A scorpion is just one of the dangers Freddy Rodriguez had to endure for Chaos, the new CBS action comedy set in the world of the CIA.
Rodriguez plays newbie CIA agent Rick Martinez, who's assigned to a group of rogue spies in the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS). In order to prove himself and escape from a sticky situation in the desert, Rick eats a live scorpion, a scene that initially caused Rodriguez to suffer an anxiety attack.
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"I asked [executive producer] Brett Ratner to hold it," Rodriguez said at the Television Critics Association winter previews Friday. "I would do it if he would hold it for me. It was a real scorpion. I think they put crazy glue on the stinger.
"It was scary. At one point, I didn't enjoy the experience. It started peeing on me. I didn't know what it was. I thought it was spraying me with some sort of poison."
Scorpions are the least of Rick's worries, however. In addition to the foreign intelligence missions and threats to national security, Rick must also face the deception, double-dealing and in-fighting at the CIA.
"He's the new guy. So in the pilot, he experiences what I imagine a lot of new guys experience on the first day on the job," Rodriguez said. "This is the CIA so his experiences are perhaps more heightened than the average person would have starting a new job. Throughout the first season I definitely think he goes through growing pains."
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Among the CHAOS group members is paranoid psychologist Michael Dorset (Eric Close), the Scottish-born Billy Collins (James Murray) and deceptively mellow "human weapon" Casey Malick (Tim Blake Nelson). Together with Rick, they form a tight team that gets the job done when they're not ribbing each other or circumventing their superiors and red tape.
Executive producer Tom Spezialy said that inspiration for the series came from two different places.
"I've always been a fan of the Four Musketeers tale and wanted an updating of it," he said. "So I always had that in the back of my mind. I was doing research for another TV show. It was the story of an ex-operative who was telling about his time with the agency. On the [book's] dust cover it said, 'The CIA spent a lot of money, killed a lot of people, accomplished very little.' I thought, 'Well, that's probably more accurate than most representations of the CIA.'"
Chaos premieres on April 1 at 8/7 c on CBS.