Kathryn Hahn admittedly didn't think she would ever be part of the live action Marvel Cinematic Universe until she took a part in "WandaVision."
The actor known for her comedic and dramatic roles in movies and shows like "Step Brothers," "Transparent" and "Private Life" also had some trepidation about playing Agnes/Agatha Harkness on the Disney+ hit.
"I would’ve never seen myself in the Marvel live-action world in a million years anyway, so to then have been in this thing and have it land the way it did, all of it is still just very out of body," Hahn told TODAY.
It landed Hahn, 47, a Primetime Emmy nomination last week for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie for portraying the witch disguised as a nosy sitcom neighbor on the show. It marks her second Emmy nomination after receiving one in 2017 for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for her role in Amazon's "Transparent."
Hahn had lent her voice to the character of Olivia Octavius/Doctor Octopus in the acclaimed 2018 animated movie "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," but this was her first role in a live action Marvel project.
"There was something about this part, something that I had always been a little bit 'hmm,' something as an actor that you’re afraid of, which is scale or size, and taking up space," Hahn said. "And especially as a woman, just like being loud. That kind of performance is somewhat seen as just being too much, and so it was really fun just as a performer to be able to take up that much space and take that kind of a risk."
The show also represented a major breakthrough for Marvel, which has produced a stream of blockbuster hits but has not gotten the critical accolades from the likes of the Emmys, Oscars and Golden Globes outside of technical categories. "WandaVision" received a haul of 23 total Emmy nominations, the third most of any show, including ones for stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.
While "Black Panther" earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars in 2019, the majority of Marvel hits have mainly been recognized for categories like visual effects, sound editing and costume design before "WandaVision." The Emmy nominations marked the first time the lead actors were recognized across the board in a Marvel project.
Don Cheadle also received an Emmy nomination for guest actor in a drama for his work in another Marvel show on Disney+, "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier."
"To know that Marvel was seen for its artistry was also very moving," Hahn said. "You necessarily don’t think of that when you think of Marvel, but when I think of Marvel I think of those incredible actors that assemble, no pun intended, for those projects. It takes a fierce imagination to work with those screens and to find the reality in those worlds, it turns out."
Hahn had no expectations of receiving a nomination. She found out when her publicist texted her while Hahn was in Greece.
"So my expectation was, I’m going to have an awesome, really hearty day of work, and I’m going to come home to my family, and it’s all a dream," she said. "And I got a set of exclamation points from my publicist, and I knew it was good news. I didn’t know then that it was 23 nominations.
"I just felt really, really tickled."
The catchy "Agatha All Along," which is performed by Hahn on the show, also received an Emmy nomination for outstanding original music and lyrics.
Is there a chance she might perform it at the ceremony on Sept. 19?
"I have not been asked, so we’ll see," she said before laughing. "It’s a good question, I don’t know why no one’s banging on my door."
Hahn spoke to TODAY while promoting 9 Elements, a line of vinegar-based cleaning and home care products featuring nine ingredients that dissolve hard-water buildup. She is in Greece filming "Knives Out 2," the sequel to the 2019 hit murder mystery.
"I am sworn to total secrecy," she said about the new movie. "I can’t tell you anything."
"WandaVision" was anything but a secret as one of the year's buzziest shows. It also spawned one of the internet's most popular memes, a screenshot of Hahn as Agnes giving an exaggerated wink, which became shorthand for joking about an obvious lie.
This was all news to Hahn, who has no social media accounts. Still, she couldn't avoid it in everyday life.
"I especially saw one that I think was from a smoking paraphernalia store that said, 'This is for tobacco use only,' and it just had me giving the wink," she said.
"First of all, I was like, 'Could they have chosen a less flattering photograph for me to see in perpetuity for the rest of my life?' It’s totally surreal and doesn’t make real sense. But I’m tickled by it."
The show also opened the door for younger generations to revisit old sitcoms like "Bewitched," "The Brady Bunch" and "I Love Lucy" that were mirrored in the early episodes of "WandaVision." Hahn's two children with husband Ethan Sandler didn't get the references at first, but it piqued their curiosity.
"My daughter, who is younger, she did go down a wormhole of some of the old sitcoms after it, which was really cute," Hahn said. "And I know that a lot of other kids, their parents had said that their children were interested in watching the old 'I Love Lucys' or 'Bewitched' or were interested in watching older sitcoms after watching 'WandaVision,' which is also an unexpected surprise that we had not intended, and also a really great one."
Hahn was also able to put her personalized stamp on Agnes/Agatha without many specific expectations from Marvel fans, as Agatha Harkness is a lesser-known character compared to ones like Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man.
"I wouldn’t say there was a huge contingency of people banging down the door for Agatha Harkness to appear in the MCU, but she’s a great character portrayed by a great actress," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Rotten Tomatoes earlier this month.
"When you look at her in the comics, she’s a real old woman," Hahn said. "It was interesting to try to find her in this self. We did have to throw away any kind of preconceived notions that we had."
Hahn's breakout performance raises the question of whether her character will return in future Marvel projects. Feige told Rotten Tomatoes that we will see Hahn's character in the MCU again "someday soon" and that "it can't come soon enough."
"I haven’t heard it from (Feige's) mouth, so who knows," Hahn said. "If it was well written and it was an interesting path, I would be so thrilled, absolutely (to play Harkness again). She’s a blast."