Actor Christopher Gorham relishes a challenge.
Or at least that’s the distinct impression one walks away with following some time spent with the actor on a recent visit to the set of COVERT AFFAIRS, USA’s latest summer series in which he plays blind CIA operative Auggie Anderson.
“Auggie is really interesting because he’s the blind tech guy who also used to be special forces,” explained the affable actor while holding court in the Department of Clandestine Services Conference room housed on a cavernous Toronto soundstage. “He’s multi-dimensional, has a great sense of humor, but has some real physical challenges that have to be overcome and confronted in literally in every scene.”
In other words, a welcome change for the actor who has made a cottage industry out of playing a string of best friends and boyfriends since finding his way onto Hollywood’s radar as the titular role in the short-lived UPN series JAKE 2.0.
“Just playing the physicality of being blind is a real challenge and requires an extra level of focus that has really made this kind of all exciting and new again for me.” said a visibly excited Gorham. “I’ve done a lot of shows where I’ve been the lead, the expository guy, the best friend — all these different types of guys — and now it’s all new. So it’s really exciting.”
Exciting and daunting. Particularly when one takes into account the added responsibility Gorham signed up for which has the actor putting a very public face a blind/visually impaired minority that unfortunately gets little to no exposure on primetime television. A responsibility that not surprisingly is not the least bit lost on the well spoken actor.
“Before we commenced shooting the pilot, I started working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). And when we came back to start on the series, I immediately called them up and have spent many days over there, meeting with different people who have lost their sight and a couple guys who have been blind from birth, seeing what those differences are and just learning a lot about it,” said Gorham, who clearly has set his sights on ensuring he’s doing the blind/visually impaired community proud. “I can’t just pick up my cup of coffee, have a drink, grab my pen and get up and walk across the room. I mean there’s literally nothing that I can physically do that doesn’t require me thinking it through, asking, ‘How am I going to do that’?”
Which as it turns out, is just one of the many challenges that comes with the role.
“We had our first ‘walk and talk’ through the hallways. Well, the hallways turn. Which is fine if you’re sighted and you’re walking with three people and then all three of you can turn down the same hallway in the middle of the conversation and talk. But if you’re walking with a blind guy and if he’s not physically touching you, and you two turn, he’s not going to know that you’ve turned,” recounted the actor. “We did it for four takes, and I kept thinking, ‘Something’s wrong.’ And then it suddenly occurred to me, ‘We have to start over – I have to be holding on to her the entire time otherwise it doesn’t make any sense.” . So things like that happen occasionally. But again, it’s kind of fun, because it’s really new.”
You can catch the series premiere of COVERT AFFAIRS on Tuesday July 13 at 10PM on USA