Tonight’s episode of Covert Affairs, “Welcome to the Occupation”, has special meaning for some TV bloggers because it was the one they were filming during our set tour last month in Toronto! Late in the day, we were whisked off to a top secret location near Toronto’s Pearson Airport, and while we were waiting to chat with Chris Gorham & Piper Perabo, we were asked if we’d like to watch a bit of filming. We were all delighted to see a certain actor was on set – Eion Bailey – which meant Ben Mercer had reappeared in Annie’s life! So, during a break in filming, Eion sat down to chat with us for a bit and answer some questions.
When you first shot the pilot, did you expect your character to become the glue that holds the series together?
Yeah, because the CIA went after Annie, used Annie as a tool to get to me, to Ben Mercer, so I figured that would be something that would have to be used throughout the series.
What do you think compels Ben to jet around the world? Does he have a woman in every city?
You know, he’s actually not wooing other women. He’s a one woman guy, and if he is to have a woman in his life, then [Annie’s] the one. What compels him to go around the world is really to avoid some uncomfortable interactions with the CIA, who he believes are not as altruistic as they would like themselves to come across as in the public.
I would say he’s in search of the truth. And in spy agencies, there is so much double dealing, there are so many lies, and he wants to get at what is the truth and what is real in this world, and if he can find a way to help bring the truth to light, then that’s a mission accomplished.
How do you think Ben feels about the CIA?
The CIA, although there are good people who work within it, like within any bureaucratic institution in any country, also has an agenda that is not, in Ben’s opinion, pure or about freedom or about righteousness or about leading in the free world. It’s also a duplicitous organization that is about acting as a lynch mob for big American business interests in foreign countries. He’s very much aware of that and when he knows he’s brought in to support that aspect of the CIA, it creates a real morality pull within him that he is actually supporting and serving an institution that is destroying people.
When Ben was shot at the end of Season 1, viewers weren’t sure if he was going to survive. Did you know that you would be returning as Ben at some point?
I didn’t … it was spoken about when we were shooting the scene that it should remain open, but that it should be a wound that is potentially deadly. I assume they [wanted] to leave it open to see how fans [reacted].I do think that the fans of a television series have quite a large say in how a show ends up. It’s interesting. So at the end, all I knew is this character could be dead or could be alive, and it was just going to be a matter of time for USA to do what they [needed] to do. They’re investigating and [looking] into what fans think about it, and then of course how they feel about [it] and how the creators feel about it. But I feel fortunate that Ben Mercer lives to fight again.
What really attracts you to this character and makes you want to keep coming back?
I was interested in giving voice to the CIA … I do believe there are a lot of good people really trying to do good things in this organization. I also believe that in all of life – like Star Wars – there’s the light and there’s the dark, and it’s in all of us, it’s in the world at all times, and sometimes the light is stronger than the dark and sometimes the dark is stronger than the light. I think that exists in the CIA, and I was interested in giving voice to the people within that organization who try and steer it to the light as much as possible.
See Eion Bailey’s return in “Welcome to the Occupation”, tonight at 10/9c on USA!
Photo Courtesy of USA Network