Piper Perabo, star of Covert Affairs, recently did a call with the press to talk about the new season. She’s so much fun to talk to, because you can really tell she loves her character, loves the cast & crew, and loves going to work.
Check out my questions first and then see what Piper had to say in response to questions from the other journalists.
Jenny: There’s obviously the change in dynamics between Annie and Auggie when they are split up. But I want to know some about how thatâ€™s going to affect Annie and Joan. Because they’re the other relationship in the show that to me is…really special.
Jump with me to read Piper’s response & the rest of the interview.
Piper: I agree. And Kari and I â€“ Kari Matchett, who plays Joan â€“ we had a bigger scene yesterday in Arthurâ€™s office. And you know, as much as it can be contentious between Annie and Joan, I think Joan in a lot of ways is Annieâ€™s sort of touch stone of a woman whoâ€™s done it right.
And so, when she comes under the guidance of Lena, although itâ€™s really…Lenaâ€™s division is really cool. Theyâ€™re a bunch of bad asses. Nobody has a desk. They sleep on the floor. They fly to Kabul for 2 hours and they fly back out. Like itâ€™s so rock and roll over at Lenaâ€™s itâ€™s kind of dangerous. And I think you know Joan and Annie, it gets contentious with Joan and Annie because Annie takes to Lena.
But I think Annie will come to realize what a kind of rock Joan is for her even though you know some – sometimes itâ€™s not so buddy, buddy with Annie and Joan. But Joan really does care about Annie. And I think Annieâ€™s going to start to realize that.
Jenny: Yes. I think thereâ€™s a respect there from both sides which is what makes the relationship so interesting to watch.
Piper: Oh, yes. Not only do you see interaction between them, but theyâ€™ll [happen in] places in our [normal work lives] that weâ€™ve always just like walked through like hallways and elevators and atriums and stuff like that that are usually just like part of a walk and talk when weâ€™re going somewhere. All of sudden, all these scenes start getting shot in those places because Annieâ€™s constantly trying to find Auggie, pulling him into a corner in the hallway, trying to copy him.
Trying to speak to Joan for you know the length of an elevator ride because itâ€™s her only chance to see Joan. And so all – weâ€™re shooting in these different places all in our set because weâ€™re having all these kind of secret conversations with Lenaâ€™s secret agency. So itâ€™s so funny like cause (unintelligible) were shooting the scene in the doorway like and weâ€™d pull each over into a corner and weâ€™re talking in the hallway.
And weâ€™re looking to see whoâ€™s in the hallway. And Iâ€™m like, â€œwith so much shit going on, I could just come to your office.â€ Itâ€™s not that way this season.
On Annie & Auggie being reassigned this season & the change in dynamics
Piper Perabo: Well, yes. Both Auggie and I are reassigned this season. And Auggie – we both go into more secretive departments, so, but different departments. And my office where I go to work is sort of in this bunker in the basement and heâ€™s working with the really high up powers of the CIA. And so weâ€™re not only physically very far apart from each other whereas we used to be our desks could see each other.
Now weâ€™re physically very far apart. And also because of whatâ€™s going on in our personal lives, we start you know seeing less and less of each other. And it causes, as the season goes on, that causes all kinds of problems because you begin to realize that having Andy and Auggie together is kind of – they support each other in a way that ends up solving things.
And when theyâ€™re not together, things just…wires get crossed all over the place.
On Annie & Danielle’s relationship this season
Piper: Well, I canâ€™t tell you exactly what happens with Danielle this season. But there is a big thing that happens in Danielleâ€™s life. And it sort of puts a strain on her relationship with Annie. Anne Dudek who plays Danielle, you know she went on the road with us and traveled at the end of season 2 and got involved in Annieâ€™s mission.
So now sheâ€™s really waist deep into the spy world with Annie. She knows how dangerous it is. She knows whatâ€™s going on. And so it makes Danielle worry even more now that she realizes the great risks that Annie is under. So when Danielleâ€™s life gets complicated, it puts a lot of stain on the sisters.
