The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe shocker is the latest episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the introduction of Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine played by Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Comic fans are aware of her ties to S.H.I.E.L.D. and H.Y.D.R.A. as well as her one-time status as Madame Hydra. Contessa conveniently picked up the pieces of a fallen John Walker (Wyatt Russell), disgraced from his role as Captain America when his revenge was caught on camera in the previous episode. Co-executive producer Zoie Nagelhout, producer Nate Moore, and Russell spoke to Marvel.com about bringing Louis-Dreyfus into the MCU and its darker implications.
"What a gift for us to have her," Nagelhout said. "She is just incredible. In the initial conversations between her and Kevin [Feige], she was just excited by the idea of joining this world and what it could mean to play a new quirky, weird, mysterious character. And she loved that there was this comedy to it as well because that's, of course, one of her great strengths. She was the perfect character to bring into John Walker's world to complicate what he's going through and give him a weird almost ominous light at the end of the tunnel." "Julia has such range," Moore added. "She's only ever been great. There's something so likable about her that when she does show those darker tendencies to her character, it's a little bit more surprising and entertaining because you don't expect it to come from her."
How Falcon and Winter Soldier's Contessa is the Anti-Nick Fury
Russell talked about how Louis-Dreyfus' presence added to the screen. "People like her make everybody better around them," he said before discussing their scene together. "What was great was in that moment, I didn't do any talking. I was just watching Julia Louis-Dreyfus act and got to be a sort of passenger. Because you're just letting Julia Louis-Dreyfus just be her. I was like an audience member. [She's] hitting all the beats that she needed to hit and making it totally different than it was on the page, she was great in every possible way." "It's the beginning of something," Nagelhout added. "John is really excited because he is someone who needs to have a purpose. He needs to feel like he has a place in the world. He needs to feel like he has direction and ambition. There's a catharsis to that [meeting] for him."
Moore compared Contessa's presence similar to that of Samuel L. Jackson's character. "Whenever we talked about Valentina, even in the writer's room, she was sort of a more acerbic, funnier, but darker Nick Fury," he said. "Someone who knows her secrets, who's not afraid to operate in the moral gray area, but maybe who isn't as inherently altruistic." Louis-Dreyfus took to Instagram to commemorate the introduction of her character in the episode "Truth" with her personal business card. The finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier streams Friday on Disney+.