‘FBI: International’ Boss on Forrester & Kellett’s Relationship, His Mother and More

Luke Kleintank, Vinessa Vidotto, Heida Reed, Carter Redwood in FBI International
Q&A
Katalin Vermes/CBS

The FBIs have taken over Tuesday nights on CBS, and that’s not changing anytime soon, with the latest spinoff, International, already picked up for a full season. But what is changing is the Fly Team’s relationship with the local authorities in the November 2 episode.

In “The Soul of Chess,” the team investigates an American journalist’s death when he’s poisoned after trying to meet with an anonymous source in Poland. And Scott Forrester (Luke Kleintank) likely won’t be clashing with the local law enforcement. But with Jamie Kellett (Heida Reed), back in the field after being shot a couple episodes ago, it’s a different story.

Showrunner Derek Haas previews this week’s episode and what’s ahead.

Preview this week’s case. We’ve seen the team hitting roadblocks when it comes to the countries’ law enforcement, but what makes that different in this one?

Derek Haas: The Polish authorities are welcoming the Fly Team’s assistance. They need their help and expertise. This is a case that involves Russian poisoning and journalists. We thought it was really topical in terms of where the state of the world views are regarding journalism and investigative journalism and the fact that over the last five years, journalists have just been targeted more and more. We thought it was a fresh look at that phenomenon.

So it’s easier for Jaeger (Christiane Paul) to not have to liaise between the authorities and Forrester?

Yeah, Forrester always is going to get under Jaeger’s skin a little bit. We like that dynamic and she always receives him with a twinkle in her eye, even when she’s frustrated by him. That’s been fun to play. Christiane Paul does such a great job playing that character.

Luke Kleintank as Forrester, Heida Reed as Kellett in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

Kellett is going to take Forrester to task for being overprotective. We saw that in the last episode with him leaving her in the office. So what’s new?

She’s along for the ride this time, and Forrester is still nervous about her being in harm’s way. So he’s trying to sideline her, which you just can’t do. It’s kind of like [with] an athlete, if you play cautiously, that’s the way you get injured. You can’t have her back, but not fully back. That’s where they come to a head.

They’re this couple where it feels like the will they/won’t they we’re used to seeing onscreen played out before the series began.

Yeah, we thought that was an interesting way to do it. We had been reading about how many FBI agents marry other FBI agents. What were the dynamics that would cause that? To us, it was, well, the only people that can really understand what you do on the job are the people that are on the job, and so that makes really powerful relationships. And just to be different, we thought, what if they got together right before our series started and what complications would that bring about? That’s what we’ve been exploring.

Heida Reed as Kellett, Luke Kleintank as Forrester in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

What changes about their relationship going forward now that it’s not exactly a secret — the others know, but they haven’t talked about it yet — but there’s still the fact that he is her boss?

Those factors are going to come into play, especially as these episodes head towards the winter finale. We’ve arced it out through 13 episodes so far and the Forrester-Kellett relationship and all those dynamics are not going to go unnoticed. It becomes a big part of the storyline.

And they have to talk about what they are because they haven’t really done that.

It’s true. That becomes a question of, where do we feed the audience the information more about them talking and where they are and how to do that while you still have these very active, thrilling crime cases going on. It becomes a bit of a juggle for us.

Is there anything new coming up with Jaeger besides having to deal with Forrester?

There’s a possibility that she might fully embed into the Fly team which we haven’t yet done, but we like the idea of it after we found out that that happens in the field. And then even in this upcoming episode, she has to deal with her counterparts in Russian law enforcement. She has a history with those guys.

Vinessa Vidotto, Luke Kleintank, Christiane Paul in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

Has there been any talk about doing something from her point of view where we see more of what she does?

Yeah. Because we haven’t even explored yet even what she does. But what’s her personal story? We like the idea that as a little girl, she was on the Eastern German side before the Wall came down in ’89. And what that means to be in that kind of a society and even have where her history involved secrets and lies and a father who might’ve fled for West Germany or West Berlin. That could be interesting.

