A Glimpse From Behind the Curtain: COVERT AFFAIRS Set Visit and Interviews With Piper Perabo, Chris Gorham, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Kari Matchett, Eoin Bailey and EP Doug Liman

Every once in a while the stars align and a wish is granted.  In this case, a very special glimpse behind the curtain of the smash hit summer series COVERT AFFAIRS.  Invited to attend a special press day at the COVERT AFFAIRS film set in Toronto, Canada, the press were not only given an in-depth tour of all the sets, but we also had the chance to interview a few of the people who make the magic happen, including stars Piper Perabo, Chris Gorham, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Kari Matchett, special guest Eion Bailey, and executive producer Doug Liman.  (Alas, M.I.A. that day were co-stars Peter Gallagher and Anne Dudek who were not on set filming that day.)

The sets of the CIA headquarters (including Auggie’s office, Annie’s desk, Joan’s office, and Arthur’s office) were as grand and prestigious in real life as they look on screen.  Just as lush and yet a bit more intimate were the sets of Annie’s bedroom, Danielle’s kitchen and Joan and Arthur’s house — a brand new set which viewers will be seeing very soon.  Thus, it was with much excitement and near giddy glee as we all walked around gawking at the built to scale interiors of the all too familiar settings.  Being fans of the show, it was a privilege to walk amongst the fictional world that we all loved to peek inside each week.

As if wandering through the hallowed halls of the mock-CIA sets were not enough, we were also allowed to watch a few live action scenes from an upcoming episode.  Due to the confidential nature of the filming, suffice it to say, it was a pleasant surprise to see Eion Bailey, who plays Ben Mercer, again.

Life in the COVERT AFFAIRS world is as glamorous and action-packed as one can imagine.  The activity just never stopped.  It was a great pleasure that each of the cast members and executive producer Doug Liman took a few moments out of their busy schedules to share a few candid thoughts about the show.  In fact, Mr. Liman made a special trip via his personal plane in which he flew directly to the set.  It sure makes a grand entrance when a television producer lands his plane right in the parking lot outside the studio.  It was a remarkable and generous gesture that he was willing to literally pop in and talk about the amazing world of COVERT AFFAIRS!

How would you describe the mystery of Jai Wilcox?
SENDHIL: The mystery of Jai? We don’t know a lot about him yet.  And to be honest, I don’t know a ton more than you guys do.  It’s a very slow burn for Jai, and you get little snippets of his backstory. I think at some point we’ll probably find out a lot more about where he came from and maybe what he was doing in London before he came and joined up at Langley.  But this season, it goes very slowly and kind of starts going to some dark places for Jai.  And I still have no idea what the ultimate end-game is ’cause I can’t figure it out.  I mean, this is the next script right here. [Holds up transcript.]  I haven’t read it yet and they just handed it to me, but you heard it here first.  Its called, Sad Professor and I’m sure it’ll be a good one.  But it starts out very slowly and kind of like a gentle simmer and then I think towards the end of the first part of our season — ’cause I guess we’re going to air 10 episodes straight through and then take a break and then come back and do 6 — by the end of the first 10, it’ll kind of become apparent what Jai’s end-game is for the season.  But, at the beginning, it’s kind of like seeing Jai dealing with not having things going his way — and that’s not something that he’s used to.  I mean, he always gets what he wants.  It’s been like that his whole life.  He’s led a very privileged life and had a privileged upbringing and he’s not really used to this.  But he’s also pretty crafty and willing to do things that maybe others wouldn’t, and maybe that he shouldn’t do, to get what he wants.  And we’re going to kind of start exploring that a little bit — and it’s a little bit dark, and it’s kind of cool to play.

What would be Jai’s secret weapon, as far as one of his qualities that he’s trying to utilize to achieve his goals?
SENDHIL: I think that he’s good at talking — talking his way out of things or into things, as the case may be — I’ve heard that I talk myself into something in this episode.  But, I think that he has a lot of tools in his arsenal to kind of achieve what he wants.  He can go charm offensive, he can be just a flat out prick, or he can try bully his way through.  So he kind of does what’s needed. Kind of assesses the situation and then does what’s needed to get where he needs to be. 

I was a little curious about how in the first episode of this season Jai brought the puzzle books to the hospital for Ben.  What provoked that?
SENDHIL: I think that it was actually a genuine moment for this guy, Ben, who obviously he’s not on the closest terms with, but he’s gone through a lot, and the way I thought about it ’cause I did think: ‘why on earth is Jai bringing Sudoku’s to Ben Mercer?’ Like, a dude that he really is not fond of, and I kind of took it upon myself that Jai feels somewhat responsible, even though he really couldn’t have done anything. His back was turned at the point, but he was standing there when Ben got shot and he was trying to get them onto the helicopter and he got pegged. Ben got shot.  And so that’s what I put in my head as the reason that he brought some Sudoku is basically like: ‘I hate you, but sorry you got shot.’

Like a glimmer of humanity that’s in there?
SENDHIL:  Exactly.
Are we going to find out ever why there’s so much bad blood between Jai and Auggie?
SENDHIL: I think it’s probably touched on a little bit in further episodes, definitely.  I think, actually, the one airing on Tuesday, some stuff comes out. I can’t remember ’cause we mixed the order up while we were shooting, so I’m not quite sure what’s aired and what’s not.  But, we will and I think a lot of it just stems from the fact that throughout the CIA for Jai, he’s Henry Wilcox’s son and everybody kind of thinks he must be like him.   I think Jai could have kind of done anything.  He went to Yale and has a good head on his shoulders.  He could have gone into anything and probably made a lot of money, but he’s decided to fall into his father’s line of work, knowing that he didn’t have the greatest reputation and that he was considered the Prince of Darkness and all these things at the CIA.  It’s either balsy or really stupid of Jai to kind of try and go in there. Part of my thinking with the character is he wants to change that perception, not necessarily of his father, because that boat may have sailed at this point, but kind of redeem the family name a little bit and cut his own path. ‘Cause when you grow up around a certain environment, it’s kind of natural to go and follow your parents’ footsteps.

Do you think part of it is wanting to prove something to his dad?
SENDHIL: Prove something to his dad, especially.  I mean, they have a very contentious relationship and, actually, Greg Itzen is up here right now and we’re about to shoot a bunch of scenes tomorrow, which I’m really looking forward to ’cause they’re a lot of fun. Actually, there’s like a little bombshell that comes out at the end of one of their conversations and I’m looking forward to playing those moments.

