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On Covert Affairs, there’s more to most characters than meets the eye — and that rings true for newest addition Calder Michaels. The July 30 episode, titled “Into the White,” reveals the Colombia-based CIA bureau chief’s true colors.
“It’s a huge episode for my character. I think it’s so important in setting up the entire season for him, setting up his relationship with Annie for the rest of the season and showing that he can kick some butt,” actor Hill Harper tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This episode you really get the sense of the two ways they approach doing the same job.”
THR debuts an exclusive scene from Tuesday’s episode featuring a tense confrontation between Annie Walker (Perabo) and Calder as they aggressively discuss what to do about Arthur’s (Peter Gallagher) son, Teo (Manolo Cardona).
The Hollywood Reporter: How does Calder’s views affect those around him?
Hill Harper: He has ego, he’s got swag, he’s got attitude — but it’s all for a purpose. And that’s what I love about it. A lot of times it’s like, oh yeah, they just wanted a character who had conflict just because they’re mean or nasty. He’s not just mean just to be mean. He doesn’t have attitude just to have attitude. He’s doing it because he’s trying to achieve a certain goal and protecting our country. He’s a true patriot and he has a very specific ideas of who good people are and who not-good people are. In that way, he and Annie see the world differently.
THR: Will Annie and Calder’s dichotomy continue to be an integral part of the season?
Harper: I think it means that Annie better watch out because if he thinks she’s not pulling her weight the way it needs to be done, then he’s going to treat her in a certain way. For the first time out of all of the shows I’ve seen, Calder is the first person within the agency who gets in her face, and I love that line where he says, “I still don’t trust your ass.” That shows that all that charm and all that smile and all that nice-y stuff that seems to work on everyone else, that doesn’t work on him. He can see through that. There’s another line that’s earlier than that — I’m going to paraphrase it: There are bad people in the world and she thinks everybody can be turned. He thinks there are bad people and there are good people. The bad people, I’m sorry to say, may have to be eliminated.
THR: Will there come a time when either Annie or Calder’s differing ways become the way?
Harper: That’s going to be an ongoing question. I’m interested myself to see how the writers deal with that and resolve that. What’s interesting is that conflict is good for the show. I do believe that. I think that ultimately having an internal conflict as well as external conflict is really good for the storytelling. That’s more truthful, just look at our government: People who are basically doing the exact same job and both claim to be patriots, but different people are calling the other person names — that they’re the worst person in the world — when they’re both serving our country. It’s more realistic that people have different ideas.
THR: Do you have a favorite scene from this particular episode?
Harper: [Actor Manolo Cardona] had to hang from his hands. I wanted it to look very real so I really had to hit him but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t hurting him. The thing was, we wanted to put a pad underneath so when I’m hitting him, it would hit the pad and he would be protected but the way he was hanging, his shirt was coming up so you would see the pad. I felt so bad and every time I would do it I would come up to him and say, “Was that too hard?” because I was hitting him. I hate it when you see scenes like that where it doesn’t look real. You gotta actually do it.
THR: What can we expect following this episode?
Harper: We can expect Calder Michaels to dominate everyone he comes into contact with. And we can also expect fireworks. I don’t want to say whether they’re personal fireworks or professional fireworks, but we can definitely expect fireworks.
Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on USA Network.
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