"Covert Affairs" is certainly living up to its name in Season 4. Auggie (Christopher Gorham) harbours some deep secrets that are beginning to surface. Arthur (Peter Gallagher) quit the CIA to pursue his own agenda. Joan (Kari Matchett) is pregnant. One of the main characters has a child with strong ties to the CIA. And, among all these mysteries, surprises and lies, Annie (Piper Perabo) is struggling to make sense of it all -- and still do her job.
On a warm day in July, HuffPost Canada TV visited the Toronto set of "Covert Affairs." Perabo and Matchett are currently involved in a tense, dialogue-heavy scene between Annie, Joan and Teo (Manolo Cardona), the missing son of ... well, that would be a massive spoiler. Unfortunately, the ladies were unable to take a break, but we managed to nab Gorham, new cast member Hill Harper and recently sat down with Perabo at the Toronto Fan Expo. The three actors dished on love, secrets, missions and filming in exotic locations.
HuffPost TV: After "Alias," why was it the right time to bring in another spy-driven program with a strong female character?
Piper Perabo: I wasn't really sure it was time to bring in another CIA show, but I had been looking for a show to do. I wasn't finding anything that I liked. I had been a fan of "Alias" and "Dark Angel" and even "Damages," stuff that was driven by a strong female lead. When this came up, even though I didn't know whether the audience wanted another one right away, I thought that was the kind of woman I wanted to play. I don't want to play the police commissioner's wife. I'll just stay on Broadway and make no money. I'd rather do that. When this came along, I thought if we do it well enough, an audience will come.
Season 4 kicks off with a brief 10-week time jump before returning to present day. What did that story device allow you to do?
Christopher Gorham: They were really looking for something different to open the season. The nice thing about that is it gives the audience something to look forward to and chew over and figure out how we get to that point. When we showed up and started shooting the first episode, we had to figure out what I was wearing in episode 10, even though we hadn't read the episode and didn't know what that moment was going to exactly be. There were a lot of conversations about what's happening story-wise and what's happening emotionally. But, also just technically, what should I be wearing? You don't want to lock yourself into jeans and a tank top if it turns out he's come straight from the office. But, we didn't really know exactly what that moment was when we shot it, which isn't really the end of the world as long as, emotionally, we're in the right place. All the conversations we had with Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord] were about how upset Auggie is. What does he know? What is he worried about?
Now that Annie and Auggie are a couple, is it smooth sailing ahead for them?
PP: It's not smooth sailing ahead. I said to Chris, I thought when Annie and Auggie finally got together, the show would become all blissed out. But, of course, there are a million little bumps in the road. The pressure of the job is what weighs on them the most. In some ways, it's so incredible to be with someone you work with because you understand each other's pressures, but the outside world presses in on them tightly. The more dangerous things get for Annie, the more dangerous it gets for her to have someone she cares about.
With Auggie and Annie professing their love for one another, were you happy with that development, or worried how they would handle the romance? Did you have any fear that you would lose some spark, like "Moonlighting" did when it paired the leads?
CG: I never thought this show was "Moonlighting" and I didn't feel like we were trying to be "Moonlighting." I wasn't afraid of that happening. There's been a very palpable fan encouragement of the Annie/Auggie relationship, but I don't think it was a viewer-driven relationship. And yeah, we were excited. As an actor and artist, you want to explore the truth of who these people are. You behave as if they are real. You have to buy into that this a real person and how would this real person react in this situation? Piper and I both felt them coming together romantically was a very natural progression for people who are in this [spy] world.
Can you introduce us to your character and how he fits into Annie's world?
Hill Harper: My character is Calder Michaels and he is a CIA operative who happens to be station chief in Columbia. The season opens with Annie and Auggie going down to Columbia to investigate some things that carry over from last season about what Henry Wilcox is doing. They run into me and they don't expect to run into me. And I don't like the fact that other CIA operatives are coming into my territory without giving me my due respect. Calder Michaels has a lot of swagger, he's got a lot of attitude and he believes he is correct and right in the way he goes about doing things. And he doesn't mind telling you that.
Covert Affairs filmed the Season 4 premiere in Columbia and recently ventured to Europe. Can you talk about shooting on location?
HH: The ability to film where you say you are is really fantastic. I love the fact we go to all these places. I believe it's the only show on network or cable that really travels the world and goes to these places. Towards the end of the season, the rumour is we may finish in Hong Kong or the Far East, which is really exciting. To have a series that hits four different continents in one season is rare. Shooting in Columbia, you get that vibe. It helps the authenticity or the acting and the characters. The audience enjoys seeing that and knowing they are not being fooled or duped.
What brings Auggie into the field in the first episode?
CG: Auggie goes down to Columbia to help Annie. He goes on a following with her. When I read the script, my very first conversation with Chris and Matt was, "Guys, he's a smart dude. He's a good spy. He sticks out a little like a sore thumb. Why would he suggest or allow himself to go along on this following?" Which, of course, ends up getting him shot. The answer was interesting because he had other reasons to be down there. It wasn't all just to protect Annie. He has other reasons why he's down there and he had a very specific reason why he wanted to go along on that following.
Will Eyal Lavine [Oded Fehr] be complicating Annie's life again this year?
PP: With Oded's character, he and Annie have always had this contentious push-me/pull-me relationship. I can tell you that you'll see him again this season.
Viewers were used to seeing you kick butt in "Jake 2.0," Chris. How has it been performing the elaborate action beats as a blind character now?
CG: The approach is different only in the sense you have different parameters. If you are doing "Jake 2.0," you come to the fight scene knowing this guy has superpowers and you have to design things around that. How do you make a fight scene interesting when one guy has super powers and nobody else does? With Auggie, it's a more interesting puzzle because how do you have a guy who can't see the person he's fighting and still believably come out on top? Even though he's incredibly well-trained, and certainly knows how to handle himself and is very deadly in the right circumstances, he also has a very big vulnerability. The hidden blessing of this part is just how consistently engaging creatively it is to play his disability, because it's very physically specific. It's not something you can ever get lazy about because it's immediately obvious if Auggie can see or is moving like he can see.
What were you filming earlier today?
HH: Today's scene was really cool because I fly on a helicopter and meet up with an old friend of mine. We have this mission and have to track down Annie Walker.
How has the stunt work been?
HH: I love the running and jumping and the shooting of guns. There was one scene where we stormed into this terrorist camp and I fire, fire, fire. As an actor, that stuff is so much fun because it's so cool. You almost want it to be in slow motion.
How would Annie size up Calder?
PP: I was really excited about Hill Harper playing Calder because he's so macho and no-nonsense. When they put him in those pinstripe suits and he's throwing back his liquor, I'm like, "It's pretty awesome. Welcome aboard!" I was really glad when Hill said he would do it. In a similar way, Annie likes a leap-before-you-look person and Calder can be that way. He's so ambitious and so sure of himself that he's not really checking every angle before he makes a move. And I feel like the relationship continues to evolve that way. It's contentious because he's more powerful than her and has more experience than her, but they are a similar type in a way. He's just much more advanced than she is.
Season 4 of "Covert Affairs" premieres in Canada on Showcase on Wednesday, August 28 at 10 p.m. It has already premiered in the U.S. on USA.
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