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Part of the reason why Ms. Marvel, the latest MCU series to hit Disney+, feels so refreshing is how it manages to tell a great coming-of-age story balanced with low-stakes superheroing. The secret formula to making any good coming-age-of-story soar is the supporting cast surrounding the main character or characters. Fortunately, Ms. Marvel has the talents of Yasmeen Fletcher, Matt Lintz, and Rish Shah to round out its charismatic cast of young adults alongside series lead, Iman Vellani. “I think that’s something really unique about this cast and experience is that we’re all—like this is definitely all of our biggest projects,” Fletcher tells Complex. “So we were all kind of figuring this out together and holding each other’s hands [through] the learning process of it all.”

Each of the three actors plays a character that covers a different aspect of Kamala Khan (Vellani)’s life; Nakia (Fletcher) is her mosque buddy, Bruno (Lintz) is her best friend and guy-in-the-chair for superheroing, and Kamran (Shah) is her love interest. Of course, the layers to each of these three characters are deeper and more nuanced than these one-word definitions, thanks to the depth series creator Bisha K. Ali provides for each.

Complex recently sat down with the trio of Fletcher, Lintz, and Shah during a virtual junket for Ms. Marvel to talk through what it was like for each to go from being fans of the MCU to staring in it, working alongside Iman as she undertook her first acting role, early morning workouts with Tom Hiddleston, and much more.

Ms Marvel Cast Interview
Image via Disney

You all have grown up experiencing the MCU, but it’s one thing to watch it and an entirely different thing to actually be a part of it. What’s that like?

Yasmeen Fletcher: I’m sure you can imagine it’s completely surreal and any MCU fan’s biggest dream is like walking onto the set and seeing how it’s actually made because everything is so larger than life and the special effects are so interesting. I’ve always wondered, like how do they do that with blue screens? How do you act to like, nothing, basically? How does that all go down? Being able to walk on set and actually get those answers is like—I never expected to actually get those answers. I thought that was gonna be something that was just gonna be bouncing around my head my entire life.

Matt Lintz: It’s so surreal from going and seeing Loki on a movie screen, to him [Tom Hiddleston], literally walking past you on the sound stages. Seeing the actors and actresses who play these amazing parts and are working right next to us is the most surreal and amazing thing about it.

Rish Shah: For sure. It’s weird going from like watching these people who we, I, everyone idolizes when you’re a Marvel fan and suddenly getting to meet them. They’re so nice. I got to work out with Tom Hiddleston and he gave me so much advice, whilst also putting me—and Iman—through this like really strenuous regime [laughs] really early in the morning.

ML: Like at 5:00 am.

RS: Yeah, yeah! But also like—best workout in my life. I’m never doing it again. I’ve done it. I’ve worked out with Tom Hiddleston. I’m never hitting a gym again. It will never top that experience.

Ms Marvel Cast Interview
Image via Disney

What was it like to work with Iman as she’s undertaking her first major role?

ML: It’s her first thing ever. Just to see how amazing she is—she is Kamala Khan. Right when I met her—I had a screen test with her when I was in the audition process, and they told me, “Oh yeah, it’s just some girl that’s gonna read off camera for you.” I get on Zoom, I see her, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s her. It has to be.” Getting to know her, go through scenes with her, and really just become her friend—it’s been amazing and a pleasure. I’m so lucky.

RS: I mean, really similar experience, I think, for all of us working with her. It’s been really joyous. Like as soon as we jumped on the screen test over Zoom, like just figured it out that it’s got to be her. I think the best part is we’ve been able to go on this journey of wearing our identity and our culture with pride because that’s something I know I’ve struggled with growing up; a lot of people do. It’s been really nice to be able to navigate that alongside Iman, and also be a scene partner [for her] and everybody else’s scene partners and be on this journey together.

YF: I think that’s something really unique about this cast and experience is that we’re all—like this is definitely all of our biggest project. So we were all kind of figuring this out together and holding each other’s hands [through] the learning process of it all. With Iman specifically, from the screen test to now, our friendship has grown and changed so much. I know that even on the first screen test, they let us just like talk at the end of our scene about whatever and improv. And we just went off about Star Wars for like five minutes. We still do that now, but [laughs] like just going from that to bothering her every five minutes for a sleepover just to hang out with her and be in her presence because she really is Kamala Khan. And Kamala Khan is so charming and fun and awkward—and Iman is that through and through. She’s so fun to be around.

Ms Marvel Cast Interview
Image via Disney

The spirit of this show is such fun. Obviously, it’s up to y’all to bring that energy to life, but even on the page, did that tone come across as authentic as it feels on the show?

RS: Yeah, I think it definitely felt authentic. I think that everybody brings such a different energy to the show in their characters. That’s why I think the show is so refreshing because people can relate to whoever they’re looking at within the show. For me, it was really easy to be able to work opposite Iman. We get on so well and, she’s like been compiling a list of her favorite British words—of British slang—so we have that like banter. It doesn’t feel like work when we’re all together; it’s just a great experience, and I kind of break every time I’m like laughing, cause—

ML: You make us! There’s so many stories where he’s almost made me laugh.

YF: [laughs] I think the crew was probably really frustrated with us by like the end of it because we needed to get work done at some point. It was really easy for us to just forget that we were working entirely. With most scripts, when you read them, you have this set idea of how it’s gonna translate. It definitely was as fun and upbeat as it comes across, but it always changes while you’re filming it. I think the cast and crew that they put together meshed so well that the script was already so fun; it just amplified it in the best way possible.

ML: Yeah, going off what they said, I think the most important thing was the creators, the writers, the directors wanted it to feel as authentic as possible. The collaboration with the cast and the writers—we’d go up and they’d ask questions like, “Hey, is this something you’d say? Does this feel comfortable?” There was a lot of collaboration within the lines to make it feel more real to not only the characters but us as best friends in real life. Those conversations, especially like in the school [scenes], those were all like very genuine, authentic conversations cause we love each other, and we’re all best friends in real life.

The first episode of Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.

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