It’s time for one last adventure with Indiana Jones, and a few new faces are joining our favorite archaeologist — including Shaunette Renée Wilson‘s Agent Mason.
Wilson, 33, exclusively told Us Weekly that she was “definitely” a fan of Indy (Harrison Ford) long before landing her starring role in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which hits theaters on Friday, June 30. “I think my first engagement with it was as a kid watching [with] my dad and my brother. We were [an] immigrant family, and that was a good introduction to American cinema and a bit of American culture,” she shared. “And it was really fantastic just to see this kind of anti-hero who, you know, fumbles about and gets hurt — it isn’t so perfect or pristine — was really, really unique and interesting.”
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny picks up in 1969 amid the moon landing. Indy is teaching college classes in New York City, and he’s settled into his life as a lonely archaeology professor on the verge of retirement. When his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) comes to him with some questions about the legendary Archimedes Dial, which can locate fissures in time, it becomes clear that she isn’t a little girl but a con woman — and she isn’t the only one who wants the dial.
Meanwhile, Mason is one of the U.S. government agents working with Dr. Schmidt, a.k.a. Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelson), a Nazi scientist who is also after the dial. “She’s working with Dr. Schmidt, who was one of the scientists who helped get Americans through the moon,” Wilson explained. “So in a bit of quid pro quo, we are after this, he has requested this dial. We have no sense of its power or why he wants it, but we’re gonna do our best to get it for him. … and things just get a little bit out of hand from there.”
Mason gets a whole lot more than she bargained for as she follows Dr. Schmidt without any knowledge of his loyalty to the Nazis.
Behind the scenes, Wilson got more than she expected in the best ways while filming the movie — including forging a friendship with Waller-Bridge. “With someone of her caliber, [she provided] even a bit of a mentorship with me, and yeah, [it was] just truly, truly special,” Wilson gushed. “I don’t think this experience would’ve been as amazing as it was without her.”
Scroll down to read more from Wilson:
Us Weekly: Can you tell me a little bit about your character and how she crosses paths with Indiana Jones?
Shaunette Renée Wilson: My character is Agent Mason. She’s a representative of the U.S. government — whether she’s the CIA [or] FBI is a little bit ambiguous. She’s working with Dr. Schmidt, who was one of the scientists who helped get Americans through the moon. So in a bit of quid pro quo, we are after this, he has requested this dial. We have no sense of its power or why he wants it, but we’re gonna do our best to get it for him. And, unfortunately, the person we’re following who has the dial is Ms. Shaw. And [she] leads us to Indiana Jones. And I encounter him as Dr. Jones. He’s a professor at Hunter College, and things just get a little bit out of hand from there.
Us: We have to talk about the fashion. Did you love getting to go into that period look? Did you get to collaborate at all on making that look or anything?
Wilson: Oh, I definitely did. My mood board was just plastered with Pam Grier and Foxy Brown and Cleopatra [Jones]. This was the 1960s blaxploitation era. [The look is a] beautiful homage to all of that. We initially started with a bit of a smaller ‘fro. I mean, the attention to detail of this character’s look was impeccable. All the producers were in the room, and it was just really dedicated to making sure that this was properly represented. Yeah, the ‘fro started pretty tight and kind of taper, and then we kept growing and kept growing and like, if we’re gonna make a statement just, you know, go big or go home and that’s what we did.
Us: Did you and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have a good time on this set?
Wilson: Oh yeah. I mean, just on that fact alone, we were the only two women shooting at that time. We just gelled together so beautifully and kind of held onto each other, looking at each other, knowing that there’s just the two of us — but also just as artists, as people of the craft who love what we do. And I was such a fan of hers, obviously, Fleabag. I was so thrilled to see her humanity and generosity. She’s such a beautiful soul. I think we really, really connected, going on lovely trips in Edinburgh together, going on little tours together, hanging out in Glasgow. We’re the Glasgow gals ’til we die! She just was really, really, really special. With someone of her caliber, [she provided] even a bit of a mentorship with me and yeah, [it was] just truly, truly special. I don’t think this experience would’ve been as amazing as it was without her.
Us: Did she give you any particular advice that stands out to you?
Wilson: Yeah. She didn’t need to and she’s so busy — didn’t have the time to — but she actually read a pilot that I wrote. [Waller-Bridge] gave incredible notes and talked about the heart of the piece and the characters, and [she] was also very complimentary and just went through a bit of her process. She told me to write what scares you. Write the thing that you’re afraid of and also write what you know, what feels the closest to you. ‘Cause that’s what the real craft is, [it] is taking something personal and fictionalizing it and making it something that’s relatable to everyone. Yeah, and just the literally the day-to-day [routine], to keep levity, to keep the humor, but also just sincerity and deep emotionality. Yeah, I’m really fangirling in a lot of ways, but she’s really honestly just a genuinely sincere person.
Us: What was your favorite memory from filming this movie?
Wilson: I think it was being in Glasgow. We have blocked off long city blocks [to] reimagine, reinvent a 1969 New York. I’m from New York, so it was really cool to be transported back in time and seeing familiar things of New York of today. Just the energy of the crowd and the people, there was this huge parade, huge action sequence. [That] was my first day on set. It was really magical and I’m just like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m here. I’m part of this story,’ and I’m in it. And within the plot, I’m at a point where things are really alive. It’s a beautiful introduction into the era that we move to in the film.
Us: How was working with Harrison Ford?
Wilson: The phrase I just remembered him using, when I heard for the first time, I thought, ‘This is amazing.’ He’s like, ‘Let’s shoot this piece of s–t.’ [laughs] Just so, so fantastic and just screaming, ‘Actors ready!’ It was really great. He is a lover of what we do. He’s an actor first. Of course, the extent of his career is so massive and he has a wealth of experience, but he is so grounded and so present and was with me energetically, whether or not the camera was on him or not. Also, he’s just so funny. His inner child is always at play. He has this deadpan dry humor, but he is essentially a still bit of a kid, and I think that has aided his longevity.
Us: What feeling do you hope that fans walk away with after they finish this movie?
Wilson: I want them to feel inspired, but also have closure to what has been an impeccably insane ride of a franchise and the character, to be able to say goodbye and to feel acceptance and peace with that. But also just excited to know that there’s still adventure to be had; there’s still discovery to be had. This is the end of this particular franchise. We’re saying goodbye to this character, but for ourselves, there’s way more to explore.
This conversation and been edited for length and clarity.