Having leaped into its second season with both feet, Covert Affairs made its Comic-Con debut this year in San Diego. After their packed panel in Ballroom 20, the stars and producers of the show spoke to reporters. Among them was Piper Perabo, the Golden Globe-nominated actress who stars as CIA agent Annie Walker.
How’s it going for you so far?
Piper Perabo: It’s going good. We just did the panel, and I didn’t know we”re gonna be in such a big room. It was totally full, and the kids were, like, freaking out! And it’s really good.
You’ve never been here before?
Piper Perabo: I’ve never been. Sendhil [Ramamurthy, Jai on Covert Affairs] had, with Heroes, so we’re sort of letting him be our fearless leader. He knows what he’s doing.
Were you excited about the reaction?
Piper Perabo: Oh yeah. They were, like, cheering before we even came out, and they have really great questions, like… they’re clearly kids that watch the show and they’re asking sort of nuanced questions about the history of the character and where it’s going, you know… one girl asked if we’re going to, like, fix Chris Gorham’s character, like make it so he’ll be able to see. And we’re all like, “No!” Like, “Oh, he’s great the way he is!” And they were all cheering and stuff. It felt like it was so cool that they’re kind of… you know, that’s how the actors feel about it, too, so it’s cool that the fans are kind of on the same side as we are.
How did you physically prepare for the role?
Piper Perabo: Well, before we start each season, I start training a couple of months in advance. But last year, in the finale, I broke my leg in a fight scene, so the training wasn’t quite the same at the beginning of season 2.
But once the show is up and running, so am I. Like, literally, I run and fight through so much in each episode, that I definitely do not have to go to the gym afterwards. I’ve been, like, kickboxing all day, so I could eat whatever I want, like hot wings come out from craft service, and I’m like, “I’ll have a lot of them.” It’s such a physically demanding show that it just keeps you in shape.
I’ve heard a lot of actors say that the second season is really starting to find the character more. How’s it been for you in season 2?
Piper Perabo: Well, I think, you know we try to really raise the bar. Doug Liman really likes us to push it with the action. And we started filming internationally this year. We did Puerto Rico for Guam, and we did Paris and Istanbul. We’ve got a list of other places that we’re talking about going this year for filming, so… we really took it up a notch.
And I’m trying really hard to also keep Annie at that rookie level, because she’s really one year into the CIA, so I don’t want to be James Bond. You know what I mean? Like, you know, whenever you start your job, a year in, you’re not the boss. You’re not the best. And there’s a tendency, I think, with action to be totally proficient at it. Like, I was watching Blade Runner. I’ve never seen Blade Runner, and I watched it on the plane right on the way out here. What I noticed about Harrison Ford in that movie is that he’s bumbling. Even though he’s working really hard, and catching the droids or what do you call them — replicants? He’s kinda bumbling. It’s sort of more exciting to watch him chase someone down because he’s not James Bond. You know what I mean? So, I thought that was really interesting, and I think it’s important to keep Annie at that rookie place.
You also see that in the Bourne films…
Piper Perabo: It’s so slick, you know what I mean? And I don’t think you cheer for Bond in the same way as you cheer for… Even Jason Bourne. Although Jason Bourne is so proficient, but when there’s something really working against the character, it makes them more human. More relatable.
So when you’re taking a script for an episode, do you memorize the full script first or do you take a section at a time?
Piper Perabo: I break down the script as a whole piece. I studied dramaturgy at school so, like, I break it down, like, first the timeline of the real time within the script. So, like, how many seconds later, how many minutes later, how many hours later, and I do this crazy big breakdown of the script, but then I learn it in chunks for its day. Because if you’re not gonna do the actual scene where somebody dies today, you need to be prepared to know how you’re going into it and coming out of it, but also you could waste a lot of your sort of juice.
So you have to kind of know what the arc is and know what bit you’re going to be prepared for that day.
Click here to watch out the Covert Affairs Comic-Con panel.