On whether or not Annie’s abilities, such as languages, have been hard or easy to pick up
Piper: The languages were not. Weâ€™re up to 18 languages that Annie speaks. And I told the writers they have to sort of put a lid on it because it started to get a little ridiculous. Although, you know some languages have gotten easier. At the beginning, Annie didnâ€™t speak any tonal languages. And now she speaks Mandarin. And so, the tonal languages are still really difficult for me.
But the European languages and Russian I sort of have a handle on. So at one point, the boys were saying if we – if we could find a way to justify it, we could do a whole act in a foreign language. And so, I think thatâ€™s such an exciting idea. And I donâ€™t know what language weâ€™d do it in. But, I just hope itâ€™s not Mandarin.
On Annie’s evolution and growth this season
Piper: Well, it was interesting. When the writersâ€™ room started talking about this change that was going to happen for Annie, you know we never wanted her to get too expert too fast. And when she was going to get all this sort of [autonomy] to make decisions out in the field and make decisions about her own missions, one of the ideas that came up was the idea of like a teenager who just got their driverâ€™s license.
And after theyâ€™ve been driving for a couple of weeks, they think theyâ€™re a great driver. And thatâ€™s when teenagers get into accidents. When they think you know they really know what theyâ€™re doing. And so that idea of the person who has newly acquired power, that thinks theyâ€™ve got it all under control and how colossally dangerous that is because they go sort of way too fast.
And so, I think Annieâ€™s just right for that kind of problem because she never looks before she leaps. And she often solves problems on the fly. So economy is not necessarily that useful, at least in the beginning. So itâ€™s going to cause a lot of problems for her.
On Annie’s relationship with Auggie this season after realizing her feelings
Piper: Well, it definitely puts a strain on the friendship when one person feels more strongly than the other person. At least, thatâ€™s my personal experience. So the problem is I mean you know itâ€™s sort of â€“ itâ€™s Auggie â€“ the fact that Auggieâ€™s blind in some ways mirrors his relationship with Annie. And itâ€™s fun to play the scenes with Chris Gorham because you can sort of be in love with him.
And as long as youâ€™re not saying anything, Auggie doesnâ€™t know. So thereâ€™s a lot of moments in the opening especially where Annieâ€™s trying to sort of keep her feelings under wraps. But itâ€™s you know itâ€™s plain as expression on her face. Just that Auggie doesnâ€™t know. Itâ€™s really fun to act it actually. And Chris Gorhamâ€™s constantly laughing because he could see me sort of peripherally while heâ€™s acting Auggie.
And then heâ€™s like, â€œCome on, gosh. Everybody would feel that smile coming at them.â€ You know heâ€™ll tease me a lot about how I look at Auggie.
I just shot a season of Episode 8 where Annie is supposed to have all those feelings tucked away in a little box that sheâ€™s supposed to leave on the top shelf of the closet. And then Auggie turns around and does something and literally Annie.
Itâ€™s like, you know when youâ€™re just so in love with someone and you have to be silent about it. And once in a while they do something that just sends you overflowing. Auggies does something like that in Episode 8. And it just…itâ€™s so cool to watch him do it. And itâ€™s so fun to play it that he canâ€™t see her.
Because as the girl, you can just melt. And he doesnâ€™t know. So, it starts to become undeniable to Annie. Iâ€™ll tell you that.
On whether or not we’re going to see a â€œballsier,â€ more risk-taking Annie this season
Piper: I think the moral gray area getting bigger is a good way to put it. I think as Annie gets given more missions that are higher security clearance and more personal and intimate, if you want to get into these places, you have to find a way.
And sometimes the way in is morally ambiguous. And I think to be that level of operative, you need to be willing to blur the lines. And so I think Annieâ€™s ambition to you know really play in the big leagues is going to come up against her – her moral code.
