The Root Interview: Boris Kodjoe on Black-on-Black Love

The Afro-German heartthrob talks secrets, TV's color problem and why his new NBC show, "Undercovers," isn't a "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" knockoff.

BK: The major difference is that we’re not trying to kill each other. I see our show as more of a new-millennium Hart to Hart. That’s a closer comparison. Samantha and Steven are making a marriage work. It’s about a couple that’s trying. We kick butt and at the same time try to maintain a somewhat healthy relationship because we have secrets that we haven’t revealed to each other even. The show is about watching this couple start to get to know each other again.

TR: As the series moves forward, will we learn more about Steven and Samantha’s families, their backgrounds? Too often, African-American actors don’t get to have a rich back story.

BK: That’s part of the appeal of the show — there are secrets. The past will come to the surface gradually. Every episode, you’ll find out a new piece of information about where I’m from and where Samantha is from. You’ll get to know the couple intimately as they get to know each other.

TR: Travel is a big part of the plot. The Blooms are jet-setters.

BK: It’s important to show audiences different parts of the world. It allows us to introduce people to different cultures. We don’t really see that too much. I speak four different languages — German, French, Spanish and English — and Gugu learned French and German in school. But we still have native speakers on set that keep us in check and make it sound really real. I was adamant about that. I can’t stand it when actors speak with horrific accents. It makes my skin crawl.

TR: The show is also funny, which I didn’t expect.

BK: It’s got romance and it’s got real comedy. It’s got action, real danger and real drama. That’s what makes the show so hard to define. We live in times that are difficult enough, and I think sometimes people need time to escape, to cuddle up to somebody and swoon over a couple that’s in love with each other.

Helena Andrews writes the “Single-Minded” column for The Root. She is the author of Bitch Is the New Black (HarperCollins), a memoir in essays.

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