How ‘True Lies’ Pays Homage to Its Film Inspiration & More Reasons to Tune In
The secret sauce for James Cameron’s 1994 blockbuster action comedy True Lies was right there in the film’s tagline: “When he said I do, he never said what he did.” The Arnold Schwarzenegger–Jamie Lee Curtis hit about a wife who finds out her “computer salesman” husband is actually a top government spy — and then joins him on a perilous mission — took a 29-year path to this TV adaptation (a 2017 Fox pilot fizzled), but executive producer–writer Matt Nix’s (Burn Notice) reboot may be worth the wait.
The series follows Harry and Helen Tasker, played with fiery chemistry by Steve Howey (Shameless) and Ginger Gonzaga (She-Hulk: Attorney at Law), who redefine “till death do us part” after Helen also becomes part of U.S. spy agency Omega Sector and proves quite adept at beating back baddies.
What else do we know? Here’s the intel.
1. The movie’s plot points, and its winning mashup of thrills and silliness, remain
Fans of the film will have that déjà vu feeling from the pilot, which sees the Omega team — including Harry’s spy sidekick Gib (Omar Miller, The Unicorn) — trying to foil an international arms deal. And Helen, spying on her husband because she suspects he’s cheating, finds out he’s a secret agent and joins the fun. More original intrigue will come later in the series, but, says Nix, “James Cameron made a pretty big film, and we will have references and Easter eggs for fans.” For instance, Tom Arnold, who played Gib in the film, cameos as “a retired Omega operative with a complicated past and a tendency to drink beer in the morning.”
2. The show has an updated spin on love and marriage
In the True Lies film, Harry and Helen have one child, a daughter who becomes a pawn in their mission. In the series, the couple try to keep their two kids, a daughter and a son, unaware of all the covert actions. Beyond these unique parenting challenges, “we explore issues such as awkward interactions with exes and trouble with work-life balance,” says Nix. And don’t look for a replay of Jamie Lee Curtis’ humiliating if ultimately energetic striptease; instead, “she’s just this fish out of water in a kind of [James] Bond situation,” says Gonzaga — which puts the sizzle back in the boudoir for the pair. “Harry and Helen’s marriage is like any other,” adds Nix, “only with a lot more explosions.”
3. Expect enough action to rival the original film
Cars flipping over, guns blazing and people hanging from a helicopter rig are all in a day’s work for the two stars (both of whom do most of their own stunts). Harry is used to all this stuff, but Helen? “She does [Tae Bo], yoga and Pilates,” says Howey of Gonzaga’s character. “She can be a spy!”
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2023 Preview issue. For more inside scoop on what’s coming to TV and streaming in the new year, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.
True Lies, Series Premiere, Wednesday, March 1, 10/9c, CBS