In the Covert Affairs season 5 premiere, a new man will enter Annie's life in Ryan McQuaid. He's a billionaire, charming former Navy SEAL, who runs his own private intelligence contracting firm. Their paths cross when Annie takes on her first mission back in the CIA tracking a terror suspect.
I recently spoke with Nic Bishop about his new role as the charming Ryan McQuaid, the experience of joining the cast and travelling to international locations to film, the relationship between McQuaid and Annie and more. Check out our conversation about the show below.
What has the experience been like joining the cast of Covert Affairs?
It's been a really wonderful experience and everyone kind of welcomed me with open arms. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like initially because it's the first show I've joined as a series regular this far into the show itself. It's into season 5 now. The other shows that I've joined as a series regular have always been from the pilot stage. I wasn't sure how that was going to fly, but they've all been really terrific and I immediately felt like part of the team.
What drew you to the role of Ryan McQuaid?
Many things. I've played many similar roles like cops and detectives and kind of service people, and I've played a few military guys. I just thought he was a combination of so many things that I liked about those kinds of roles. And just the excitement of his energy and his kind of sense of adventure and his sense of just putting it right out there on the line and living life to the fullest.
He has the means to do it because he has a lot of money and he also has the training the skills to do it because of his background of being a Navy SEAL. I think that's a great combination of someone who will take risks but also has a really solid foundation of his training and background to really back it up.
McQuaid comes across as quite the charmer. Is that who he is? Or is it a facade that he puts out there?
I think he's definite enjoys getting a rise out of people and enjoys kind of pushing people's buttons and seeing what they're made of and what makes them tick. It's not malicious at all, I think it's just he enjoys it. He enjoys seeing what people have got underneath and seeing what they've got going on. Especially with Annie, he's trying to push her buttons all the time, which gives him much amusement and sense of enjoyment.
Is Annie able to give it as much as she gets it from him?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely, I mean to the point where she completely dismisses any of his charm [laughs] or whatever he's trying to do at times. I think they are really good sparring partners. I think that she won't admit it initially, but I think she really enjoys sort of jousting with him as much as he enjoys it. I just don't think that she's really come up against somebody like that in a while. I think she enjoys it and she can certainly give it back.
What is the reputation of McQuaid Security in the intelligence community?
I think it's incredibly good. His company is renowned as one of the best and one of the most reliable. That's the reason they're highly successful and they are worth a billion dollars or whatever it is. He has a long standing relationship with the CIA. He's known Arthur for a very long time. I think he's a trusted operator and his company is a trusted company and that's why he connects with her and the people at the CIA to work on all these different operations and cases.
What brings Annie and McQuaid together?
Basically, there is a terrorist attack on American soil and that leads her to go abroad and track down who this person is. And there is also a connection between who the suspect is and McQuaid, being that it's an ex-employee of his. And, so he sort of jumps on his plane and flies over to South America to do his own investigating and trying to get his own intel and they run into each other.
Has it been fun to film in other countries?
Oh, my God. It's been one of the most amazing experiences of my career of 20 years. I've never been part of a project like this where they just-- one minute you're filming in the studio in Toronto and the next minute they're like, "Okay, we're going to Colombia for two weeks." And, then two months later we're in the South of France and Paris to shoot. When you're standing out Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower or whatever it is and you're right there, it's just a pretty magical experience. It just means the work is going to be so much richer and so much better. It's been great.
In the premiere, Annie she asks McQuaid about how he treats his employees as family. Does he have a personal family or is his work his life?
I think his work is his life. We may find out at some point a bit more about his family, but he's very much focused on the empire he's created and that he's worked hard to achieve. I also think he's from the military background where it's like brothers and sisters. It's like a family, because you are literally depending on each other with your life. You are trusting each other with your life. He's very conscious about the people that he employs.
Is there anything that McQuaid can't do? He comes across as--
Nope. Nope. [Laughs]
He can do anything.
I mean what can't he do? I think that's the fun of the character that he really -- he's highly trained in all these different areas. And because he has financial security, he's learned to fly helicopters, he's learned to fly planes, he can drive boats, he can master any weapon. A lot of that is from the Navy SEAL training that he's had. I think he's used his time and resources to be able to be the guy who can do a lot of it.
Which means when he wants to say, "I'm going to Colombia" or "I'm going to Venezuela" or "I'm going to the South of France." I just jump on my private jet and I fly myself there. I don't have to wait around to organize anything. I can just do it. And that means he's getting the intel much quicker than other people. I'm yet to see him not being able to do anything to put it that way.
You mentioned that Arthur and McQuaid have known each other a long time. How does Arthur fit into McQuaid's plans?
Well, I think McQuaid is a smart operator and once he realizes Arthur is no longer with the CIA, he can certainly use and benefit from his skills and reputation and his connections and his experience and the respect people have for him. I think McQuaid sees him as a really great-- almost like a business partner rather than his employee. I don't think he looks at Arthur as an employee. I think he looks at someone he can walk side-by-side into a board room and that's a pretty powerful combination.
Anything else you want to tease about McQuaid's journey this season?
I think one of the most interesting things about the relationship with Annie is that we are constantly being challenged with the idea that she may not trust him. And should she trust him? Is he a good guy? And all these other things, which I think the audience will find kind of interesting throughout the season. It lends itself to a lot of great conflict between her and I, which we've had a lot of fun playing with.
Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on USA.
(Image courtesy of USA.)