'ABC likes to keep me in shady government agencies,' the actor says of his move from 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' to 'Quantico'

By Shirley Li
September 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Jonathan Wenk/ABC
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At first glance, Blair Underwood’s Quantico character Owen Hall, the lead instructor at the CIA’s training facility “The Farm,” appears to be a normal teacher with a knack for getting even the most boisterous recruits to pay attention — but as with most people on the terrorism thriller, there’s more to Owen than meets the eye.

“He’s a bit of a mystery [because of] whether or not he has an ulterior motive in training his recruits,” the actor tells EW. “What we know is he’s great at what he does, and we know that he was one of the top operatives in the CIA, but how he left and why he left is a mystery.” 

Because of his turbulent past with the agency, Hall focuses much of his attention Alex (Priyanka Chopra), whom he believes has the potential to go further with the CIA than he ever did during his 14-year career. “He knows that she could be one of the best, if not the best operative, so he’s hard on her,” Underwood says. “He’s constantly busting her chops, because he knows she can be the best.”

That said, Alex isn’t the only recruit viewers should watch out for when it comes to Owen: Underwood adds that Lydia (Tracy Ifeachor) may have a closer connection to Owen than everyone believes. “There is a good deal of focus on Owen’s relationship with Lydia and on how that plays into the larger scheme of things,” he says. “I don’t mean to be cryptic, but [answers] will come eventually.”

At least he doesn’t have to be cryptic about his character’s endgame: Though he may play the CIA’s version of former FBI Academy head instructor Liam (Josh Hopkins) this season, Underwood says Owen will probably not go the way of his FBI first-season counterpart, who was revealed to be the terrorist. In fact, he brings up a different show on the alphabet network altogether: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on which he played the Inhuman Lash, né Andrew Garner. “ABC likes to keep me in shady government agencies,” he jokes. “That’s the mantra.”

Quantico returns Sunday, Sept. 25, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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