In the first season, I really liked the, the relationship between you and Annie, and I don’t mean this in a romantic perspective, but is that relationship going to continue to grow this season, and is it going to stay more as a friendship, or what direction is it going, or is it going to stay strictly professional?
SENDHIL: Again, the answer is:  I don’t know.  But Jai has quite a few fires to put out on his own this season that he’s dealing with.  The relationship with Annie, I suppose is touched on, but I think that it’s more of a friendship type of thing.  That’s just my own personal thing.  I think that last season he was on a mission.  He was doing his job and there’s certainly a kind of familiar air — a familiarity — and I think they get along really well.  Romantic-wise, I doubt it.  I don’t see it.

I was just thinking more along the lines of if it’s going to stay strictly professional and you guys are colleagues, but, because I saw hints of that friendship creeping in and there was definitely a camaraderie going on in the first season?
SENDHIL: Oh, I see what you mean now.  No. The camaraderie is definitely there and you see it in even the episode that we shot, just finished. Jai ends up having to go in and he and Annie come together at the end of a mission and you kind of see a deepening of their friendship, which is cool.  But for the most part so far Jai’s kind of been off on his own, dealing with things that he doesn’t really want to be dealing with, to be honest. But he’s forced to and he’s going down paths that he probably never thought that he would. But he needs to — to get what he wants.

What about Jai do you think appeals to your audience?
SENDHIL: I don’t know.  I mean, I try not to think about appealing to audiences.  I just try to think about playing the character. But I think that if you’re into the kind of the ‘bad boy’ thing you’ll kind of be attracted to Jai.  He just kind of does what he wants and doesn’t really care too much about what anybody else thinks.  So that’s the way I’ve tried to approach the character, ’cause as you’ll see — as you see more episodes — he kind of starts going to places that I actually never really thought that he would go.  But it’s fun to play and it’s dark for our show.  I’m interested to see how it’s played.  Like, there’s something to be said for playing a character who really marches to the beat of his own drum and isn’t really concerned with what others think of him — as long as he gets what he wants.   

How do you relate to your character and where do you draw your inspiration to be that ‘bad boy’ from?
SENDHIL: My youth. No, we won’t even get into that. But I’m finding it surprisingly easy to draw on this stuff.  Because it’s fun.  It’s written fun and he’s kind of a naturally flirtatious character — cocky and arrogant — that can turn some people off. Some people just don’t really respond to that and some people do.  So that’s where worrying about what the audience thinks of your character, I don’t see how it’s helpful.  Just play what’s written and then people will respond to how they want to respond.  But it’s a lot more fun than playing a full-on good guy and I think it’s more realistic, like CIA-wise, just because I don’t think anybody in the CIA is all good or all bad.  It’s impossible.  If you’re going to be successful in the CIA, you have to be willing to do some pretty messed up stuff, and I think Jai is more than willing a lot of the times to do that, which is why, I think, ultimately he’ll probably do very well at the CIA.

Do you prefer playing the good guy or do you like playing a character with more scruples?
SENDHIL: No, I’m pretty anti-scruples. It’s much more fun to not have scruples.  It can be a dangerous road to go down for a character, certainly, but it’s definitely a more fun road. I pretty much played a good guy on HEROES for the whole time, except for this little fly experiment. And, you know, that was fun.  But it’s always nice to do something different, and that’s what attracted me to the part, is that they were like:  ‘No, this guy is not going to be apple pie’ and I said: ‘Great, let’s do it!’

For Season 2 gearing up, did you do anything to try to any new tech training, or did you read up on something that maybe from season one you decided, ‘hey, let’s look at this and get a little bit more insight of something’?
SENDHIL: Yeah.  Like physically, actually I did for season one ’cause we kind of established that Jai’s fluent with Parkour and all of these kind of things, and I thought, ‘Well, in case they write something like that, I better limber up.’  So I started doing a lot of yoga and Pilates and and being more active about working out a little bit more.  I’ve always been active and athletic. I play a lot of tennis, but I started with that just to see and  Jai goes into the field this season and we get to see him in action a little bit, which has been a lot of fun and I think that there’s more of that stuff coming up later in the season.

There are a lot of tech toys on the show, anything you want to take home with you?
SENDHIL: Well, Auggie gets most of the tech toys, to be honest.  He’s the one who gets all the cool stuff.  It’s mainly guns for me, which I think were cool. I’d rather have a gun.  But I’ve had guns blazing in a few episodes now, so that’s always fun for me.  It’s the Texan at heart. 

Which one’s your favourite so far?
SENDHIL: It’s been mostly hand guns right now. Different types of hand guns.  I got to do some very cool stuff where I was up in a helicopter and then got to come rushing out of it as they landed it.  We’re in this huge field and got to come out, guns blazing, which is always fun — boys and toys.  But we’ll see if there’s some more of that planned further down the season. I’m not too sure about that.

The show has embraced Twitter, when are we going see you on Twitter?
SENDHIL: Boy, I just don’t see that happening. I’m going to be honest.  I mean, I’m not really a Twitter guy. Gorham’s the Twitter guy. He’s tweeting constantly. But I called it the wrong name the other day.  I was like: ‘Are you tweetering?’ I’m not really proficient with it.  It’s probably best ’cause I’d probably send something out by accident that shouldn’t be sent out. But, no, Twitter’s not really my thing. I know that a lot of people are really into it and are enjoying the Twitter casts on the computer and stuff. So that’s cool.  I think that’s great.  It’s a really great way for the fans to interact and there was a lot of that going on HEROES. I’ve actually made a conscious effort this season.  I’m going to at least know what’s going on, ’cause people would come up to me and ask me about online stuff on HEROES and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Like there was a comic book and I’m like, ‘we didn’t have anything to do with that stuff.’  So we know there were webisodes and all this stuff — we weren’t really involved in that.  So I’m going to at least know what’s going on.  I know that there’s Twitter casts going on about Budapest, and as far as I know that’s it, right?  Okay. I’m on top of it. We’re good to go.

You came from HEROES that had a very large ensemble cast and this cast is smaller.  Is it easier to work with a smaller cast?
SENDHIL: It’s just different.  It’s different working with a smaller cast.  You have to work more.  In HEROES, if you worked two days a week or three days a week, that was your norm.  That was like a heavy week, unless you were heavily featured in an episode.  A couple episodes you’d work every day, but we also had a lot longer to shoot for HEROES.  This show, we do in eight days.  It’s eight-day episodes and some of them, like the one we’re shooting right now, is a seven-day episode.  We also had 12 days to shoot HEROES and we had two units going at all times.  It was like a movie.  So it’s a lot less hectic here.  Much more chilled out, much more contained, and it makes it smaller in scale, so it makes it a little bit easier to do your work.

