Season 2 of Covert Affairs has already taken Kari Matchett’s character, Joan Campbell, out of the DPD and placed her in some new settings. During our recent set tour, we were taken “on location” to chat with some of the cast, including Matchett, who shared some insight into Joan and what makes her tick.
In the season premiere, we saw Joan and Arthur’s house for the first time. What does this new set mean for your character?
I think (the writers) are interested in getting slices of life out of Arthur and Joan and getting them out of the office CIA world. I think they want to keep revealing their personal life and what happens with them internally, rather than just strictly at work. So I think they’re thinking a home setting will help create that.
We’re going to see Joan in the field this season. Can you tell us about getting out of the DPD and taking an active role in some of the action?
I felt like I’d almost forgotten how to act outdoors when we first started shooting, because I’ve been in the DPD for so long. But it’s really exciting. I think it not only was essential for me, the actor, to get out of the DPD and start flexing my muscles literally and figuratively, but also so that everybody can see why Joan is in the position that she’s in. You know, she was really, really good at what she did in the field, and now we get a chance to see it.
In the second episode, Joan was called for jury duty. What was it like playing Joan outside of the CIA, where she isn’t in a powerful position?
It was great. Joan’s always in the position of power, she’s the one that people ask and she’s at the top of the hierarchy, and suddenly she’s outside of her realm in this world (where) she’s not at the top, and so we get to see a whole other side of Joan. It was so much fun.
The scene you’re filming today is definitely outside of the DPD. Will Joan be part of an action sequence, or more of a covert role on a mission?
Both. I take on a persona and I get to kick some ass.
Do you think that playing a character like Joan is inspiring to women, and might have them consider a similar career path?
I would love to do that. I think that seeing women in positions of power in a man’s world is inspiring, I know that I like to see that and it’s an honour to be able to play a woman like that, so hopefully I do. Even if it only happens fictionally, I think strangely it begins to carve a path for people to even imagine that they can do these things. I think you can see that in any sort of pop culture; for instance, science fiction is always the precursor to a lot of realities … and so on the same level, I think pop culture can be a precursor to a lot of realities in regular culture. I think it’s a really important thing to create social change, and (TV’s) a really important medium to create such a change with.
Your character is very powerful, yet still very feminine, from her clothing to her demeanour. Can you comment on this aspect of Joan?
I think that one of the wonderful things about this character is that she doesn’t feel like she has to become a man in order to be a powerful woman. So she’s not adhering to the world of Wall Street world or whatever world that deemed it necessary to wear a three-piece suit, or a suit at all. She’s fully stepping into her femininity and her power inside that.
Now that Joan has gotten out of the office, where else would you like to see her go this season?
I would love to get out of the office more. One of the things that I think the writer, Zak (Schwartz), touched on this episode that I’m shooting now, is that there is a bit of a conflict in Joan. It’s not stated where it’s coming from. I have my ideas of where it’s coming from, but there is a bit of a conflict in her that I think there’s a part of her heart that wants to be in the field still, and yet she’s in the office for reasons that haven’t been stated. I have my own ideas, so I think that to see her continue to go out into the field from time to time when necessary is an essential part of where the future lies for her. It’s a great way for us to see different parts of her. And it’s really fun to play.
Catch Kari Matchett as Joan Campbell in Covert Affairs, Tuesday nights at 10/9c on USA Network.
Photo Courtesy of USA Network