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Chloe Bennet hacks and wisecracks on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

CHLOE BENNET 'Marvel's Agents S.H.I.E.L.D.'

CHLOE BENNET on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

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Updated: September 30, 2013 7:26AM



Growing up with six brothers, Chicago native Chloe Bennet was no stranger to comic books.

“But now I have a whole pile of them and I’m obsessed,” said Bennet, 21, co-star of the most buzzed about new show of the fall TV season, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

The former St. Ignatius College Prep student — back then she went by the name Chloe Wang — has spent the last few months boning up on the Marvel Universe to prepare for her role on the ABC action series, co-created by geek god Joss Whedon (“The Avengers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).

Bennet plays Skye, a computer hacker enlisted to help a team of agents protect ordinary people from extraordinary threats lurking around the globe.

“I’m no girl with the dragon tattoo with a wonky haircut,” she said about her character. “She’s a badass with her computer, but she also has serious people skills.”

Being part of a team comes naturally to Bennet, who grew up near the United Center in a very full house. Half of her six brothers are biological, half adopted. Whatever room was left was taken up by foster children or foreign exchange students.

As the newest S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit, Skye has a crucial role in the sci-fi drama, helping the audience navigate this complex world that picks up where last year’s blockbuster film “The Avengers” left off. She also serves as comic relief, a vehicle for Whedon’s trademark wit that permeates the impressive pilot, debuting Sept. 24.

Bennet honed her humor at Second City, where she studied improv in the youth ensemble at age 13. Her passion for acting began much earlier, when she was introduced to theater as a first-grader at Near North Montessori.

“They nurture you creatively in such a great way,” Bennet said. “I credit that school with building me into who I am today.”

Who she was not that long ago could be described as China’s answer to Britney Spears. A music manager discovered Bennet, who’s half Chinese, when she was 15. She left St. Ignatius to move to China, where she lived with her paternal grandmother and became a pop princess with her hit “Uh Oh,” a song she sang in English and Mandarin.

After two years abroad, Bennet came back to the States and landed her first TV gig in 2010 as co-host of the TeenNick show “The Nightlife.” She went on to have a recurring role last season on ABC’s freshman drama “Nashville.”

“You go to work on ‘Nashville’ and you spend the day in an office or a house,” she said. “You go to work on ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and you’re flying in a jumbo jet and have people jumping out of burning buildings and in flying cars.

“I hope we do a segment where they make me go to Chicago,” she added. “That would be awesome, and my brothers would flip out.”

Email: lrackl@suntimes.com

Twitter: @lorirackl

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