that can mean a lot of different things. It can mean a kind of role, or a kind of genre or something. But I hope that the next thing feels like it’s a continuation of this kind of experience. And if it could be, I’m dying to work with Kari again. I’m dying to work with all those actors again. I’m a person who, once I know that I like working with someone I hope I get to keep following them around. And so I remember Kari said, when I wrapped, she said something that was like, “I know I’ll see you again really soon.” Or something like that. And I’m a holding her to that.