Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Dove Cameron on that shocking Ruby reveal
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Friday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!
Dove Cameron made her debut during Friday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and boy, did she make a memorable first impression.
After Team S.H.I.E.L.D. returned from the future, they were basically lured into a trap by Hale’s team, led by a mysterious masked assassin who uses a chakram to shockingly cut off Yo-Yo’s arms. The future has come true! The person under that mask? Hale’s daughter, a.k.a Cameron’s character Ruby! EW turned to the actress to get the scoop on this surprising turn.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much did they tell you about this character during the casting process?
DOVE CAMERON: I think they auditioned loads of actresses. I didn’t get called in and get any special information. I just went in like anybody else would, and they told me nothing, basically. The sides, the script that they gave me, was this one-page monologue — and I can’t tell you what it was because I think it reveals some stuff down the line. But the monologue itself was clearly fictitious. It didn’t end up making the scripts, the scene never happened. It was just a test scene so none of us would really know any information about the show. My favorite thing in the world as I’ve gone through my career is if I don’t know anything about the character — obviously, if she has a lisp, a left eye twitch or broken left, you’re going to know how to play those things, because they’re very specific. If it says, “She’s very intelligent and mysterious,” then it’s up to interpretation. I’ve learned to play those characters in a way that I would want to see them done, almost as if I was director.
I really wanted to see Ruby be kind of unhinged, just fully off her rocker, that she’s angry and is almost like a murderer. I played her basically like a murderer, someone you wouldn’t want to run into on the street. They seemed to like that interpretation, but I really didn’t know anything about the character, and it ended up being great because Ruby is clearly is some form of an assassin. But they didn’t tell me anything because it’s Marvel. They’re very secretive, as they should be. As the season went on, I was very pleased to see where Ruby goes, what happens to Ruby — it’s a very challenging character. She’s got every layer in her, so you can say whatever you want about Ruby and it would probably be, to some degree, correct and, to some degree, not so on the money. She’s a wild card.
Because we know she’s been locked away, is that because of her killer instinct, or does she have actual powers?
I can’t speak to the powers thing. You’re going to have to stay tuned about that. But I can say why she’s locked away is because Hale is afraid of what she can do. Clearly, by the end of the first episode, Hale has raised this girl. She can’t be older than 18, and she’s raised this girl probably since birth, probably since she could talk, to be an assassin, to be this murderous, crazy, skilled assassin. You see her throw the chakram. That’s a blade, that’s not like Captain America’s shield with safe edges. So for her to throw it like that, and then for her to catch it in as much time as it would be to get ahead of Yo-Yo’s speed, and how much force it must be coming her way, for her to catch it between her fingers and not slice her hand in half? That girl is skilled. That girl is not someone who you would want going up against you. The fact that she trained her daughter like that to keep her in line, she’s got to be strict with her, she’s got to keep her caged, because if she mutinied, something bad could happen. I think Hale fears that she could kill her.
Ruby cut off Yo-Yo’s arms. Will you be actively avoiding Twitter Friday night in fear of fan ire?
I’m going to be all over Twitter! It has nothing to do with me as an actress. I think if people hate me, that’s a good thing. If they leave this episode feeling super heartbroken over Yo-Yo’s arms and couldn’t stand to look at me and wish I’m not on the show anymore, that’s a great thing. You never bring on a villain to be liked. I’m excited, actually. Yo-Yo also loses her arms in the comics, so they had to fulfill that in some way, so I feel lucky that I was the one they trusted to pull off a big plot point. I feel badass.
Can you talk about why Ruby is so obsessed with Daisy?
Ruby’s obsession with Daisy is layered. Take somebody who is a massive fan of somebody — we’ve heard these stories before, and they’re very sad stories about how a love and an obsession can turn very sour in relationships, especially in a fan-celebrity relationship. It’s almost like the line between hatred and love can be very, very thin. Ruby doesn’t do anything halfway, and she’s very calculated and very unfeeling. So for her to be fixated on you is never, ever a good thing. Nobody is ever like, “Aww, that’s so sweet, she’s such a big fan.” It’s like, “Oh no, she has zeroed in on you.” There’s a love for Daisy, in some way. It’s a twisted love. I can’t tell you anything, really, about that relationship, but it’s definitely not straightforward.
Can you tease at all what their first meeting might look like?
No, I can’t, because it’s too big. I wish I could.
We know by the end of this hour that Hale is making up this group of bad guys and recruits Creel. Is Ruby going to be a part of, or even leading, this group?
So Hale is putting together a group, like an anti-S.H.I.E.L.D., right? I can’t really tell you. But Ruby is definitely Hale’s greatest, proudest creation, so she’s not going to be left out of it. Ruby is ready to fulfill what she feels is her purpose. Ruby isn’t going to shy away from an opportunity to be a part of a group like that. You’re just going to have to see. I really can’t tell you much. I wish I could tell you anything. It’s definitely not a good thing that Hale is up to, definitely a lot of bad things. Ruby is at the center of that.
What is it like for you getting to really lean into the dark side of this character?
It’s the best. Honestly, it’s very funny because everybody is like, “Are you doing everything you can to break away from your Disney image?” I don’t choose roles based on that. Always, since I was 15 and signed on to work for the Disney Channel, it was a huge surprise to me that they even wanted me at all. When I first auditioned for Disney Channel a whole bunch of times, they didn’t want me. They were like, “She’s not funny, she’s really intense, she’s coming off something edgy, she’s kind of strange,” and then it ended up working with the twin show, because I got to do so many things on that show and I got to be two very dramatic characters. Then I learned about comedy and became funny. Truly, I was always leaning toward dark stuff. I used to get people turning me down for roles all the time and the No. 1 thing would be, “She’s too edgy, she’s making us uncomfortable.” So this kind of role has been something that I’ve always wanted to play and felt I should be playing. It just hasn’t been the right thing. I’m kind of graduating from the Disney house right now. I’m definitely done with Liv and Maddie. It’s the right time to be doing a character like this, and you’ll see what I mean as time goes on, but it’s really just because I’m having so much fun with it, and not because it’s something I should be doing. This is the character I’ve always wanted to play.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.