Actor LaMonica Garrett discusses his hit show Designated Survivor and why he loves working with Kiefer Sutherland.
You know him from shows like Sons of Anarchy and The Last Ship, as well as films like Daddy’s Home and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Now, LaMonica Garrett is playing Secret Service Agent Mike Ritter on ABC's new hit show Designated Survivor, which sees Kiefer Sutherland suddenly go from a lowly cabinet position to President of the United States after a disastrous attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union.
Here, we chat with Garrett about what fans can expect this season, what it’s like working alongside Sutherland, and how he stays in peak shape.
A photo posted by LaMonica Garrett (@lamonicagarrett) on
What was it about the script for Designated Survivor that drew you in and made you want to join the series? LAMONICA GARRETT: I knew Kiefer was attached to it, so that’s automatic. You want to be a part of something he’s working on and work with him. But, when I read the script, it was such a unique premise. I was wondering why no one had ever done it before—especially given the temperature of the times right now. It’s an election year. I loved the character and the camaraderie between him and the President. It was just a really well done script.
In the pilot, there's a scene where you're in the car with Kiefer Sutherland and say, “Sir, you are now the President of the United States.” That's probably the best line ever in a show. What was that scene like? LG: (Laughs) That was great! This is all done in one studio, like one big warehouse room with all these monitors and motorcades around us, and images and screens. It’s cool. We film in Toronto, and do a lot of stuff on location, but all the White House scenes are in the studio.
What can viewers expect to unfold in the coming season? LG: We only know a script or two ahead. The writer and creator, David Guggenheim, has visions for years down the road—exactly what’s going to happen with every character and every storyline. We try to pick his brain and ask him, and he just has this big smile on his face like, “Oh, you guys are going to be so excited.” So, I really don’t know. Every time we get a new script, we stop what we’re doing—regardless if we’re working or not—and we’re all on our phones and tablets reading to see what’s going on. Each script we get it’s like, "Wow, they keep upping the bar. Where do we go?"
What’s it like working alongside the rest of the cast? LG: Kiefer is three steps ahead of everything and everybody. His mind works in such a unique way and his attention to detail is through the roof. Natascha McElhone is royalty around there—she is just so great to work with and so pleasant to be around. I’ve been watching Maggie Q since back in the day. Italia Ricci and Adan Canto are great. I think everyone fits their role so perfect. From the first table read we had, everyone was in sync. And we hang out a lot. Usually when you’re shooting but your scene isn’t up or they’re turning the cameras around, or doing something where it might take some time, a lot of actors go back to their trailers. With us, we stick around. Italia’s got everyone playing chess in between scenes. There’s like two or three chess boards around.
A photo posted by Designated Survivor (@designatedsurvivorabc) on
To play your character, a secret service agent to the President, you have to be in pretty good shape. What’s your fitness regime? LG: I do hot yoga at least three times a week and I run a couple miles a day. I do a lot of resistance training, but not heavy weights. With heavy weights I’ll get huge and that doesn’t look good on camera. I’m already a big guy and I used to play football, so I’ve lifted and have been working out since I was a teenager. Now, it’s just like a cardio workout more than a “get big” workout.
What do you usually eat? LG: I do a good amount of protein. I do a lot of fish and steaks. I try not to eat too late. If it’s past a certain time, like eight o’clock, I might just snack on things like almonds or fruit. When I wake up, I get my coffee. Sometimes too much coffee is bad, but that’s my vice. I’m on the go a lot, so whatever I can take and grab with me, that’s pretty much what it is.
What’s your personal style? LG: I’m a T-shirt and jeans kind of guy. I’ve got to change that up because I’m in Toronto now [filming], and that’s not going to work (laughs). I’m from California, so I’ve gotten away with it forever. I wear some Vans, jeans, a T-shirt, and a leather jacket or something. Now I got to figure out a heavy jacket and some boots soon.