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Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Interview with Covert Affairs' Christopher Gorham


While on a recent visit to the set of USA's Suits, we got a surprise visit from Christopher Gorham! The series he stars in for the same network, Covert Affairs, houses its stages in the same building as Suits, and taking a break from filming some webisodes, Christopher is generous enough to stop by and speak with us.

For those who don't know, Covert Affairs follows several CIA agents on various missions. Gorham's character's name is Auggie, a veteran who is blind from a war injury. Learning braille and being set up with his own, customized computer station, Auggie is a master at monitoring events and helping out the central character, Annie (Piper Perabo), with just about whatever she needs it.

Today, Chris's visit feels a bit odd. After all, he's in his CIA wardrobe, complete with name badge, and he's sitting in the Pearson Hardman conference room. Admittedly, plenty of people with suits occupy the same space on a regular basis, but perhaps because Auggie is such a familiar character, it's a little surreal. Which is probably why the Suits guys won't let Gorham cameo in the background of their show, no matter how much he begs. That, and his dress clothes, paid for on a government salary budget, aren't quite up to the standard the high-paid lawyers at Pearson Hardman set.

But Gorham likes working near the Suits guys. While their schedules are typically different, they do get to cross paths from time to time, and the actor even recently enjoyed a dinner with Patrick J. Adams. It gives them a chance to talk about "lame actor stuff," which only other actors can really appreciate. It also might make the remoteness of Toronto, far removed from most television productions, seem a little less remote.

The first topic has to be the websidoes, as they are what brings Groham into work today. They are set a year prior to the first episode of Covert Affairs, following Auggie as he first becomes a handler, and only a little more than a year after he has gone blind, which means that he's still learning how to operate without sight. It will be a five episode serial, which a choose-your-own-adventure element. That's kind of brilliant, really, providing ample opportunity for repeat viewings, just to see the different ways the story could go. Of course, that will require a lot more filming than a standard series. Once the whole experiment is complete, a linear version will be made available for those not wishing to play the game.

The webisodes are just the dessert, though, and there's plenty of main course to talk about! Groham promises that season three will get much more serial, with an arc that takes ten installments to play out! Things will begin to get deeper for the characters, especially taking the time to explore the emotional stuff. There will also be a sense of urgency, coming after a huge, game-changing premiere that really kicks the story into high gear and sets a new tone! Being evasive, Gorham does say that things are not always what they seem, and there should be quite a few surprises. And pirates.

Speaking of the pirates, Auggie will encounter them in Africa. Fans might remember that last season ends with Auggie heading off to the far-away continent. Gorham promises that he is back before the start of season three, but will be making another trip there in the third episode. Auggie isn't leaving the series by any means; he's just expanding his world a bit.

Covert Affairs takes place all over the world, and this year is no different. Among the locales features in upcoming episodes, besides Africa, are Puerto Rico, Barcelona, Russia, and Cuba. Well, a stand-in for Cuba, at least, but the characters will be in the isolated island country. Even better, there was time while shooting in Barcelona to film some stuff for the webisodes, which increases their production value quite a bit over the typical internet fare!

Romance will certainly not be in short supply in the third season of Covert Affairs, especially where Auggie is concerned. Season two ended with Annie and Auggie finally realizing their feelings for one another. This will be explored quite a bit this season. In fact, episode three features the pair in bathing suits on the beach, while episode two sees them on a field mission pretending to be a married couple. Episode four has the two of them in Auggie's apartment, so you do the math on where this is going.

Auggie will have to balance Annie, though, with Parker (Devin Kelley), who he is not through with. So he should be getting quite a bit of action! Through Gorham vehemently denies that Auggie fakes his blindness just to get the girls.

The male relationships in Auggie's life aren't any easier. After the stunt Jai pulls on him in season two, they no longer like or trust each other, even if there still is some respect between them. Their rivalry will be explored further in season three, with some fallout coming for Jai's actions. Gorham says he has heard rumblings of an "interesting resolution," but declines to speculate on the specifics.

Chris is very grateful for the acceptance he feels from the blind community, he himself not being blind, but portraying a blind man. He gets plenty of interaction at Characters Unite events, and spends time with veterans, another category Auggie falls into. Because of the part, Gorham is a lot more tuned in to the needs of those various populations, even (jokingly) giving co-star Piper crap for not having braille menus in her New York restaurant. That has since been corrected!

Gorham was very relaxed and natural during the interview. He did seem to want to keep saying things he wasn’t allowed, but producer Gene Klein was (sadly) there to keep him in check. It was a fun and informative conversation. Thank you, Christopher, for your time!

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Click here for all of my Suits set visit articles! Article first published as Talking with Christopher Gorham of Covert Affairs on TheTVKing.com

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