Spies and lies
Almost 30 years later, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Canadian Oscar-winner James Cameron’s big-screen hits is becoming a television series—and that’s the truth.
The seriocomic adventure True Lies premieres Wednesday on CTV and CBS (while also streaming on Paramount+), basically remaking the 1994 film as its opening episode. Steve Howey (Shameless) assumes Schwarzenegger’s role as Harry Tasker, a super-spy whose wife Helen (Ginger Gonzaga, stepping in for the great Jamie Lee Curtis) believes he’s just a mild-mannered computer salesman. Once she learns what his real job is, she’s enlisted by his intelligence agency, and they travel the world on death-defying yet chuckle-worthy missions—while trying to prevent their children (Annabella Didion, Lucas Jaye) from finding out.
CTV“It’s the hardest job I’ve had yet,” states the good-humoured Howey, who has no illusions about possibly being mistaken for Schwarzenegger as he generates his own True Lies under the leadership of executive producer Matt Nix (best known as the creator of another breezy spy drama, Burn Notice). “This experience has taught me a lot about having an idea and then executing it,” Howey reflects, “because that doesn’t always pan out. Every episode of this gets better. And we get more tired.”
CTVAn alum of CBS’s Showcase talent search, the lively Gonzaga knows True Lies is another big showcase for her. She notes she feels “guilty” that she didn’t see the movie before landing the TV job: “I didn’t want to be influenced by Jamie Lee’s iconic performance. And then, I had to buy the DVD off eBay... and a DVD player. It was a whole ‘thing.’ ”
Indeed, True Lies has been in development for TV since 2010, and Gonzaga reasons that it’s “good that it’s been a while.”
CTVSince Cameron also had other commitments (including the now-Oscar-nominated Avatar: The Way of Water), his longtime associate Rae Sanchini had more firsthand involvement in the show’s casting; that in mind, Tom Arnold, Schwarzenegger’s big-screen sidekick from the original movie, is among the guest stars.
Being built for over-the-top action, True Lies can put its actors at risk, as Howey learned close to the end of filming season one.
CTV“I was fighting a stunt man,” he reports, “and we did it once and it went great. Then we did it again, and he pretended to bounce his face off a wall... and as he went back, my left hand went forward into his neck, and it snapped my left ring finger back to the point where my nail hit my knuckle. I finished the stunt, and when they yelled ‘Cut!,’ I snapped it back. Then I got an X-ray and sure enough, I broke the bone. And I thought, ‘There’s a reason you have a stunt guy. Use him.’ ”
True Lies premieres Wednesday, March 1 on CBS