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Continuing the trend that some of the hottest (and popular) series on television can be found on cable, USA's "Covert Affairs' premiered last year and immediately found a loyal and sizeable audience to watch the story of young CIA trainee Annie Walker (played by Piper Perabo) as she is thrust into the dangerous world of international crime. Along with her guide August "Auggie" Anderson (Christopher Gorham), who happens to be blind, the Washington, D.C.-based Domestic Protection Division fights locally and globally to capture the bad guys and keep the world safe.
Of course, both work and relationship drama folds into the action on a regular basis but as season two launches tonight, what can viewers expect to see on all fronts? Our Jim Halterman found out by chatting with Gorham late last week about the worldly locations the show visits this year, whether he thinks it would be a plus or a minus for Auggie and Annie became partners at work and in the bedroom as well as whether the actor was ever concerned about the potential limitations of playing blind.
Jim Halterman: I know the show substitutes Toronto for D.C. but it looks like there are some cool location shoots happening this season. What can you tell me?
Christopher Gorham: Things really get started in the second episode when they go to Paris. I didn't get to go but Piper and Doug [Liman, Executive Producer] went and shot a bunch of stuff and it looks so good. They were at the Louvre and that was incredible. We've been to Puerto Rico and they're sending me to Istanbul to shoot for a couple of days and I think we have one more international trip this season.
JH: Going from season one to season two, what kind of changes can viewers expect to see?
CG: The writers really went through in the off-season and picked out all the stuff that worked and all the stuff that didn't work and they've done a great job of picking up with that. They've taken all the best things of last season and built on it. We've got such great character interactions and relationships, which are getting better and more interesting this season. The action, which is a big hallmark of the show, has gotten bigger and better.
JH: And we're so used to seeing men at the helm of the big action sequences but Piper seems to be handling it all really well. What do you think?
CG: It's one of the things that we all love about our show. You've got a strong heroine who at the same time is not a superhero. She's not invincible but she uses the skills that she has to be successful. She's always using her brains, sometimes her body, sometimes her sex appeal and charm but it's always smart.
JH: You and Piper have such a great chemistry together on and off screen. Do you think having Auggie and Annie cross a line into a romantic arena would be a good or bad thing?
CG: I would say it's certainly the wrong place to go right now. It's not something we talk about a lot but we do make conscious choices about keeping that relationship on a nice, hot simmer; that's where we like it. There are a lot of other stories to be told. Auggie has a lot of relationships that he still needs to go through and the same thing with Annie. Essentially, the story is not about Annie and Auggie finding each other and getting married. The story is about a young woman starting a new job and starting her independent life and part of the story are her relationships and she's going to have many relationships. The relationship with Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey) is the seminal relationship she was going through in season one and in season two she's a little bit more free to get out and see what's out there and date [but] long term it's a possibility. Auggie and Annie do have great chemistry but if they were to go there right now, yeah, I think it would mess things up because I think it's pretty clear that that's not where the story is. We're just not there yet.
JH: How much more will we get to know Auggie this season?
CG: Early on he gets a big promotion at the CIA and has to decide what he wants his career to look like within the agency, which is a big decision that he has to make. A little later on, he is on vacation in Istanbul and something happens that sparks these flashbacks and we get to see him before he lost his sight in Iraq and we get to find out the real story of how he lost his sight. Of course, there's a romance involved there and I think he has another relationship coming down the line later this season.
JH: How was it playing Auggie with sight since you've been playing him blind since the show began?
CG: We just started shooting that episode so literally the day before yesterday was the first day doing it and it's a lot of fun! It's funny because it's weird in a different way. The first half of the day I was like 'Oh, I can make eye contact!' [Laughs.] It's been fun!
JH: Auggie is often the go-to person for Annie but who does Auggie have to lean on?
CG: Annie is really the new one at the agency and she is still figuring everything out. Auggie is at a place where he's really got that place dialed. The two characters on the show that we've seen him open to have been Annie and the other being Joan (Kari Matchett). I really love the relationship that Joan and Auggie have. There's just such a complete trust between them and they're so comfortable with each other and they rely on each other. I think it's a real strength of our show that it's not just one relationship that people can get into. All the relationships of the characters are interesting and real. Joan and Auggie have a great relationship but the Joan and Arthur (Peter Gallagher) relationship is so fun to watch! Even Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Auggie. You're never quite sure if they're friends or not friends. They seem to work okay together but I don't know that they really trust each other.
JH: Were you ever concerned that having Auggie blind would limit where the character could go especially this being a show with so much action?
CG: No. I was coming into this show from 'Ugly Betty' and 'Harper's Island' and based on the pilot script, I felt that the character of Auggie could go one of two ways. There was where he has gone, which is the perfectly legitimate romantic leading man, very capable, ex-military spy. Or he could just become the nerdy tech-geek and that Auggie was not someone I was interested in playing. I felt like I'd played that on 'Betty' already and I didn't want to do it again. So I had a really good conversation with Dave Bartis before I even went in to find out what they had in mind. The character they laid out is essentially who I am playing and it was someone I was interested in playing. The fact that he's blind presents some daunting challenges for me as a performer but also for the writers to find ways to keep him involved. People want to see him out in the field but how do you do it and make it believable? They've done an incredible job! This year, we have another Auggie-centric episode where he's out in the field but that's not the only time he's out there. I'm continually impressed with our writing staff.
"Covert Affairs" returns tonight at 10:00/9:00c on USA.