But stepping behind the camera was not without its challenges — and a little hazing from the show’s crew! Below, the actor opens up about his experience helming the spy caper, his character’s upcoming blast from the past and whether Auggie and Annie will ever have that talk.
TVLINE | How long have you been campaigning to direct an episode?
I actually took [creators] Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord] out to dinner while we were shooting the pilot and told them that it’s something that I wanted to do [and] if the show went a couple seasons that I hoped they would consider me. [I] told them if there was anything they needed to see from me to prove that I was serious, to let me know. In the meantime, I’ve shadowed directors, and I’ve directed a couple of things for Funny or Die, gotten myself prepared and ready to do it and was fortunate enough that the show has lasted long enough and they were confident enough to give me the opportunity.
TVLINE | What was the most challenging aspect of stepping behind the camera?
It’s just a lot more work than my day job. [Laughs] I guess the unexpected thing was how much fun I had doing it even though there was so much more to do. I found it incredibly rewarding and immediate. The closest thing that I could compare it to would be like acting on the stage, because you get that very immediate response and feedback about what you’re doing and whether it’s working or not. When you’re directing, you see your ideas. You see them created right in front of you on the monitor and the sound stage. You get that experience all over again when you get into the editing room and you start playing with it. So I just had a blast.
TVLINE | Did they throw anything unusual at you in this episode?
No, they didn’t do anything on purpose… [Laughs] But the opening for this episode is a little unconventional for us because there’s no words in the whole, I think, first two scenes. Nothing is said. It’s all images. So I was able to get really creative with how I was playing with that, and especially building tension in the first scene in particular. The scene is only half a page in Annie’s apartment, and we took almost half a day shooting just that first part because I wanted to be able to cut it in a certain way. I just couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.
TVLINE | There seems to be a tradition of razzing when an actor directs. Did the cast give you any trouble?
The cast was great. The crew did a really funny thing. They made masks out of a picture of me and cut out the eyes. One day on set, they all pulled out these Chris Gorham masks and were holding them up. I tweeted out a picture, saying something like, “They make me do everything around here.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | What’s happening for Annie, Auggie and the team this episode?
It’s a big episode for Annie — bigger than some in the sense that it really kicks off the storyline for the rest of the season. Annie is given some intel by Eyal that she really runs with and vouches for based on her relationship with Eyal. Because of that intel, Arthur decides to launch a drone strike against someone, and the consequences of that are huge and ripple through the last four episodes. Also, Annie and Joan’s relationship comes to a head in a way that we haven’t really seen. And Joan and Arthur have some amazing moments, some of my favorite stuff. The emotional arc that they go through, I think people will be really happy about. For me, I feel like this is the episode where people start falling in love with Joan and Arthur again. I really love their stuff here. And Auggie gets an unexpected visitor, which gives him an opportunity to close a relationship in a way that is more satisfying to him and also introduces him to Operation Proper Exit, which is a program that he’s going to end up participating in in Episode 15.
TVLINE | Things were left a little complicated between Eyal and Annie last week, especially in regard to his intentions towards her. Where do things stand between them?
Things really get ratcheted up. Oded [Fehr] is not in this episode, but Eyal is very present and is talked about quite a bit. Like I said, the repercussions of this intel that he left for Annie and that she vouches for because of her relationship with him are going to be felt for the next several weeks.
TVLINE | Does Auggie trust Eyal?
He trusts him, but not like Annie trusts him. He doesn’t have the same relationship with him. Auggie trusts Annie, so it’s one of those things where if Annie is vouching for the guy, Auggie’s inclined to trust him. But he also wants to make sure that she’s keeping her eyes open, because what Auggie understands is that [Eyal] works for a competing spy agency. As much as you’re friends with someone like that, you have to remember where their primary allegiance lies, and that tends to be with their country.
TVLINE | First there was Simon, and now there’s Eyal. How is Auggie dealing with having yet another new guy stepping into Annie’s life, possibly with more-than-just-friendly intentions?
He still very much wants to have that conversation with Annie, and when the Eyal thing comes up, he’s — in his way — trying to figure out what that relationship is. That dynamic is explored ’til the end of the season.
TVLINE | Annie and Auggie never did discuss that thing he wanted to tell her in person. Is that something that comes up again?
Oh yeah, they’re going to have that conversation!
TVLINE | Is Annie curious about what he wanted to say?
It’s like real life. It comes and goes. It’s not something that you think about all the time, especially when you’re dealing with the stuff that Annie’s dealing with. But when it presents itself, you’re reminded that that’s still hanging out there. So yeah, it’s something that’s in her head. [But] I don’t think it’s something that’s all consuming because they have some pretty important things that they’re dealing with.