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Gugu Mbatha-Raw on Undercovers

Published September 14, 2010 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of NBC
Undercovers Undercovers

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the latest action heroine discovered by J.J. Abrams. She plays the female lead on his new spy show, Undercovers. A married spy team comes out of retirement to kick some butt and bicker a little bit, in a funny way.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Undercovers

“For me, it was a relatively rapid casting process but a lot of fight training,” Mbatha-Raw said. “I got a chance to work with the stunt coordinator on various martial arts styles, a little bit of a Capoeira. I mean, I come from a sort of dance background. So a lot of stuff that I've done has kept me limber. So in terms of all of the fighting and kicking and that sort of thing, it's already sort of part of my, you know, body chemistry, I guess, and accent work as well and a lot of dialect and language lessons.”

International espionage will require the stars to speak multiple languages. “To be honest with you, I only fluently speak English. I speak a little bit of French, and I'm familiar with German because I did it at school, but everything else that I speak in the show, I learn specifically phonetically for the show.”

In their cover job, they’re still chefs at a restaurant. That’s also just acting. “I love cooking, but sadly, I'm not an expert at it as Samantha is. Luckily, on the show we have Nancy, who is wonderful, who is our sort of food consultant. So in the kind of chaos of the kitchen scenes, a lot of kitchen scenes are very dynamic. There's a lot going on. We're always on the move. So we get a chance to kind of play around with the food in the scenes. Personally I enjoy cooking, but I'm more of a spontaneous chef. I'm not an expert.”

Mbatha-Raw has an international background too. Her mother is from Herefordshire and her father is South African. “I didn't really hear my dad's accent at home because I was predominantly brought up with my mom. So that was mainly a British accent that I heard. Just in terms of culture and television and movies, I was brought up very much with American TV shows, American films, so immersed in the culture all the time. I think it sort of subliminally seeps in. I've always had a good ear for mimicry when I was a kid. I always used to kind of do voices and things like that, and I'm relatively musical. So I think it was very much a natural thing from just picking up from watching TV.”

Undercovers premieres September 22nd on NBC.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of NBC

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