Chris Gorham Reflects on Covert Affairs’ “Half a World Away”

In last week’s episode of Covert Affairs, “Half a World Away”, we learned how Auggie Anderson lost his sight. The moment itself was tragic, but not executed in a grand, overly dramatic fashion … rather, it was quiet, almost serene, and that made it so much more powerful in my opinion, and this has become my favourite episode of Season 2 thus far. Chris Gorham took part in a press call just before it aired last Tuesday; he shared some insight into filming the episode and his thoughts on an Auggie-centric storyline.

Gorham acknowledged that his character is exceptional: “Auggie is one of the extraordinary few. He was in Special Forces in the military and the weeding out process that goes into being a part of those units is something that very few people can get through, and he did, and he was highly successful doing that. On top of that, he’s had to come back from this life changing injury, and has had the strength to come through and not just survive but thrive … one of the things I’m so grateful about for the show and this part is this amazing portrayal of a disabled veteran who is a leading man on a major television show.”

He commented on veterans like Auggie, and how he thought the episode was an accurate depiction of their experiences. He stated, “It’s [a] community that deserves respect, because there are thousands of very real people who’ve gone through things similar to what Auggie’s gone through, whether it was losing your site or losing limbs, or some traumatic brain injury and depression. And they, like Auggie, are not just surviving but thriving and having very full lives after going through something like that … you have to go and really explore the real emotions and the real journey that these men and women go through every day, and I feel like that we did that justice.”

Parts of the episode are set against the stunning backdrop of Istanbul and its Jazz Festival, and it wasn’t an inconspicuous Toronto neighborhood masquerading as the Turkish city. Gorham and guest star Rebecca Mader travelled to Istanbul where they filmed on location for three days.

“Filming in Istanbul was one of the most extraordinary trips I’ve ever taken,” said Gorham. “It was just one of those moments in your life where you just have to step back and say thank you. I get flown to … one of the most extraordinary places in the world. Get completely taken care of. I get to do this amazing job that I love while I’m there, while seeing these incredible places and eating incredible food. I took tons of pictures and video, and it’s very well documented.”

He added, “It was amazing for the show. We’re so lucky that we have producers who are so creative and have figured out a way to take these characters, and instead of being satisfied with sticking them in front of a green screen, finding ways to send them to Puerto Rico, to Paris, to Istanbul, to Rio.”

Auggie did have Annie working with him from Langley (although he wasn’t completely honest with her), but he also had some help in the field from Franka, a flight attendant played by Rebecca Mader that Auggie spends some “quality time” with while he’s in Istanbul, and she ended up becoming a great sidekick.

He shared, “Rebecca Mader, she’s incredible. She was so much fun, and also like just the right kind of actress to come in and play this role, because like her character, she [was] thrust into this crazy adventure. We flew [her] up to Toronto two or three times, and then across her across the globe to Istanbul to shoot. It felt like a little guerilla independent film for three days. She just really rolled with it and we had a great time.”

The fight scene near the end of the episode between Auggie and the man responsible for his blindness was a work of art; it totally could have gone the “eye for an eye” route, but Auggie stood the higher ground and turned Afran Felat Khani over to the FBI instead of killing, or perhaps blinding him. Gorham gave us some insight on the preparation that went into that scene:

“A big part of this fight scene was how important it was for Auggie not to lose contact with the guy he’s fighting. Our stunt guys really designed the fight [so] that it hinges [on] life or death on making sure that he can stay physically connected to this guy, because as long as he’s physically connected, then he can win the fight. What then becomes exciting and dramatic within the fight is the moment where he loses that connection, and then you see how very limited he can become very quickly.”

Gorham certainly had a way to put this episode into perspective in the grand scheme of the Covert Affairs story arc. Although the spotlight was on Auggie, the series is still focused around Annie’s journey: “It’s very much in keeping with what we’re doing with the show. I don’t feel like it’s a gratuitous way to satisfy me personally. I feel like it’s part of the larger fabric of Covert Affairs and the story of Annie Walker and where she is right now.”

Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on USA Network.

Photo Courtesy of USA Network

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