Covert Affairs is taking a break this week, but we had the chance to chat with co-creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord on a conference call recently, and we picked their brain about the show’s third season.
We started by asking about the travelogue aspect and whether the writing informed the destinations or the destinations dictated the locations in the scripts. According to Chris Ord, it’s a combination of all of that. “The story dictates that certain things take place in certain countries and [we] look into ways that we can shoot there and then sometimes it’s a question of the country being interesting and creating a good backdrop for a spy story and we’ll write to that,” he says.
“[We] started doing this [as] early as season one and then last year we really explored it even further with trips to Venice and Berlin and Stockholm and Paris. [It’s] a spy show, so that needs to reflect that there’s an international intrigue spy story going on.” He adds that they’ve found a way to do shoot internationally on budget and get the actors into the different countries, boosting the production value of the show.
When we spoke to Piper Perabo last month, she mentioned that the whirlwind trips had a guerrilla filmmaking aspect to them and Matt Corman agrees with that description. “We usually go with [maybe] six or eight people and then we pick up local crews when we’re there. And it’s run and gun,” he says. He adds that having a lead like Perabo has been integral to the success of shooting on the fly. “We need[ed] an actor like Piper who’s comfortable with [changing] wardrobes in the street or in a restaurant and literally run[ning] from location to location. You have to be as excited by foreign travel and as game as Piper is because it’s not glamorous. It’s just about running like maniacs to get what we can.” The producers are proud that they’re able to bring that authenticity to the production.
We also chatted about the wish list of guest actors, and both producers feel incredibly fortunate to have landed Richard Coyle in the role of Annie’s love interest and target, Simon Fischer, who was found during a casting read in London. ”It’s such a key role that we knew we needed to dig deep,” says Corman. “We actually flew him from London to New York where he did a chemistry read with Piper, which Doug Liman directed. So he really ran Richard trough his paces and we got to see how he and Piper looked together, how they acted off one another. [It] was a pretty vigorous process to make sure he was the right guy.”
Corman says beyond being a tremendous actor, Coyle “can embody the economy” of Fischer. “You don’t know whether he’s to be trusted or not. He can be very charming. He can be very smart,” he says. “He just [has] this great acting vocabulary where he can be trustworthy or not trustworthy.”
When we chatted with Perabo, she also likened this season to Annie’s teenage years and Ord says that’s definitely their take on her arc this year, too. “We made a conscious choice to kind of amp up the stakes this season,” he says. “[W]e really see this season of Annie’s teenage years of the CIA and with those [everything comes into question and there's] more passion [and] greater stakes and… we just want to make sure that the stakes are equal to the long arc sentiments we are trying to convey.”
The separation of Annie and Auggie also has played into the producers’ plans. “[Annie] is starting to want, crave and experience more independence,” says Corman. “I mean, there [are] still key relationships in her life…but I think she is yearning for a little more autonomy and she’s getting it. But like everything you want when you’re a teenager, it’s a two-edged sword, and what you want may not necessarily be what you need.”
Covert Affairs returns next Tuesday at 10 pm/9c on USA.