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‘WandaVision’ Big Bad Josh Stamberg Is a Very Cool Dad

"Watching WandaVision with my daughter made me feel so good on so many levels."


He may have tried to destroy Wanda. He may have created the White Vision. He even threatened Wanda and Vision’s twin boys inside the Hex. But, in real life, SWORD Director Tyler Hayward from WandaVision, is a pretty chill dude. On this side of the multiverse, in our dimension, his name is Josh Stamberg, and he’s a pretty damn cool dad who just happened to be in the biggest show on the planet.

“I really didn’t want to do that scene in the finale where I threatened the kids,” he tells Fatherly. “I asked the director, ‘Can I just throw candy at them?’ And they were like no. Hayward is the bad guy.”

An accomplished actor who you’ve seen in everything from The Affair, Nashville, and Law and Order: True Crimes, Stamberg started 2021 as the guy who everyone on the planet hated. As the scheming Hayward in WandaVision, he attempts to take power away from Monica Rambeau, tries to kill Wanda a few different ways, and as mentioned, helped create an evil version of Vision.

How does Stamberg feel about being everyone’s most-disliked Marvel character, ever? He feels just fine about it, thank you very much. And it’s all because he got to enjoy the magic of WandaVision with his teenage daughter.

Stamberg, a parent of two girls, chatted with Fatherly recently about watching TV with the kids, playing a villain, and what’s next for him in that wide-world of Marvel.

Now that WandaVision is over are you relieved that you can finally talk about it?

It’s great! Nobody’s asked me that. I mean, it’s mostly a relief actually. It’s always a mixed thing when you’re done, but because Marvel is so secretive, yes, it’s nice to talk about it now. But relief is the biggest feeling. The initial relief is that after taking this huge swing and seeing the scripts and wondering — is this going to work? So, the relief is holy cow, that completely worked. I expected WandaVision to have some success. I didn’t expect it would become like a cultural juggernaut.

Were you surprised by WandaVision? I mean you were in the show, but they kept secrets from you, right?

Totally. I was able to watch the show along with the rest of the world. And, the Marvel secrecy continues as soon as you’re done as far as what’s next. And even Paul Bettany doesn’t quite know.

Who did you watch the show with?

My oldest daughter, she’ll be 13 very soon. Normally she doesn’t care much about what I’m doing. And that was so much of a joy for me with this. She was so into it, she and her whole posse. She would like pump me for info and ask me what everything meant. Her friends were getting into all these online theories and coming back to me like, “what does this mean? Are you Mephisto?” Watching WandaVision with my daughter made me feel so good on so many levels. I got to have appointment-TV for the first time with my child. It was so fun.

Anthony Russo recently told me that he also watched WandaVision with his teenage daughter. Was this Marvel show secretly a dad-daughter show?

Oh wow. I love that theory. I had not heard that perspective. I have heard from both mothers and fathers who have watched WandaVision with their kids. I guess, come to think of it, my guy friends did reach out and say that the show was good for the whole family. I wonder. I mean the thesis of the show is about a woman and her grief, so that’s about a mom. But, I mean, who knew Vision would be this amazing dad, right? And I’m so touched by so much of what Paul did. So, I do think there’s such great parental stuff in there. I mean there weren’t daughters in the show, but I think in terms of viewing, it maybe offered something other Marvel stories hadn’t. I mean, before this came out, my daughter would want to watch Gilmore Girls or something.

What are you watching now?

I’m watching Call the Midwife with my oldest now. [Laughs.] But my younger daughter is 7-years-old, so she didn’t watch WandaVision, of course. She’s into Octonauts and Puffin Rock.

I love those shows. My daughter is younger too. 

Yeah, I like how gentle those shows are. There’s not like a message getting crammed in there.

Was there anything you shot for WandaVision that wasn’t used?

I don’t think so. But, you know, filming was halted for a long time during the pandemic. I mean, for a while it was it was really me and Randall [Park] and Kat [Dennings] and Teyonah [Parris.] It was great, because we were making our own little mini-movie, it felt like. When I watched the show, I had worried they’d cut that scene where Lizzie Olsen comes to see me, where she demands to see the Vision’s body. We shot that very early. I really had to do a lot of research for that moment, too. Just to even wrap my head around what “the Blip” meant. I didn’t want Hayward to be a mustache-twirling villain, so I was grateful to really establish him with those scenes.

What was your favorite incorrect WandaVision fan theory about your character?

That I was Ultron. I was like. Whoa. I didn’t even entirely understand how that could happen. But, I mean, to me, the more outlandish the theories, the better!

Do you have any plans to return to a Marvel project?

I have every, every plan to return. I don’t know if Marvel does. [Laughs.] I really hope that the powers that be and my small self can sync-up on that. One of my first questions when I was considering doing the show as “does he die?” And I was like “amazing.” But as the last two scripts kept coming, I got a little worried. I mean, there’s a lot of hate out there for this guy. But being lead off in handcuffs seemed like the best possible ending for director Tyler Hayward because he ain’t dead. It sort of felt like in what world wouldn’t the guy who created White Vision come back? I mean, it seems fairly probable. I pray.

WandaVision is streaming now on Disney+. Josh Stambrg also stars in Operation Varsity Blues on Netflix.