“Graceland” Star Aaron Tveit Previews the Season Finale

Source: The Wall Street Journal
Date: September 12, 2013
By: Alexandra Cheney

Although fans of USA Network’s “Graceland” may know Aaron Tveit as their favorite the top-of-the-class F.B.I. rookie agent, he’s also a singer; a fact that this reporter suggested become a part of his character, Mike Warren in season two.

“It would be funny and Mike can do a lot of things, but I don’t know if singing would be one of them,” Tveit said during his recent visit to the Journal offices in Beverly Hills, where he made sure to mention his coming album from his six night stint singing on Broadway. “I mean, I could see [Paul] Briggs playing the Japanese flute, so I guess you never know.”

Earlier this week, the network announced a season two order for “Graceland,” which follows six undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Customs agents sharing a beachfront house at an undisclosed location in Southern California.

In advance of the season one finale of “Graceland,” which airs Thursday night, Tveit sat down with the Journal to discuss what happens when Mike ultimately fulfills his duty at the house, the advice he took from “White Collar’s” Matt Bomer, and the good versus evil fight that could be brewing inside his character.

WSJ: The season one finale is upon us. How do you feel about Mike’s life come the end of this episode?
Aaron Tveit:
Basically, the way I look at the finale, everything that has been building up in the season with Briggs and I and with the Kaza cartel and with Jangles, all of that definitely comes to head. A lot of stuff gets resolved but then, in a way, Mike and Briggs are kind of tied together; they are forced and bound together moving forward with the stuff yet to be seen.

Does Mike finally get what he’s wanted since the beginning of the season?
Yes and no. Mike doesn’t even know it in the moment, but he changes a lot in the course of the season. Going through this experience, he might not know what he wanted before might not what he wants now. Although he may have gotten what he set out to get, it’s kind of not; he may want other things. Those things could be different things then the things he got.

What does that mean, exactly?
He wants to be upper FBI brass one day, but maybe he thinks that those days are down the road and that he wants to be a field agent a little while longer. Daniel [Sunjata] and I have talked a lot about the moral ambiguity in the second half of the season and both characters have to do some not so good things to get results, and I think that’s a part of the job that Mike doesn’t necessarily know he was going to be really good at. That brings up a lot of questions, you know, “Am I good at this? Is there unresolved work?” The way it is going to come up, Briggs is not necessarily cleared from the problems he’s been going through. Mike may want to help this guy who is his friend and mentor too.

Season two was just given the green light this week. What do you think that means for Mike’s evolution?
Right when the season ends, I don’t even know if Mike knows how much they are bound together, him and Briggs. I’m looking forward, I’m curious to see if Mike gets a choice to return to Washington, if he gets a choice to go to Graceland or if he’s forced to go to Graceland. I’m interested to see how much Mike is really in control of his destiny, of his decisions, or if it is already decided for him.

Jeff Eastin, the series creator, is big on getting actor’s input into their characters. How much did you influence who Mike was going to be, say in the second half of the season?
There was a tremendous amount of collaboration. When I got cast in “Graceland” and we were getting ready to shoot the pilot, Russell Fine, who also works on “White Collar” took us to their set and I met Matt [Bomer] and those guys and they basically said they get changes up until cameras are rolling; that I’ll never know lines, but that Jeff is open to ideas and suggestions.

What were your ideas and suggestions?
I think they started to laugh at me, want them to cut all my lines. As the season progressed, I wanted to give away less and less and keep even more close and play those moments, the ambiguity for everything. They set it up that Mike was top of his class at Quantico and all these things, and I was constantly looking in the season, rather than telling people that, to show people that way he went about his work. How can we show another side as to why Mike is a brilliant and why he is so smart, why he’s the smartest guy in the room?

Where do you see Mike in a year?
I’ve heard people say Mike is a bit of sociopath; that he’s right on the ball and going for it. I’m playing him as a winning character and good guy that’s really good at his job, and people have told me that he’s really relentless and goes for it all the time. This is what I think, as of right now: if you told me a year from now Mike was a brilliant FBI agent kicking ass and rising, I would believe it. Or if you told me that he was taking over working for Bello, I would also believe it. I thought really hard about this, but if Mike’s training officer is dealing drugs, what’s the difference between the guy I’m working for dealing drugs? I also like him.