COVERT AFFAIRS: Executive Producer Doug Liman Interview (2011)

With COVERT AFFAIRS’ second season already underway, the adrenaline-pumping series has demonstrated that it is willing to venture across the globe this season.  During a recent conference call, executive producer Doug Liman talked about how the globe-trotting filming came about.

It seems there is a lot of traveling around the world for location shoots this season.  Do you choose a location first or are they selected after the episodes are written?
Doug Liman: We choose the locations first.  Some of it is weather dependent. We are sort of a warm weather show because it runs in the summer.   So some of it’s just like:  what haven’t we done or what sounds cool?  Obviously it wasn’t a stretch that we would think of going to Paris. We shot Bourne Identity there and who wouldn’t think of Paris?  But we also went to Sri Lanka last year and that’s not something you necessarily would ordinarily think of.  So this year we’re also going to Rio and we went to Puerto Rico; and we are going to Istanbul next week. So we sort of think:  okay, we haven’t been to that part of the world in a little while.  Because sometimes as the show goes there, but we don’t physically take the actors there. The show travels to some exotic locations, but the reality is that the actors stayed behind in Toronto and we send a crew to the exotic location. This season we’ve already sent Piper to Puerto Rico and Paris. We’re sending Chris Gorham to Turkey and we have trips planned to Berlin. But maybe the thing I’m most excited about in the whole season is that we have a trip planned to Rio for Piper coming up. That’s one of the great things about being in the second season and having been a hit in our first season is we’re being allowed to do something extraordinary. Because no TV shows are allowed to take their cast to these foreign cities ever.  And it makes such a difference — and if you caught last Tuesday night’s episode of Covert Affairs — we could not have pulled that episode off unless we physically took Piper Perabo to Paris. Everybody loved that episode so much that it’s just giving the network and the studio even more confidence to let us travel even more.

If there was anywhere in the world that you could take the show to, where would it be or have you already planned on going there?
Doug Liman: Well, you said where else would we go  — I mean there’s basically nothing off limits.  We were going to shoot in Iraq because I shot in Iraq for Fair Game. So I mean that doesn’t get sort of much more extreme than going to Iraq. . . . Unfortunately, we’re going to Jordan instead because some of the infrastructure that was in place for me to shoot Fair Game in Iraq is no longer there, so it really wasn’t technically feasible to go back to Iraq. But if you told me like: if could choose any place on the planet to take an episode and take some of our cast — it would be North Korea. There is no more dangerous or exciting place for a spy to go today than North Korea.  Plus I’d love to see it. I’d love to see it myself.

Will there be an expansion of Oded Fehr’s character’s storyline this season beyond the Paris episode?
Doug Liman: Oh yes, he’s already come back this season and we love him. That’s the other thing I love about television versus movies, it’s like it can evolve while you’re doing it.  So we loved him in the first season, so we’ve written him into the second season. He’s not in every episode but he comes back this season — as do some other cast members that we loved from the first season.  I love that about television and this particular show in general, that [Annie] can cross paths with people that we loved the interaction with in season one. She can cross paths with again and even within a season.  If the seasons are long enough and if their chemistry’s great, you can bring them back later in the season and work them into another episode. So we’re really building up like a great secondary cast of characters that inhabit the world that Piper travels through.

Will there be further delving into the character and perhaps backstory of Jai Wilcox this season?
Doug Liman: Yes, very much so.  I mean we love Sendhil.  So that’s a big part of this season.

And on that final teasing note about what to look forward to this season as far as where in the world the show is traveling to and more about the mysterious men in Annie Walker’s life in COVERT AFFAIRS, be sure to tune in for the next episode on Tuesday, June 21st at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.

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