Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star breaks down his 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' performance
Warning: This article contains light spoilers about Wednesday's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., titled "The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and The D." The above video was provided by Marvel and ABC.
Deke Shaw and his portrayer Jeff Ward got to live out their rockstar fantasies on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the ABC super-drama's latest episode, Deke and Mack (Henry Simmons) found themselves stranded in 1982. While Mac isolated himself and grieved his parents' death, Deke recruited his own group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and formed a band with them called the Deke Squad as a cover. But instead of performing original songs, Deke simply stole popular '80s hits and passed them off as his own, which is a classic Deke move. When Mack finally emerged from his seclusion, he was horrified to find Deke performing Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" at a club, you know, because of the team's "ripples, not waves" time travel rule. (Fun fact: This writer, along with a couple of other journalists, was an extra in this scene, which you can watch above.)
While it appeared as though Deke had no qualms singing such an iconic tune, the same can't be said for Ward.
"That was hands down the most nervous I've ever been to film anything I've filmed because [of] the singing," Ward told EW during a set visit last July. "I loved it, and I thought it was such a fun thing that I really wanted to do it [well]. I was watching a lot of David Bowie, Prince, Elvis [Presley], and Bruce Springsteen — like a lot of these incredible showmen and people I think Deke would have watched. I have such great reverence for music, and I wanted to be able to do it justice. I felt like once I got over the hurdle of being insanely nervous — and once we were able to just go and I stopped thinking about it [and] could just kind of do it — it became so fun and one of my favorite things that I've ever gotten to film, and something that's such a rare [opportunity]."
While watching Bowie perform at Live Aid 1985 for research, Ward discovered that Simple Minds played "Don't You (Forget About Me)" there, too. That ended up playing into a backstory he gave Deke while preparing for this musical sequence.
"[I imagined that] when Deke got back to our time and he split up from the agents for a year between [seasons 5 and 6] — that's when he starts his company and everything — I feel like he gave himself a little tutorial on like history, sorta like Austin Powers did when he was watching all those videos in the nineties and catching himself up on the last 30 years. I feel like Deke went through the decades to see [what he missed] and one of the things he did was watch Live Aid. I think he saw Bowie and 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' and he was like, 'I can't do the Bowie stuff, but I can do 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' and if I do, I can play Live Aid,'" said Ward.
For Ward, Deke's choice of song also plays into his feelings for Daisy (Chloe Bennet). "In my mind, it was all, just in case he never got back, a message in a bottle to Daisy to say, 'Don't you forget about me.' And that's why I changed one of the babies to Daisy in the song. So I had a whole backstory that I really loved," he said.
One thing that helped him put all of this preparation into practice was that they let him run through the song completely on each take. "I didn't plan very much. I just took in as much as I could of those amazing performers and would just let it happen. And [showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen] were so supportive and sweet," said Ward. "The crew was so amazing because they were so down to keep up with me. One of our camera operators, Bill Brummond, who's a genius, was so amazing at like, I would come up with a move and he would just come up with a camera move on the fly that would complement the move. We had this subconscious connection. That was the most unique thing I've ever gotten to do, and it felt like a gift to both me and Deke to be able to do it."
Watch the entire performance in the video above.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.