Interview with Piper Perabo from Covert Affairs

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 that’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 – Kari Matchett, who plays Joan – we had a bigger scene yesterday in Arthur’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 Annie’s sort of touch stone of a woman who’s done it right.

And so, when she comes under the guidance of Lena, although it’s really…Lena’s division is really cool. They’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 it’s so rock and roll over at Lena’s it’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 it’s not so buddy, buddy with Annie and Joan. But Joan really does care about Annie. And I think Annie’s going to start to realize that.

Jenny: Yes. I think there’s a respect there from both sides which is what makes the relationship so interesting to watch.

Piper: Exactly.

Jenny: And will we actually get to see interaction between Annie and Joan or Annie and Auggie, even though they’re not working directly with each other anymore?

Piper: Oh, yes. Not only do you see interaction between them, but they’ll [happen in] places in our [normal work lives] that we’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 we’re going somewhere. All of sudden, all these scenes start getting shot in those places because Annie’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 it’s her only chance to see Joan. And so all – we’re shooting in these different places all in our set because we’re having all these kind of secret conversations with Lena’s secret agency. So it’s so funny like cause (unintelligible) were shooting the scene in the doorway like and we’d pull each over into a corner and we’re talking in the hallway.

And we’re looking to see who’s in the hallway. And I’m like, “with so much shit going on, I could just come to your office.” It’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 he’s working with the really high up powers of the CIA. And so we’re not only physically very far apart from each other whereas we used to be our desks could see each other.

Now we’re physically very far apart. And also because of what’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 they’re not together, things just…wires get crossed all over the place.

On Annie & Danielle’s relationship this season

Piper: Well, I can’t tell you exactly what happens with Danielle this season. But there is a big thing that happens in Danielle’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 Annie’s mission.

So now she’s really waist deep into the spy world with Annie. She knows how dangerous it is. She knows what’s going on. And so it makes Danielle worry even more now that she realizes the great risks that Annie is under. So when Danielle’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. We’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 didn’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 that’s such an exciting idea. And I don’t know what language we’d do it in. But, I just hope it’s not Mandarin.

On Annie’s evolution and growth this season

Piper: Well, it was interesting. When the writers’ 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 driver’s license.

And after they’ve been driving for a couple of weeks, they think they’re a great driver. And that’s when teenagers get into accidents. When they think you know they really know what they’re doing. And so that idea of the person who has newly acquired power, that thinks they’ve got it all under control and how colossally dangerous that is because they go sort of way too fast.

And so, I think Annie’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 it’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, that’s my personal experience. So the problem is I mean you know it’s sort of – it’s Auggie – the fact that Auggie’s blind in some ways mirrors his relationship with Annie. And it’s fun to play the scenes with Chris Gorham because you can sort of be in love with him.

And as long as you’re not saying anything, Auggie doesn’t know. So there’s a lot of moments in the opening especially where Annie’s trying to sort of keep her feelings under wraps. But it’s you know it’s plain as expression on her face. Just that Auggie doesn’t know. It’s really fun to act it actually. And Chris Gorham’s constantly laughing because he could see me sort of peripherally while he’s acting Auggie.

And then he’s like, “Come on, gosh. Everybody would feel that smile coming at them.” You know he’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 she’s supposed to leave on the top shelf of the closet. And then Auggie turns around and does something and literally Annie.

It’s like, you know when you’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…it’s so cool to watch him do it. And it’s so fun to play it that he can’t see her.

Because as the girl, you can just melt. And he doesn’t know. So, it starts to become undeniable to Annie. I’ll tell you that.

On whether or not we’re going to see a “ballsier,” 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 Annie’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 we’re…right now, we’re filming Episode 8. And Annie is still dealing with the aftermath of what happens at the end of 1. I mean it’s such a blurred line. And I think she makes a decision in the season premiere without really thinking it through. I mean she doesn’t have time in that moment to really sit down and think it out.

She’s just kind of…as is Annie’s way, she just sort of leaps before she looks. And so, the emotional fall out from that goes for quite a while. And I’ve only read up to Episode 9 because the writers they keep it so secret. So I don’t even know where she’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 she’s super ambitious and she doesn’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, it’s sort of like. I always think of Lena as like when you’re in high school and there’s that really cool girl who all of sudden invites you to a party or something. And she’s never talked to her before. Even though you’re not supposed to go to the party, it’s so exciting that that cool girl asked you to go. You think, “well maybe I’ll just get in trouble and do this. I’m so excited she wants to hand out with me.”

You know and I think Lena’s sort of like that. And she’s so talented. She’s so highly regarded. She’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 can’t really tell you the answer. What I can tell you is I think Lena’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 don’t experience something, you don’t really know how to do it. And I think Annie is ready to take on bigger missions. And although Lena’s methodology may be questionable, I think it’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 Annie’s progress is pretty impressive considering how often she breaks the rules that she’s still alive. So I’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 it’s still hard to balance a busy career and family and social life. And I think considering how much stress she’s under, she does a pretty good job staying connected to the people she loves. And it’s – and it’s something that I admire in her that you know when she’s been away from Danielle or when she has spoken to her nieces in a while, it does weigh on her.

And that – that’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, I’m – I like the acting you know. That’s really where my heart is. But this show, I like how we do action on this show. It’s a real Doug Liman style where we’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 don’t block off a street. You know we don’t have cops to shut it down.

We just go. So the whole world starts invading our set. And then we’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!

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