Nikita returns this Friday, and I’ve got the inside scoop on Season 3 of TV’s hottest spy series. Aaron Stanford, who plays technical wizard Seymour Birkhoff, shared his thoughts on Birkhoff’s expanded role in Season 2 and whether or not his tough-guy role in ABC’s thriller Traveler was a precursor to his work in Division.
“He was a fun character in season one but they really did open it up in season two, and really let him be a real presence, and I hope they continue on with it in season three,” he said of Birkhoff’s increased profile between the freshman and sophomore seasons. “I had a great time doing it.”
Explaining his character’s development from one season to the next, “Birkhoff became a very different entity in season two than he was in season one,” he said. “In season one he was very much under the thumb of Percy. In season two he was independently wealthy and became the financier of this team. Now he’s back at Division but I don’t think it’s going to be in the exact same capacity. He’s still going to handle the tech because that’s where his skills lie, but I think the idea is that he has more autonomy and he has more authority.”
Stanford added that while the good guys have taken over Division at the end of Season 2, that doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing ahead for Team Nikita. In fact, it could be more turbulent than ever before as characters try to figure out where they belong. “Division is back; now it’s been sold as ‘This is not your father’s Division. This is the new Division; we’re the good guys now,'” he explained. “[That’s] a place where a lot of tension and conflict is going to come from. This is still a military construct and there’s going to have to be a chain of command. Does Nikita want Ryan to be her boss? Is Nikita Michael’s boss? I think we’re going to get a lot of mileage out of that.”
Birkhoff is also going to have personal problems on his plate: Season 3 opens with us finding out his love connection with opposite number Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood) didn’t last. “There could very well be a rift. I would suspect that it’s the fault of Birkhoff,” Stanford teased. “In the first episode there’s been a jump of like a month or a couple of months, you see something has happened to complicate things. I will say that [to say] he’s getting the silent treatment is putting it mildly.”
This isn’t his first venture into the spy world: previously, Stanford starred as the enigmatic spy Will Traveler in ABC’s thriller Traveler, alongside Matt Bomer and Logan Marshall-Green. The role demanded plenty of the same elements asNikita and also allowed Stanford to be a one-man army. While they’re both great series, he explained there’s not as much carryover as one might think, even though we’ve seen that Birkhoff can get physical. “It was the same genre, essentially, but the characters are quite different,” he explained. “Will Traveler was essentially a Jason Bourne-style character. He was undercover as an MIT student so he kind of has this brainy exterior but then you see that he’s like a trained assassin – very different from Birkhoff.
“I’ve more learned about working in this genre just from being a fan of this genre, and all the films that I’ve seen multiple times over and over again. I think that’s where you learn from working in genres, just by being a fan.” It’s clear how much of a fan he is by how well he’s brought the role of Birkhoff to life in entirely different directions from his predecessor.
You can catch Aaron Stanford in action when Nikita returns. Be sure to check out my previous interviews with Craig Silverstein and Melinda Clarke, and stay tuned for more conversations with Lyndsy Fonseca, Shane West and Maggie Q leading up to Friday’s season premiere!
For more from Brittany Frederick, follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.