by: Naciely Cabral
edited by: Anthony Zangrillo
In a lighthearted interview with a few laughs, actor Jeff Hephner and executive producer William Blake Heron sat down for a roundtable interview with The Motion Picture Club. Much to our delight, Hephner informed us that he does his own stunts. He even depicted a kick-ass scene in the upcoming show: ” [I am] shooting this guy–and it is this raddest thing–I just do this flip in midair roll cruising [and it] works out perfectly! the guy sets himself up–BOOM, I kneed him right in his chest. He goes flying and that is when I say something really cool,” to which Heron lightheartedly informs us “my contribution: the cool thing.”
Heron describes Agent X as having a “National Treasure meets Batman type of pathology.” Heron went on to state that “We [Agent X] make patriotism look cool,” and I’d be hard pressed to contradict him. Agent X is a unique conspiracy-filled, action-packed spy show, driven by the intrigue behind the Vice President having virtually no duties despite the position being the second most powerful office in the Executive Branch. The show explores “what it means to have the fate of the world depend on three people?” In this case, Heron is referring to the Vice President Natalie Maccabee (Sharron Stone), John Case A.K.A. Agent X (Jeff Hephner), and Malcolm Millar, the Chief Steward of the Vice President’s Residence (Gerald McRaney). Heron alludes to his characters facing morally ambiguous scenarios due to the show’s exploration of unchecked powers affecting the ability to stay “true to being an American?” Nevertheless, Hephner assures us that despite the trend of bleak shows on television, “this show doesn’t feel bleak” to him.
Hephner tells us that the show is “really unique if you allow yourself to get into it” because if you do, you will find yourself “in an entry point to having a Vice President where everybody is like ‘this fucker doesn’t do anything!'” But in reality, the Vice President is in charge of a secret operative (secret even to the members of the White House) that can get results, where traditional law and the government fail. Hephner later playfully adds that he [John Case] is “that bad!”
The reporters and journalists present, soon discovered that Agent X’s badass tone skyrockets exponentially when approaching the multi-layered character Olga Petrovka (Olga Fonda). Petrovka shows up in the Pilot, which you will be able to enjoy on Sunday November 8 at 9/8C on TNT. Looking at Hephner, Heron describes her as “your [Agent X’s] dark female reflection. She is obviously a bad-ass villain but does she have a little heart under the ice?” From the episode I viewed, I just couldn’t help my curiosity surrounding the character. I wanted to know more and more about Petrovka and here role in Agent X’s life. Despite Heron feeling that he is “letting a little of the cat out of the bag,” he assures us that we will all be shocked by the mid-season episodes. He even boasts that if we aren’t satisfied, we should e-mail him because the creative team “go[es] for it” each episode. They give each episode, each mission, their best to make it intriguing and enjoyable. Hephner then adds that for him, personally, it might be enjoyable to watch “some smug douchbag [John Case] get beat up,” so they had to get as close to that as they possibly could with Agent X.
Despite John Case’s insinuated less-than-perfect human qualities, Heron describes Hephner’s character as “being Agent X.” He continues by prompting us to “compare John Case to other spy heroes–they are not human. This guy [John Case] struggles. He is an ‘All-American hero.’ He is someone you can relate to.” This leads to friendly banter between Heron and Hephner, which then prompted another reporter to ask what the casting process was like.
Hephner wittily retorted that “they called him and said ‘please, I BEG you,’ and I said, ‘nah, I am making minimum wage'” which made the table burst in laughter. He then told us how he really got to be Agent X: “I get a call from you guys [Heron’s creative team] and we talked over Skype.” Upon Heron confirming that it was a Skype call, Hephner continues to say that they lured him in by telling him that Sharron is doing a show to audition with her “and lucky me, they chose me.”
This is when (the producer) decides to give us “inside baseball to the TV industry” and tells us that Hephner beat everybody, “with a stick!” Hephner adds playfully, “to be Agent X and so you are getting Agent X.”
When a reporter mentioned that she loved the few episodes that TNT had graciously shared with the media in advance, Hephner playfully asked her “Don’t you lie–you sure?” He then jokingly told us that he was an insecure actor and that we should tell him when we love his acting, making the whole table laugh at his levity.
Finally, a journalist asked Hephner what his most difficult scenes and moves involved. Hephner replied, “Oh! That’s a good one.” He admitted that at first, the choreography and martial arts were foreign to him so he had to constantly practice. He left us with the following story: “I used to live in a studio in Santa Monica, above somebody and this fucker moved out. He just left, because at home, at night, I was rehearsing in the mirror. The dude left. I heard him say ‘he is jump roping all night long, I don’t know what the fuck he is doing.’ So the rehearsal memory of that, forming the muscle memory was really difficult.” Nevertheless, proving that if you try hard enough, you can most definitely excel, he told us that by the end, “we [the cast] could make fight scenes on our own.”
Heron’s parting words were that “he [Hephner] is a human weapon at this point.”