'Designated Survivor': LaMonica Garrett Takes You Behind the Scenes of All the White House Drama

Ingela Ratledge

If you think it’s stressful being Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland)—the constantly imperiled POTUS-by-default on ABC’s Designated Survivor—imagine how the guy who’s tasked with keeping him alive must feel. Which explains why head Secret Service agent Mike Ritter rarely cracks a smile. “Most of what my character is involved in is heavy stuff,” LaMonica Garrett says. “Ritter is usually coming in with bad news!”

There may be more of that in store on the April 19 episode, which tackles gun control, and again on April 26, when a surprising new twist develops in the Capitol bombing investigation. But while the series’ subject matter gets dark, there’s plenty of levity on the Toronto set. “If a scene is particularly weighty, then the atmosphere tends to go a different way and people start making jokes,” Sutherland says. Another welcome distraction: the ongoing chess rivalry between cast members, who face off between scenes. As for the reigning master? “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, and Kiefer is at the top,” says Garrett, who took a camera to the set and captured the gang during downtime. “My plan is to practice online and get my weight up for next season.” Hail to the chief!

Designated Survivor, Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC