Hong Chau on Gender Dynamics and Tropes in Netflix’s ‘The Night Agent’

Academy Award nominee Hong Chau really wanted to challenge herself in Netflix’s The Night Agent. Playing the president’s chief of staff Diane Farr, Chau never has gotten to play in a political thriller and for a role that leaves fans wondering if she’s good or bad through it all. 

“I’ve seen a lot of political thrillers,” Chau tells The Nerds of Color. “It’s sort of a wonderful opportunity to play because everything is so high stakes and that’s really fun.”

Based on the bestselling novels of the same name by Matthew Quirk, The Night Agent tells the story of FBI agent Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso) who, tasked with protecting a special asset, Rose Larkin (Luciane Buchanan), uncovers a conspiracy that could rock the foundation of the White House. Diane Farr serves as Peter’s handler and boss who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the President of the United States.

“Because the show does veer quite a bit from the book that it’s based on, I asked [showrunner] Shawn [Ryan] what he wanted to do with the show and what he wanted to say — other than entertaining an audience — and he said something interesting,” Chau reveals. “He said he wanted to explore the different dynamics between men and women in a professional setting. You see that with my character, Gabriel’s, Lucianne’s, the Secret Service agents, and even the [assassins]. I thought that was such an interesting question to have running in the back of our brains as we were filming the show.”

When playing Farr, Chau had to undergo lots of hair and make-up in order to appear an older woman (because #AsianDontRaisin) — wearing a silver-haired wig, which was really fun for her since the look was inspired by Chau’s friend, author Susan Choi.

“Susan is a total fox,” says Chau. “She has this beautiful silver hair and I said I would like for my character to look like this as much as possible.”

There has been a growing trend of fixers for government officials being women of color, who essentially fix the problems brought on by white men. Chau doesn’t necessarily see it as a trope but just reflecting real life. 

“We’re dealing with Washington DC,” Chau explains. “There’s a lot of mess that needs to be cleaned up every day and who’s responsible for it? You can sort of pinpoint it to a certain group because it’s the majority in that particular area. I think it’s interesting that on our show, we have a female president and that hasn’t happened yet in real life. It’s fun to imagine that while we’re working on the show — hopefully, it all prepares us for when it does finally happen.

The Night Agent premieres on March 24 on Netflix.

Check out the- full interview below: