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Nic Bishop Chats About Covert Affairs [Exclusive] 

Photo Credit: Bruno Bebert/USA Network
Photo Credit: Bruno Bebert/USA Network

[Warning: General spoilers ahead. Read after you’ve watched “Trigger Cut.”]

By now you’ve watched the Covert Affairs mid-season premiere and you know McQuaid is alive and well, and very possibly, Annie’s significant other. We jumped on the phone with Nic Bishop last week to chat about what’s next for McQuaid and Annie, and the gift that Covert Affairs has been for him so far.

We kept things spoiler light during our conversation but Bishop did share that McQuaid will continue to be a fixture in Annie’s life, even if they don’t affix the formal terminology of boyfriend and girlfriend. Labels don’t really figure into the equation for them, and Bishop points out that McQuaid is less concerned than Annie about what everyone thinks “He’s a pretty adventurous individual who literally flies by the seat of his pants,” he says “And because he’s not part of the CIA, he doesn’t have to answer to anybody. All that relationship stuff is more of a concern to her because of who she’s worked for, and Auggie, obviously.”

Bishop also reminds us that McQuaid was set on Annie from the jump. “She doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve that much with regard to her feelings. I think it blindsided her a bit. From the very first episode, McQuaid asked her out,” he says. “Then she rejected him and they’ve slowly been getting closer, and building more trust, which is a big thing to her.”

Finding out that Caitlyn was the mole gave Bishop a rich arc to play because it was such a betrayal for his character. The revelation happened for the cast as the scripts were issued, so Bishop didn’t know whether he was or wasn’t the mole in the run up this season. “I’ve got to say the writers did a really terrific job. They kept us hanging as to how the story would unfold,” he says.

“When there’s a new character introduced, who’s also potentially a love interest, there’s going to be conflict. McQuaid doesn’t sit in the background. He’s vocal and has a presence in the way that he operates, so the potential was there for a lot of fingers to be pointed at him for quite a long time, especially by Annie. The writers kept us all guessing until it was revealed. It was great to play that tension all the way through.”

He particularly enjoyed playing the emotional aspects. “They’ve established McQuaid and Annie as people who follow their gut and their instincts. He is blindsided by the fact that his instincts, which were usually spot on and that’s how he’s lived his life and been very successful [up to now, failed him], and this woman who was right under his nose was doing these things the whole time and putting everything in his life in jeopardy,” he points out.

“It was a really great storyline to play. He wears expensive suits and flies planes and has private jets and a billion dollars in the bank, and it literally cripples him. Physically, because she shoots him, and emotionally, with regard to his trust and belief in people that are close to him.”

Photo Credit: Nicolas Galeano/USA Network
Photo Credit: Nicolas Galeano/USA Network

Now that they’ve wrapped, Bishop looks back at the season fondly. “I’ve got to say…this is one of those jobs [that has been] one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my career. There are so many components to it that are fantastic,” he says. His favorite standout moment is still the one we chatted about this summer—it was also a moment I highlighted in my recap of “Spit on a Stranger“—the scene between McQuaid and Annie when she pulls a gun on him and he has to make his case that he is innocent.

“I remember shooting it and rehearsing it and talking it through with Piper, who’s always just a delight to work with. And it was a really huge scene for our relationship, to use that as a term,” he recalls. “There were so many things hanging in the balance in that one scene. It was a really great piece of writing. It gave us a lot of information about both of the characters individually and what they mean to each other. You often shoot something and it ends up differently on the screen. What we did that day ended up on the screen and I was very proud of what we did and the writing.”

McQuaid has been equally at home in the field and as a corporate shark in the office, but Bishop says getting out of the suit and tie is where he finds his bliss as McQuaid. “There was an episode that Chris [Gorham] directed, and McQuaid was sitting at his desk and he came up to me afterward, and said, ‘you really don’t like being in the office, do you?,’” he laughs. “He’s an ex Navy Seal so he’s most comfortable when he’s got a weapon in his hand and his fatigues on and a backpack and he’s chasing the bad guy. He’d rather delegate the desk stuff.”

In the weeks to come, McQuaid will be anxious to get back out there again. “What I can say is that he is champing at the bit to get out in the field as quickly as possible, much to the chagrin and disappointment of other people around him and the medical staff,” Bishop teases. Wherever he is, McQuaid will continue to be important to Annie. “He certainly plays a very fundamental role in Annie’s life, as he done all season. He continues to challenge her personally, professionally, and emotionally. They become closer throughout the rest of the season. She starts to trust him a lot more and he does her.”

If we get a sixth season, Bishop says we could potentially see McQuaid into next year. “There’s always potential. McQuaid is very much in Annie’s life and a presence in her life,” he says. For now, Bishop is at work for the next couple of months on a feature film.

Covert Affairs airs Thursday at 10 pm/9c on USA.

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