‘Whiskey Cavalier’ Series Premiere: Scott Foley & Lauren Cohan Talk Stunts & Chemistry
Welcome — witamy — bienvenue! A collection of cities across Europe (Prague, London, Rome and Paris, for starters) serves as the dazzling landscape for ABC’s new espionage dramedy Whiskey Cavalier. The energetic, jet-setting series stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan, who are each fresh from high-profile TV gigs (that would be Scandal for Foley and The Walking Dead for Cohan). As powerful agents for often opposing organizations — he’s FBI, she’s CIA — they band together to take down wordwide perils.
Filming in the Czech Republic, where production was based, was a dream, executive producer David Hemingson says: “It’s this remarkably diverse place. It has these insane looming cliffs and snow-capped mountains, and the architecture in Prague is crazy.”
Cohan found no-nonsense CIA case officer Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (code name: “Fiery Tribune”) the perfect character to play after Dead’s zombie-slaying but stoic widow Maggie. “I knew I wanted to do [a show] with some comedy,” she says. “And I wanted to play a strong woman. Frankie gives me the chance to do all that.”
Meanwhile, Foley, after years as Scandal’s duplicitous NSA director Jake Ballard, now wears his heart on his sleeve as lovelorn FBI special agent and Marine Corps vet Will Chase (code name: “Whiskey Cavalier”). “We always see James Bond as the guy who jumps out of bed like, ‘Thank you, darling’ and waltzes out the door,” Hemingson explains. “What if he was the guy hanging by the phone the next day, wondering why that girl didn’t call him?”
Sparks fly from the get-go between Frankie and Will, but this isn’t your typical will-they-or-won’t-they story. “It’s basically Mission: Impossible smashed into Cheers with Will as Diane Chambers and Frankie as Sam Malone,” Hemingson says with a laugh. Even though they each consider themselves the spy in charge, it’s the ass-kicking duo’s personal differences that amp up their steamy tension. “Frankie’s desire to keep everything mission-focused is out of sheer terror at true intimacy,” Cohan adds. “Then we have Mr. Midwest, ready for love and just trying to understand the ways of this closed-off woman.”
Romantic hurdles are one thing. But the actors had to deal with tough physical demands too, which Cohan says are “definitely bumped up a few notches” from her last job. Foley, also a producer, agrees: Doing multiple takes for the pilot, running across Paris (Eiffel Tower in sight) after a bad guy, he says, was anything but easy. “My 46-year-old body can’t take that!” adds the actor, who brought wife Marika Dominczyk and their three children along to Prague for the six-month shoot. But he’s always game to try. “I’m still that kid who is like, ‘I can climb that tree! I’ll jump off that building!’”
While he takes his stunt work in stride, Foley confesses he struggles with putting on an accent when Will goes undercover. “I do my best,” he admits. “But with something like South African or Brazilian English, I’m not great.” Cohan, who is U.S.-born but has lived in England for years and speaks with a hybrid British-American accent in real life, isn’t daunted by the challenge. “Scott’s terrible at the accents, but I want more!” she says with a laugh.
Luckily, all that running, disguising and saving the world doesn’t fall solely on Will and Frankie. The two quickly form Team Whiskey, a unit that includes FBI profiler/Will’s BFF Susan Sampson (Ana Ortiz), cheeky FBI agent Ray Prince (Josh Hopkins), Frankie’s CIA confidant Jai Datta (Vir Das) and wise-cracking NSA analyst Edgar Standish (Tyler James Williams). Cohan was thrilled to reunite with Williams, who played supply runner Noah on The Walking Dead. “It was just one of those unashamedly-jumping-on-the-bed happy moments,” she says. Foley’s former Scandal castmate Bellamy Young (who played Mellie Grant) guest stars in Episode 2.
While these team members have more than a few character flaws, their mission work is on point. “Despite the ways that [any of them] would conflict on a personal level,” Cohan says, “they are an absolute dream team when it comes to kicking butt.”
Whiskey Cavalier, Season Premiere, Sunday, Feb. 24, 11:35/10:35c, ABC (after the Academy Awards)
Whiskey Cavalier, Time Slot Premiere, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 10/9c, ABC