In the premiere, Forrester mentions that Vo’s [Vinessa Vidotto] ASAC said she was a problem, but there seemed to be a lot more to that story. Is that something that we’re going to see soon?

We really like the idea of Forrester being a mentor for Vo and having more screen time with her as two characters cut from the same cloth and how he could steer her. Obviously he’s had a career where he’s butted heads with authority figures. We’ll see some of that from her and then his advice on that going forward.

Vinessa Vidotto as Vo, Carter Redwood as Raines in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

We haven’t really gotten much about Raines [Carter Redwood], so what’s coming up?

We’ve got a big story for him coming up. We make his backstory, although we haven’t really explored this too much, that he came up through accounting, which is a big entree into the FBI. He thinks that Forrester’s only thinking of him as sort of the tech and numbers guy, and he wants to take on more responsibility and we’re going to do a hostage situation in Bulgaria where he becomes a big prominent part of that.

It does feel like he’s been the one on computers so far.

And he is excellent at that, but there’s so much more to being an FBI agent and by design, when we first designed the show, we wanted all characters to be able to do all of it. They can all do interviews. They can all do takedowns. They can all go undercover and we’re just barreling into the show. So we’re still exploring all of those things.

Carter Redwood, Heida Reed, Luke Kleintank, Vinessa Vidotto in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

What did you want to do with the Vo-Raines dynamic, especially in comparison to what you already have with Forrester and Kellett?

They’re just going to be friends [and] colleagues, but also competitors. They want to help each other. And they’re obviously going to have this bond forged through fire for the two of them on this kind of remote island of the FBI by themselves. But at the same time, they both have plans to get farther and farther into the hierarchy of the FBI, so it’s the friendly competition going on between them. But romantically, we’re not going there.

Will we see Kellett regret not taking that job in New York?

The New York thing is not finished playing out. There’s going to be a case with Kellett where she makes choices that could flash onto Washington’s radar as far as disciplinary action goes. And so all of these circumstances are gonna play as we build towards a midseason finale.

Forrester said he cared about someone and didn’t try to stop them from leaving. Any plans for that person to show up?

Oh yeah. You’ve seen my work long enough to know that I love callbacks and pulling stuff out. The other thing is Forrester’s mom is the big issue in this very next episode, that coming to a head or at least that door opening again.

Luke Kleintank as Forrester, Tank, Heida Reed as Kellett in FBI International

Katalin Vermes/CBS

That was my next question. We know she disappeared in ’05. What else can you tease and what’s that going to do to Forrester?

I’ll say that he is going to get a little obsessive when a clue to his mom’s whereabouts presents itself.

And anything else about that person from Forrester’s past?

Nothing yet. We don’t really have a story built up for that. The mom issue takes up some space coming up.

Anything else about anyone else’s family?

Yeah, you’re going to hear some backstory on Kellett that’s going to be surprising and eventually we have some plans that perhaps Raines has a wild child sibling that might be barnstorming Europe and that could affect his attention.

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I have to say how much I love the addition of Tank because it’s something that’s unique to FBI: International. How do you decide when and how much to use him and anything notable coming up?

Tank’s going to have some issues of his own coming up. But as far as how much we use him, we just play it by ear with what the script dictates each episode. We’re not trying to force him into scenes that he shouldn’t be a part of. But yeah, that dog is super lovable and we just liked the idea that Forrester’s a little bit of a lost dog himself and so of course he would bond with this lost dog.

What else is coming up?

There’s a case in a couple of weeks in Paris that I really, really liked. I thought it turned out great. You know how when there’s nuclear peace talks between countries and you see the news footage and you’ll see the secretary of state and whoever’s the leader of the other country meeting? But then you also see there’s 10 people who come in and they’ve got briefcases and binders and they’re the aides that are helping negotiate that stuff. What happens when one of those goes missing?

Poor Jaeger. I can only imagine…

[Laughs] Yeah.

FBI: International, Tuesdays, 9/8c, CBS