Speaking of Heroes, do you know anything of these follow-up movies that we keep hearing about, these rumours?
SENDHIL: They’re rumours.  I hear them too.  But I think it’s pretty damn unlikely.  I mean, a lot of us are off doing other things under contracts with different people. I hope that happens, just for the fans’ sake.  But, realistically, I don’t see a chance of that happening. Not with the whole cast together.  It’d be impossible just to kind of get everybody together. 

Since Piper recently went to Paris to film, do you get to go to any cool, exotic locations anytime soon?
SENDHIL: As far as I know, no. I know that Piper went to Paris and Puerto Rico. Chris is going to Istanbul.  Then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if this is actually happening, that they’re planning on a German expedition at some point and maybe one to Norway to Oslo.  So that’s what I’ve heard.  Those aren’t confirmed.  But Istanbul, Puerto Rico and Paris are definite.

But they’re leaving you behind here?
SENDHIL: I get left behind for reasons which will come out.

Sounds like Jai’s been starting some trouble.
SENDHIL: I don’t think intentionally.  But I think ultimately maybe that’s what’s going to happen.  Again, I don’t know ’cause we haven’t gotten far enough in, but I think really kind of from the fifth episode on, you’re going to see the direction that Jai goes down for the season.  There’s a scene with Joan where he kind of makes a decision as to what he’s going to do — which was a lot of fun to play — and you’ll kind of know what he’s up to.  But then I think it twists and it goes in a different direction that you don’t even really expect for the back six.  So we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it. I’m having a blast.

With the current events going on, like bin Laden getting killed, is that going to factor the way the second season of Covert Affairs is kind of shaping up or you’ve pretty much already got that squared away?
DOUG: We’ll never go that deep into the world of terrorism. Those aren’t really the stories the show does.  But this season was definitely influenced by the events in Pakistan that actually pre-dated bin Laden.  Like the CIA contract officer who gunned down two Pakistanis in Lahore earlier in the year and the sort of web of politics that went into going after bin Laden eventually.  Like they couldn’t go get bin Laden as long as they had a CIA contract officer in a Pakistani prison because they were worried that guy would killed by the Pakistanis.  The way the different sort of aspects of government [can play into it].  It would be cool to just go in and kill bin Laden.  They knew where he was for months, but there’s other aspects and complications.  And our stories work best when we actually set them in worlds where there are complications — the State Department has a competing agenda to the CIA’s agenda and Annie gets put in the middle or Joan or the other characters get put in the middle.  So, in that way, because there was so much press coverage of Pakistan this year, and specifically of how the CIA was operating in Pakistan, it was just more material for us to work with in terms of the sort of bureaucratic challenges that these characters face.

What do you love the most about Covert Affairs, right now?
DOUG: I really am in love with Annie’s character.  I’m deeply in love with Chris Gorham’s character.  I just think that Auggie completely transcended his handicap.  I mean, he’s just this incredible sex symbol and you just want to follow him and you want to be with him all the time. I love sending him out in the field and we’re doing that again. I’m sure other people have probably told you that already.  In fact, Chris Gorham’s going to Istanbul next week.  I’m hoping  to be there with him.  The mission he’s on in Istanbul would be almost impossible for somebody who was sighted — and he has to do it blind.  The episode we’re currently shooting — I guess you guys are going to the airport — where Kari is going on to the field for the first time and I feel like when things work, either movies or TV shows, it’s because the exact right characters are on the right journey.  Like you wouldn’t want to have Jason Bourne like going to Vegas with a friend trying to pick up girls.  You wouldn’t want to have Jon Favreau’s character from Swingers like being chased by assassins ’cause that wouldn’t really bring out what’s interesting.  But Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord] have really created a world of not just Piper and Chris, but the whole extended cast and even the guest stars.  The story lines bring out what’s most interesting.  Like seeing Joan, who’s Annie’s boss – who you’ve only seen behind a desk — out in the field and, and remembering that she actually once was a field operative, suddenly makes Joan’s character so much more compelling.  And I feel like we keep finding new ways to explore these characters and they get better and better.  Like we have so much road ahead of us.

Has there been like a particular nugget to each character that you’ve been totally surprised by as the series has developed?
DOUG: I think I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how great a sense of humour our entire cast have.  That was always something that was really important for me for the series.  That the characters  bring a sense of humour to it.  Not that we create humorous situations. But the characters, themselves, bring the humour.  ‘Cause I come from the kind of environment where my family always brought humour to situations no matter how dire.  There were probably never more laughter or jokes than at a funeral in my family.  So I really respond to that on a personal level. Piper’s hysterical, Chris is hysterical, even Kari, in the episode that just aired in Paris, when she’s on jury duty is. It was thrilling and I was like, ‘oh, there’s this whole other side that we haven’t even explored for this character!’ Everybody has so much range.

Is the relationship between Annie and Ben something that is going to go long term or is there going to be some sort of resolution?
DOUG:  We haven’t written the entire season.  The thing about TV is you can make up your mind and then you can change your mind.  And it’s one of the things I love about it ’cause it’s sort of an ongoing, organic process. ‘Cause you’re writing, shooting and airing episodes while you’re still writing future episodes.  So my personal feeling about it is that, as Annie matures and grows up a little bit more, she will recognize that Ben is a dead-end street and that while there is an attraction to a guy like Ben — that it is something which seems great at the beginning — at a certain point, you grow up.  He’s at the beginning of an arc, not at the end of the arc.  So that’s my attitude and Matt [Corman] and Chris’ [Ord] attitude going in.  But again, for Annie to get to that place could take 10 years or it could happen this year.  We’re tracking it.

Last year you mentioned that kind of part of the whole thing with Covert Affairs was putting a human face on CIA agents. What type of feedback and response did you receive on that aspect?
DOUG:  From the CIA?

From the CIA and viewers, in general, like taking that different kind of look at a CIA agent rather than it just being completely mission, mission, mission.
DOUG: Obviously, we’re extremely highly rated and so I came away from the first season feeling like that was a good call and let’s do it better in the second season.  So there wasn’t a ‘let’s re-evaluate some of the choices we made’ thing.  It’s like: ‘No, that choice is working’ and and not only working, the viewers are just sitting down and watching it with friends or whatever.  Watching an episode you just sort of get a feeling which ones work and which ones don’t work.  Sean Ryerson, who’s one of our producers, and I were just upstairs and talking about some upcoming episodes of COVERT AFFAIRS and just thinking about this season and which episodes we think are working better than others.  What are we learning about the show, consistently it’s the episodes where the character stories are big, those are our best episodes.  It’s just my opinion that they’re our best episodes from the beginning and we now see the evidence of it.  The Paris episode is a great episode, not because we went to Paris and filmed Piper in Paris, it’s a great episode because there’s a great love story in Paris with a Mossad agent and her wrestling with: do tell the people around you what you do for a living?  The character story is a big story in that.

