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'S.H.I.E.L.D.' star Chloe Bennet ready for Chicago homecoming

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  • Chicago native Chloe Bennet stars in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Chicago native Chloe Bennet stars in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Danny Feld / ABC )
November 18, 2013|By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol | RedEye

Chloe Bennet can't wait to take a break from saving the world to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family in Chicago.

Bennet has been solving crimes as ace computer hacker Skye in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." since filming began on the ABC series this summer. Over Thanksgiving, she just wants to play football with her six brothers.

"I still get picked last on the football teams. They never pick me. Like, 'Why wouldn't you guys pick me to be on your team?' They're like, 'You suck. You literally just stand there and when we throw the ball at you, you just run away,'" she said during a phone interview Friday. "So I'm like practicing. We play football on set."

"We" includes co-creators Joss Whedon and his brother, Jed, and crew members. The teams vary, but Bennet says she's usually the only woman in the mix.

"They don't know what they're in for this Thanksgiving," she said of her brothers, admitting that she still isn't too formidable on the football field. "The skill isn't there, but I have the courage and the intent. That's all that matters."

Bennet brings those qualities to her character, the only member of the crack crime-fighting team run by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who isn't a full-fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. operative.

"Even though she may not have complete confidence in what she's doing, she'll go and try it anyway and if it fails she'll kind of make a joke about it," Bennet said of her character, "and that's very similar to me."

Born Chloe Wang, Bennet tried a lot of sports while growing up two miles from the United Center because her brothers—a mix of biologial and adopted siblings—played baseball, hockey and football. She realized sports weren't for her, and while in first grade at Near North Montessori she discovered theater.

"I think I was used to having the spotlight. Having six brothers I think I did anything I could to be like, 'I'm the girl!'" she said. "I basically dived into theater and into acting because I just sucked at all sports."

She starred in school plays and at 13 studied improv with Second City's youth ensemble, where she "fell in love with getting into character and getting to perform," she said. A music manager discovered Bennet, who's half Chinese, when she was a 15-year-old at St. Ignatius College Prep. She moved to China not long after, living with her paternal grandmother while working to become a pop star.

Although she scored a hit song with "Uh Oh," Bennet says her time in Shanghai never felt natural to her. "I felt like I was still putting on a character, like I was just acting like this pop star," she said.

After two years abroad she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career, eventually scorig a recurring role last season on ABC's "Nashville" before booking her role as Skye on "S.H.I.E.L.D."

"I love being able to play smarter than I really am. It's a lot of fun. I feel much cooler. It's a dream come true," she said, adding that even her brothers think she's kind of cool now. "They think I'm a little more cool than I was before. Still, they're not that impressed."

Bennet talked more about the show and growing up in Chicago. (Read what she had to say about the Nov, 19 episode, "The Well," here.) Read more about "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." at ABC's site.

Hi Chloe, how are you?
My fellow Chicagoan. Are you in Chicago right now because if so I'm very jealous.

Yes I am.
You are getting very special treatment because I've been on a lot of interviews this morning and you're getting the most time because you're a Chicagoan. I need to let you know that, how much I love Chicago.

Do you enjoy being the smart ass of the show?
Of course. Yeah, I love being able to play smarter than I really am. It's a lot of fun. I feel much cooler. It's really fun. You know, she's a wisecrack. She's very charismatic and she's really quick and is really able to think on her toes. And I like to think that I'm a bit of that, but not nearly as smart as she is. Again, I'm not a computer genius, a computer hacker ...

But yeah, it's so much fun getting too play Skye. It's a dream come true getting to go to work every day and getting to work with our cast. Everyone's pretty smart. We're all S.H.I.E.L.D agents for a reason.

She's always been sort of our entrée into this world because she's learning along with us. But you're kind of an old pro at this entertainment thing, aren't you?
Not really. Are you slyly referencing Asia?

I'm referencing Asia a little, but you've been doing this since even before Asia. Since you were in Chicago.
I grew up on the South Side. I grew up two miles away from the United Center. And it wasn't the best neighborhood and my brothers played baseball at Near West Little League and my dad coached. And [we did] AYSO (American Youth Soccer Association) along the Lakefront, I tried out for football and we went to hockey and everything. And I just was terrible at everything.

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