'Legends' Interview: Steve Harris Discusses Challenges Facing His Undercover Team
'Legends' Interview: Steve Harris Discusses Challenges Facing His Undercover Team
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Legends premiered last Wednesday and introduced us to Martin Odum, a master of multiple undercover personalities. He doesn't pretend to be someone else, instead he becomes someone else. After being out of touch for six months, Martin returned to the fold.

This summer, I caught up with Steve Harris during the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour to discuss his role as Nelson Gates, who leads the undercover unit. He talked about the challenges of leading the group, the relationship with Martin, Martin's secret, Nelson's past and managing Crystal.

What kind of boss is Nelson Gates?

It's ever evolving. It's a different kind of job being the boss of this undercover crew. You have to keep that afloat. For me, personally, I feel like he's a guy that you understand that he's in charge and you understand that he has your best interest at heart. At the same time, he sort of keeps all the balls afloat. He has to have the pulse of what's going here, what's going there, what's going here. I think thus far, we've been able to do that sort of in the house.

Martin and Nelson have a long standing relationship and respect for each other. When Martin comes back after missing for six months, why is he so accepting about bringing Martin back into the group?

I think as we evolve you'll see that our relationship has delivered itself to more. I know more about his past than we are opening doors with. And things that he may not even know as of yet. I really feel that I have to have a special understanding in regards to Martin Odum. He's not only these legends he's -- it's part of my job. This is what we've got to do. 

We've got to catch the bad guys. [Martin is] the best guy at catching the bad guys playing these sorts of roles, but I also have to understand that he's flawed and he's damaged and I have to understand that part of the damage I can't let him know about. So it gives me more room and understanding about someone like that.

I would never let [Crystal or Maggie] do it or anyone else who works there, but him I give a little room, not only because he's the star athlete on the team but because I know he's been damaged.

For Martin, it seems like his damage is what allows him to be so good undercover.

Yes, absolutely. You can see that in athlete, people always remember the flu game with Michael Jordan. What we remember is that he still performed and lifted everyone else up. We have a consideration for someone who can be in pain and still perform. On the other side of it, Lebron James gets the cramps this year and if you've never had those particular cramps you don't know what you're talking about. At the same time, you have to be better than that. 

In the first episode, Martin gets information that he may not be who he thinks he is. Does Nelson know anything about that? 

Initially, no. I think we should be going, "What's wrong with you?"  

One of the components that makes this show different is the question of "What if this guy does have a past that he can't see?" And in turn, who else knows about it? If the show really has an opportunity to breathe and open up I can't see why we wouldn't we would have to bounce into that. Otherwise, in some instances it's a good guy bad guy kind of show. Undercover and all that kind of stuff.

As the show opens up, we'll have to see if he's going crazy? Is his legends too much for him that he can't be balanced? Or is this all cracking open and we discover that there is something back there.

Does Nelson have legends?

Part of my history is that I used to do this. I understand what it takes to be into this and how damaging it can be and how you can get out of it. I think that's part of it. You want a guy who's already played and understands that aspect of it. I think that helps also for me to be a better boss, to understand the bureaucracy, but you always know that I'm a player's coach. 

Somebody has to deal with the business side, it's like being an actor. It's the business side. You may love acting but it's the difference between doing it in your living room and in front of 10 million people. You have to deal with that. Ultimately I have to be able to play this game in order for him to respect me, he needs to know this is a guy who's dealt with the issues I'm dealing with and seemingly came out balanced on the other end.

In the premiere, Crystal doesn't agree with Nelson's decision. How does his relationship build with her even though he didn't listen to her?

I think Crystal is in a unique position. She's working with an unstable cat, right? Basically. She has a job to do and I have a job to do. And I have a job to do and my job is I'm your guys' boss. Make it work. That's what I have to do. I have to get him off the ledge and get her to say it will pan out if you just ride with me. That's part of it. She's good at what she does and ultimately the reason they are a pairing is because she's good at what she does and he's good at what he does and if I can get them to work together the skies the limit.

She should be questioning everything she's questioning. Absolutely. And I know she should be questioning. I still have to say ride with me. I have to think beyond just the two of them as a team and I have to think of the team of the entire organization. I know you two guys together can be so much better than whatever else people are talking about, whatever else we're running here you two guys can top all of that. But I need you to do it and I need you to trust me a little bit and get down and I need him to stop thinking about being somebody else. Get to the job at hand.

At the end of the hour, she agrees with what Martin did. Will we see conflict?

I think we have too. We all have a family and everything ain't smooth. You might tell the world that everything's cool but you know everything's not smooth at home all the time. I think that this is a family. The way Martin does things could rub her the wrong way and what she's able to pull off he'd never be able to do. I think you have to have that. It shouldn't just come from her side, it has to come from his side too. 

Legends airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET on TNT.

(Image courtesy of TNT.)