Early this month, drama-thriller Quantico received confirmation of renewal for a second season. A week after the announcement, the cast and crew had yet to celebrate properly as they’re still in the midst of production until April 22.
“We are filming Episode 19 right now,” shared actor Graham Rogers on the phone, calling from the Quantico set in Montreal, Canada. “We haven’t had a celebration yet because we found out during the work week. But we will do it soon.”
The series debuted last September and boasts of inventive storytelling format – alternating between the present and the past – while juggling multi-layered storylines for the many characters on the show.
It focuses on a group of FBI recruits completing their training at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Within each episode too, there is a time jump to when some of these trainees have graduated to become full-fledged agents while the dropouts have gone on to work in private companies.
The series kicks off with a terrorist attack, and all fingers point to a former trainee as the perpetrator. Working on the assumption that the suspect has been working since or before his/her training at Quantico, the FBI has to look into all the trainees drawing them back to one place.
But everything is not what it seems.
In every episode, a little more information is revealed about the characters and the investigation. More often than not, Quantico raises a lot more questions than it answers. If it’s any consolation, the actors themselves find out about their characters as the show progresses too.
“That’s one of the challenges about the show,” noted 25-year-old Rogers who plays trainee Caleb Haas. “You can’t make assumptions about your character because every week you find out a new twist.
“So, you learn things about your character, and it can be pretty major, which then changes the way a person behaves.”
For Asians, there is another reason to tune in to Quantico – Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra is making her American series debut. Recently, her profile and the strength of the show were raised further when she was invited as a presenter at the Oscars.
“One of the highlights of working on the show is the most amazing and diverse people are brought together,” said Rogers. “We’ve really become a family. We spend so much time together. All of us are away from home so we become a family, and Priyanka is like the leader. She is just so cool and so much fun. And so down-to-earth. She is a blast to work with too.”
Even if Quantico requires the cast to be serious due to its many dramatic elements, Rogers admitted that the actors always find a way to crack each other up throughout the day. That joking around continues even after working hours, especially between Rogers and co-star Jake McLaughlin who share an accommodation.
“We’re roommates, so he and I have friendly wrestling matches. I make it about 12 seconds (laughs)… He’s a little bigger than me, and he was also in the military, so he knows what he’s doing.”
Rogers, who is originally from Pennsylvania in the US said he never thought about becoming an actor when he was growing up. At that time, he was more into football (or soccer, as the Americans call it).
“My expectation far exceeded my talent,” he said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t very good.”
Looking for another career to pursue, Rogers moved to Los Angeles at 18. “Honestly I just fell into acting. I moved to LA and I was pretty naive. And that was my greatest strength – because I was naive, I didn’t realise how difficult an industry it was to get into. By the time I started acting class, I was hooked. I liked it.”
Before landing Quantico – through good old audition process – Graham got a couple of guest starring gigs (Memphis Beat, Zombie Basement) as well as bigger roles in Revolution and Resident Advisors.
In the latter comedy series, he played a college adviser who’d steal drugs from his students. “The last character I played, he is the opposite of the FBI agent. He wasn’t the most bright guy,” Rogers informed us with a laugh.
Throughout the 20-minute interview, Rogers presented himself as an affable young man, who is polite and considerate – he tried his darndest to understand every question even when the line was crackling louder than a popcorn in a microwave or when a jour-nalist’s accent was mucking up clarity.
For such a nice guy, Rogers said that he enjoys playing Caleb when the character is in a nasty mode.
“That’s my favourite side of him. I think Caleb is easily threatened. If he’s not being nice, I try to figure out who’s threatening him or why he feels threatened.”
While Caleb can be malicious – something Rogers hopes he is not – the character and the actor do have something in common. “I would like to think we both have the same sense of humour. I try to put jokes in, that’s not in the script. Sometimes it ends up (on the show).”
But Rogers also disclosed that, unlike Caleb, he can barely turn on the computer. “I am not very good with them.”
He also feels he doesn’t have what it takes to be in the FBI. “That’s one thing about the show. It’s eye-opening how much work they do in the FBI and how much studying they do.
“I was never one for school – the studying, I am going to leave those to high school days.”
The second half of Season One of Quantico premiered two weeks ago, and once again, it threw the characters and the audience in the middle of a tense goings-on – in the middle of a congressional hearing to testify about the terrorist bombings. With eight more episodes to go, can the audience expect a resolution of sorts at the end of Season One?
“There will be,” answered Rogers. “It’s going to be good … I don’t know how much I can give away, but there will be a lot of twists and turns, and drama. And good television coming up.”
Quantico airs every Monday at 10pm on AXN (Astro Ch 701).