How much research went into creating a blind character?
DOUG: A ton.  Hopefully, you are going to talk to Chris.  What he has done for this character in terms of the work he put in is extraordinary.  And he’s basically on a first-name basis with a number of people at the, Toronto Canadian Centre for the Blind that he has spent a lot of time at.  He has these relationships and it’s not just the research that went into creating the character at the beginning, but it’s the just on-going research because he has really become the guardian of that character.  He takes it so seriously that we, we trust him with that.  It’s generally my philosophy to sort of treat the actors as the guardians of their characters, because the rest of us are caught up in so many other facets of details of the show that entrusting the actors to really be the guardians of their character and empowering them to do that not only makes the day actually possible, it makes life possible.  Because otherwise, there’d be too many details to worry about.  But it actually makes for better content. We’ll write an episode where [Auggie’s] at home and Chris will reach out to his contacts in the blind community here in Toronto and go over to their houses and study how does somebody who’s blind pour a cup of coffee.  Right?  ‘Cause how, how can they possibly know when the liquid’s up towards the top?  It’s different than pouring like a cup of water ’cause you can put your finger in there, but you don’t want to put your finger in boiling water.  It’s things that the rest of us just take for granted.  And you can always count on Chris.  Every time he gets the script and he looks at what’s being asked of him, the next thing he’s doing is he’s on the phone or getting in his car and driving over and working with somebody who’s actually blind to understand how a blind person would actually do that particular thing.

What made you decide to go in that direction and actually write a character that was blind?
DOUG: I think we all shared a really deep love for the Robert Redford film, Sneakers.  So it’s like the producers, the writers — like we’re all sort of a certain age and it’s like we just grew up with Sneakers being one film – especially for guys of a certain age, there’s no way it’s just not one of your favourite films ever — and there was a very memorable blind character in that. 

In the big Auggie-episode coming up, the scene where Auggie ends up losing his sight, was that real emotional for you?  How did you react to filming that scene?
CHRIS: It’s a difficult scene to describe without giving away how it happens.  It is an emotional scene.  How do I describe it?  Honestly, we shot 136 set-ups that day and everything was moving so fast.  But that moment was very still and very special somehow.  I think it was probably the biggest production day we’ve done to date.

How did you prepare for your role playing a blind person?
CHRIS: I started, before the pilot, working with an organization here in Toronto called the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, CNIB.  And I’m still working with them even now.  This year I’ve gone in and got kind of a tour.  There’s a guy that works there who’s blind, and who’s really into tech, kind of like a real life Auggie.  So he gave me a tour of all of his gadgets and showed me how it all worked, and showed me how he texts using his iPhone and his tiny little Braille keyboard that connects via Bluetooth to his iPhone and Braille printers and all of his gadgets. I also did some blindfolded training this year — some blindfolded mobility training out on the streets of Toronto, crossing intersections, and walking down sidewalks, and all of that stuff, which is terrifying.  But I really wanted to do it because one of the first guys that I met who lost his sight when he was 20 years old in a car accident, in our conversations he was telling me that during his recovery when he was learning how to get around as a blind person, he gave up for a full year — because he was so embarrassed to walk up and down his street with his cane to practice.  ‘Cause he was 20, I mean, he was just a kid and he just gave up and stayed home.  And he had good friends and they would take him everywhere.  But it took a full year before he finally had really the courage to start again and, learn how to be independent.  I wanted to see what it’s like, and I tell you, it’s so immediately disorienting. You can’t walk in a straight line.  I don’t know if you know this, but it’s physically impossible, if you close your eyes, to walk in a straight line.  Like you veer and it’s so easy to end up in the street.  It’s so easy and it takes such real bravery to overcome that fear and learn to be really good at it.  Like some of like these men and women that I’ve met — somebody like Auggie.  That’s partly what I think makes his character so likeable and admirable is that there’s a strength within him — that he’s really been through something extraordinary. 

I understand you’re working on some kind of project with the Covert Affairs DVDs to make them accessible to the blind. Can you talk about that?
CHRIS: It’s called descriptive video.  Last year, as a ‘thank you’ to the CNIB, I wanted to arrange a screening of one of our episodes at their building,  so when I talked to them about it they said:  ‘It would be great if you could get descriptive video on it so that the blind people could really enjoy the episode.’  What it is, essentially, is they take out the ambient music from the show and insert narration about what’s going on — what people look like, the action, and the dialogue, of course, all stays in.  And they’re really good at it.  So I called up the network and I said:  ‘Listen, I’d really love to do this thing, could we have the episode and would you guys mind footing the bill to have the descriptive video process done?’  And they were great and they said: ‘Yeah, we’ll do it, just tell us, where should we go.’  So we hooked them up with this company in Vancouver and USA [Network] made it all happen and it was a big success.  So then I ended up doing press in New York for the Auggie’s episode last year and we did this event at the USA Network offices and I was talking to the woman who was handling all the DVD stuff and I said: ‘Listen, look at this — descriptive video is amazing. It’s not very expensive and you guys should be doing it on all your shows’ DVDs.  But if you’re going to do it at all, you have to do it for this show.  Please, at least for my episode.  But if you can do it for all the episodes, it would be so great, and I know the blind community would appreciate it.’  Then when the DVDs came out, they did it.  It’s on every episode on our DVD.  It’s a small thing, but it just takes effort.  It just takes that extra effort and people really appreciate it.  I’m so really proud to be on a network that will take somebody like me seriously and then do something that’s really important like that. 

When someone has a physical disability, it’s easy to fake a limp or a stiff arm, but trying to play blind when you have sight, how difficult is that?
CHRIS:  It’s tricky. It’s also a team effort, because it’s been a learning experience.   I think I’ve gotten better at it, just like the show has gotten better at it.  Starting out shooting the pilot, we were finding all kinds of weird technical issues, like we’d shoot the master and I would be kind of off to the right of Piper’s head or whatever, and my eyes would be kind of in that area.  But then we’d come to the close-up and that’s where the camera would be.  Then suddenly things weren’t matching.  So I have to plan ahead and there has to be a good communication as to where are you guys going to be and that I’m not staring into the camera.  Also, a guy like Auggie in real life would actually be very good at eye contact, because people who’ve grown up with sight and then lost it, their body just remembers.  You can hear a voice and turn and your head just knows where to go.  So much so that it can be really disconcerting when you’re having a conversation with someone who’s blind and it really looks like they’re looking at you.  It starts to freak you out.  But if I do that on the show, it just\ becomes very confusing for the audience.  So I have to make Auggie not as good as he would be in life.  And I also tell the directors because we get new directors all the time, and I tell them: ‘Listen I won’t be offended.  If it looks like I’m looking at whomever, tell me. Because then I can just adjust it and we don’t want that.’  Like I will never be looking at them, but sometimes because of the camera angle, it can be a little tricky.  But then, technically, as far as the performance goes, it really just comes from just doing my research, doing a lot of observing, going through these classes, and finding out what the behaviour is.  Like you know how to feel a chair with the back of your legs before you sit down so you don’t have to feel around.  So it’s subtle and natural, you don’t see me trying to find things.  It’s reaching for a cup of coffee and instead of doing it like this, it’s doing it with the backs of your hands so you don’t knock things over, or you don’t get burned.  Like doing things in grids, or if you fall on the ground, you’re searching in circles.  Those are details that you really just find out by going and finding out the answers to those questions.  So it’s tricky.  It’s also fun and it’s part of what makes it so rewarding – but it is not that it’s not easy to do. 

