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Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell talks female friendships on TV

I was lucky enough to attend Fan Expo in Toronto yesterday, where Agent Carter star Hayley Atwell impressed fans in her Q&A session with her thoughtful, often powerful answers.

Early on the 33-year-old actress was asked about Carternelli — the fan fiction idea that Peggy Carter and her friend Angela Martinelli, played by Lyndsy Fonseca, are more than just friends.

A “huge fan of Carternelli,” Hayley said that Peggy and Angie certainly have a “genuine affection” for one another but that the relationship is thus far platonic.

If fans want to project the idea that the relationship has a romantic or sexual element to it, that’s entirely up to them, she said.

But that doesn’t mean that Peggy and Angie’s relationship isn’t a special one.

“I think the thing that stands out for me and Angie’s relationship — Peggy and Angie — is that it’s seldom that you see on television a friendship between two women that isn’t founded on the interest of a man,” said Hayley, to cheers and applause from the audience.

The relationship also isn’t “competitive or bitchy,” she said, and therefore a more accurate representation of most real-life female friendships.

“I think there’s a mutual respect that’s quite rare, that I want to see more of in film and stories because I think it reflects much more the quality of female relationships that we have with each other in society.”

Hayley Atwell speaks at Fan Expo Canada 2015
Hayley Atwell speaks at Fan Expo Canada 2015

Later Hayley talked about what is likely the most memorable and meaningful quote from season one of Agent Carter: “I know my value, anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

“I think that really sums up who Peggy is and who she discovers herself to be towards the end of the first season,” Hayley told the crowd.

Peggy carries on not for the need to be validated by others, but for the fulfillment of doing her job to the best of her ability, said Hayley.

“It doesn’t really matter what people think of you, in fact it’s actually none of your business. The most important thing is what you think of yourself.”

And because she’s not concerned with other people’s opinions, she spends less time worrying about her insecurities and as a result has more time to spend on witty retorts and devising intelligent plans.

However, Peggy’s confidence in herself doesn’t always translate to support and confidence from her peers.

Hayley hinted that in season two, which will see Peggy, Jarvis and Sousa setting up shop in LA, Peggy will continue to have to prove herself.

“The very nature of the world in which [the show is] set means that she’ll be constantly up against obstacles where she has to break down barriers and break down walls, which is kind of the very nature of her character and what makes her so relatable.”

“And I don’t think that even in today’s day and age women are free from obstacles at all when it comes to having to prove themselves, particularly in the workplace, so because of that I think it’s all relevant that we put that in there in the series.”

I think it’s wonderful when an actress involved in a project like this recognizes its importance beyond entertainment, and it was an absolute delight to hear Hayley speak so passionately about these issues.

You can check out a video of the whole Q&A session here — her answer when asked about her philosophy on life at 9:40 was particularly impressive!

The next season of Agent Carter is being filmed now, and will be airing early next year. I’ll definitely be getting an iTunes season pass!

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