Covert Affairs: Piper Perabo on Secrets Spilled, Eye-Opening Sex and Spoilery Sunflower Seeds
The “honeymoon” period may not last long for Covert Affairs‘ Annie Walker and Auggie Anderson, who not long after finally coupling found themselves immersed in a mystery that has roots in Colombia but hit close to home. And as Season 4 of the USA Network series continues to unfurl (Tuesdays at 9/8c), so many secrets will be kept, and spilled, altering the landscape more than even Arthur’s resignation will.
Meeting with TVLine at the SoHo cafe she co-owns, Covert star Piper Perabo previewed what may be the spy drama’s most defining season to date.
TVLINE | Annie has an interesting idea of pillow talk….
“You were great. By the way, you want to see my secret file?” They’re really workaholics, Annie and Auggie.
TVLINE | Did you have any concerns when the show decided to finally pull the trigger on this romance?
They always wrote the characters with this little frisson, and Chris Gorham and I were always trying to keep the idea of romance at a low simmer until they were ready. So in some ways I was like, “Pull the trigger already.” My biggest concern actually was the crew. After four years, they are really our friends, so for them to see us, like, get naked and make out…. [Laughs] Imagine you walk into your office on Monday morning and two of your co-workers who are not together are naked and making out in the office. One of our crew was so blushy….
TVLINE | How soon will their newfound closeness be put to the test?
Pretty quickly. Auggie has secrets that he has never told her, and they start kind of spilling out fast as she’s getting closer and closer to him. It puts the relationship under a great strain.
TVLINE | Is this information that he volunteers, or stuff that Annie starts picking up on?
She finds out about it, and then he has to either volunteer or lie, so he is stuck. He doesn’t come clean all at once.
TVLINE | Some are speculating that maybe he’s getting his sight back. I know Chris has been opposed to that idea.
Chris is opposed to that idea — although he had the idea that if he was ever going to get his sight back, he wanted it to be right after Annie and Auggie made love for the first time. Like, “I can see!” That was funny.
TVLINE | As I was watching the season premiere, now that they are together and on this mission to get to the bottom of whatever Henry is involved in, I felt like, “This is the show.” It’s Season 4, and this is the show.
I think you’re right. And in some ways, for people who’ve been following the whole time, it’s going to get satisfying, in that we’ve laid a very dense groundwork and all of these things are going to be growing out of it. Stories that you thought were over are not over. People that you never thought you could trust, you start to feel like you were justified with that feeling. All of the hens will come home to roost in Season 4.
TVLINE | You talked about Auggie’s secrets coming out, and Arthur’s got secrets, Joan’s got secrets…. What is Annie’s journey during this, not having any?
I was talking to the writers at the beginning of the year, and one of the things they said is that a big question for Annie is: Is it possible to have a normal life and be a spy? And even more specifically, is it possible to be a spy and be in a relationship? Relationships are about sharing, so if you have huge chunks of your life that you have to keep secret –and even though Annie and Auggie work together, there are things that for certain reasons she can’t share with him — it creates a strange strain. Although when we first started the show, I met women at Langley who are officers in the field and one of them had a wedding ring on. I asked, “Does your husband know what you do?” and she said, “No. He thinks I work for the State Department,” which is a common cover. But she said, “Sometimes I feel like he knows, but he knows it’s safer if he doesn’t push it.” I thought, “Wow. That’s a weird burden to carry in a marriage.”
TVLINE | What does the Arthur’s son reveal, specifically, do for story?
In the way that Arthur and Joan have always tried to protect and look out for Annie, she becomes very protective of Theo. He’s not just another asset, because he means so much to Arthur, so she starts taking some unnecessary risks to protect him and to believe in him — even when it seems like he may not be the most trustworthy person.
TVLINE | OK, but she doesn’t go back to Colombia. Because Hill Harper doesn’t want her back in Colombia. He’s had enough of you.
[Sheepishly] She goes back to Colombia. Yeah. It’s going to get dicey.
TVLINE | Now that Arthur has resigned, who’s going to fill that void?
It’s immediately addressed. In fact, you’ll find out this week.
TVLINE | It’s Hill Harper. One of those great TV coincidences.
[Smiles] I can’t tell you. But things are about to get really interesting.
TVLINE | The flash-forward that opened the premiere — do you know what exactly is going on in that moment?
I know — and in fact when I read that scene, I made a list of questions for what I needed to know, to be able to play it. Like, Annie’s in a black trench coat, so I said, “I need to know what’s under the trench coat.” Because Annie probably didn’t just wake up and stay in a trench coat all day. They had to know where she’s coming from, and where she’s going. And is that her gun? Was she expecting [Calder] when the elevator doors opened? Why is Auggie not completely surprised by what she’s doing, but very against it? The boys can be a little secretive, but I made them answer my questions for that scene.
TVLINE | What sort of guest stars are on tap for this season?
There’s Michelle Ryan [as Arthur’s mystery woman], Manolo Cardona (Theo)…. Actually, a bunch of characters you’ve seen in seasons passed start resurfacing when Arthur resigns, turning that whole world upside-down.
TVLINE | Does a part of you miss Annie having the touchstone of her sister?
I do. Anne Dudek is somebody that I’m friends with in real life, so to have her on set all the time was great — although she had a baby in real life, so it was good for her to get a chance to have months to focus on that. But I miss her.
TVLINE | What has being on this show done for your passport?
I need more pages! I had maybe eight [stamps] when I started the show, and just now the passport guy said, “You need more pages.” So I’ll go to the consulate in Toronto and then they have to do a whole thing.
TVLINE | And whenever you’re in New York City, do you make a point to check in on your restaurant here, Jack’s Wife Freda?
I do. The kitchen’s open until midnight, so sometimes when I fly into the city, I’ll just come straight here, put my luggage in the kitchen and eat dinner before I go home. There’s never any food in my refrigerator!
TVLINE | Give me an anecdote from one of the show’s location shoots.
After we filmed in Colombia, Matt Corman made a huge donation and had this overgrown field cut and made into a soccer pitch for the kids from this not-for-profit that we had met while we were there. We then rented a traveling screen and showed the episodes we shot there, inviting the whole town [to the field]. We got popcorn, hot dogs, plastic chairs for all the people who came, bringing their families…. It was like a movie premiere. It was a perfect night, one of those really special things.
TVLINE | What TV do you like?
I just started watching Vikings and I love it. A friend of mine was like, “It’s Sons of Anarchy in fur.” And I watch Homeland….
TVLINE | Are you ever like, “Hey, how come they get to do that and we don’t?”
Yeah! When I went to Langley, I wasn’t allowed to bring anything in but my car keys — and you’re certainly not allowed to bring in a cell phone. But on Homeland, they have cell phones in their CIA offices all the time. I’m like, “Claire [Danes], what are you doing?” But she does a really phenomenal job.
TVLINE | Lastly, offer up one more teaser for this season. Maybe about the picture Chris tweeted, the bag of spilled sunflower seeds that he said was from a real “OMG” moment.
I know. I was like, “What are you doing?” Chris is, like, such a liability. [Laughs] But yeah, that’s a huge moment. Back when I first read it I was like, “Can you even do that?”
TVLINE | So the moment this season when we first catch sight of some David’s sunflower seeds….
…you know you’re in real trouble!