Doug Liman gave the example earlier that you have to learn how to pour yourself a cup of coffee without spilling it ‘cause you got to know when it reaches the top. Can you tell us that secret to how a blind person does that?
CHRIS: Well, there’s a couple things you do.  It was funny actually, ’cause when I knew that we were going to see Auggie’s apartment, I called up my coach over there at the CNIB and I said:  ‘Look, what do you do?  Like how do you teach people to work in their kitchens and around the apartment?’  She said:  ‘Well, come in. We’ll do the class for you in the kitchen and show you like how to do the cooking things.  So we go in and the first thing that comes out of that is a phone call to the props department, because there are certain things that you use that we use in the show.  They have non-slip pads that they’ll put down on the counter and then a tray, and then a non-slip pad on the tray.  The idea being that, if you spill, it doesn’t go all over the counter and on the floor.  It stays in the tray.  Like there’s real logic to how everything is set up and how they teach people to do it.  At first they have a little gadget that they sell, which sits on the lip of a coffee cup and it has two little metal receptors at the end, and when the liquid touches it a little alarm goes off.  So it tells you that your cup is full.  So they’re showing me this thing, and  there is this woman who had lost her sight to diabetes, so I said to her:  ‘Now, do you use that thing at home?’ She was like, ‘No.’ I wouldn’t think so.  I mean, it seems like that’d be a pain to like always have to find this little gadget and make sure it has batteries just to pour yourself a cup of coffee.  I said:  ‘But how do you do it?’ And she said:  ‘Well, you just do it kind of by sound, ’cause you can hear it.  You just kind of hear as the sound of the water changes as the cup fills up.’  You can hear when it’s getting close to the top, and you just get good at it.  So it’s just practice.  She’s like:  ‘Sometimes, I miss it and I spill, or you can put your finger just over the lip.  But you have to be careful with hot things, ’cause you don’t want to get burned.’  But so I just practiced by hearing, ’cause I figured Auggie’s like one of the coolest guys ever — so he’s not using some like dorky gadget.  So that was out the door.  So I just practiced.  You set your cup a certain way so you know where the handle is, and you pour it, and just listen for it to be at the top. I got it every time. I didn’t spill once.  Everybody on the crew was very impressed.
Is that ’cause you’re cheating ’cause you could actually see?
CHRIS:  No, ’cause I couldn’t look at it, ’cause it’s way down here. I mean, I’m doing it, I’m doing it all down here while I’m talking to Emmanuelle [Vaugier] — like while we’re doing my lines and I can’t see it.

Good instincts.
CHRIS: Well, it’s practice. That’s all. 

Where do you think Auggie’s strength, at this point in his life, really comes from?  He’s probably one of the most confident characters on the entire show and there’s got to be something that gives him that strength that he draws upon.
CHRIS:  Well, he’s one of those very special people on this planet who has an extraordinary amount of strength in him.  I mean, I don’t know how much you know about the Special Forces, but even the stuff you read — Seal Team 6 has been in the news because of killing Osama bin Laden, and Auggie’s one of those guys.  These are some of the strongest, most ambitious, toughest, really smart guys that this planet has to offer.  In addition to that, he’s lost people in battle, he’s been through the fire, he lost his sight, he’s gone through more in his life already than most people will ever see.  So I think he’s built up through all of those things a lot of strength and a lot of confidence in what he does.  I think it’s part of what makes him so attractive to women is that confidence.  He’s a good looking guy, but he’s confident and he knows what he wants.  I think people are attracted to that.  Also, he got beat up a lot as a kid.  He’s got four older brothers and they were not nice, so that had to help. 

How do you think Auggie inspires the blind community, the people that are aware of his character?
CHRIS: I don’t know if he inspires the blind community, but so far, the reaction that I’ve gotten from the blind community has been very positive.  I think it comes from a couple things.  I think first it comes from the character that’s been written by Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord] — who is a very capable, smart person with incredible skill who happens to have a disability.  So he’s not a victim, which I think is a big sensitive spot for that community.  He’s also not a Superman, like he’s not infallible.  So I think they appreciate that as well.  I think other side of it is that I’ve worked very hard to get his portrayal as right as I can, and really have done my homework and had conversations and met with a lot of people, and have taken it very seriously.  I think that they appreciate that, as well.

You’ve played a couple of challenging parts — you had the killer on Harper’s Island and now Auggie — are you attracted to challenging parts?
CHRIS:  Well, yes, but I can’t take credit for all of it.  I mean, Harper’s Island, for instance, is a perfect example where I suspected that I was going to be the killer on that show, but I didn’t really know until we were halfway through.  Auggie on the other hand, there were no secrets, and I was really excited about doing it, and doing something really different.  I mean, honestly, the past few years has been really exciting and I’m really proud of the work. Starting with Ugly Betty, which in itself is a very distinct character and not me, and then to go to Harper’s, and then to come to this show.  Kind of taking everything that I’ve learned and and bringing it into this part, the big challenge again with the blindness is that it’s such a specific physicality that you just can’t wing it.  Like you just can’t make it up.

Is one more difficult than the other?
CHRIS:  Well, yeah.  I mean, doing this is more difficult.  I mean, any kind of interesting complex character is always going to be challenging, but having something so specific, like a physicality like this that’s so specific that you have to get right. Like you can’t just kind of do it my way and kind of wing it.  It really has to be right.  I can be creative within that and go in different directions with other things about Auggie, but the physicality of his disability has to be accurate, and that takes extra work.

There are a lot of Annie and Auggie shippers out there, how do you feel about a connection, a romantic connection, between the characters?
CHRIS: I think they definitely have that chemistry,. I think that that kind of a relationship is something that is kind of a very long-term arc for this show.  It’s not something that is going to happen any time soon — I don’t think.  But they don’t tell us everything. 

