EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Hephner Talks Becoming AGENT X

By: Courtney V.

TNT debuts its latest action packed spy drama Agent X tonight and it’s a fun ride. The American people do not know that there is a secret draft of the Constitution that contains a provision for an Agent X, who can operate outside the law at the bidding of the Vice President in order to protect America. While you definitely get a National Treasure vibe in the first episode, with the secret chambers and mysterious symbols, that falls to the side pretty quickly for what is a fast-paced, action-packed hour of taking down bad guys. OHSOGRAY talked with the delightfully charming Jeff Hephner about his new role as John Case aka Agent X.

Agent X‘s 2-hour series premiere begins tonight 9pm on TNT.

Tonight is the premiere of Agent X, can you describe the premise of the show and your character?

It’s in a world where the Vice President has… you find out is in charge, and actually has a job…is in charge of this unknown agent that they send out in times of peril—that sounds really cool—to do jobs and missions that otherwise the government can’t do publicly. Kind of like a secret agent guy. I play Agent X, the agent that the Vice President is in charge of and will be sent into the times of peril to save the world and beat everybody up.

What excited you most about this role? You get to do a ton of action, it looks like.

I know, it’s pretty bad ass. That, really. The opportunity to do that. I’ve played a lot of different characters along the way, but no time am I like the action lead of a show. It ones of those things… this is what I’ve been preparing for since I was fighting with my big brother in the yard when I was 10 years old.

When you signed on to the show, had they already signed Sharon Stone?

Yeah, the only reason you get a guy that nobody’s ever heard of—me—is because you have someone like Sharon Stone. So we’re very lucky. They went out to her and she had been looking to do a TV show and this is the one that sparked her fancy. Because someone like that can take all the cover. You know what I mean? Provide all the cover. They can hire a lesser-known actor because you already have someone who’s a viable commodity. People want to watch Sharon. People are fans of hers and she’s got decades of work behind her that people respect and love. So I got pretty fortunate in that situation.

What is it like working with Sharon?

Terrible! Oh my god! [Laughs] She beat me up all the time…it was really rough. No, she’s great! We had a ball. Once you get past the fact that you’re hanging out with Sharon Stone… it’s a blast. It’s one of those things where you’re like, holy shit, when I was grinding and every other shit job I had in the world before I got to do an acting job…these are the moments you pictured yourself being in. People you wanted to work with. The environment. The fun. I predicate most of my life on having a good time and having fun and this show—TV most of the time allows for that—we had a really good time.

How big of a role do the Freemasons and the Founding Fathers backstories play this season?

For now, it’s an entry point. I think we introduce this background to start building the mythology of it, cause we’re starting essentially a character from scratch and a world from scratch. So that gives this beautiful entry point in the fact that there’s a difference in the Constitution or in the oath, and then you can add to the Constitution and have this world that keeps popping up in our mythology of America—the role of the Freemasons. I think it gives a great entry point, but I don’t think we’re going to spend so much time harping on its connections. Cause that pulls you in[to] a different conspiracy—pulls you backwards. I think our conspiracy goes forwards.

The secret section of the Constitution says that there is one agent. Will that remain the same or will you eventually get a partner for your missions?

There’s always one. There’s a series…you’ll see there’s been other Agents X in the past and there are some that are no longer working as Agent X, but they exist. But I think the idea that there can be only one right now…hell, it’s TV, that could always change, we could have like a road show movie and there could be a chimpanzee in season 4. I have no idea. But as of right, there’s this one agent who’s sent out to do this. He works within a network of people. Anytime you have someone on their own, you have to allies and enemies all over the place.

The Vice President is a widow, so technically available for romance. Is there an chance of a relationship between her and Agent X?

[Laughs] I think if it was up to me, hell yeah! I think that the nature … I think there’s going to be romantic possibilities for her elsewhere. But I think that the nature of the relationship in which they work, you’ll see as the season carries on and where it concludes, they’re bonded in a way that takes romance out. There’s a deeper friendship and a respect that its forged. But I think in terms of the romantic realm, she’ll find that elsewhere.

The Vice President loses her husband in an accident, which always sends up the red flags of suspicion. Is that something we’re going to explore in this first season?

We do. I think we start nibbling at the edges of that. Once everybody tunes in and we get season 2, I think we’ll get a little more. But I think you’re hitting the nail on the head. We’re going to start nibbling around the edges of that thing. And just like any thread that you pull at, you don’t know if it’s going to unwind the whole sweater.

Where is Agent X filmed?

Los Angeles, California.

So nothing in DC? None of those great outdoor shots?

[Laughs] Isn’t it amazing how they mask all that stuff and still somehow make it look like wherever they said they are? One day we’re up on a hill and it’s like, “Oh this is Mexico.” Then you go down the hill and it’s like, “This is Chechnya.” I was watching a show last night and these guys are walking and I know exactly the place they’re at—it’s a lot in Northern California, but for their purposes, they’re in Pakistan. I’d have bought it, if I didn’t know.

The big villains at the beginning are the Russians. Who else are we going to see? Is there an overarching villain?

There is. There’ll be one guy. You start to see in the pilot, the Volker guy. He’s just on the fringes. I’m looking, running, I’m looking for this guy…the guy who takes off in the helicopter…he’s going to play a larger role. There’s this mysterious bad guy who’s kind of had his finger in a lot of catastrophe. It comes back home and we all get connected to it.

How about John’s backstory? Are we going to find out how he became Agent X?

Yes, every episode is going to start with a flashback. So the little bit before the teaser will always be a little portion of John’s story before he was Agent X and what led him there and what elements of his past are going to pop up and complicate his life now.

What do you think people are going to like most about the show?

We give away candy at the end.

I’m in!

[Laughs] That’s it, you watch and we send you Tootsie rolls. I think people who love TV and love…the comfortable, I keep say the comfortable storytelling because for me, it reminds me of the shows I watched when I was younger. It’s the A-Team, it’s Hunter. It’s Magnum PI. It’s really cozy television. I think it’s fun to watch. I think if you give us an hour, we’ll take good care of you. I think you’ll have fun. You’re probably not going to get any smarter. You’re not going to get any taller, but I think it’ll be fun. It’ll be good escapism.