Michelle Hurd and Joe Morton talk Marvel’s newest podcast series Wastelanders: Hawkeye

Key are for Marvel's Wastelanders: Hawkeye. Photo courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.
Key are for Marvel's Wastelanders: Hawkeye. Photo courtesy of Marvel Entertainment. /

Marvel is making 2021 a great year for Hawkeye fans. Not only is the comic book company releasing Marvel Studios’ spinoff show for the character coming to Disney+ on Nov. 24, but there’s also currently an ongoing audio drama featuring Clint Barton himself called Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye.

The series comes from SiriusXM and Marvel, who have teamed up for the newest part of their Wastelanders series. And in this 10-episode series, Hawkeye finds himself as the only surviving member of the Avengers. The other heroes were killed by Marvel’s most notorious villains 30 years ago, and they have now claimed territory of their own, presenting us with a world run by villains. Of course, the villains don’t think of themselves that way — they see themselves as saviors to humanity. And when down-on-his-luck Hawkeye runs into his estranged daughter, they both team up to flip this villain regime on its head.

Previewing the first three episodes, I was instantly drawn into this bizarre world that writer J. Holtham (Jessica Jones) and director Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown) created. And the superb cast of actors only adds to this great scripted podcast. In the lead are Stephen Lang and Sasha Lane as the father-daughter-duo, Hawkeye and Ash. Then, the other talent includes Tracie Thoms as Kate Bishop, Michelle Hurd as mom Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Joe Morton as Ringmaster, and so many more.

To discuss this enthralling series, we caught up with Michelle Hurd and Joe Morton on Zoom calls, and the two shared what they loved about the series, some of the roadblocks they had to overcome when recording during COVID, and what they’re most looking forward to fans hearing in the podcast.

Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye interview

The first and most important element in this story are the characters who make up these rowdy bunch of misfits and find themselves in the darkest timeline. Speaking on the importance of her character Bobbi, Hurd mentions: “The most important thing that Bobbi does in this moment… and which I thought was really neat to sort of explore, is her relationship with Ash.

“And for myself as an actor, what was really kind of interesting to explore was, ‘How do you create this sort of kick*ss hero and show her empathy and her vulnerability?’… I think that’s a true story for every time, like right now. Like, how do you do that? How do you reach out and try to guide someone, guide your team, when you think that they’re going to be taking the wrong steps?

“I thought it was important to bring that part of Bobbi out, which I don’t think we see all the time… that kind of empathetic, maternal creature combined with, still, the strength and the power of a superhero.”

On the other side of this is Ringmaster, a Marvel Comics villain that some might not be familiar with. To get listeners up to speed, here’s a description of the character from Morton himself:

“He’s a little bit evil; he’s certainly bombastic. He is trying to control a great deal of things… I mean, he’s a ringmaster, you know? So his job is to keep everybody in line, and to keep things going, and to try to get the characters in the circus — in terms of these heroes and villains — to perform the way he needed them to perform, and keep his daughter and family and the rest of it intact.”

Of course, both actors have a long list of acting credits on screen, and so lending their voices to an audio drama is something completely different and unique for actors to take on. And for Hurd, she found this audio medium as a way to break boundaries in acting, giving anyone the chance to take on a new persona, no matter what they look like.

“[It] shows us that… it really doesn’t matter what we look like,” Hurd says. “That if you could just listen and expand — you know, allow me to take you on this journey — you may actually experience something really cool that you might not have experienced if I didn’t look like this.”

“So it’s beautiful; it’s really empowering,” she mentions.

And, as wonderful and professional as each episode sounds, it may surprise some to know that the recording for the series was done completely at home with the actors. Well, perhaps two years ago, that would be a big surprise. But as the pandemic has affected the way many of us work, I learned that was no different for the actors behind Wastelanders: Hawkeye, who gathered around Zoom with their recording equipment in tow to make it all happen. In terms of challenges to overcome when recording, Morton says:

“You know, everybody was doing Zoom this and Zoom that. And so what I ended up doing was I ended up buying a portable sound booth with a really good microphone and a ring light if I needed it.

“And I think those are the things a lot of actors were kind of learning that we never had to do before. I never would have thought to get a portable sound booth and any of that kind of equipment. But COVID sort of forced people to do that. And it was interesting! … And you can realize, ‘Oh, I see we can do other kinds of things in an environment that’s not necessarily visual friendly.'”

But with everyone able to overcome those hardships, the team was able to come together and create something absolutely amazing. So, just what are each of the actors excited for listeners to experience from this project?

“Well, I mean, given all the pressures of today’s world… I think it provides some welcome entertainment,” Morton says. “You know, a way to sort of listen to something, have a good time, and enjoy the fantasy.”

On the same topic, Hurd mentions: “Honestly, I just hope that they get on this train and they take this ride with us and that we can entertain them, challenge them [and] maybe… touch the heartstrings a bit.

“And honestly, we just want to give you guys something to enjoy and experience and explore, and open the door to more stories told this way and from these different perspectives. And having these different artists bring life to characters that maybe you guys had been reading and were wondering how their voices sounded… So that’s what I hope, is that you guys just jump on board and enjoy this ride.”

Next. Hawkeye: 5 reasons you should be excited for the Disney Plus show. dark

You can listen to Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye now on the SXM App and Marvel Podcasts Unlimited on Apple Podcasts, as well as all other major podcast platforms in the U.S.