I recently got to speak to one of my favorite actors on the planet, star of USA Network’s Covert Affairs, Chris Gorham. He’s such a geniunely nice guy, and so sweet and cute, it almost hurts. At one point early in the call, his son—who was with him—started making a lot of noise in the background. He asked the caller to hold on a sec and handed his kiddo off to his brother, who was there. Just hearing him interact with the adorable little voice in the background made me melt.
Aside from being a nice guy, Chris plays the absolutely fabulous character of Auggie Anderson, who was blinded while on a mission overseas with his Special Ops team. Tonight’s Covert Affairs episode goes behind the scenes to answer some questions and talk about this episode in particular and how it will affect the show in the future. I’ve seen the ep already myself, and I have to say, honestly, it’s one of my favorite—if not THE favorite—episode of the series so far. I can’t wait until you see it and you can let me know if you liked it, as well!
Check out the great Q&A with Chris below!
On why he thinks it was so important to delve into Auggie’s past—particularly how he became blind—when Covert Affairs is primarily a story about Annie
Chris Gorham: Well, I think it’s all tied into Annie’s story really. I mean – you know because you’re right. This show is about Annie Walker. It’s not about Auggie Anderson, and it’s not about you know the Annie and Auggie. It’s about Annie.
And you know, why it’s important is because this is an important step in a very important relationship in her life. You know, her relationship with Auggie is very important within the context of her life and especially where she is right now. And this is a big step for those two characters.
So I think you know, that’s why an episode like this is important and not just fun.
Jump with us to read more!
On filming in Istanbul & working with Rebecca Mader
Filming in Istanbul was one of the most extraordinary trips I’ve ever taken. You know, it’s – it was just one of those moments in your life where you just have to step back and just say thank you. You know, whether – you know, it’s for you know something – or you know for just saying thank you to God or the Universe, or to whomever.
It’s just one of those moments where – you know, I mean I get flown to someplace like that – it’s one of the most extraordinary places in the world. Get completely taken care of. I get to do this amazing job that I love while I’m there. All the while, seeing these incredible places and being taken and eating incredible food. And then, I get to come home and I’ve got my family with me you know, for the summer in Toronto. And, it’s just – it was kind of overwhelming really.
And, it was amazing for the show. You know, we’re so lucky that we have you know producers – the producers that we have who are so creative and have figured out a way to take these characters and you know instead of being satisfied with sticking them in front of a green screen, finding ways to send them to Puerto Rico, to send them to Paris, to send them to Istanbul, to Rio. You know, just incredibly grateful.
Rebecca Mader, she’s incredible. She was so much fun. You know, and she – and also like just the right kind of actress to come in and play this role, because like her character, she – you get thrust into this kind of crazy adventure. You know, we flew up to – up and back to Toronto two or three times, and then fly her you know, across her across the globe to Istanbul to shoot.
Like what was – it felt like a little guerilla independent film for three days. And, she just really rolled with it and we had a great time. And she’s so talented and – so yes, she was amazing.
On how it felt to get an episode focused specifically on Auggie
You know, it’s – it feels great, you know. It’s – you know, I think – like I was saying earlier, it’s like I don’t feel – part of the reason why I feel it’s great is because I feel it’s very much in keeping with what we’re doing with the show. Like I don’t feel like it’s just like a gratuitous way to satisfy me personally. You know, like I feel like it’s part of the larger fabric of Covert Affairs and the story of Annie Walker and where she is right now. And so you know, it feels good.
And largely, it feels – mostly because I feel like we’ve done it well. You know, Auggie is a very unique character. He’s a leading man who’s a disabled vet, and you know what he’s gone through is something that thousands of our veterans have gone through. And so, you have to respect it. Like you can’t just you know, make things up whole cloth. You have to kind of go and really explore the real emotions and the real journey that these men and women go through every day. And, I feel like that we did that justice.
On how much input he had into Auggie’s back story
The actual events that happened – I don’t know if they were set in stone, but they were maybe set in quick dry concrete. It was a question that I had actually for Chris and Matt — the creators of the show — when we were shooting the pilot. Because you know, in the pilot he tells the story to Annie – this is one of the many versions of the story that he’s told to Annie and other characters about (unintelligible).
And, I just thought that it didn’t sound real. Why would you get out of your armored Humvee to go investigate a dead dog? But, they assured me that you know based on their research – the people they’d talked to, that stuff like that did happen.
And they also said, “You know, listen. We know where this is going. Just trust [us].” And so you know, I – so I did. And it did turn out fine I think. I – you know, I’m really happy with how it turned out.
I think that where – typically where I have the most influence is sometimes when you kind of – the emotional journey. And then just when I pick up little things – little details from my own research that I can come in and add.
You know, I met with a military advisor, an Army Captain, in preparation for this episode and brought a few things to the table based on the conversations that we had had. And then you know, with my blind research — I have a lot of it as far as to what goes on with the show.
On preparing for the military part of his back story & training to do a fight scene as a blind character
I talked with two different guys. One in the States and then one guy who’s up in Canada working with our show directly. And – yes, so I did, and we had long conversations and we went over the script and talked in detail about the stuff that was feasible. The stuff that wasn’t.
