The secrecy of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was tighter than SHIELD.
Erin Kellyman, who plays Flag-Smashers leader Karli Morganthau, shares that not only could she not tell her own family she was cast on the MCU show, but she didn’t even know what her own role was when auditioning.
In the comics, the Flag-Smasher was originally Karl Morganthau, the son of a rich diplomat upset when his father died during a riot and so struck back by attempting to erase all national borders. The series flips it to Karli (Kellyman), whose group of fighters are all empowered by the Super-Soldier Serum.
The series has yet to go into the backstory for Karli. Still, it’s known she is upset over how nations are devoting resources to helping those who were lost in “The Blip” (when Thanos dusted half the world) and are now returned rather than the people left behind for five years.
Kellyman shared with BuzzFeed that the show’s secrecy was so tight that she wasn’t fully aware of her role.
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.
Kellyman compares it to her playing the role of Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Like with that film, Kellyman had to keep quiet from her own family, just what she was working on to avoid leaks.
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. 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.”
So far, just what Karli and the Flag-Smashers are up to remains secret. It is clear they are clashing with the mysterious Power Broker and have plans for a stolen vaccine.
Kellyman did discuss with Syfy Wire the numerous fan theories about her character and the Power Broker, but “I don’t think anybody’s got it right yet.”
The actress also noted to BuzzFeed how she doesn’t mind the comparisons between Karli and Enfys (masked women who lead a band of fighters) and is grateful for this opportunity to play either one.
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 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.”
While Karli may be seen as an antagonist in the series, Kellyman stresses the character sees herself as a hero and worth all the secrecy to bring the role to life.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming new episodes every Friday on Disney+.