True Lies Showrunner Matt Nix Hypes Ginger Gonzaga's 'Qualities' That Won Her The Helen Tasker Role: 'She Just Does It'

Ginger Gonzaga as Helen Tasker in True Lies
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of True Lies, called “Public Secrets.”

The series premiere of True Lies packed a lot into one hour as suburban mom Helen Tasker (Ginger Gonzaga) learned that her husband Harry (Steve Howey) has secretly been an Omega Sector spy for as long as they’ve been married. As of Episode 2, Helen is well on her way to becoming a spy herself. After showrunner Matt Nix explained to CinemaBlend why Steve Howey was the perfect person to play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role from the 1994 film, he opened up about casting Ginger Gonzaga as Helen. 

Ginger Gonzaga came to True Lies fresh off of a role on Disney+’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and is playing the CBS version of the character originally portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1994 movie. Speaking with CinemaBlend at SCAD TVfest in Atlanta, showrunner Matt Nix said that finding the right people to play the leads was “super essential,” and he realized during the casting process that it was going to be tricky to find the right Helen. Nix went on:  

It was basically like, 'Okay, so for Helen, [we need] somebody beautiful, super smart, definitely a capable spy. Who's somebody who you believe could step right into being a spy?’ The thing about Ginger is she's so smart, super athletic, super funny, and all of these qualities. So you buy it!

Ginger Gonzaga apparently had everything that Matt Nix was looking for to play the True Lies leading lady, just like he needed somebody “really tall, super jacked, very good looking, very funny, who can also act dramatically, and ideally who likes to do stunts” to play Harry. The showrunner confirmed that he “felt very fortunate to find two people” who could fill the roles as the Taskers as spies in Gonzaga and Howey. 

Of course, there’s more to playing Helen Tasker than stepping right into spy mode. She started out as a character whose fight skills went as far as her exercise videos could take her, and who spent her days teaching linguistics and living a monotonous suburban life. She was already honing her spy skills by Episode 2, but she’s definitely not yet on the level of the rest of Omega Sector. 

Matt Nix confirmed that it was tricky to find an actress who could sell the suburban wife/mother role as well as the super spy, saying:

When you think about it, it seems pretty simple until you start looking at people and you're like, okay, well, it's gotta be someone really pretty, but not so pretty that you're like, 'She's not a suburban mom. She's a model. Come on.' Obviously Ginger is beautiful, but she has this sort of down-to-earth quality where you buy it, and she feels like someone you could know, and not every Hollywood actress feels like someone you could know.

The second episode showed Helen starting to struggle with lying to her kids and keeping the spy secret, despite Harry trying to get her used to the idea of… well, “true lies.” Helen the character is still down-to-earth at home and getting progressively more skilled in the spy life, and Ginger Gonzaga is delivering as an actress. Nix went on to compliment a specific requirement of Helen that Gonzaga is nailing: 

Even something as simple as, ‘I wrote this character who can speak a million languages. Can the actor pull off all those accents?' Or like, 'Can I give someone three sentences to say in Malagasy and they just pull it off?' And Ginger can, so we're very fortunate.

“Public Secrets” actually relied on Helen’s linguistic skills as a cover for Omega Sector's mission, and she has continued to casually show off her skills with an extremely wide variety of languages. Having already seen the first two episodes when I spoke with the showrunner, I noted to Matt Nix that I didn’t even recognize many of Helen’s languages, and he responded:

Exactly! Because they have to be obscure. Nobody's gonna be like, 'Oh, wait, the linguist knows French.' Obviously, she knows French!... Her sort of facility with [language] just rolls right off the tongue. There's one episode later where she gets asked how to say something in Russian [and] Korean, and she just says it. She just does it.

Not only did True Lies find leads who – in the words of Ginger Gonzaga and Steve Howey – have an “insane level of chemistry” and “synergy” together, but stars who could handle the unique challenges of playing the Taskers. The plot is undoubtedly only going to thicken as Helen gains more experience as a spy, although the physical demands of stunt work may still mostly belong to Howey while Gonzaga plays different sides of Helen. 

Tune in to CBS on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of True Lies (opens in new tab) starring Ginger Gonzaga and Steve Howey, and revisit the episodes so far streaming with a Paramount+ subscription. You can also find some upcoming viewing options on our 2023 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.