For Chloe Bennet, the transition from Chicago girl to Hollywood it-girl is almost complete. She’s been through the mandatory Jimmy Kimmel hazing — last year the host exposed her past as a teenage popstar in China by directing viewers to a music video of 16-year-old Bennet (she still blushes about that); she’s amassed over 250,000 Twitter followers; she’s got a Hollywood heartthrob beau, “The Walking Dead’s” Austin Nichols (“We’re a serious comic-nerd dream,” she jokes); and her show, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” now in its second season, has become a hit.
Maybe most importantly, though, she’s earned the respect of her six brothers. “They finally think I’m kind of cool now — a little bit,” she laughs. “They obviously love [co-stars] Elizabeth [Henstridge], Adrianne [Palicki] and Ming-Na [Wen] more than me, but it’s still cool.”
In the past year, Bennet, 22, has come into her own. Likewise, her character, Skye, has gone through dramatic shifts in the series: She started as an anarchist computer hacker living in a van, then became a government agent and now wields earthquake-causing superpowers given to her by alien technology. “It feels like it’s a completely different character sometimes,” admits Bennet. “There’s not a dull moment at all.”
Last year, the actress laughed about her lack of coordination, joking, “I’m pretty sure I played tee-ball and I’d miss the tee.” Now, even that’s changed: To prep for her character’s new skills, Bennet trained in jiu-jitsu, Krav Maga, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. “[My trainer and I] were in my apartment gym beating each other up. I think my neighbors got worried about me, but it was worth it,” she says. “There’s a lot of stuff coming up at the end of the season where Skye’s going to be kind of a badass. … I just read the [Season 2] finale and it’s the best episode of our entire series, I think. If you think [Skye has] changed thus far, it’s going to get even crazier.”
While her day job as a Marvel superhero-in-the-making keeps her pretty busy — “This season has really taken it out of me,” she confesses — Bennet plans on taking full advantage of the upcoming summer hiatus. She’ll head to Atlanta to support her boyfriend on “The Walking Dead” set and take a much-needed visit back to Chicago to see her family on the West Side. And she has a very important message for her local fans: “I want to encourage anyone reading this to come up and say hi, because I’m very excited when I meet fans,” she says. “I’m always surprised, because I honestly just forget. I’ll be like, ‘Why is that person looking at me?’ People have to remind me, ‘They probably watch the show.’ … Or I have something in my teeth. Usually the latter.”
I’m surrounded with such amazing people. … Elizabeth [Henstridge], Iain [De Caestecker] and I got plucked [from obscurity] and put on the show. We’ll just have this bond forever because we’ve gone through this together; it was our first big thing.
If I had a super power …
I would be able to teleport. This is something I think about, like, all the time. I get genuinely mad and anxious that I can’t do it.
I would love to do a Will Ferrell comedy, or something with Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig. I would die to be in a [film like] ‘Bridesmaids.’