A Little Rebelliousness Has Served Turco Well
NEW YORK — Paige Turco plays CIA operative Terri Lowell on the CBS drama The Agency, a workaholic who’s skilled with computers and goes strictly by the book.
Lowell is a wizard in the CIA’s graphic design department, and her ambition and good instincts have made her a prime candidate for fieldwork.
Off-screen, though, Turco, who received training from real-life CIA operatives, says she’s rebellious and isn’t particularly computer literate.
But the 37-year-old actress is working to understand Lowell’s psyche, including catching up on the news when she’s off the set. And, like her character, Turco (a former ballerina) is studying martial arts.
The Agency, now in its second season (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET), also stars Beau Bridges, Rocky Carroll, David Clennon and Will Patton. The pilot had a plot line involving Usama bin Laden; a later episode involved an anthrax scare. Both shows were written and shot before last year’s terrorist attacks but aired after Sept. 11.
Viewers responded particularly well to her character, Turco says, because Lowell was new to the CIA and learning how the intelligence world works — just like all the people glued to the news on television.
Turco graduated from the University of Connecticut and performed with the New England Dance Conservatory, the Amherst Ballet Theater Company and the Western Massachusetts Ballet Company.
Her first acting jobs included the daytime soap operas The Guiding Light and All My Children. She had roles on the TV series American Gothic, NYPD Blue and Party of Five, and starred in two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.
Although The Agency is shot in California, Turco considers Manhattan her home. On a recent weekend visit, she squeezed in a doctor’s appointment, this interview and a double cheeseburger, delivered from her favorite diner.
1. Why can’t you commit to Los Angeles?
Turco: In New York there is more of a diversity of lives. Most of my friends aren’t in the business but in L.A. so much of the city is ‘industry’ — not that that’s a negative thing … for me, though, I need to be able to walk around real life. Last year, I walked somewhere (in Los Angeles) and people almost drove their cars off the road.
2. A broken ankle ended your career as a ballerina before it really got started. Any regrets?
Turco: I went through a period where I couldn’t even go to the ballet and watch because it was so painful and I missed it. … Now I think it was the biggest blessing that could ever happen in my life. What I learned from that — and I try to live this way — is you really never know what’s going to happen.
3. What’s it been like to work on The Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?
Turco: None of us wanted to keep doing the show just for the sake of keeping our jobs, not for the sake of entertainment if it was going to make people feel uncomfortable or bring them any more fear or pain … but we also became a voice in saying this really happened, there are real people involved and there are people left behind who deal with this pain every day.
4. How did you react to your first meeting with former teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy, an executive producer of The Agency and on your previous show American Gothic?
Turco: He’ll kill me for saying this, but when I first met him all I could hear was `Da Doo Ron Ron.’ But he’s my buddy now. And he’s my boss.
5. Can you describe that rebellious streak you mentioned?
Turco: When I first started doing soaps I always played the goody-goody. I said to my mother, `Well, it’s kind of fun because I get to play the perfect daughter you never had.’
SOUTH COAST TODAY – November 2, 2002 – Samantha Critchell