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Boris Kodjoe on Undercovers

Published September 9, 2010 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of Showtime
Undercovers Undercovers

Undercovers is kind of the new fall show with everything. It’s got action with the spy stuff. It’s got relationship drama with the husband/wife team. It’s got some comedy in the banter. It’s Boris Kodjoe’s job to do it all.

Boris Kodjoe Undercovers


“It's absolutely ridiculous, and my head explodes when you think about it,” Kodjoe said. “It's an absolute dream come true for an actor, because usually when you talk about serialized TV, you're talking about one specific beat that you play over and over again. I guess it's a challenge as well as it is a blessing that we're able to do this. We have the opportunity to do this, because we're going from action to drama to comedy. There's so many beats and so many genres mixed in one that, as an actor, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime situation.”

Kodjoe plays a retired spy who gets back into the game, along with his wife as his partner. “It's all tough, but at the same time, it's such a fantastic opportunity and so much fun that you forget about how tough it is because truly every day you're challenged with a new scenario. Like yesterday we were shooting in a strip club, speaking three languages. I mean, that right there is a dream come true in itself. Literally you're in a scene, speaking three different languages. And in the next scene, you're fighting two secret agents. It is amazing. I can't believe that this is happening.”



It’s also a groundbreaking show because the husband/wife spy team are both black actors. “I think it's important to recognize the fact that it is, I don't know if you want to call it revolutionary, but it's not the norm, although it should be the norm because that's what the world looks like. The world is diverse, and we come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and shades. Traditionally in TV it hasn't been the case, and therefore it needs to be commented on. So I want to make a point that it is important that we get a chance to, I don't know, be trailblazers or door openers or whatever you want to call it. On the other hand, let's keep in mind or let's inspire people to regard it as normal so that more and more people don't consider it taking a chance, but just being creative. At the end of the day, that's what we all try to be. Even though it's a corporate industry and even though it's show business, to have that freedom is something that we aspire to.”

I can’t even call them the politically correct term African-American, because they’re not. He’s German and his costar is British and they both speak with perfect American accents. “It wasn't always like this. When I first got here, I couldn't really speak English that well at all. I met some great dialect coaches and voice coaches, and they taught me how to breathe because, when you speak a foreign language, the reason why you sound different from the get-go is because your breathing is up here because you have a low level of confidence. And when you speak English, in your case, you breathe from down here. So I had to learn how to draw up my breathing. It was hard. Three hours a day, I would study and do these exercises. When you see my earlier work, you can still detect a very distinct German accent. After 12 hours on the set, usually, it comes out when I get really tired. It's funny to have a Brit and a German portraying American spies. At, like, 12 a.m., it all crumbles. It's all a big mess. That's one of those challenges that I was speaking of earlier, but it's something that I welcome, and it's a great opportunity.”

Undercovers premieres September 22nd on NBC.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Showtime
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