Things that felt like you know might be tweaked. Things that he felt like were totally great. And kind of – and for me, some of the questions too was like, “Well, how much freedom do I have?” You know what’s kind of set in stone? What’s kind of fluid? What’s made up between the guys you know, in theater? So some really great, interesting conversations that…
And also like physically, like what things look like? You know, what does it look like when you know, an IAD blows up? What does it feel like? You know, demeanor? What – you know, do you wear your helmets even when you’re in the Humvee traveling between cities in the middle of nowhere? You know, like random stuff like that.
Yes. Well you know, it’s – I’ve given up the – you know, they wrote a – they wrote that into the script. A big part of this fight scene was how important it was for Auggie not to lose contact with the guy he’s fighting. And so you know, our stunt coordinator – our stunt guys really designed the fight that it – really, it hinges life or death on making sure that he can stay physically connected to this guy. Because as long as he’s physically connected, then he can win the fight.
And you know, what then becomes exciting and dramatic within the fight is then the moment where he loses that connection, and then you see how very limited he can become very quickly.
On filming a bit of a darker, heavier storyline and how it felt to go from blind to sighted to blind and back again during filming
So like the process isn’t much different. I – you know, maybe the tone sometimes on set changes a little bit, you know, for the heavier stuff. But it’s maybe – it’s not quite as different an environment anyway as you might think it is, depending on the tone of the episode week to week.
And while we do deal with some like – some pretty heavy you know, emotional issues in this episode that – you know, there’s also some fun to be had. So it’s – you know, it’s not a full on tissue box from start to finish, but you might want to have it for the end.
[In regard to going from sighted to blind and back,] you know what, it was weird. It was – it didn’t feel – that’s funny, because playing him sighted didn’t – suddenly didn’t totally feel like Auggie. You know? So it was kind of strange. You know, the first day – we only did the sighted stuff for a couple days, but you know for the first maybe few hours anyway of the first day. Like I really had to consciously say, “Oh, okay. I can make eye contact. It’s okay. You can make eye contact. You can see,” you know, to kind of remind myself that it was all right.
[Note from Jenny: These were my questions!]
On how this will affect the Annie/Auggie relationship and dynamic & what the ramifications will be in the short & long term
Well, we’ll see. We’ll see. I guess – you know, it’s – part of I think why people respond so much to the relationship between Annie and Auggie is because we – we work very hard to keep – there’s tension between the two of them that’s – it’s like – you just – you’re not sure where the relationship’s going to go. You’re not sure like are they just friends? Are things going to get romantic? Like, what’s going to happen?
And we really like living there right now. We really like that there are many possibilities and there is great tension in those possibilities. So right now, we very much like where we are.
You know at some point, you’re going to have to start – you know just like in life, you’re going to have to start making choices and then there’s going to be consequences to those choices. And you know, we’re not there yet, but sooner or later it’ll happen.
I – honestly, I think that the bigger ramifications come in the kind of deepening of their friendship. And because Auggie’s telling – I mean, that’s why – I don’t know how to say this without (giving it away). I think she gets her payback at the end of this episode. You know, the fact that this is all being revealed is his thank you to her.
Well, I think it’s a place to build on you know what I mean? And I’m trying to think in the last three episodes of the summer season – yes, we don’t – like you don’t – you’re not going to see – at least in the short-term like a direct link to what happened in this episode. But what happens in this episode is – changes their relationship.
You know, Auggie really opens up to her for the first time about something that’s very close to him and something he has only told maybe two people. So you know over the course of the series, I think this will be a defining moment for those two characters.
On why he chose a new CIA recruit to reach out to and trust with this personal aspect of his life
Well, I think it’s part of – I would say two things. I would say one is that you’re right. It’s unusual, especially for Auggie, to reveal so much about himself, and certainly something so intensely personal.
The flip side of that is I feel that his relation – he and Annie’s relationship is also a highly unusual one for him. That for whatever reason, he’s – he was drawn to this woman from the beginning. There’s something I think about Annie that rings very familiar to him. That he in many ways sees a lot of himself in her, and has taken her under his wing and feels very protective towards her.
And over – you know now we’re in our second season, so it’s not like it’s brand new. They’ve become good friends. And in this particular instance, the fact that he’s revealing this information to her is not arbitrary. It’s truly something that he feels he owes her because of her helping him out in a very tough squeeze and a very tough spot.
On what core emotion he thinks is underneath the surface for Auggie, what he relies on to make it through his current existence
I was – the first thing that came to mind – I don’t know if it’s so much an emotion, but there’s – it’s ambition. But, there is – you know, Auggie is one of these human beings who just has an intense fire burning inside of him.
You know, he’s the type of person that just simply not only won’t give up, but like can’t give up, because those are the only type of people that can become you know, special forces. Like guys like Seal Team 6 that took out Osama bin Laden. These are like the best of the best. The most physically and mentally fit and sound and most driven human beings on the planet. And Auggie is one of those people.
And you know, so in that way – not just because you know he lost his site and he’s succeeding after that. You know, I mean – you know, he’s an extraordinary person with site or without.
See the new episode of Covert Affairs tonight on USA Network at 10/9c!