Sendhil Ramamurthy Sheds Some Light on COVERT AFFAIRS

Sendhil Ramamurthy on COVERT AFFAIRS

We haven’t seen much of Sendhil Ramamurthy’s character Jai Wilcox on COVERT AFFAIRS yet because the first four episodes had already been plotted when he joined the cast, but that is about to change. I recently participated in a conference call where Ramamurthy answered media questions about Covert Affairs, the nuanced relationships between all the characters, and why Jai’s story will be a “slow burn.” Mild spoilers follow, especially for the Tuesday August 10, “In the Light” episode.

On Jai and Annie

We already know that Arthur has installed Jai in Joan’s department so he can get close to Annie and hopefully pick up clues about her former lover Ben Mercer. While Ramamurthy charmingly wouldn’t answer a question about whether or not Jai and Ben have any sort of history together, he did say that the “In the Light” episode will start to reveal what Jai was doing directly before joining the CIA and why Jai “is the only choice to deal with the Annie-Ben situation. Ramamurthy explained that throughout the rest of the season we will see Jai try several different tacks to complete his mission, but since he and Annie “aren’t robots,” expect emotions to get involved. In order to get close to Annie, Jai will reveal things about himself. Ramamurthy said that in the eighth or ninth episode, Jai and Annie discuss past relationships and we’ll begin to think that Annie is not the only one deeply affected by an old love.

According To Ramamurthy, we will learn the most about Jai during field downtime with Annie when they have a chance to chat, but that the trick will be deciding what is real. Their relationship, like most on the show, will be very complicated and as the season progresses, Jai will begin to realize that deception is “trickier, more difficult, and affects more people in adverse ways” than he had realized. Ramamurthy also stressed that there is a real attraction between the two characters.

On Henry Wilcox

The “In the Light episode” puts Jai in the field for the first time, something Ramamurthy very much enjoys. He loves the action scenes and has had a great time doing parkour obstacle training. In this episode we will also meet his oft-mentioned father, former Director of Clandestine Services Henry Wilcox (24’s Gregory Itzin). Ramamurthy said some of Henry’s actions as DCS caused problems and that many mistakenly assume Jai is cut from the same cloth, though Ramamurthy insists Jai, while goal-oriented, is much less “Machiavellian” than his father. Ramamurthy raved about working with Itzin, saying one of his favorite scenes to date is from “In the Light,” where Annie, Jai, and Henry simply sit and talk because he loved watching Itzin work.

On his relationships with Arthur, Joan, and Auggie

When asked how he feels about the tension Jai brings to the show, Ramamurthy said that he enjoys playing it because it adds to the nuanced nature of the relationships. As for his role in unraveling Joan and Arthur’s marriage, Ramamurthy claims that Joan and Arthur, as experienced covert agents, are uniquely able to hide tension at the office, so Jai doesn’t know how much friction he is causing. Jai is “an unwitting pawn,” Ramamurthy claims, who has no desire to come between Joan and Arthur, though he admits Jai’s access to Arthur and his desire to please Arthur by excelling as an agent do continue to be an issue with Joan. Despite this, Ramamurthy told us that Jai is so good at his job there are times Joan has no choice but to say “Well done.”

The tension with Jai and Auggie stems in large part from the fact that Henry Wilcox is Jai’s father, but Ramamurthy also hints that when two men are so antagonistic, it’s safe to assume a woman might be involved. Ramamurthy hinted we will see events in future episodes where Jai and Auggie work very well together, so theirs is another complicated relationship.

On the Leak storyline

Don’t expect the DPD leak arc to go away anytime soon. In fact, Ramamurthy said it will grow as a storyline and if Covert Affairs is lucky enough to be renewed, it could continue into future seasons. Ramamurthy also teased us by saying he had just received the season finale script but he couldn’t reveal anything about it.

On enjoying his role

Ramamurthy is clearly thrilled to be on Covert Affairs, even though his casting took a roundabout route. Ramamurthy was still shooting Heroes when Covert Affairs was being cast, and in fact, he had helped a friend put together an audition tape for the role of Auggie, whereby he read and liked the script. After the pilot, producers tinkered with the cast, transforming the Conrad character into the mysterious Jai Wilcox. They contacted Ramamurthy who was excited at the idea of working on a project he was already impressed by, especially since it meant a chance to work with The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman. He admits that it was difficult to jump into the show late and that his character was still being developed after he took the role. It wasn’t until about the sixth episode that he felt comfortable, but that the writers, producers and cast were all extremely supportive. He loves the cast, saying that he is grateful to be on a show with a cast as tight as the one he had on Heroes. It was wonderful to listen to an actor who so obviously enjoys his work and appreciates his fans.

Sendhil Ramamurthy as Jai on COVERT AFFAIRS (USA)