On how a decision Annie makes at the end of the season premiere will affect her
Piper: Well, you know weâ€™re…right now, weâ€™re filming Episode 8. And Annie is still dealing with the aftermath of what happens at the end of 1. I mean itâ€™s such a blurred line. And I think she makes a decision in the season premiere without really thinking it through. I mean she doesnâ€™t have time in that moment to really sit down and think it out.
Sheâ€™s just kind of…as is Annieâ€™s way, she just sort of leaps before she looks. And so, the emotional fall out from that goes for quite a while. And Iâ€™ve only read up to Episode 9 because the writers they keep it so secret. So I donâ€™t even know where sheâ€™s going to land in this. I mean it gets really confusing for her.
On how Annie’s new boss Lena affects her decision-making this season
Piper: Yes. Well, you know part of Lena [played by 24’s Sarah Clarke] is sheâ€™s super ambitious and she doesnâ€™t care about the rules. I mean way beyond Annie. Annie you know Annie will disobey Joan, but she still has moral integrity. She still tries to obey the laws best she can. Lena just is [all] about getting the op done at all costs.
And I think being around someone like that, itâ€™s sort of like. I always think of Lena as like when youâ€™re in high school and thereâ€™s that really cool girl who all of sudden invites you to a party or something. And sheâ€™s never talked to her before. Even though youâ€™re not supposed to go to the party, itâ€™s so exciting that that cool girl asked you to go. You think, â€œwell maybe Iâ€™ll just get in trouble and do this. Iâ€™m so excited she wants to hand out with me.â€
You know and I think Lenaâ€™s sort of like that. And sheâ€™s so talented. Sheâ€™s so highly regarded. Sheâ€™s so cool, that she starts having an effect on Annie.
On whether or not we can trust Lena or if she has a hidden agenda for Annie
Piper: Well, I had those questions at the beginning, too, but I canâ€™t really tell you the answer. What I can tell you is I think Lenaâ€™s good for Annie.
I think she needs a kind of push out of the nest. And she needs someone – you have to sort of – you know people can tell you how to do things until their blue in the face. But if you donâ€™t experience something, you donâ€™t really know how to do it. And I think Annie is ready to take on bigger missions. And although Lenaâ€™s methodology may be questionable, I think itâ€™s good for Annie to be under that kind of boss.
On what she thinks of Annie’s progress so far as an operative
Piper: I think Annieâ€™s progress is pretty impressive considering how often she breaks the rules that sheâ€™s still alive. So Iâ€™m proud of her for not dying. I think most people would not have made it this far. And I also think you know progress wise, what she has to balance between life and work, I can relate to. I mean my job is not life threatening nor does National Security depend on it.
But itâ€™s still hard to balance a busy career and family and social life. And I think considering how much stress sheâ€™s under, she does a pretty good job staying connected to the people she loves. And itâ€™s – and itâ€™s something that I admire in her that you know when sheâ€™s been away from Danielle or when she has spoken to her nieces in a while, it does weigh on her.
And that – thatâ€™s important to her and stays in the front of her mind amid such an ambitious career. I just like that about her.
On whether she enjoys the dramatic part or the action part of the show more
Piper: Well, I enjoy them both. I mean, Iâ€™m – I like the acting you know. Thatâ€™s really where my heart is. But this show, I like how we do action on this show. Itâ€™s a real Doug Liman style where weâ€™re real run and gun with handheld 5D Canon cameras. And when we shoot in the – when we shoot internationally, most of the time, we donâ€™t block off a street. You know we donâ€™t have cops to shut it down.
We just go. So the whole world starts invading our set. And then weâ€™re on foot. And the camera boys are used to it. So, it gets…the action has a great acting component in the show because of the way we shoot it.
Thanks to Piper for taking some time out of her schedule before heading back overseas to film another episode of Covert Affairs! Be sure to welcome her to Twitter @PiperPerabo and tell her how much you enjoy the show. Don’t miss the season premiere tonight on USA Network at 10/9c!