When USA's "Graceland" premieres June 6 at 10 PM, it'll feature plenty of pretty people — and their not-so-pretty problems. The show could be described as "Real World: Federal Agent Edition," but that wouldn't come close to describing the darkness and complexity of the six federal agents who live and work together.
Graceland is the name of a house shared by federal agents from the FBI, the DEA, and U.S. Customs. Newcomer Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit, "Gossip Girl" and "Les Misérables") joins the motley crew, which is headed by talented but troubled Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata, "Rescue Me").
Yahoo! TV visited the set of the new series to chat with Tveit, Sunjata, and the rest of the cast about the deeply intertwined stories, potential romances, and what was really happening in the premiere's gorgeous surfing scene.
1. It's a little darker and sexier than other USA shows.
We love the fun and froth of "Psych," "White Collar," and "Suits," but "Graceland" is "not going to be the typical blue-skies fare of USA," explained Sunjata. "It's more gray skies, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, there's definitely some levity. There's some comedy. But I think that [viewers] should brace themselves for a little trip to the dark side."
"There's this sexiness to it," echoed Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays prickly Customs agent Jakes.
2. Characters are still welcome, though.
The house is filled with complex, three-dimensional people. As soon as you think you've got one of them figured out, "Graceland" peels back another layer. And then another. And another.
"The life of an undercover FBI agent is really dangerous and really intense, and you really don't have much of a personal life," explained Vanessa Ferlito, who plays the chameleon FBI Agent Charlie DeMarco. "This becomes your whole life. So you play hard and you work hard in the house."
Added Sunjata, "You'll see not only Briggs's demons, but some demons from other people in the show. Nothing is as it seems in Graceland."
3. The central relationship isn't a romance; it's between two men.
At the core of "Graceland" is the Mike Warren-Paul Briggs relationship — one that can be friendly and mentoring, yet adversarial and tense.
Sunjata on "Graceland":
"It's a really, really complex relationship, which is a lot of fun," Tveit said. "If there's a line between what's right and what's wrong as an FBI agent, I think that Mike is on one side of the line and Briggs is on the other side, and as we kind of grow together, I think we almost learn from each other to grow towards the middle of it, but we're really still on each side of this line."
Tveit on "Graceland":
4. Everyone lies. A lot.
And we're not talking "No, I didn't eat your leftovers" kinds of lies. These are federal agents; their secrets are on a much bigger, much more intense scale.
"You get to see what it's like to live in a house with people who lie for a living outside the walls of that house and then sometimes have to play secrets very close to their chest, even when they come home, presumably to be themselves," Sunjata noted. "But they can't even be themselves at home, you find out."
All those secrets and lies build up and start poisoning the friendships and working partnerships among the house members. "
"You really start to see how that trickles down and how it gets intertwined, and it becomes this kind of rotted, like gnarled, mess," said Serinda Swan (DEA Agent Paige Arkin).
And of course, alliances naturally start to form. "That's another great dynamic of the house — you kind of got these people on one side and on another side," said McLaren. "So these pseudoteams start forming, and we're all supposed to be working together.
5. Don't expect a "case of the week."
This isn't "Law & Order"; don't expect crimes to get wrapped up with a neat bow.
"What I like about the first season is that it's mostly serialized," Sunjata said. "I'm hoping that we won't get into, like, little, short, the crime happens, we investigate it, and we figure out whodunit by the end of the show" storylines until several seasons in.
6. Romance is in the air.
Maybe it'll happen between housemates or maybe not, but at the least, there will be love interests outside the house in the first season.
Mike meets a "very nice young girl from the East Coast," Tveit revealed. "There's a lot of conflict about whether or not I can bring her back to the house… And then that gets very complicated too because I really care for this girl, but then I literally have to lie to her all the time." (Yup, more lies!)
"Charlie gets some action in the house," Ferlito teased. "I'm not gonna lie."
We'll also learn more about Jakes and his love life. Could there be a special someone he shares his orange juice with? "You really get a look into Jakes's personal life outside of the house," McLaren said. "There's a big storyline with that and how what's going on in the house really takes a toll on him trying to hold together his life outside of the job."
One guy who might not get a lot of action is Manny Montana's fun-loving FBI agent, Johnny Tuturro — despite the appearance that he's a player. "It's such bull! They try to make him out to be this ladies' man, and he's not!" Montana laughed. "He never finds a love interest… Freaking Aaron has, like, three hot women!"
7. That idyllic surfing scene? Someone barfed!
One of the most beautiful scenes of the pilot, where Mike, Paul, and Johnny go surfing, was actually pretty hairy in real life.
As Montana described it, "Me, Daniel, and Aaron are in the water, and they are just kind of floating around acting like they know how to surf... We're all just talking, hanging out, and I look to my right, and Daniel's just throwing up, just hurling into the water!"
"Never go surfing after eating shrimp scampi!" Sunjata warned.
"It's a beautiful shot 'cause the sun is going down and he's silhouetted," Montana described.
"And the throw-up is just coming out! It was the best thing."
"Graceland" premieres Thursday, 6/6 at 10 PM on USA.
- Daniel Sunjata
- Aaron Tveit