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Graceland – How Aaron Tveit is constantly surprised

Graceland, Season 1 - Aaron Tveit
Graceland, Season 1 – Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) ©2013 USA Network, photo by James Minchin III

This has been quite a year for Aaron Tveit. The Broadway star portrayed student revolutionary leader Enjolras in the movie version of Les Miserables, and is now portraying FBI rookie Mike Warren in USA’s new series Graceland, premiering on June 6th.

The action/drama delves into the lives of an elusive group of undercover agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and US Customs, whose worlds collide when they are sent to work out of a repossessed Southern California beachfront mansion called Graceland, once owned by a drug lord known to be an obsessed Elvis Presley fan.

I spoke with Aaron about Graceland and the Oscar nominated Les Miserables at the TV Critics tour.

Can you talk a little about who Mike Warren is?

1.01 Pilot, Aaron Tveit, Daniel Sunjata, Graceland, select
Graceland, 1.01 Pilot – Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) and Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) ©2013 USA Network

In the beginning it’s supposed to look like I’m getting thrown into this situation, but that’s a predominant theme with the show, that nothing is as it seems.

Mike’s a really smart guy and he graduated top of his class, at the FBI Academy. A lot of people may think that he’s only book smart, but there’s a lot more to him than he’s letting on at the beginning.

If you notice in the pilot everyone else talks about Mike, but he doesn’t really say anything about himself. We get to see who Mike really is as the series goes on.

Does Mike have secrets, and do you know what they are?

Graceland, Season: 1 - Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Serinda Swan, Brandon Jay McLaren, Daniel Sunjata, Manny Montana
Graceland, Season: 1 – Aaron Tveit as Mike Warren, Vanessa Ferlito as Charlie Lopez, Serinda Swan as Paige Arkin, Brandon Jay McLaren as Dale Jakes, Daniel Sunjata as Paul Briggs, Manny Montana as Johnny Tuturro ©2013 USA Network, photo by James Minchin III

I think we all have secrets, and I know what mine are. I think the nature of being a FBI agent  is to lie. Being in a house with FBI, DEA and Customs is a problem.

Our government agencies don’t share information, so naturally we’re not going to be sharing all the information with each other.

So we all have our own secrets that we are working on.

We are all constantly surprised when we get new scripts about the turns the story’s taking. As the arc of the whole season develops, a lot of things that you don’t necessarily expect to happen are going to happen.

What’s it like shooting in Florida?

Graceland - Cat Greenleaf, Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Serinda Swan, Brandon Jay McLaren, Manny Montana
Graceland – Cat Greenleaf, Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Serinda Swan, Brandon Jay McLaren, Manny Montana in Austin, TX on Monday, March 11, 2013 ©2013 USA Network

I think it’s really cool, because even though it’s hard to be away from our home, our sole focus there is to shoot this television show.

It’s a very specific thing that has helped elevate the show, that we’re all there together for that reason.

Was it hard to shoot this pilot at the same time you did Les Mis?

It was a scheduling thing, but [I knew] that they were both going to work. When you sign for a pilot you’ve already signed your contract [for the series],so I was never going to lose Graceland.

It was really just making the timing work with the two, and both sides were amazing in making the schedule work.

How long did it take you to film your part in Les Mis, as it comes later in the movie?

Les Miserables - Aaron Tveit
Les Miserables – Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) ©2013 Universal Pictures

I still filmed for almost two months, because all the stuff in the barricade we played out in real time.

It took a lot of time to film that whole war sequence.

A lot of my stuff is big scenes so it took a long time, but it was an incredible experience.

What is doing TV like after Broadway?

Graceland, Season 1 - Aaron Tveit
Graceland, Season 1 – Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) ©2013 USA Network, photo by James Minchin III

It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been really lucky to be able to do both, but I really am enjoying my time working on a television show.

It’s nice, instead of spending time doing one script eight times a week, to get a brand new story to tell each week.

I asked Aaron about singing the songs live for Les Mis. Click here to listen to his reply.

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