How do you feel about that happening eventually?  If there is a possibility, would you like that to happen?
CHRIS: Oh, I think it could happen.  If it were to happen like many, many years from now, that would mean I’m still on the show, so that’s a very good thing.  But, just as a fan and — and I’m kind of taking myself out of it — just looking at those two characters, I like those two characters a lot, and they get along very well.  They compliment each other very well.  I think they’re growing to need each other, which is nice.

So we heard for the Paris episode you actually filmed in Paris, and you flew in for 36 hours and came right back?
PIPER: Yeah, we actually we filmed in Puerto Rico for Guam for the premiere and then we flew then onto Paris.  So we did Toronto, Puerto Rico, Paris and then a day in New York, then back to Toronto. 

All within like what 40-48 hours?
PIPER: It was like we were there for two and a half days in Puerto Rico, and 36 hours in Paris.  But there were, layovers, and flying, so I think it was like five or six days altogether. 

What a whirlwind.
PIPER: Yeah, it was really fun though.  It was great.  And to run out into the real world is always kind of like a mind-blower. It’s your actor dream come true that you’re running across the Plaza at the Louvre — and it’s the Plaza at the Louvre!.  You don’t have to do that much work to imagine it. 

This summer, Covert Affairs is going to be making its debut at Comic-Con, are you excited to be able to interact with the fans, and hear some of the reaction to the show in person?
PIPER:  I’ve never been to Comic-Con, but I have friends who have.  My friend Lena Headey did the 300 and so she was there, and Chris Pine told me about it, and we’re going with Sendhil.  So so apparently like going with one of the HEROES is like going with Mr. Spock or whatever.  Comic-Con’s going to be pretty full on.  But [Sendhil’s] been giving me a lot of pointers.  He’s like:  ‘You just got to be cool. We’re going to do a lot of photos.  You got to fluff up your hair a lot.’  I think it’ll be really fun.  It’ll be cool to go with someone like Sendhil, ’cause he kind of knows the lay of the land.  And apparently, it’s huge.  I can’t really imagine it. It’ll be awesome. 

How hard is it to kick-butt in your Louboutins?
PIPER:  It’s always hard.  This season I get to wear sneakers, obviously, and we did one other episode where I’m on the Poland / Belarus border, that was the episode that we shot with Peter Stormare, which is super cool, and I got to wear boots in that episode, too.  So I’m getting a little spoiled this year.  I’ve had two episodes not in Louboutins.  It’s much easier to kick-butt in a flat shoe.  But I’m not going to get too comfortable.  I like kicking butt in them.

What kind of training are you getting for the show?
PIPER: We’re still doing mixed martial arts. So the fighting style is still a mix of like very tight hand-to-hand combat, Krav Maga.  For some reason, this year, it’s a lot more running. I don’t know. I think they like how it looks, the running. It just gets exciting.  I don’t know why the cameras guys are like exhausted when they’re running backwards.  I think they like it when I have to be in heels ’cause it keeps me slow enough so the camera guys can keep up.  In the Argentina episode — I don’t think it’s aired yet — we’re running through the woods and one of the camera guys actually like took a spill.  Like he’s like running backwards and it was like ‘whoa!’ and he was out.  He was fine, but I appreciate that other people are taking risks as well. 

You’ve done both TV and film, do you prefer one to the other or is it just work?
PIPER: They’re both so separate.. I did an indie right before I came up here to start this season, and now doing film seems like so slow.  Like theatre seems slow compared to film, ’cause you get all this time to rehearse, and you can really take your time, and you talk about every little minutia.  And now film seems slow compared to television, because you shoot 10-pages a day on TV, you would never shoot that many in film.  So it’s really different. In a way I’m glad that I did TV third, ’cause I think you have to really trust your instincts. It’s going so fast that you’re just making decisions kind of in the moment, so you have to kind of be open and available to, to do that.  

Are we looking forward to any moments where like the glass kind of shatters in Annie’s world?  We heard earlier from Sendhil that he might be going a little darker this season, in which case, that might just kind of rock or shatter a little bit of her perception of him.
PIPER: Yeah.  Chris also has a moment of shattering my perception, maybe he didn’t tell you about that.  Things start to get mixed around.  Also Annie has more love interests this year, so that starts to get a little difficult to balance.  I’ve got that problem in this episode [that we are currently filming], actually.  More than one pan on the stove. 

Is there anyone in particular you want to play as Annie’s love interest?
PIPER:  Oh,  I’m always fighting to get Ben Wishaw. I really like Ben Wishaw.  And I just saw the Mother Fucker in the Hat, that new play on Broadway, I think it’d be really fun to have Yul Vazquez and Bobby Cannavale come on the show.  I like them. 

So have you gotten a gun yet?
PIPER:  No, and you know, I always have one on the poster, so it was so weird that I don’t have one in the show.  But I did an episode with Noam Jenkins who plays the FBI agent, Agent Rossabi, and he was like: ‘You still don’t have a gun?’ All this stuff we were doing and he was like: ‘I could give you a gun’.  So I started to talking to the writers about it. I was like: ‘Maybe I could get — not necessarily issued — but acquire a secret weapon.’  But thenit makes the fights scenes less dramatic.  I do like that I don’t have a gun, because I think it makes the fight scenes and all the action sequences, by nature, then have to be much more creative on where you get your weapons.  You’re much more vulnerable, obviously, if you don’t have a weapon.  Even if the other person doesn’t have one either, because unless I’m fighting a woman my size, I’m really at a disadvantage.  We did a fight scene — I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, well, whatever — we did this fight scene underneath a planetarium where I’m fighting a girl my size and only the safety lights are on.  So not only is it dark and night, but there’s no weapons, and we’re evenly matched.  So to me that was really cool.  If you have a gun that kind of stuff would never happen.  So I’m not really for getting the gun yet, it’s more fun without.  It’ll be a big thing for her to get one, I think.

Well, how much input do you have in creating your character, expanding her background?
PIPER:  I offer lots of suggestions. But we talk about it a lot and we also have advisors at the CIA. CIA officers do not carry guns on American soil because they don’t have a badge. So you can’t really explain the gun if you’re a banker or whatever.  They only really carry them on foreign soil and even then sometimes they don’t.  I’ve spoken to one agent that I now know — ’cause you can carry the weapon of your preference when you’re on foreign soil — so I said: ‘What’s your weapon of preference?’  And she said: ‘I purposefully don’t carry a weapon because I think it would spook my assets’.  So she has security [people] that her assets don’t know are in the room, or standing in the street or something, and they have weapons, but she doesn’t carry because she thinks it’ll make the assets nervous. 

