New Series ‘True Lies’ Is A Spy Story And A Family Drama Infused With Comedy, Explains EP

Neither lead of the new series True Lies is out to compete with the actor that came before them in the role.

Inspired by James Cameron’s hit action/comedy film of the same name, the series follows Harry Tasker (Steve Howey), a first-class international spy for a U.S. intelligence agency, and his wife, Helen (Ginger Gonzaga), a language professor, who, bored with her daily routine, makes the shocking discovery that her seemingly ordinary husband is leading an extraordinary double life.

With the secret out, Helen joins Harry and his team of top-notch operatives, embarking on covert missions around the globe and an exhilarating life of danger and adventure – all while keeping their adventures a secret from their children.

Howey says that out of respect for Arnold Schwarzenegger who played the lead role in the original film, he would never ‘do an impersonation.’

“I’ve never done it, not once, and I never will. Because [he’s] an iconic actor, and it’s an iconic film.”

He adds that meeting his co-star he realized that, “she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. It was always a good day working with her because I knew I was going to laugh.”

This is just one of the reasons why he and the creative team felt, “we wanted to do something on our own. We couldn’t mirror the movie. We wanted to bring our own flair, and I think we did,’ say Howey.

Gonzaga admits that she’d never seen the 1994 film, and that, “even before the pilot, I committed to not watching it, because I know Jamie [Lee Curtis gave] an iconic performance. The last thing I want to do is an impression of [her]. I have so much respect for her.”

Because of this choice, Gonzaga says, “I didn’t have to do the job of separating myself from Jamie because I kept myself clean of it, basically.”

Executive producer Matt Nix likens the vibe of the show to that of ‘80s series’ Moonlighting and Remington Steele, both of which featured a male-female crime-fighting duo with chemistry galore.

Moonlighting is a great example of a show that definitely was playing real romance and fun, and there was a case, and it didn’t take itself too seriously,” says Nix. “We definitely had those tonal touchstones, and a lot of them were pretty retro.”

This is because, as Nix points out, that there currently aren’t many action comedies on television. “You could find a few action shows with comedy elements, but in terms of a true action‑comedy, it’s mainly a movie genre.”

He says that his team uncovered why it’s difficult to do in the television world, explaining, “One of the challenges is that you’ve got to do all the things that a regular spy show would do, and then you’ve got to do all the things that a family drama would do. You’ve got to play all those emotional beats, and then you’ve also got to do a bunch of comedy things. Finding a way to do all of those things without having the comedy undermine the action or without having the heart of the family story overwhelming the other elements, it’s a balance.”

Nix wants to be clear that, “the thing that was reinforced again and again as we went through the season was that the essence of True Lies isn’t spectacle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love spectacle, and we were able to do some big stunts and effects that I’m really proud of — we did the biggest car flip I’ve ever done, we blew up a lot of buildings, and, yes, we dangled Helen from a helicopter — but the thing that really matters to me, and I think to all of us, is the spirit of the thing.”

Continuing the thought, he adds, that at its core, “It’s a show about family, about a group of people that really care about each other and are working through real issues; decent people who are trying to make a difference in the world.”

He says that the series, ‘invites the audience to laugh and have some fun’ and Nix is urging everyone to, “remember that whatever insanity might be going on in the world, we are all human beings trying to do our best. That’s what I remember most from coming out of that theater in 1994 [after seeing the movie], and that’s the spirit of what we’ve tried to do with this show, so I hope you enjoy.”

‘True Lies’ airs Wednesdays at 1o/9c on CBS, and is available for streaming on Paramount+.