Last week I had the chance to interview Christopher Gorham, who plays blind special ops agent Auggie on USA’s Covert Affairs. It was really a pleasure, not least because I’ve been casually following Chris’ career over the years, ever since he starred in the Chuck predecessor Jake 2.0.
Over the years, Chris has mostly played these lovable geek characters, from teen fare classics like Popular and Felicity to more sci-fi fare like Jake 2.0. Except for a detour where he played (spoiler) a serial killer in Harper’s Island, it’s been mostly bashful nerds. Then came Covert Affairs, which lets him play a character who’s like the confident, grown-up version of his prior roles. While Piper Perabo‘s character Annie is chasing bad guys in Venice and Sri Lanka, Auggie is her anchor in Washington, D.C., offering advice as a mentor as well as cracking jokes when things get tense.
I asked Chris about the dynamics of the Annie/Auggie relationship, not to mention how he keeps things fresh in a role that might be limiting to other actors. And just wait til you hear who his weird celebrity crush is…
How he changes up Auggie’s physicality. It can be tough when many of your scenes require you to sit in a chair and talk into a headset—not just for your blood circulation, but keeping your character dynamic for viewers. “As I learn new things and get better at it, I’m always adding little details,” he explained. “There’s certain behaviors I’ve introduced for him; when he’s particularly stressed, I’ve got these little hand exercisers I’ll pull out. I’ve created these physical cues for the audience that I’ll play with, I’ll help to give an insight into what’s going on in Auggie’s head. He doesn’t always show you what he’s feeling.”
Furthermore, Chris told us that his major arc for the rest of the season is his growing relationship Parker, the sister of fellow soldier Billy, who died in Iraq. This means less time at a desk: “He’s out of the office, but most of his time is spent under the covers with Parker.”
Parker vs. Annie. Speaking of physicality—considering that last week’s episode ended in Parker and Auggie’s first kiss, I had to ask how they mapped that out with Auggie’s blindness. “A moment like that is a perfect example of why this part is so much fun,” he agreed, adding,
I can obviously see what Devin [Kelley] is doing, but I as Auggie can’t react to anything she’s doing physically. In that moment she isn’t making any noise; I know she isn’t walking away. I put a lot of thought into that moment and how to make that true and what would happen. When a silence goes on too long, Auggie’s going to try to fill it. You can see in the scene I’m struggling and about to say something, when she goes in and kisses me. And then [Auggie] wasn’t expecting that to happen — maybe it’s a possibility but when it happens and you don’t see it coming, it’s a bit surprising — so it takes a second for me to dive in, which of course he does.
All joking aside, the relationship progresses at a surprisingly fast pace that has Auggie “behaving in a way that surprises him.” And we haven’t even gotten into what happens when Annie finds out.