LOS ANGELES – Tough guys and super spies cry over breakups too – that is the premise of a new comedy drama, Whiskey Cavalier, inspired by a real-life Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent.

Its creator, David Hemingson, got a 2am call one night from that agent, a good friend. And he imagined the worst, especially as the man works in counter-terrorism.

But all he wanted was to talk about his relationship and that planted a seed that grew into Hemingson’s new show, which airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Warner TV (Singtel TV Channel 306, StarHub TV Channel 515).

Scott Foley plays federal agent Will Chase, who is still licking his wounds from a failed relationship when he is paired with Central Intelligence Agency operative Frankie Trowbridge, played by Lauren Cohan, and the two have to work together to save the world.

Speaking to The Straits Times and other media in Los Angeles last month, Hemingson recalls the late-night phone call that began it all.

“When a call comes at 2 am, you’re, like, ‘Who died? Oh my god, are you okay?’

“But he says, ‘Listen, I’m breaking up with my girlfriend, I’m having a hard time.’ And I’m thinking: This guy just thwarted a terrorist attack. This guy is the first guy through the door, gun out and up – he is an American hero. And he’s calling me about his breakup with his girlfriend.”

That was when the writer-producer – who worked on the comedy series Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 (2012 to 2013) – realised spies are just like everyone else in some ways.

“At the end of the day, what he wants is what we all want, which is love and connection. And I started thinking: why do we always portray these guys as cold, hard lotharios? Why aren’t we portraying these men and women as people who are desperate to trust somebody and urgently want connection?”

The series will thus show the softer side of agent Chase even as it has him doing high-stakes spy stuff in exotic locales across Europe.

The two leads, Foley and Cohan, had to juggle these action-hero elements with the comedyas well as romantic tension between their characters, who do not get along initially.

Foley – who played a spy on a more serious show, Scandal (2013 to 2018) – also had to portray his character in the early, weepy stages of his breakup, which sees him drowning his sorrows in beer and pizza and singing along to ballads like Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

A reporter asks how long Chase will be moping around like this. “What’s your problem with emotion, man?” jokes Foley, 46.

“I think he carries the weight of the experience with him, but it’s not a constant in the episodes you’re going to see in the first season,” he adds.

“It was really a great way to introduce a different side to a leading action man and I thought it was an interesting way to jump into the show.”

The actor, who appeared in the popular drama Felicity (1998 to 2002), believes it is high time television embraces a different kind of male action hero.

“The men that we know to save the world on the television shows we grew up on” are usually “stoic” and “unrelatable”, he observes. But the one he plays here “is modern and more interesting”.

Cohan, best known for her 2011 to 2018 stint on zombie show The Walking Dead, enjoyed the opportunity to get both physical and emotional for this series.

Says the 37-year-old: “It’s exhilarating. What makes the show special is we get to go into the emotional territory, we get to go into the comedic territory, and then we do probably two or three giant set pieces with a stunt every single episode.

“And these characters sort of turn out to have a whole repertoire of skills with everything. It’s awesome.”

Whiskey Cavalier airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Warner TV (Singtel TV Channel 306, StarHub TV Channel 515).

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