'Covert Affairs' Christopher Gorham on pick-ups and six packs
"I got an email from one of our producers," he tells Zap2it, calling in from the show's Toronto location. "If I'd been on Twitter [as @ Chris_Gorham], I'm sure I would have found out first through there, because that's where I usually find out the information on our ratings, before I hear from the producers or the network."
A veteran of several primetime shows -- including "Popular," Odyssey 5," "Jake 2.0," "Medical Investigation," "Out of Practice," "Harper's Island" and "Ugly Betty" -- Gorham has a theory why his latest show was picked up after only having premiered on July 13.
"The show has been reviewed so well, first of all, that even before we aired, we had value for the network," he says. "Because we backed it up with some really great ratings, I think it was a no-brainer.
"I wasn't really surprised when we got picked up. I was just waiting to see when it would happen."
In "Covert Affairs," Gorham plays CIA tech expert August "Auggie" Anderson, a military intelligence and special ops officer who lost his sight while on a mission in Iraq. Now he helps guide freshly minted CIA officer Annie Walker ( Piper Perabo) through her missions.
Thus far, Auggie's blindness hasn't proven an obstacle to his prowess on the computer or with the ladies, earning Gorham a brand-new reputation as six-pack-packing screen hunk. Gorham attributes this in part to the extreme geekiness of his last high-profile character, "Ugly Betty" accountant Henry Grubstick.
"Henry Grubstick was so nerdy," says Gorham, "that any degree of sexiness after him seems like a huge leap. Auggie is the most leading man of all the characters I've played, with the exception of maybe Henry Dunn in 'Harper's Island.'
"Auggie is the tech guy on the show, but he's like no other tech guy on TV, because, having come from Special Forces, he can kill you 57 ways. And he's quite a ladies' man. The fact that he's blind takes it to another level."
Gorham considers it as a compliment that the "hottie" label has only landed on him recently.
"It's a testament to the fact," he says, "that I've been getting my jobs through hard work and talent and not the easy way."
Although playing off one's looks could be considered "the easy way," it's not easy to get to the point where doing that is even possible -- at least not for Gorham.
As he tells it, when he shot the "Covert Affairs" pilot, he'd been banned from the gym before and during the filming of the movie "Answer This," in which he was playing an out-of-shape collegian.
But for Gorham, staying out of the gym doesn't mean packing on pounds, it means getting skinnier.
"I was at the thinnest that I've been in a while," he recalls. "I told the wardrobe woman at my first fitting that my goal was, by the end of shooting the pilot, that my shirts wouldn't fit anymore. And I reached it. I was really proud of myself. In five weeks, I grew a shirt size."
For the series, Gorham works with a trainer who has also worked with Perabo, doing a rotating three-day routine that starts, he says, "with cardio, then it's a combination of weights and biometrics."
And Gorham can't let up, saying, "Putting on weight for me is really, really hard. If I stop lifting, or if I stop eating, I get skinny really quick.
"But the closer we get to the shirt actually coming off, the diet gets more and more restricted. The carbs go out. It's a very boring, really tedious, uncomfortable system."
This coming Tuesday (Aug. 24), fans get to see the results of Gorham's hard work in an episode called "Communication Breakdown," in which Auggie goes back into the field to track a hacker who is also his ex-girlfriend.
"One of Auggie's arcs through the season," says Gorham, "is his frustration of not being able to get into the field like he used to and loved. In this episode, he gets to go out.
"Auggie ends up in a fight scene. There's a train involved. It's really big, physically and production-wise. It's a really big emotional episode for Auggie. It was a lot of fun to do. It's the most work, by far, that I've had, in this episode.
"We also get to see a lot of Auggie, but also we get to learn a lot about him, that you didn't know."
Asked exactly how much of Auggie fans will get to see, Gorham says, "You get to see just about all of Auggie. You get to see all of Auggie that USA will allow to be shown."
Gorham is married to former "Popular" co-star Anel Lopez Gorham, and apparently she doesn't find her husband's sex-symbol status all that impressive.
"She thinks it's all kind of silly," says Gorham. "As long as I get up and feed the baby, change diapers and take the kids to school, she's happy."
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Photo credit: USA