Clark Gregg's at a super point in his career

The Fresno BeeJuly 24, 2013 

LOS ANGELES — It was easy for Clark Gregg to slip into the role of a father of a teenager in the new feature film, "The To Do List." He and his wife, actress Jennifer Grey, have a daughter who will become a teen next year.

Set in the '90s, the film is about recent high school graduate (Aubrey Plaza) making a bucket list of sexual experiences to tackle before college. Her dad prefers to remain in the dark about his daughter's exploding sexuality.

In the real world, Gregg's hoping to help his daughter avoid some of the major mistakes he made when he was young.

"We moved to North Carolina when I was in middle school. I definitely spent a big chunk of middle school getting abused and not getting anywhere," Gregg says. "I was the shortest, least developed 13-year-old at this school.

"I had come from this really culturally different environment in Chicago, and I was obsessed with '70s 'Soul Train.' I kind of thought I was black and the greatest dancer who ever lived. I trotted all that out thinking it would vault me to social prominence at the first dance. It had the opposite effect."

He survived and got to show his real talent through professional acting roles that started in the late '80s. Since then, he's amassed a huge résumé that ranges from co-starring in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" to writing and directing the feature film "Choke."

It's his work in the Marvel Comics universe that's put the spotlight on Gregg. After playing the role of Agent Coulsen in "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2," "Thor" and "The Avengers," Gregg will reprise the role in the new ABC series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

It looked like Coulsen had been killed in "The Avengers" but he's working in a comic book world where death doesn't have to be permanent.

"It had been this amazing experience playing this guy. I knew I loved the role, because I had grown up with the comics," Gregg says. "I really loved this world and knew I was having the time of my life.

Starring in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." feels different for Gregg — and not just because his character has come back from the dead. He had a major role on "Old Christine" and a recurring role on "The West Wing." But this time, it's his turn to carry the show.

"I feel a responsibility to not only maintain an integrity of the performance and the work we've done with this guy until now and also to really find a way to find it truthful in a world of the Avengers where he's still walking around."

Between the new film and the much-anticipated TV series, things are going well for Gregg's acting career. He's only got one small complaint.

"I always wanted to be in one of these teenage romp kind of movies," he says. "I finally get to be in one and I'm playing the dad."

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355 or rbentley@fresnobee.com.

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