Graceland Interview: Vanessa Ferlito and Serinda Swan on Getting in Too Deep, Old Flames and Singing Karaoke

Graceland - Vanessa Ferlito and Serinda Swan

USA’s new summer series Graceland is about a group of undercover agents living together under the same roof. TV Equals visited the set of the show earlier this year and got the chance to chat with stars Vanessa Ferlito (who plays strong-willed FBI agent Catherine “Charlie” DeMarco),and Serinda Swan (who plays as intuitive and merciless DEA Agent Paige Arkin). Check out the interview below to find out who’s going to be the light in the house, who might spark up and old flam and who ended up singing karaoke in Korean.

Everybody in the house is going to find themselves in too deep. Asked to talk about her character and whether or not Charlie will get in too deep in her cases, Ferlito said: “I don’t want to give away too much, I always give away too much, but there’s drugs and the life of an undercover FBI agent is really dangerous and really intense and you really don’t have much of a personal life. This becomes your whole life. So you play hard and you work hard in the house. And you’re kind of like a celebrity in a way. Like you’re like a fish in a fish hole. They’re all living in this house; they don’t know what’s outside the door. Everybody gets in too deep.

An old flame is going to be reignited in the first season. Asked if there were going to be any romantic relationships happening in the house, Ferlito said: “Just one. There’s an old flame that’s been lingering and there’s unfinished business and that gets reunited and then there’s a tension in the house. I swear it’s so funny; it’s just like a movie set. You’re just with these people constantly but then feel like ‘oh well I can actually like him.’ And that’s what starts to happen, but then sometimes you really do bond with the person and there is really an attraction, but I think it’s just like a college dorm. It’s like ‘oh, well he’s in the room next door.’”

Charlie will definitely get some action this season. Asked if Charlie was going to be part one of the reignited flames in the house, Ferlito laughed and said: “Charlie gets some action in the house. I’m not gonna lie. Charlie gets a little action. And she’s actually about to get some action on the outside of the house, which is really dangerous. She’s playing with fire.”

Things are going to get really dark in the first season. Talking more about what we can expect to see from Charlie this season, Ferlito said: “I’m always undercover. I’m in deep. In very deep with this whole drug thing that’s going on and it’s not a good situation. We get the scripts and I’m like ‘oh my, God, like are we really going to do- this is crazy.’ It’s really real. I mean, you know, it’s a true story. So they’re basing a lot of it on stuff that really went on. It’s really dark.”

There’s a big secret in the house and Charlie is on to it. We had heard that things were going to get intense in the house and when asked to talk more about that, Ferlito said: “Charlie becomes really obsessed with this-this whole situation. Briggs has a secret and I’m on to it and it could destroy everything, ruin his life. So his eye is on the prize but he’s hoping that it quietly goes away. I’m looking to expose the whole thing. Charlie has a feeling something’s going on in the house. It’s like the [Lord of the Rings]. I’m like Smeagol. Charlie doesn’t back down.”

Paige will be a bit of a mystery at first, but then you’ll find out that she’s a woman with great sense of humor who can also kick your ass. Serinda Swan’s character doesn’t appear until around the third episode of the season. Asked to describe her character, Swan said: “Paige was a bit of a mystery at first because I think it was kind of a collaboration on where we thought she was going to go and how we wanted to play with her, and if she was going to be anybody’s love interest or if she was just going to come in and be this energy. But I think her thing is – and part of the reason why I wanted to play her – she’s pretty light. They gave her a good sense of humor, but at the same time, she’ll kick your ass. She doesn’t have this big skeleton in the closet that’s driving her. Yes she has personal reasons on why she got into the DEA but the way they described her is kind of this light that comes in, and she’s got that kind of fun energy. She’s the girl that’ll come in and listen to your problems and then smack your ass and wink at you and be like ‘get back to work.’ So she’s got a very fun personality which I love, which I was completely drawn to.”

The audience will meet Paige for the first time in a fun way. Paige may not be in the first couple episodes, but the reason for her absence is explained right away. “Basically there is no kind of splashy introduction for Paige because she already lives there. Basically she’s on assignment. She was deep undercover. And then you meet me singing Karaoke in Korean in a bar which was my introductory scene to the show. I was like, ‘oh I’m either going to get fired or they’re going to love me.’”

We’ll get to see a little of Paige’s back story this season, but ultimately the audience will be left to form their own opinion about her. Asked if we’re going to see much of a back story for Paige this season, Swan said: “You’ll get to see a little bit of back story through the season and a lot of it is just kind of how we deal with situations. It’s kind of [like] when you meet somebody, they don’t just sit down and go ‘I was born here, I did that, this happened to me, this is why I’m making this choice,’ the audience is really left to form their own idea of who this character is. Which I think is kind of a really beautiful and interesting way for an audience to get to know a character.”

As Paige goes undercover, the audience will see her as everything from SWAT member to socialite to crackhead. Asked to talk about Paige’s undercover assignments in the first season, Swan said: “You’ll see everything from socialite to crackhead or whatever it may be. And that’s part of the fun; is that you get to see these characters be more than just the SWAT. When I was coming out, I was in my SWAT gear and that’s kind of the norm, but then you see what we get to do and it’s always fun to go into hair and makeup and be like, ‘Okay, so I’m doing this – I’m singing in Korean and I’m undercover with a drug guy. Let’s figure this out.’ And so you get to have different wardrobes and you get to change your hair and your makeup and your body size, or whatever it may be, and you get to really have fun with that. So I think the audience is going to find that intriguing as well.”

Graceland premieres on Thursday June 6 at 10/9C on USA. Will you be checking out the show now that you’ve heard a bit more about it from a couple of its stars?

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About The Author

Moki is a freelance writer, editor and blogger who is a self-proclaimed geek and fangirl. She has always loved tv, especially action driven dramas and sci-fi. It all started when she was a little girl with shows like Tales From The Gold Monkey and the original Battlestar Galactica. She and her friends used to act out their favorite episodes using lawn furniture and stuffed animals as props. These days she still loves action driven dramas and sci-fi, with a little bit of comedy and horror thrown in the mix as well.