‘The Code’ Star Luke Mitchell Talks His Rule-Bending Prosecutor

The Code
Mark Schafer/CBS

If you caught The Code‘s premiere on CBS on April 9, you have a pretty good idea what you’re in for.

Like the popular long-running drama JAG, The Code digs into a military workplace where prosecutors and defense attorneys — friends and frenemies — will face off in court, each side aiming towards a fair verdict. Rules and codes are heavily discussed… and sometimes bent. But only to clear the swiftest path to justice.

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The new CBS series, starring Dana Delany, focuses on a team of legal eagles that investigate, prosecute, and defend Marines.

One such rule-bending prosecutor, Captain John “Abe” Abraham (Luke Mitchell) is particularly daring and determined to seek out some justice. As we learn in the series premiere, Abe’s former CO and pal — who helped Abe learn about life after injury when he pushed him towards law school — has been murdered by one of his own men. Can he get to the bottom of this deceiving crime?

Below, Mitchell gives us the scoop on his protective prosecutor.

(L-R) Ato Essandoh as Major Trey Ferry and Luke Mitchell and Captain John “Abe” Abraham

Now that we’ve met this guy, what would you say makes Abe tick?

Luke Mitchell: He’s extremely driven. He’s a third-generation Marine. And he was always going to be a Marine because it’s in his family. And then he gets injured. He gets shot in his leg. And then all of a sudden, he can’t do that. He can’t do the one thing. So, he re-directs his energy, goes to night school, and becomes a lawyer. All of that physical competitiveness is now channeled into the intellectual side of things. And he loves it. He thrives in the courtroom.

And he’s kind of got a sense of humor too, I’ve noticed.

Definitely. He’s definitely a little cheeky and I’m very glad of that because I’m a little cheeky in real life, so it’s nice to find some humor amongst the seriousness.

How affected is he going to be by this murder case moving forward?

[The murder] really sets Abe off on a very interesting journey. He has a line early on, if I can recall it, I just watched it in the trailer. “We don’t pursue ideals, we pursue outcomes.” And so, he’s about using his smarts to get an outcome in the case. This new case has thrown him a curveball. You’re going to see a more raw version of him because he has to take on the case of his dead best friend.

What did you do to prepare for this role mentally and physically?

Well, it all happened very quickly. First and foremost, I shaved my beard, because I had a beard for two and a half years for Blindspot. I had to move back to New York. We were living in New York and then we moved back to LA, and then a week and a half into moving back to LA and shipping all the furniture to LA, they’re like, ‘Hey! Pack your bags!’ So, I moved back to New York and I’m very happy to be back here.

(L-R) Luke Mitchell as Captain John ‘Abe’ Abraham, Anna Wood as Captain Maya Dobbins and Ato Essandoh as Major Trey Ferry

I guess the first thing I really did was, [executive producer] Craig Sweeney recommended a book to read, just on what it’s like to be a Marine, to go through the training. It’s called One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. It blew my mind. It’s such a riveting account of this guy who just wants to join the Marines to prove himself. He joins up and tells you in a lot of detail what training is like and how full-on it is and why it’s so full-on to prepare you for real-life situations. I just developed such a respect for the Marine Corps and all the vets. I’m just not that tough. Me, as a person, I take my hat off to the Marine Corps. They’re just amazing.

Do we get to see Abe in combat at all this season?

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll probably see Abe in combat. It’s such an interesting story that I think I can hint at that. But certainly, every episode we have the investigation side of things, so an incident could occur anywhere around the world, on or outside of a Marine base.

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Right. The scope of the series sounds insane.

We go to Afghanistan, we go to Somalia–it’s all Staten Island. Technically, it’s overseas… we cross the bridge. [laughs] Yeah, so every episode, something happens and at least one or two of us is called to go and investigate. So there’s the very real danger of it whether we’re actually in battle, or in just a dangerous zone.

Is Abe ever tempted to rebel and break the rules during work hours?

He’s not a rule breaker, but he’s absolutely a rule bender. He knows the rules so well that he knows how to bend them, how to play.


(L-R) Phillipa Soo as Lieutenant Harper Li, Ato Essandoh as Major Trey Ferry, Dana Delany as Colonel Glenn Turnbull, Luke Mitchell as Captain John “Abe” Abraham, Anna Wood as Captain Maya Dobbins and Raffi Barsoumian as Warrant Officer Rami Ahmadi

Are we going to see him clash with any authority figures on the show?

Absolutely. There’s doing the right thing and saying the right thing, but then there’s behaviors and tone and things like that. That was one of the interesting things I read in the book I mentioned because I really didn’t have any understanding of the military before this at all. We do have help though. We have an ex-Marine who is on hand to help us with everything from uniforms to saluting. But my understanding was so limited before I started, and from a limited viewpoint, it may be easy to look at the Marines or the Army as, I don’t know, I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but almost robotic. They do what they’re told and this is the chain of command and that’s that.

But the thing that I read in this book that really interested me was, yes they receive orders, but they’re still human beings. So if they receive an order, they may disagree with that order, and then they have to wrestle with whether they should actually carry out the order, or find a way within the rules to not take that action for whatever reason. And they’re in very precarious situations where lives are on the line, both American or civilians overseas. There is a real human element to it.

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Is there anything going on in his personal life you can tease for us? Does he have any romantic entanglements?

You will definitely see some romantic developments. I don’t know how much I can say on that front. I will say he has a very interesting relationship with Maya [Captain Maya Dobbins, played by Anna Wood], who is basically his equal but is a defense attorney. So they’re about the same age, they’re very good at what they do, and they’re both extremely competitive. Their relationship is definitely going to be an interesting one to explore long-term.

What have been your favorite scenes to shoot so far?

Any scene with multiple cast members is genuinely fun, like any conference room scenes. We all get along so well and it’s really good energy on- and off-camera. The only problem is that maybe we get along a bit too well and we often break into fits of laughter at inappropriate times. I’m just so lucky I get to do so many different things and wear so many different uniforms. The quality of our guest stars is really high too, so I guess I just feel really lucky that every episode I’m working with these guys and girls that just have so much experience that I’m like, ‘How am I getting to work with these people?’

The Code, Tuesdays, 9/8c, CBS