So how much research went into you getting this role initially?
PIPER: All I could do before I got the role was read and I saw a lot of spy films. I really like Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and Legacy of Ashes was a book that was really helpful.  But it wasn’t until I got the role that I got entrée into Langley, because Doug Liman was making Fair Game.  So then I met Valerie Plame, and she became our advisor on the pilot, and then I got actually entrée into Langley and spent time there.  Time with agents and then I really got the access. 

So you’ve got some access to CIA agents, so how do they feel about COVERT AFFAIRS — are they still really happy?
PIPER: It’s funny, because we paint the agency in a fairly positive and like humane light. I think overall they approve.  I don’t think we’d have the access to the information that we get from Langley if they didn’t like the show — if it was a negative portrayal.  But one of the writers who was at Langley this year said he was talking to an analyst — there’s like three wings: there’s the officers, who are like secret agents, and then analysts, who are doing the sort of news and information coming in from all over the world, and then science and technology — and this one was an analyst, and he said: ‘Yeah, we do Covert Affairs’ and she’s like: ‘Yeah, my husband watches it.’  But she was clearly like not a fan, which is so weird — because she gave them the tour.  So I think overall they approve, but they don’t all like it.  I don’t know — to each his own. 

Is there any cover that you would like to see Annie take at some point, if there was anything you could do as a cover?
PIPER PERABO:  There is something that I’ve been working on this with the writers.  Well, I want to do.  It would have to be like a season opener or something, so that you could push the trailer for it, because I think it would be fun that as a cover that Annie had to get married.  So in the trailers you would see maybe she’s marrying like Jai or Auggie, and you see like the dress, and walking down the aisle, and you start to see like the people in the audience, there’s  Joan, and Arthur, and Henry Wilcox, and all these people.  S in the trailers you think she’s going to marry somebody, but then somewhere in the ceremony all hell breaks loose and you just blow the place up with guns and exploding flowers and the priest is CIA.  Don’t you think it’d be awesome ’cause, first of all, a wedding dress is a great thing to hide weapons in.  I think it would be really cool to be getting married as a cover.  I don’t know why you would have to get married, but they’ll figure that part out.  I just want to wear the dress. It’d be an awesome fight scene in a wedding dress! 

We got to see some of the sets earlier and we noticed they were starting to build more sets for your character and Arthur.  Maybe you could tell us what’s going to be going on in the house?
 KARI:  I don’t really know what’s going to be going on in the house actually.  We’ve had some scenes. I think they just are interested in getting slices of life out of Arthur and Joan and getting them out of the office CIA world.  I think they want us keep revealing their personal life and what happens with them internally, emotionally rather than just strictly at work.  So I think they’re thinking a home setting will help create that.

So we’re going to see Joan in the field this season.  How exciting is it going to be for you to actually get out of the DPD and take part in everything going on?
KARI: Well, we’re shooting it right now. So the beginning of that episode is today, so I felt like I almost forgotten how to act outdoors when we first started shooting, because I’ve been in the DPD for so long.  But it’s really exciting.  I think it is not only was essential for me the actor to get out of the DPD and start sort of flexing my muscles literally and figuratively, but also so that everybody can see why Joan is in the position that she’s in.  She was really good at what she did in the field, and now we get a chance to see it.

In the last episode we saw where Joan was called for jury duty, how fun was that to kind of do something outside of the CIA and where Joan wasn’t in power?
KARI: It was great.  Tthat’s exactly what was so thrilling about it is that Joan’s always in the position of power She’s the one that people ask.  She’s at the top of the hierarchy and suddenly she’s outside of her realm in this world that she’s not at the top. So we get to see a whole other side of Joan.  It was so much fun.

For the field work, are they showing you in an action sequence or is it kind of a, more of a covert where you’re taking on like a persona kind of a mission?
KARI: Both. I take on a persona and I get to kick some ass.

Will you be wearing Louboutin when you do so?
KARI:  No.  Louboutins are reserved for Annie, but I do wear Jimmy Choos.

Do you think you inspire women with the kind of character you play?
KARI: I would love to do that!  I think that seeing women in positions of power in a man’s world is inspiring. I know that I like to see that and it’s an honour to be able to play a woman like that so, so hopefully I do.

And do you think more younger girls now will look at your character and want to go into jobs like that?
KARI:  Well, you know what, I think even if it only happens fictionally, I think strangely it begins to carve a path for people to even imagine that they can do these things.  So I think you can see that in any sort of pop culture that’s for instance, science fiction, is always the precursor to a lot of realities and living in realities and in science.  So on the same level, I think pop culture can be a precursor to a lot of realities in regular culture.  So I think it’s a really important thing to create social change, and it’s a really important media and medium to create such a change with.

Can you talk about your kick-ass wardrobe.  I mean, for one of the characters being a female empowered woman,  you wear a lot of feminine clothing and it’s very powerful still at the same time.  And that’s very curious as a female if you were watching that ‘cause I’m always expecting a three-piece suit or even a pant suit.  Yet, you’re always wearing a fancy dress and I’m like: ‘How are you pulling that off in the work environment, let alone the CIA?’
KARI: I think that’s one of the wonderful things about this character is that she doesn’t feel like she has to become a man in order to be a powerful woman.  So she’s not adhering to the world of Wall Street  or whatever world that deemed it necessary to wear a three-piece suit or a suit at all.  She’s fully stepping into her femininity and her power inside that.

Now that Joan’s gotten out of the office, what do you want to see for Joan in the future?
KARI:  I would love to get out of the office more.  One of the things that I think the writer, Zack, touched on this episode that I’m shooting now is that there is a bit of a conflict in Joan.  It’s not stated where it’s coming from. I have my ideas of where it’s coming from, but there is a bit of a conflict in her.   I think there’s a part of her heart that wants to be in the field still, and yet she’s in the office, for reasons that haven’t been stated. I have my own ideas, so I think that to see her continue to go out into the field from time to time when necessary. I think is an essential part of where the future lies for her.  It’s a great way for us to see different parts of her and it’s really fun to play.

What drew you to the character of Ben Mercer?
EION: I was interested in giving voice to the CIA.  That I’d have to give back to them.  The thing worth mentioning about the CIA, I do believe there are a lot of good people really trying to do good things in this organization.  I also believe that, in all of life, there is like Star Wars — there’s the light and there’s the dark.  It’s in all of us and it’s in the world at all times, and sometimes the light is stronger than the dark and sometimes the dark is stronger than the light. I think that exists in the CIA — and I was interested in giving voice to the people within that organization who try and steer it to the light, as much as possible.

What’s the best part about playing Ben?
EION:  I don’t know. I think the adventure of the fun of making the show.  There’s a lot of good people, actors, crew, writers, directors.  It kind oft created an energy around it where the people are a lot of fun to work with.  And we get to go to places like Puerto Rico.  We just filmed all of that and last year I got to go to Sri Lanka.  You know, it’s like an international story and it’s a lot of fun.  It’s also a lot of fun to be up here in Toronto. 

