The FOX crime drama Accused takes the incredibly likeable Christopher Gorham and manages to make him one of the most terrible people on the planet. In “Morgan’s Story,” the Covert Affairs and Ugly Betty alum plays Jason Knight, who decides the appropriate response to his wife wanting a divorce is to frame her for a crime. But it’s Christopher’s presence that makes the whole thing so downright terrifying.
Ahead of the episode’s April 11 premiere, I spoke with him about what it was like to step into such a terrible character—and how he’s been able to tackle more antagonistic roles in this and other recent TV appearances. Plus, he speaks about his connection with co-star Meaghan Rath (read my interview with her here), and the challenges of such a twisted episode.
Brittany Frederick: This Accused role is the exact opposite of you in every possible way. Given that, what made you want to play Jason?
Christopher Gorham: I liked the team behind the show. The director, Milan Cheylov, is an old friend of mine from the Odyssey 5 and Jake 2.0 days. Honestly, the stuff that I had to do in this episode is not easy. There’s one particularly upsetting scene. And so I felt like I was going to be in good hands, and it was going to be a safe environment with people that wanted it to be really good and not just salacious. So that’s why I was intrigued by it.
BF: And that’s the beauty of acting, is playing these parts that are so different from yourself. You’ve portrayed a few “bad guys” in recent years compared to the characters you’re known for. What’s been your trick to making these characters at least somewhat watchable, because particularly with Jason, that’s a challenge.
CG: The acting job is the same no matter what type of character you’re playing. It’s getting under the hood and finding the empathy for that person—understanding why they do what they do, and then being able to portray it in an honest way. For [Jason in Accused], the key really was in the upsetting scene, when he comes in drunk and he talks. The thing that he’s trying to seduce her with is that he just made another million dollars. That’s where his power is.
His power is all wrapped up in money. And so all of the decisions in his life have come from trying to amass as much money and therefore power as he can. Because for whatever reason, that’s what he’s learned is the way to success and happiness. And unfortunately, he’s being taught in this episode that it’s not true. That it certainly doesn’t bring you happiness, nor love.
BF: But you bring up an important point that comes out in a scene that you’re not even in. Morgan tells her divorce attorney that Jason used to be a good guy. How much did that scene mean to you as the one playing Jason, even though it’s not your scene?
CG: You can see where, as a young guy, he’s exciting, he’s handsome, he’s ambitious, he’s charismatic. Even then he was using his power to manipulate her—and she admits [that] it worked. [She] liked him. It was attractive. But ten years into that marriage, that wears off because he doesn’t have anything else to offer. All he spends his energy on is becoming wealthy and powerful. And he wants his beautiful wife in place, and he wants his perfect child in place because it helps him at work. It makes him look good.
And 100 percent for sure, if they were to stay together—ten years down the line, he would absolutely divorce her and find a younger wife. Because then that’s what he would need. He’s broken.
BF: There are so many infuriating moments with Jason. During the filming of Accused, how were you able to put him aside at the end of the day and step out of that intense space that the episode lives in?
CG: It was interesting. I typically don’t have much of a problem, but you never know when things are gonna pop up in one of these scenes, because it is very emotionally vulnerable. To do it, you have to be emotionally vulnerable. And it was one of the things that the intimacy coordinator was recommending to us. She said you have a self-care plan in place for the end of the day…because you just never know how you’re going to react. Having something, whether it’s just like a playlist of music that’s going to bring you back to center or setting up a bath or whatever it is to bring you back to yourself and your emotional truth. It’s a good idea. I thought that was really smart and frankly, was something nobody ever suggested to me before.
I didn’t need it at the end of the day—but having watched the episode, I’m really pleased with how it came out, because like you said, he feels awful. It feels true for that guy, and you really want him to lose.
BF: Meaghan also mentioned how important Accused‘s crew and in particular the intimacy coordinator were for her. It sounds like that was similarly impactful for you.
CG: The really new thing for me on this was working with an intimacy coordinator. This was my first time working with one, and Meaghan and I talked about it a lot, because I think it was her first time working with one as well. And it was really great. It’s a position that’s been created to fill a need that’s been there for a long time, because we have stunt coordinators that make sure that nobody gets physically injured anytime there’s an action scene. But now there’s an intimacy coordinator to make sure nobody gets emotionally injured or physically injured in these intimate scenes.
It’s an emotionally vulnerable scene and could be very upsetting because you don’t know what anybody’s background is coming in to scenes like this. And so having someone there that made us feel very safe was really helpful. I’m a big fan of that position on a crew.
BF: Aside from Jason being so complicated and terrible, what did you take away from the experience of Accused as a whole? It truly was something different for you on-screen, and it sounds like it was unique off-screen as well.
CG: It was such a pleasure working with Meaghan. We’ve known each other for a while; we actually met during the Covert Affairs and Being Human days when we were both hired to go to Montreal for literally 24 hours and make five episodes of Match Game. And we have mutual friends, and we’ve been social media pals for a long time. So it was really nice to actually get to work with her for the first time—and I’m so impressed. She’s such a wonderful actress.
She just was wonderful and getting to meet James Udom—who plays Kashir Amari—who’s such a great actor and a really lovely guy. Kyle Mac, who played my brother, did an incredible job and he’s such an interesting dude himself. When he found out that he got the part, he was in a treehouse in Colombia with his girlfriend, literally like out the middle of nowhere. (laughs) It took him two full days to get to Toronto. It was the most absurd story. We were like, you have to be making that up—and then he showed us pictures. He was literally living in a treehouse in Colombia.
And then just being back in Toronto was great. I got to reunite with a bunch of old friends from the Covert Affairs days…All my free time was filled up with old friends and memories, and they were nice enough to let me bring my oldest son with me. It was just a lovely experience, except for all of the times where I had to be this horrible man.
Accused airs Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. on FOX. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Christopher Gorham, in which we dissect the ending of “Morgan’s Story” and what it means for Jason.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.