'True Lies' Stars Steve Howey and Ginger Gonzaga Talk Stunts, Style, and the Iconic Beverly D'Angelo Ahead of New CBS Action Series Premiere (Exclusive)

The fan-favorite '90s action-comedy True Lies is coming to the small screen, courtesy of CBS, and the show's stars say it has real stunts and great style, as well as the "iconic" Beverly D'Angelo. In the show, actors Steve Howey (Shameless, Reba) and Ginger Gonzaga (She-Hulk: Attorney at Law) portray super-spy Harry Tasker and his lovably quirky wife Helen, who is oblivious to Harry's double life. The roles were famously originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, respectively, in the 1994 James Cameron spy film.

PopCulture.com had a chance to catch up with Howey and Gonzaga to chat about the new show, which Howey confessed he was eager to join after being a fan of all the classic Schwarzenegger action films as a kid. "Growing up with Conan, Commando, Terminator... if you grew up in that time, obviously, he was an iconic action star and that was really exciting," he said. Howey then revealed that "getting to do all my stunts" was another motivation to take the role of Harry, but there was one stunt he wasn't allowed to do: "Going through glass."

Howey explained that producers did not want him to do this on his own "because they don't want me to be all cut up." He later noted "that they use real glass," in window stunts but, "everybody thinks it's sugar glass and it's not. It's real." Gonzaga also confirmed this, saying, "When you go through a window it's real glass." 

Explaining why real glass is used in window-breaking stunts, Howey said, "So I didn't know it either because that much sugar glass will collapse on itself because it's not strong enough so they have to use glass. And what they do is they explode it right before. So as you go through, they explode it so it's all tempered and they go through it. Our stunt doubles in the pilot, they went through the window." 

Howey then elaborated on the major pilot episode "fight scene" wherein the pair are suddenly forced to "fight the [bad] guys" before "shooting" and then jumping "through the window." He clarified, "Those stunt guys, when they got up, they were covered in blood and... dripping off their pinky, just a flow of blood because there were cuts all over their body. That is really impressive. That's what excited me."

The actor then spoke highly of his on-screen spouse, saying, "The other part that excited me is, and I don't mean this as an intro that I think leads to insincerity, but it's very sincere, is I was really excited to work with Ginger because when I met her in the [script] reading, when I had to read Helen, she came in and improv'd all this stuff and it was so easy and fluid and she's funny and she's good and she's sweet. And I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be amazing.'

Howey continued, "And then as I got to know her on the pilot, I was like, 'Oh, you're rad. Not only are you really good, but you're super funny and you're kind and you're sweet.' So she didn't bring all the baggage that a lot of actors can bring because being on camera, you've got to have a little bit of an ego. You've got to have a little bit of self-awareness and to put that off. Well, some of those eccentricities that come with that are sometimes a lot to deal with. Ginger had none of that. Her worst moments are some of the best moments of others. So I was really excited with that. And we supported each other and we went through it and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. But we did it."

For her part, Gonzaga came to True Lies after working opposite Tatiana Maslany on the Marvel/Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. In that series, much of her acting had to be done while Maslany was in a mocap suit that increased her size, which made it much easier to go into working with Howey and Omar Miller — who plays Albert "Gib" Gibson, the role originally played by Tom Arnold in the film — as both men are well over six feet tall. "It's so funny," she said. "Well, first of all, I'm lucky that I went from Tatiana to Steve because they're both, I've been so lucky. They're both so rad and they're both so fun to work with. So I was just lucky and then lucky again. "

Gonzaga then discussed the height disparity between herself and her co-stars, which she feels led to accomplishing a lot in getting the character dynamics just right. "So I am 5'3". I feel like everyone on this show is 6'5". Steve's 6'5", Omar's 6'5". Mike [O'Gorman, as Luther] looks like he's not tall, but he's a good 6'1", 6'2". And for the comedy of Helen, it is funny the more I'm like, weirdly, looking up at them. Erica [Hernandez, as Maria] calls me a meerkat..." she then depicted what its like when she has to quickly look back and forth between her tall co-stars, giving her the appearance of the beloved African mongoose animals. 

"But I think it's really funny to play into that height difference," Gonzaga continued. "So sometimes I would request to be in flats because I just wanted her to be so fish out of water and look at all these giant people talking to me. And I would bring that up. I was like, wait, this is no different than when I did She-Hulk." She then joked, "I'm going to end up having some sort of neck issue. I'm constantly craning. But yeah, Steve and Omar are giants. But it's truly not that different except now I actually get to look at a person instead of a little bobblehead-type thing.

When it comes to fight and stunt training, Gonzaga explained that she did not do it this time around, but that "for this season" it makes sense for her character to not know how to fight. "Howey just comes with that skillset in spades. He's actually, he's excellent at it. He's not just some physical person that knows how to fight. He's excellent at action. And for this season, Helen is learning. So I'm mining a lot of comedy from her lack of knowledge in that department or over-eagerness when she gets to do it. 

Gonzaga added, "As we progress, I need to have more of that. But I'm athletic, I can do some gymnastics still. And I was saying earlier on the panel that I'm stupidly brave, so I'll just do it." She then quipped, "I did do all of my stunts except for completely falling out of the helicopter, which I asked to do and I was not allowed to do it. And then when I saw it, I was glad that I didn't do it. I don't know how she's alive, Ilyana," she said, referring to her stunt double, Ilyana Eberhardt.

Finally, we asked the pair about working with Beverly D'Angelo, who appears in the True Lies series as Captain Spencer Trilby, Harry's boss. "She's a legend," Howey said. "We were lucky to have her. She has that iconic voice. And speaking of someone who is shorter in stature, but was one of the biggest giants among us, she came in and she loved the show. She loved us, we loved her and it was, I don't think she was used enough to be honest with you."

He then confessed, "I think that she could have been in a lot more. She just added a credibility. And I think that bringing, I don't know if this is a bad term, old Hollywood, it seems like it's a not thing. But it is, it's Hollywood of yesteryear. And so I thought that it was such a good representative of the new show that is off of yesteryear Hollywood, which was the movie True Lies. She came in and I think raised the stakes for all of us. So I loved having her."

Gonzaga then spoke about her experience working with the legendary actress, saying, "She's wild. She's so fun and quirky and your buddy and she's very supportive. I'm like, 'Beverly.' I look up to her and she's constantly like, 'How can I support you?' And all this stuff. She'll send me all these texts. She's a really fun buddy in addition to casually dropping like, 'Oh, I've got to babysit the dog.' And it's like Al Pacino's dog because that's her ex. She's great. Every story you're absorbing. You're like, 'Okay, but who's the last name of the person she's talking about?'"

True Lies was created by Matt Nix (Burn Notice), with the pilot episode being directed by Anthony Hemingway (American Crime StoryThe Purge TV series). The series debuts Wednesday, March 1 at 10 pm ET/9 pm CT, on CBS. True Lies will also stream live on Paramount+, with new episodes available to watch anytime the day after live broadcast. Those interested in trying out a free trial of Paramount+ can do so by clicking here.