How much research went into your role before you actually started filming?
EION:  I did a lot because from the beginning, Ben Mercer is the man who breaks protocol.  It’s not explored yet in the series of why he would not be a part of it — that someone wanted him to be a part of something and he refused.  Perhaps for ethical reasons, perhaps because it was just something he couldn’t get  in alignment with, and so he takes off.  So I wanted to find out everything that the CIA does that might make somebody within it want to break rank and really  would an operative do that would upset the director of the CIA so much that he still really wants this guy to work with him.  Like what secret do I have on Arthur?  What do I have that he still feels like he’s got to work with me, but I can also leave whenever I want?  I can take off, I can come back. I can do things. I can break protocol — do all kinds of things that another operative wouldn’t be able to do.  What secret would I have? What is the CIA up to in certain respects that I might know about?  So I looked into it in those ways.

When you first filmed the pilot, did you expect your character to become kind of like the glue that holds together the series, even though we don’t see you pop up very often on the show?
EION: Yeah, because the CIA went after Annie — used Annie as a tool to get to Ben Mercer.  So I figured that would be kind of be like something that would have to be used throughout the series.

Could you talk a little about what we haven’t quite yet seen about Ben, like some of the characteristics that compelled him to constantly jet around the world and be this mysterious guy.  He’s not only sweeping Annie off her feet, but he’s probably wooing other women around the world.  What is compelling him and driving him, not just to be a super agent, but to be that guy?
EION:  He’s actually not wooing other women.  He’s a ‘one woman’ guy.  And if he is to have a woman in his life, then she’s the one.  And what compels him to go around the world is really to avoid some uncomfortable interactions with the CIA, who he believes are not as altruistic as they would like themselves to come across to the public.

So he sees himself kind of like the global Batman trying to rescue the world from the CIA?
EION: Well, interesting.   I would say he’s in search of the truth.  And in spy agencies there is so much double dealing, there are so many lies, and he wants to get at what is the truth and what is real in this world.  And if he can find a way to help bring the truth to light, then that’s a mission accomplished.

So it’s about the truth beyond the truth that everyone else sees?  That he’s trying to bring out into the light?
EION: Yeah.  The CIA, although there are good people who work within it, like within any bureaucratic institution in any country, also has an agenda that is not, in Ben’s opinion, pure or about freedom or about righteousness or about leading in the free world.  It’s also a duplicitous organization that is about acting as they can —  sometimes acting as a lynch mob for big American business interests in foreign countries.  And he’s very much aware of that and when he knows he’s brought in to support that aspect of the CIA, and it creates a real morality pull within him that he is actually supporting and serving an institution that is destroying people.

In the very first season finale your character of course gets shot, which was a very big climatic scene.  As an actor, what is that like to portray somebody actually getting shot like that?
EION:  Oh, gosh.  Yeah.  Because it’s different.  So portraying like that moment.  I’m sorry to get specific, do you mean like the, the actual moment of impact or the thought of: ‘I could die’?

Well, actually there’s three steps to it: there’s the anticipation — ‘cause you’re the actor knowing you’re going to get a shot as the character — there’s the moment of impact, and then there’s the moment after that where you kind of have to emotionally go through the experience, as well as the physical agony.  So it’s kind of a trio experience.
EION:  You actually just answered the question. (Laughter.) 

I want to hear it from your perspective, not mine.
EION: That’s it. ‘cause that’s the tricky thing.  A very important thing in acting is anticipation to not anticipate.  Because we all have the script and we all know what’s coming, and the whole thing is to truly be in a place where you don’t know what’s coming.  So you’ve got this mini explosive on your back that you know is going to be detonated and you know right where it’s going to happen and then you just kind of wait to feel a pop and then have your reaction.  Then really try and get to that place of – I mean in this instance, it’s: ‘I’m shot somewhere where it could be hitting a vital organ.’  What I mean is that we’ve all thought of our own mortality.  We all have to go through it — so what is that for each of us individually?  And I just think of those things and what that is personally for me.  Like what is it to lose this world before I’ve accomplished whatever it is I set out to accomplish,  I think that’s the thing —  it’s like to leave this world when it’s time and then it’s part of the thing. But what if we have to leave it before we’ve done what we want to do?

I think for a lot of us as fans that was a big moment because we weren’t sure if your character had survived or not.
EION:   Yeah.

So that creates a lot of implications for that role, if he doesn’t survive, does he haunt her as the man that got away so to speak, ‘cause he’s dead, or does he haunt her because he survives and now, he’s somebody she might have be part of her life.  So it was a big climatic moment as far as which reality is going to become the dominant one.  It creates a lot of possibilities.
EION: Yeah.

So as an actor when you look at that do you think — ‘cause you probably don’t even know at the end of that season — ‘Am I coming back next season?’
EION:  I didn’t.

So do you play it like: ‘This is my last gasp I get to make with this character and I’ve got to make this moment count,’ or do you think: ‘I’m going to leave that window open in case there’s a possibility’?
EION:  Well, it was spoken about when we were shooting the scene that it should remain open, but that it should be a wound that is potentially deadly.  I assume they want to leave it open to see how fan reacted. I think that the fans of a television series have quite a large say in how a show ends up.  It’s interesting.  It does seem to be that way and you probably know this better than I do.  But what you do actually steers the course of a television series.  So, at the end, all I knew is this character could be dead or could be alive and it was just going to be matter of time for USA [Network] to do what they need to do.  They’re investigating and look into what fans think about it, and then of course how they feel about and how the creators feel about it.  But I feel fortunate that Ben Mercer lives to to fight again.

And just like Eion, we too are elated that Ben Mercer has lived to fight another day and to woo the woman of his dreams!

In the end, after such an extraordinary day seeing how COVERT AFFAIRs is made and hearing from the actors and producer their candid thoughts on what makes the show tick and what makes it so special — both to them and to fans across the globe — it was apparent that we were privy to a special world where television comes alive.  COVERT AFFAIRS may portray a fictional world with fictional characters, but for the actors and fans, it is very real and compelling.  And there is a reason that COVERT AFFAIRS quickly became a summer sensation, it found the magic ingredient — characters and stories that draw us into their world and make it home.

Who knew that the spy world would prove to be so addictive?  We may have guessed, but watching it become a reality is  remarkable.To see and learn more about this intoxicating world of espionage, COVERT AFFAIRS airs Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.

Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).

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  • Itsmecoe44

    Very interesting article. I appreciate the insight all the actors gave about their characters. I hope Ben is always in the story because I really love the character. Eion Bailey does a great job as Ben. I hope Covert Affairs is with us for a long time.